- Sigma 50mm 1.4 for Nikon D300
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
Anyone had first hand experience of this lens? Better yet, this lens/camera combination? I’m very happy with the choice in terms of what I want it for (mild telephoto lens on a Nikon D300 dx camera) but there are a lot of horror stories around about focusing performance – so on the off-chance; any thoughts?Posted 5 years ago
I’ve got the 30mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM which I use with an Olympus E-600.
It provides great images with beautiful contrast, sometimes the results are gorgeous, limpid and well.. just beautiful.
However AF is very hit and miss for me. Sure the focusing motor is fast, but when it takes ages to decide wtf it wants to do that’s academic. Slow in low light, but even in good light it sometimes misses. In fact when looking at the images it’s hard to find what’s actually in focus. I bought it for low light use without flash, but my f3.5 kit lens is actually more useful.
I have a feeling though that part of the issue is the incredibly narrow DoF at f1.4. A small amount of fore/aft shake could put the narrow plane of focus in mid air.
So, a bit of a love/hate thing. However for well-lit portraits it’s outstanding.
Incidentally when flicking through the photos on flickr, I don’t have to check the EXIF to see if they are Sigma 30mm photos – I can tell immediately 🙂Posted 5 years ago
Thanks molgrips. That’s sorta the answer I was expecting! I absolutely love the look of the lens, but this focusing business does seem to be a common complaint.Posted 5 years ago
I’ve read people claim that as long as you use single point focus it holds focus well enough, but otherwise it doesn’t seem to want to make its mind up – would that make any sense?igmSubscriber
as long as you use single point focus it holds focus well enough, but otherwise it doesn’t seem to want to make its mind up
Yes that makes sense – but I doubt it’s lens specific.
At f1.4 so little of the shot is going to be in focus that you really have to tell it what to focus on. Leave an AF system to get as much of the frame in focus as possible and it is unlikely to grab the nearest eye of your subject. Focusing in the background will get more in focus overall (just not the bit you want).
I use the Nikon 50mm f1.4 on a D300 and its beautiful but brutal. Even though its smart enough to guess its a portrait the AF will focus on ears, hair, etc unless you take control.
So take control.Posted 5 years agolodiousMember
The Sigma 1.4 does have a rep for poor focus calibration, with many people complaining of copy to copy variations. I’m planning to get one from Amazon UK (Sigma negatively discriminate against grey imports for servicing), test the focus, if it’s off, send it to Sigma and get it calibrated. If it’s still not right I can return it to Amazon within 30days.
You do have to be a bit careful with Amazon and Sigma though, as some of their lenses come from Europe, and are considered as grey imports by Sigma UK, even though they are bought directly from Amazon UK (not resellers).Posted 5 years agogrumMember
I have the Canon version (I mean the Sigma version for Canon btw). Bokeh is absolutely gorgeous but mine has focussing issues too sadly. It works fine generally on my 5D II where you can micro adjust, but it still sometime front focuses massively on stuff that’s a little way away.Posted 5 years agolodiousMember
In my experience, I’ve never been able to properly sort focusing issues with micro adjust. I’ve driven myself round the bend trying to MA a number of different Canon lenses, the problem being that you sort it for a certain distance (Canon have a calculation to determine the focusing distance to perform the MA at, based on focal length) and it throws it off at other focusing distances. Even with the 5D (which allows different MA adjustment at different zoom lengths) I’ve never been able to get it spot on.
Could just be me though, as others appear to get them dialed in easily. Sigma’s latest lenses allow you to hook them up to a PC do calibrate them like the do in the factory….which seems life the way to go.
I thought m4/3 was contrast detect, so you don’t have to MA…it’s effectively closed loop control? A big plus for m4/3’s I think.Posted 5 years ago
To be honest mogrips, focus wasn’t all that far out – and at short distance it was bang-on. I need to do a more methodical check, but by trial and error I have it pretty good now. Other aspects of the lens I love. Funnily enough I may yet sell it, purely because I think I should have gotten something shorter for an all-purpose lens. I like the “75mm” short tele effect on my crop sensor camera, but often I can’t get much framework in the picture. Superb for portraits, abstracts, details etc.
So I might get a 35mm instead, but the Sigma 1.4 is too much money for me. Know anything about Samyang? 🙂
BTW, procamerashop were very good.Posted 5 years agouser-removedMember
Why not just buy the Nikon equivalent? I’ve used the 1.8 and the 1.4 on D300s, D700s and D600s. I just wouldn’t use third party lenses these days. Why would you risk it for pretty much the same money?
I do realise you’ve already bought it but not too late to send it back 🙂Posted 5 years agovincienupSubscriber
The lens is good, there may be better but ‘better’ would be a not entirely objective term. I have had Sigmas I was very happy with and used professionally – but they had limitations. They also cost much less than my ED Nikkors and were usually acceptable.
The point of an f/1.4 is either de-focus performance shooting wide open for blown out backgrounds and razor thin depth of field or getting the shortest possible shutter speed accepting that this may not give the deepest focus. If going for extremely shallow depth of field to accentuate isolation of subject from background then AF may well be a waste of time unless you have a lot of focus sites to choose from and plenty of time to focus, lock and recompose – or a pro body/lens combination where you pay heavily for extra AF speed. Stopping down a bit and pre focussing or panning may be a better approach.
In general an f/1.8 50mm may well perform as well for less money, and sometimes better.
Focus performance of the type described in this thread is more a function of the camera body and frankly if it was riding and not camera use would attract an MTFU on STW.
A general rule of thumb is that most camera lenses perform at their sharpest (ie least internal diffraction due to element make up and iris) at about 2/3 stopped down- about f/8 for a typical f/1.8-f/22 lens. The horse that is always repeated in camera magazines about using the smallest f number to get the sharpest picture is just that – horse. It simply guarantees you the longest exposure and aberrations.
Anyone wanting to get around a poorly performing AF system (more likely one being asked to perform like a pro sports rig) without ditching kit and spending a lot of money could do worse than get their head around hyper-focal distances and just turn the automatics off… 😉
/purist_mode_offPosted 5 years ago
I just wouldn’t use third party lenses these days
It was a bargain, that’s all – bit of an impulse purchase too. There wasn’t really anything else in the Olympus range that wasn’t silly expensive.
get their head around hyper-focal distances and just turn the automatics off.
I’m thinking of getting a split circle focus screen to help me MF with this lens…Posted 5 years ago
Thanks for that fullsome reply, vincieup. I did indeed go with this lens for the isolating effect of a wide aperture – plus the extra shutter speed flexibility that goes with it (gt a D300 and the latitude with iso isn’t so good as the latest cameras). I also like the look of the lens in terms of bokeh and contrast. I completely agree about focusing, and am not bothered at all about manual focus – the last time I was into taking pictures was way back when I had a Canon AE1 and 50mm 1.4, and getting accurate focus was never a problem. For all the other failings of my body, my eyes still work ok! One of the things that I don’t much like about the Sigma is that the focus ring is not really smooth and feels a touch gritty. So – thinking about trying a Samyang 35mm 1.4.
As for sticking with the Nikon equivalent, there are reasons. Mainly down to bokeh and “look”, and almost certainly part-nonsense from reading too many reviews and not taking enough pictures!Posted 5 years agoMrSmithMember
‘Better’ as in designed and built in the same factory / factories as the camera body, by technicians working for the same company…
Yes. The new sigma 1.4 35mm lens that’s about £700 I don’t remember the exact combination of letters and numbers after its name but I’m thinking of getting one if I can try before I buy. It’s supposedly streets ahead of the cheaper one especially in the corners.Posted 5 years agoMrSmithMember
Looks like sigma today announced a new version for Nex/mirrorless/m4/3Posted 5 years ago
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