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Sigma 50 f/1.4 vs Canon 50L

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Thread started 18 Mar 2009 (Wednesday) 21:01   
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Jman13
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So, I just got a Sigma 50 f/1.4, and after owning the 35L and 85L for a while, and the normal focal length being my most often used of ANY lens, I thought 'the Sigma's good, but what if I'm just stalling the inevitable.' So, I just went out and bought a 50L, deciding I'd return the one that didn't impress as much.

Well, after a day of shooting around with the 50L, and a day yesterday with the Sigma 50, and a bunch shooting them together (mostly of each other)....the Sigma is staying. Definitely.

First, Bokeh: Identical. Honestly, both are such incredible bokeh monsters, and there's really not much to separate them. If I absolutely had to pick, the Sigma would come out on top, as the specular highlights are just a SMIDGE softer...but both are really among the best of any lens I've ever tested.

Sharpness: Again, relatively close...when the Canon was in focus, it might be a hair sharper at f/1.4 vs f/1.4, but that's really splitting hairs. (and the Sigma might be a smidge sharper at f/1.4 vs f/1.2)

Focusing: Well, this is the real reason the Canon is going back. The 50L I got has got a serious backfocus problem up close (and it switches to front focus on distant objects, interestingly. Consequently, it's pretty good at moderate distances.) Regardless, it missed focus a LOT. My Sigma has been quite accurate. Under controlled conditions, it's been very accurate. I had a few front focused shots when shooting my daughter, but given the accuracy of many other shots of her, and the accuracy under controlled conditions, I think my Sigma focuses just fine. I'm holding this against THIS 50L, but I'm not holding it against the 50L in general, as I took a few shots with manual focus to see the real performance of the lens.

Contrast: Tie...both are quite good, even at wide apertures.

Highlight blooming wide open: Both suffer quite a bit from this at f/1.4 or f/1.2 on very high contrast subjects, causing blooming around whites. Common with very wide aperture lenses, but a little disappointing considering how good the 35L is in this department.

Longitudinal CA: Both have it, but the Sigma's is much better controled. The Canon has longitudinal CA out the wazoo at wide apertures..of course, only really noticeable on very high contrast subjects.

So...overall, both are very good lenses, but I honestly would say the Sigma (so far) appears to be the superior optic. I'm returning the 50L tomorrow, and I'll continue to shoot my Sigma. If it ever begins to disappoint me, I might try a second 50L to see if the focusing issue was a fluke, but I honestly don't think I need to try another.

Here are two shots of each lens, both taken with the other lens at f/1.4. I won't show crops, though the Sigma is sharper here, as the shot of the Sigma with the 50L is slightly missing focus.

Sigma 50 @ f/1.4:

IMAGE: http://www.jordansteele.com/forumlinks/50L-sig.jpg


Canon 50 f/1.2L @ f/1.4:
IMAGE: http://www.jordansteele.com/forumlinks/sig50-L.jpg

Post #1, Mar 18, 2009 21:01:15


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tupper
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Lets see some 100% crops for the pixel peepers!

I'm am definitely getting the Sigma once I have my 5DmkII, what it gives you for the price is amazing and if its this close to the 50L, who needs to spend that much more. Being a student, definitely not me.

Post #2, Mar 18, 2009 21:06:15


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Jman13
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I'm not showing 100% crops because I don't have any shots where both are focused on the same area of the same subject...mainly because the 50L kept missing focus. Let's just say both are plenty sharp enough wide open, and both are VERY sharp by f/2. Honestly, there's really nothing to differentiate them in sharpness.

Post #3, Mar 18, 2009 21:16:17


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Grentz
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Thanks for the thoughts, I really want one of these someday. The nifty is still holding in there for me right now though (cannot justify the extra $400 quite yet :p )

Post #4, Mar 18, 2009 21:17:00


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Karl ­ Johnston
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Contrast is overrated anyway

Post #5, Mar 18, 2009 21:21:45


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dissembled
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Where did you buy a good copy of the Sigma? Anywho, thanks for the comparison. Debating of getting the Sigma or the 85/1.8 first myself.

Post #6, Mar 18, 2009 21:35:12


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4g63photo
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Very nice. Ive been thinking about buying a 50mm. The only issue is that Ive seen the 50L get so many complaints about the focusing. Too bad. Im going to keep an eye on this lens. Thanks.

Post #7, Mar 18, 2009 21:40:17


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Jman13
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dissembled wrote in post #7552444external link
Where did you buy a good copy of the Sigma? Anywho, thanks for the comparison. Debating of getting the Sigma or the 85/1.8 first myself.

I got mine from B&H.

Both are great lenses...pick the focal length you prefer first. I have the 85/1.8's twin, the 100 f/2, which I honestly think is going to be supplanting my 85L. When I got my 1Ds II, I needed a 50, and will need to sell either my 85L or 35L to pay for it (worth it). The 100 f/2 is so close to the 85 optically...it's just slower, and I prefer the 100mm focal length to the 85mm focal length on full frame, so it definitely makes the most sense.

The 35L: I just can't get rid of it...I was contemplating selling it for a 24L or a 24TS-E (which I might still do down the road), but looking at the images the 35L can make, I just can't part with it.

Post #8, Mar 18, 2009 21:47:51


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Westx
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Jordan a couple of reviews I read said this lens had some back focus issues, have you noticed any with your lens.

Post #9, Mar 18, 2009 21:50:20 as a reply to Karl Johnston's post 28 minutes earlier.




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Jman13
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The Sigma? No...well, let me rephrase. Has the lens backfocused on a few shots? Yes. However, it's a rare occurrence. In my experience so far, it's been very accurate, at pretty much any distance. I'm getting probably 95% of my shots in sharp focus at f/1.4. While not quite as good as the 98% hit rate I get with my 35L, it's better than the 80-85% or so hit rate I got with my Canon 50 f/1.4. BTW...percentages are just complete guesses based on my memory of # of OOF shots...I have no stats to back up the real numbers. Bottom line, my Sigma focuses accurately, though not quite as accurately as my dead-on 35L.

Post #10, Mar 18, 2009 21:56:18


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Future ­ Blues
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I own the Sigma but I really appreciate this comparison. And the included shots. Thanks.

Post #11, Mar 18, 2009 22:24:28 as a reply to Jman13's post 28 minutes earlier.


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AlanU
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With the sigma how was the focussing at 5-10 feet??

Post #12, Mar 18, 2009 22:52:34


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Jman13
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Again, I've answered this twice already....my sigma focuses accurately at ALL focus distances, from MFD to infinity.

Post #13, Mar 18, 2009 23:05:12


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ben805
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so...do you have any focusing problem with the sigma?

3rd time a charm right? LOL just messing with ya, glad to hear the sigma work out for you. :)

Post #14, Mar 18, 2009 23:45:44


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joove
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Jman13 wrote in post #7553108external link
Again, I've answered this twice already....my sigma focuses accurately at ALL focus distances, from MFD to infinity.

And thanks for the 50L comparison. Helps knowing that what I have is up there with the best.

Jordan, do you mind listing the first 4 digits of your lens's serial# ? Mine is a 1015xxx lens (Got it from amazon a month back) and is currently sitting at Sigma awaiting a new main circuit board. I had sent it in for focus calibration and they insist they replace the board. Nice I guess, but wondering if the initial pieces had defective boards or whether it is a crap shoot.

I love the lens though. That's why I am persevering with it. Never did realize what people were raving about the bokeh bit till I had this lens. Images shot wide open are so pleasing and easy on the eye.

Post #15, Mar 19, 2009 00:08:56


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Sigma 50 f/1.4 vs Canon 50L
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