Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens: price and Zeiss Otus comparison

Sigma-50mm-f1.4-DG-HSM-Art-lens
Over the past few weeks we saw all kinds of speculations on the price of the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens. I received some reliable information that the Australian retail recommended price of the lens will be 1,099 AUD (around 1,030 USD). This low price is still hard to believe, given the positive test result/review and performance of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens.

SLRgear has now also tested the Zeiss Otus lens and posted their findings here:

"All competing lenses from Canon and Nikon fell short when compared to the resolving power of the 50mm Art. Compared to the mighty Zeiss 55mm ƒ/1.4 Otus, the Sigma holds its own, displaying nearly identical results!"

Shipping for the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is expected to start in June.

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  • preston

    The photography nerd part of me has been dying for the actual test comparisons to the Otus (so thank you slrgear!) but the photographer and photographic product consumer in me couldn’t care less about the comparison because I have absolutely no use for a 50mm lens that is manual focus only. Maybe a wide or ultra-wide, but hit rate with a 50 on any type of moving target would be abysmal.

    • Cuddly kitty

      Uh, Sigma’s new 50mm is AF, not MF.

      • spam

        But Otus is

    • Dave

      Abysmal is wrong. As AF is always easier, MF can deliver equal results with practice or even better though with lower keeper rate. During a bird show I made pin sharp flying bird pics from 2-3m distance, 40mm, f2.8, or running kids with 50mm f2.0. MF does not deliver with ‘AF-seeing': MF is a different approach and certainly more fun: for moving subjects one needs to build a kind of instinct, for stills MF is always better.

      • http://gplimages.com/ TheFantasticG

        Much of what you say, Dave, is opinion. I certainly don’t find MF more fun. I also don’t find MF always better for stills. So, since I’m sure more will agree with you and more will agree with me, we all have our opinions so please refrain from stating them as facts because they are certainly not.

        • nik

          :-)

          you took your time to put things right

        • WeLoveATeacher

          Yeah, we all love a teacher. Whoops I have stated that as a fact. Toerd.

  • Decmlu
    • http://photorumors.com/ PhotoRumors

      This could be the street price.

  • Bekka

    Well done Sigma.
    Zeiss ? Lol…

    • AM I Am

      Well done Kia.
      Bentley? Lol…

      • alx

        not really the same quality gap, though…

        • DuncanM

          How do you define quality? A 2015 KIA K900 has a 420hp V8 for $60k, a 2014 Flying spur has a 500hp V8 for over $200k. Both cars will do roughly the same in real world performance, and both will get you to the grocery store. I think you’re confusing quality with refinement.

          • Neopulse

            Yeah, but a Kia will drop much more in price and has far less quality parts in comparison to the Bentley.

        • Neopulse

          Yeah, it’s even bigger the gap in fact.

  • Grev

    It is $899 at camerapro.com.au

  • Torben

    For photography: Sigma

    For hybrid or video: Zeiss…

    Look at the feeble focus throw of the Sigma, it’s almost worse than a Canon lens. That alone makes me not wanna use it for my work, but I can totally understand if you are a photographer and depend on AF to get your work done that you would go for the Sigma.

    But I need precision, that handles well and can stand abuse to some degree. There the Otus trumps the Sigma all the way.

    • stop with the bee es

      Yes you need a reliable lens that won’t break when you leave the lens in your SUV parked in the sun with your dog/kid inside who tries to bite it off from heat frustration.

      Very professional

    • Neopulse

      Hybrid myself is what I’m aiming for, hybrid meaning using it on another body through use of an adapter.

    • Global

      We don’t need to compare to Zeiss — we only need to compare to Canon and Nikon. Zeiss is a red herring. We should applaud both Zeiss and Sigma.

  • kassim

    Pricier than the 35mm? I thought the wider the expensiver..

    • Kynikos

      This.

      If it’s a great lens, then it stands alone on price, but sometimes I wonder if the original plan was to price it less expensively: the 35 is an amazing lens and was running at US $899, and well below $800 pre-Christmas. This one shouldn’t cost any more.

      What I suspect happened is Sigma decided to jump on the back of the Otus excitement to retail this for $1,000 rather than the $700 they planned on. Good business if you can do it.

      • Global

        You are talking theoretically, but you don’t know the actual internal cost or margin requirements. Furthermore, Sigma could cannibalize its own sales of its pre-existing 50mm lenses — whereas the the 35mm didn’t present that contradiction. Additionally, the 35mm may have been underpriced vis a vis the technological increases, staff, materials and other investment. Sigma may also be increasingly employing additional QC measures. Therefore, its not completely black and white. 35mm is only a bit wider than 50mm. But consistent operations and higher tolerances of perfection come at huge costs.

        $1,000 is expensive for almost ANY lens. And this is THE STANDARD that users will come to expect, as a result of years and years of Megapixel wars (Camera manufacturers did this to themselves). We will shortly see 50MP cameras and this standard will be required. Consumers will not tolerate less, once they have seen what is possible.

        As such, Sigma is incredibly wise to brand itself with that standard early on. But early adoption of such standards means that Sigma will have higher implementation costs. The price is reason and fair market if they are employing QC standards across the board — as we all hope they are doing. Nothing would be a bigger mistake for Sigma than to make the reliability of the 35mm a “one hit wonder.” It is mission critical that they employ great expense to make sure that their Brand represents these high standards for the next 10 years as the market faces 50MP+ cameras, higher bandwidth computing and increasingly high definition and bigger screens each at increasingly lower costs.

        • Kynikos

          What you’ve written is neither here nor there.

          At $1K for the 50, I simply claim there is either…

          –a little bit of greed after the 35mm’s success
          or
          –a mistake in that the 35 was priced too low.

          I have felt the power of the 35. They say gear doesn’t make you a better tog. This gear actually does make me better.

          • EnPassant

            Instead of speculating. Why don’t you just go to SLRgear and compare the Sigma Art 35 and 50mm lenses?
            Then you would see that the new 50mm Sigma actually tests clearly better than the 35/1.4 Sigma.
            The 50mm is also heavier with 810g and uses a 77mm filter versus 665g and 67mm for the 35mm.
            A higher price for the 50mm is perfectly in order I think.

    • Zograf

      Pricier, because in essence it is a wide angle lens construction, both the Sigma and the Zeiss. They take the Distagon design, optimize a 50-55mm wide angle lens with image circle close to medium format, the chop the elements and make them somewhat smaller as they need only image to fit a 135 format. Or, put simply you can look at it as a medium format lens with a restricted image circle. Or, even simpler , a Distagon design with 50-55 focal length for the 135 format…

      The result is a sharp image from corner to corner on the expense of a heavy and bulky lens. And obviously pricey.

  • http://gplimages.com/ TheFantasticG

    I see the gear snobs will soon be here to defend their purchase to the day they die despite any test results showing the Sigma can match the Ziess. But hey, whatever makes you sleep better at night.

    • NewerTech

      Not only did the Sigma match the Zeiss, it exceeded it in some areas. According to the SLRgear review, the Sigma has better micro contrast, less distortion and less vignetting.

  • FredBear

    This is simply the SIgma 50mm review cobbled together with some random comments on the Otus.
    Very unprofessional.
    They take images that show the Sigma and proclaim the SIgma better than the Otus in one aspect but neglect other visible areas where the Otus is clearly superior.
    Items like contrast, colour rendition, bokeh and build/anticipated longevity don’t rate in SLR gears opinion.
    The only way to judge a lens is by the pictures it takes – not some laboratory ‘rats maize’.
    It would be interesting to see the results on a high resolution sensor where one can separate the wheat from the chaff.
    The Sigma seems like a very good, moderately affordable, lens and kudos for them for exceeding the performance of the native Canon lenses on Canon bodies.
    The photographic community deserved better ‘standard’ lenses than those offered by Nikon on Canon.
    I might finally venture to buy this lens if similar results are obtained by more professional sources (using real pictures) as I can’t justify the Otus for my needs.
    However, the review as it is has so many holes in it that one could drive a pantechnicon through them – sideways. It’s simply a rush job.

    • Global

      +1

      Although/and benefit of the doubt should go to Sigma, unless real world samples show otherwise. The new executives at Sigma are making a difference and together with Tamron they can force Nikon and Canon to take a look. But its a slow process. $1,000 is expensive for any lens. But as an early adopter of higher QC standards for the “next generation” of lenses, its important to support efforts — the value is there, if real world samples show consistency.

      • FredBear

        Couldn’t agree more.
        This might be my first Sigma lens but $1,000 is a lot to spend on a ‘trial’ to see how I like it. It’ll take more than an SLR gear review to get me to climb on board, I’ll wait for other reviewers to see what they think – and then wait some months to make sure it doesn’t suffer from some longer term ‘defect’ like some cameras and lenses of late.

    • LOL

      Zeiss cheated with their Otus: longer focal lengths always were easier to design to be uniformly sharp. Sigma did a great job with their new 50, because it is rather 46mm lens.

  • Joseph Li

    WAHAHAHHAA…A BIG F U TO Zeiss owners who think they have the best in the world and started to put all kind of focusing screens into their D800 to justify their $4k purchase, such as Matt Granger on youtube

    • DuncanM

      Why do you even care what other people spend their own money on? Get over yourself.

      • Joseph Li

        Why do you even care that I care? While zeiss are great lenses, manual focus just doesnt work with my digital bodies well, irregardless of price. I am glad I returned my otus and 135 f/2

        • DuncanM

          Lol, irregardless.

        • Neopulse

          Why the f*ck would you buy both lens several months apart to then return them both? Why even spend on the Otus if the 135mm f/2 was out first (and much easier to obtain mind you) and test to see if it was to your liking and then return it? Makes no sense…. if people are able to use it on their digital bodies and certain works just fine, I think the body that has the problem is the one behind the camera itself in your case.

  • A Photographer

    For me, the sharpness wide open would be important, but as important as that is the boke of the lens. If it’s noth sharp and had beautiful boke, than it will be winner for sure.

    • Sad

      And you are a true connoisseur… How sad…

  • Andul

    Never thought I’d write that but here we go: <3 Sigma <3

  • frod

    A heavy 50mm prime is so far down my list of desired lenses, and these prices are insane.

    • DuncanM

      I wanted one to replace my Nikon 50/1.8, but not for a grand I think.

      • Neopulse

        The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (non-ART) is still at a great price. Although never used one personally.

  • Global

    Its not magic — they just upgraded their computers & actually are using their intelligence, instead of just sitting on patents like Nikon and Canon. Nikon and Canon are DISINCENTIVIZED to make progress — if one progresses, it starts an “arms race” with the other. They act in collusion (even if subconsciously) as a Duopoly. By acting on the lowest common denominator (poor customer service, high prices, and slow progress, complementary products), they keep their internal costs down as a silent arrangement to “not compete” (except where market forces are most sharp — such as Megapixels). This is also the reason they both have awkward, poor mirrorless offerings. Its cheaper for them to do “basically nothing” in the market together than to be too radical in any one area, which would prompt an arms race (hyper competition at great expense) between them. They will act this way so long as third-parties don’t represent a serious challenge to their overall business health. If they do come out with radical products, they want to keep the price as high as possible so it doesn’t disrupt business as usual. Planned obsolescence is also increasingly a factor as the products get more high-tech. Incremental is the key word. Even if you have the technology to make something incredibly sharp, why would you do it? Just provide “enough” sharpness and “enough” to make sales at the “highest price” possible, and you can easily upgrade later on at reduced internal cost to the company, should it be necessary.

    By contrast, Tamron, Sigma, Olympus, Fujifilm, and Sony, for examples, are highly motivated to employ radical innovation and create with niche design. In some cases, they have more resources (Sony, Fuji) to direct towards any particular approved design. In other cases, they have mission critical NEED to do so (Tamron, Sigma). For example, between 2008 and 2011, Sigma was being talked about as a “hit and miss” pile of junk for far too many of its customers. Tamron had just as bad quality control. But the recession created an incentive for customers to buy third party, as the Duopoly is rather expensive. So it can be mission critical at this stage for Tamron and Sigma to up their game, if they want to hold on to the new customers they were given (basically for free) by virtue of the poor economy. By establishing standards and raising prices only slightly and investing heavily in consistency and quality, Sigma and Tamron in particular have an opportunity to prove that they are not junk lens companies, but serious contenders for your money.

    A lot of the potential buyers they hope to win over have been burned by their shoddy lenses in the past (myself included — having had aggravating issues with the Sigma 50 prime). To even touch a Sigma prime again, it not only needs to test well, but it needs to price well. And Sigma only needs enough profit to keep its market growing and pay back any loans on new technology or engineering cost, because the status quo wasn’t great. By earning the trust of consumers for, say, 5-10 years, with consistency, high-quality, and excellent value vis-a-vis cost, without so many clunkers and defects as historically was the case, Sigma can slowly increase prices and offer value-added lenses with higher margin. As the majority of the market is in the low-end and the middle, and as they don’t have the brand image of Leica, they likely will not want to be pure Leica — and will want to keep things affordable. Canon and Nikon will not respond to these threats unless they actually start to hurt the bottom line.

    Sigma and Tamron may be having effect, though, as there is evidence that Nikon is starting to adjust — for example, Nikon lowered the price of its 50/1.4 G by a fairly large adjustment since its launch. And some of the other lenses are starting to lower as well by wider differentials than can be explained by time in market or by exchange rates. However, this is the opposite of what consumers would expect (or demand). Most consumers would prefer that Canon and Nikon keep higher prices (not counting the German luxury brands) — but only as long as they have the most reliable and the highest end lenses possible. Sigma especially sees a weakness in recent drop in quality control from Canon and Nikon and the resulting news reports damaging their reputations. When Nikon stops having so many Sigma-like QC issues and starts investing in very artistic, very high quality lenses at reasonable prices, rather than simply off-shoring for cheaper labor and looking for higher margin entry level lenses at the same time, then you might see a slow down in this trend.

    But Sigma’s new executives are on the right track. And their brand will go from a C- to an A+ in 5 years if they keep it up. If the macro trends continue and Sigma and Tamron continue their releases, over the next 10 years you could see an entire generation of lens buyers who source a body from Canon and Nikon but get their lenses almost exclusively from Tamron and Sigma.

    • DuncanM

      TL;DR

    • DP

      I scrolled to the end to see who shot JKF, but it wasn’t there. Promising though!

  • Ulysse

    What about comparing the “old” Sigma 1.4 HSM VS the “art” Sigma 1.4?
    The older lens is a steal and is often on sale for 399$. T
    he minor issue is that its firmware may need to be updated by Sigma if you purchased the lens before any new Nikon body. The same goes for ALL new Sigma ART lenses, but they are at least compatible with the new Sigma USB docking station. Nikon sucks and hates competition, this is why they constantly re-code new cameras to brick Sigma compatibility.

  • OzTog

    The Australian retail price is actaully lower than stated here.

    The new Sigma can be had for AUD$898 from Camerapro.

    http://www.camerapro.com.au/sigma-50mm-f1-4-dg-hsm-art-lens-canon-mount-australian-stock.html

    So the US price is probably closer to US$850 – US$800

    • http://photorumors.com/ PhotoRumors

      Yes, the street price could be lower than the MSRP.

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