The new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens should be crazy good

During CES Imaging-Resource talked to Sigma about their new 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens and reported some interesting bits of information - the lens is not just a refresh of the previous version, but has a completely new design, with more glass elements inside and the performance should be very close to the $4,000 Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* lens:

"But the most impressive information we gleaned? When discussing their goals of image quality and sharpness for the lens, Sigma mentioned they're confident they'll surpass competitive products from Canon and Nikon and are instead gunning for Zeiss's new 55mm Otus lens. It's a serious claim. The Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus lens -- with its $4000 price tag -- is squarely aimed at high-end professional shooting such as fashion, advertising and editorial work."

That's a serious claim that will probably be reflected in the price of the lens (not yet revealed). The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM lens was priced significantly below its Nikon equivalent, hopefully the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens will cost less than the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G.

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  • John

    As a 50mm it should cost even less than the 35mm from Sigma.

    • Tino

      Let’s hope this will come true!

    • mist3rf0ur

      That would be nice but judging from this who knows. It could be a similar price.

    • Andy

      Existing 50mm lenses are cheap because of their simple design. This is based on a more complex retrofocus design similar to the sigma 35mm.

    • Remedy

      As a complete ignorant in terms of lens design and costs of it You should stop talking.

    • johnny

      I’d say the 35 is harder to design than the 50, but it doesn’t imply the 50 cost less on manufacturing. It depends on what kind of optical glass it’s using.

      • Corvi

        Design is made in a matter of minutes by software. You just enter parameters and voila out comes the lens. design. Only thing that has to be made on “the drawing board” is the lens barrel. Lens development is easier than you might think these days. Its only a matter of price how good the lens is.

        • Noah

          Corvi, no. Just no. You still need an optical engineer. You can’t just open your iphone and say, “Siri, give me a nice optical formula for a 50mm Distagon (which is what the new Sigma is, fyi)” I do believe the new Zeiss Otus and the new Sigma are the only 50mm Distagons for the 35mm format, including Leica! I can’t wait to get my hands on this Sigma. I’d love to read an interview with the engineer who designed the optical formula as well!

          • RBR

            Darn! What good is Siri if you can’t do that? 😉

            I would love to read that interview as well.

        • johnny

          You are making it too simple. Current optical design is heavily relied on computer aid. Software will help you in ray tracing computation, but it will not create the construction for you. It’s the designer to decide which formula or glass will achieve your goal.

    • Theodoros Fotometria

      There is no point on competing with price terms at 50mm… Makers lenses are very good already… The lens is bulkier than 35mm and has 77mm filter thread. It’ll be more expensive. It aims very high, it aims to be Sigma’s “status symbol”….

  • jkclapham

    I don’t doubt that the optics will be superb, but that is one massive 50mm lens.

    • FDF

      Only half as massive as the Zeiss, but I still wouldn’t carry it around in my bag.

      • Remedy

        And You shouldn’t. It’s most useful when it’s mounted on a camera. So carry it around mounted on Your camera. Pro tips since 1937.

        • madmax

          So better buy a fixed lens camera. Nonsense comment.

  • JSP

    Sounds good! Does anyone have any idea of when it’ll be on sale?

    • Remedy


  • sperdynamite

    I hate these staggered releases. Just tell us how much it’s gonna cost and when we can get it.

    • JSP

      Agreed! What’s the average time between first word and sale nowadays?

      • In the case of the Tokina 70-200 f/4 VR, about 2 years…

    • Rui Nelson Carneiro

      True story. When it was about the Df, it was a very different story. They put the price, specs and aesthetics right in front of you! You could even download RAW files and all!

  • k

    ook how better it will be at f1.8 then the normal 50mmf1.8g?

    • geeee

      i think 7

      • plan3s

        It might range from 6-8 actually

  • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

    Pretty much what I was expecting from that lens design.
    Now I’m waiting for the MTF chart and some samples to “confirm” this.

    • johnny

      There is MTF chart for it already. Unsurprisingly, its curve is a bit better than 35/1.4 art.

      • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

        Must have missed it somehow.
        They are not on sigmas site, which is strange.

  • Brian

    While they are producing these great optics it would be nice if they spent a little time weather sealing the lens. That was a deal breaker for me on the 35 1.4.

    • Arthur Nazarian

      I also pity that the 35/1.4 doesn’t have sealing. And looking at this image of the 50mm – it appears to lack the weather sealing too.

      • Remedy

        I love how You got X-ray in Your eyes so You can tell what’s inside of the lens by just looking at it’s housing. Facepalm.

        • Arthur Nazarian

          “Facepalm” that you obviously don’t know what key things of weather sealing are, but still have a strong opinion!

          (Hint: rubber at mount)

          • Remedy

            Double facepalm that my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-S has rubber gasket around it’s mount and yet is NOT weather sealed. So again, facepalm much?

          • Arthur Nazarian

            It’s not the only obligatory thing to make a lens weather sealed. Sorry for assuming you could think logically.

          • Remedy

            Sorry that You made a clown conclusion based on a RENDERED image of a lens. Go figure.

          • Arthur Nazarian

            Sorry again for assuming you could read: I said in my first post “looking at this picture”, so the conclusion was merely on this picture indeed.

          • Remedy

            You only confirm what I already said. Clown conclusion based on render.

          • Brian

            It only took participation in one thread to figure out who the asshat is around here. Go figure. Facepalm.

          • Duncan Dimanche

            sorry sorry sorry…. how about a big HUG and all is forgiven hun ?

          • Arthur Nazarian

            You’re right, now I really lost my fate!

    • mist3rf0ur

      So a small rubber gasket and some masking tape?

    • MajorBoner

      Brian….Oh the pain. Weather Seal? Hummm Does it cost Nikon an extra 1000 dollars to place a rubber band on their lenses? Let’s get real Guuuuurrrrrlllll.

      • fjfjjj

        My old 17-35 2.8 Nikkor isn’t weather sealed. Oh look, it’s raining, time for another trip outdoors with it.

        • Clint

          Yeah totally agree. I think weather sealing is a little over rated unless you are a pro shooting outdoor sports or a photojournalist working in harsh environments. I take my gear outside all the time and never have issues. In most cases even ‘consumer grade’ gear is hardier than most of the people whining about weather proofing.

      • Steven Solidarios
    • photo-Jack

      I agree. I’d always welcome weather sealing – not only because of the wet elements but the dusty ones too. However even Zeiss ignores any weathersealing since years. But the sigma does come with AF. I only hope that Sigma has improved the AF too. I had 2 Sigmas böwing their AF in the middle of a shooting and never touched any Sigma ever since.
      Anyway congrats to Sigma pursuing challenging gpaö with it’s Art serie. If I were Nikon I#d seriously reconsider my philosophy. This lens isn’t the first example where a so-called second level brand is going to take Nikon the butter off the bread. A top end and top priced 58mm which rather focusses on Bokeh instead of sharpness, contrast, microcontrast and resolution doesn’t cut it for me. Were I forced to choose between th 1.8/50 and the new 58 I’d take the 1.8/50. §4000 for the Otus is a little too steep for a focal length that I don’t use too often. Thus Sigmas endeavor is very welcome!

      • Jo

        Anybody of the “weather sealing essentially needed”-crowd who is able to define the marketing blurb of “weather sealing”? Sunshine? Wind? Fog? Which density of rain? Which temperature range?

        If it’s so weather sealed (those Nikon lenses) why not leave it in the car when visiting the desert and nobody arround to steal it? The weather is only a bit of heat?

        Please folks, show me where Nikon defines the “wather sealing” or use that exact word in their specifications of the lens?

        Your “weather sealing” is nothing more than hot air coming of the loudspeakers of Nikon’s marketing gang and is in no way covered by any warranty. Try it if you darre.

        • Ken Elliott

          Think of it more as a feature that _Might_ save your gear, should you get caught in sudden rain.

          If I know I’m likely to shoot in the rain, I’ll bring proper rain protection. But sometimes a sudden storm appears and we are running around putting plastic garbage bags on all the gear. It hurts to lose a strobe to rain (hey, Nikon – how about weather-proofing the SB-9xx?), but that’s way better then losing a lens and body to rain.

          • mememe

            My D300s + 35 1.8G (or even Sigmas 10-20) and Metz 58 AF-1 strobe stood in heavy rain on a tripod for hours… no problems.

          • Ken Elliott

            Well, the D300S is weatherproof, as is the 35/1.8 (I think – I don’t have that lens). I know the Sigma is NOT. I owned one. I think you got lucky.

        • Pierre

          Sorry, but this is quite a stupid comment. Ever tried the difference on, for instance the AF-S 28-70, and the AF-S 24-70, for instance, in Namibia? In Mali? on a Mountain trek in Buthan, or elsewhere in the Himalaya, where you won’t see a car for a week or two? Or even in the Alps, skiing in the winter?

          in any place where you do want to take pictures and not ruin your costly investment?

          There are those of us who do trek in remote, wild places, for a few hours or a few weeks. And yes, whatever Nikon or Canon, or Olympus or advertise as “weather sealing” do make a difference!

          All lenses should be protected against moist and dust, especially with those sophisticated and fragile focus systems.

          Weather sealing, hot air?? Try very thin clay sand on your equipment…

  • Jack B

    This is very interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if Canon and Nikon tweak their firmware to limit/inhibit autofocus with Sigma lenses. How else can they compete with Sigma’s resurgence…short of re-releasing some of their lenses. This is where the Sigma USB adapter comes into play.

    • Dr.Pepper

      IF you don’t do the not very necessary updates…then there will be zero problems attaching Sigma lenses and Rokinon/Samyang and so on your camera. RIGHT?

      • Rokinon/Samyang/Bower are MF lenses anyway, so no problemo there.

      • Rui Nelson Carneiro

        problem is when you buy a new camera

  • Brucy

    I’ll buy it regardless of the price because I’m rich beyond any of your wildest dreams.
    The rest of you who can’t should just cry themselves to sleep in Peasant-Ville or what ever hole you reside in.

    • saywhatuwill

      Why not just buy the Otis and not have to deal with a wannabe copycat? That’s what I would do if I wasn’t in Peasant-Ville.

      • Morris

        the hasselblad lunar special version is the one for him 🙂

      • alreadyupsidedown

        The man raises a good point!

        • lack of AF?

          • alreadyupsidedown

            Not to worry! He can hire someone to focus it for him.

          • Hung Leica Müll

            He’ll actually pay to have the model or subject move to where he is focusing.

      • ohdapain

        SAY..Saywhatuwill….what is a otis? OH you mean Otus. That Puppy aint freaking weathered seal either…For 4000 would think ZEISS would place a rubber band on that puppy also! hummmm Logic.

        • Steve Griffin

          4000 grand? Hmm.. that’s 4 million 😉

        • saywhatuwill

          Hahaha, I guess for $4k I could hire Otis to install an elevator for me. Yeah, I meant Otus. It really isn’t weather sealed? Dang, that just seems wrong, but 20 years from now, the seals won’t be cracked and failing. I’m hoping my Nikon cameras and lenses won’t be cracking and “melting” with goopy rubber oozing out. I hate when rubber does that.

    • Louisville Slugger

      You are such a big assh*le, if you try to shove it up yours, you don’t feel a damn thing. You need a Bigma for that, my friend.

  • Lee

    Pentax K-mount, please?

    • TinusVerdino

      nah, just get a 50 1.4 takumar.

  • Ranger 9

    “with more glass elements inside which should bring the performance very close to the $4,000 Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus…”

    …Because everybody knows the number of glass elements is an infallible proxy for optical performance.

    • MB

      Actually number of glass elements does increase optical performance …

      • Yes, usually it does, which is why I mentioned it but I lightly changed the text to avoid confusions.

      • kassim

        Yeah true. If it wasn’t then don’t they all use single element lens? Cheaper(less glass), lighter and smaller.

  • Guest

    Fuck yeah Sigma!

  • Global

    If Sigma increases their lens prices too high, then I’ll stop considering them, based solely on their historical Quality Control problems (and we have yet to see how long they follow this path of renewal).

    If its a third-party manufacturer, they should keep the price value or risk losing their reputation again. You don’t want customers saying, “I should have just bought the Nikon, for this price the lens should be perfect.” You want them saying, “Sure I could have bought the Nikon/Zeiss — but it was several hundred/thousands dollars more expensive — I can’t believe how good it is!”

    Even for a slightly sharper lens, I’d rather buy the 1st party manufacturer, if prices are the same. Its only when prices are significantly different or lenses are offered that aren’t made by the 1st party that I’ll look elsewhere.

    • Global

      The small differences really do matter (long-term Quality Control standards, WATER SEALING, 100% compatibility with new cameras — all things the Sigma’s may lack)..

      If Sigma is going to spend $1 on sharpness to compete on the MP wars — it should first attach and O-Ring for weather sealing & give consumers a 90% discount to one of those software updating accessories. Although I am all for sharper lenses.

      • delayedflight

        *Weather sealing

        Weather sealing =/= water proof

      • delayedflight

        *Weather sealing

        Weather sealing =/= water proof

        • Global

          That’s definitely correct, typo. But then again, I hope you didn’t think I was going to shoot under water. 😉

    • Remedy

      Judging by how pathetic Canon 35mm f/1.4 or Nikon 35mm f/1.4 are compared to Sigma 35 f/1.4 it should cost 1000$ MORE than this 1st party crap. And don’t get me even started on 50mm. Canon’s 50 f/1.8 and 1.4 are beyond hopeless in terms of build quality and pretty bad to average in terms of optics. 50L is a fking disaster wide open but costs like a fking yacht. Again, Sigma 50mm 1.4 EX should cost more than all of those lenses, because it destroys them on so many levels. Now when Canon’s AF is not completely useless anymore buying a Sigma is a very reasonable choice. Not because it’s cheaper, because it’s MILES better.

      • RBR

        Please stop suggesting that Sigma increase their prices.

      • Global

        Remedy is a troll — Sigma is historically known for their lenses breaking down or being out of focus. We have no idea how they will perform 5 years from now. I’m not trusting Sigma on anything. I want to see them go for 3 years without issues in their art lenses — then I’ll consider paying more for them.

        Until then, the 35/1.4 is SLIGHTLY sharper (in the middle — but not the edges, if i recall correctly) than Nikon’s 1st party lenses and lacks weather sealing. So I consider it a wash.

        The thing that makes the Sigma AMAZING — is the price.

        So no, for $1,000 more, I would not — EVER.

        Keep your prices low, Sigma. When ALL of your lenses are like Zeiss, then you can charge like Nikon. When ALL of your lenses are like Zeiss for 5 years with unsurpassed Quality Control — then you can charge like Zeiss.

    • alreadyupsidedown

      Have you considered that a possible increase in price might actually coincide with better quality control? Sigma wants to make good lenses. They’re trying their damnedest to reverse their reputation.

      According to the good old “Performance, quality or price, pick two” equation, something has to give. Sigma’s performance of late has been very good, and now that they’re doing their best to improve their quality… It’s only logical that prices will go up somewhat.

      But seriously, their prices are still fantastic. Considering they went from peddling absolute crap for bargain basement prices, to selling entirely respectable products to a reasonable price, I’d say the value is still there in spades.

      • Global

        No. Not until they prove it for at least 3 years without defects, I’m not willing to pay more for Sigma.

        ONE lens is SLIGHTLY sharper than the Nikon and you’re already willing to let them double market prices? That’s ridiculous. You must own stock in Sigma or something.

        Sigma is WOW’ing the market right now because its one of the first company’s to take advantage of the significant advances in lensing technologies (making sharp glass much more easily affordable), without price gouging.

        Sigma is doing a good job & should take baby steps or risk significantly harming its reputation & user base.

        And I don’t think Sigma wants to FIGHT for the Zeiss market — because they will lose, due to their history of shoddiness.

        But Sigma CAN be the BEST PERFORMING, BEST VALUE lenses — and OWN that category with dominance, if it can move significant enough volume at the right price, keeping Tokina and Tamron at bay, while presenting itself as the “Middle” between price gouging Nikon and cheep Tokinas. Sigma will steal sales from the bottom and steal sales from the top — its an excellent position to be. Zeiss, by contrast, only steals sales from the top. And Tokina only from the middle.

        • Ken Elliott

          Global said: “And I don’t think Sigma wants to FIGHT for the Zeiss market — because they will lose, due to their history of shoddiness.”

          Actually, aiming for Zeiss is really smart. Even if they fall short, being thought of as the bargain-Zeiss is a great position to be in. If they aim for Nikon, it positions Nikon as the better product, and Sigma will be considered inferior. Aiming for Zeiss actually puts them in the same league as Nikon – who also aims at Zeiss. Watch what happens with this lens launches and all the blogs compare it to the Zeiss. If it comes anywhere close in IQ, they’ve won. Then the story becomes Zeiss-like IQ at a Nikon-level price. That will get a lot of attention.

      • Ken Elliott

        In the old days, it was believed that improved quality cost money. In the 1970’s, the Japanese auto manufacturers showed us otherwise. It is now well understood in “Lean Manufacturing” that improved quality lowers production costs.

  • NurseGoodhead

    ….but waiting in the wings this year is Samyang’s/Rokinon’s 50mm 1.2..yep…1.2 Lens. That might be the ticket.

  • jk

    Otus is for an idiot , nothing more than that, if you can make a 50-ish prime that heavy that expensive any one can make it as good or even better than that crap.
    only Zeiss fanboys worship for it.
    that said , I love my Zeiss 135mm APO, I just hate the Otus,really huge, heavy and extremely ugly.
    if Zeiss or Sigma could make it as small as the Leica 50mm f2 APO , then I will respect them a bit more…………

    • Remedy

      Nobody cares about respect from a typical internet imbecile with ZERO clue about lens design. Who cares if lens is ugly or pretty? WTF? It’s not Miss World contest you douche! It’s a gear that should do what it was made for- NOTHING MORE. And Otus does that, destroys every other 50mm lens so bad that it’s not even fair to mention Otus and other lenses in the same sentence.

      • phosgene

        easy to spot a troll.

      • madmax

        “Otus…destroys every other 50mm lens so bad that it’s not even fair to mention Otus and other lenses in the same sentence”.
        Ridiculous statement. It seems you don´t know what are you speaking about.

        • Corvi

          Well but hes right. Otus makes the 50mm APO Summicron look like a holga lens, and that was regarded one of the best lens designs ever made.

      • outkasted

        Mercy..Fire when

  • RBR

    Why doesn’t Nikon have a new 50mm f/1.4?

    • plan3s

      Why doesn’t Nikon have new lenses at all? Cause who cares, people will buy anyway.

      • solomonshv

        nikon lenses work just fine. no need to fix what’s not broken. canon on the other hand has been making lots of shit lenses. primary examples would be the 24-105mm F4L and 35mm 1.4L. both lenses perform like shit, are built like shit, and disgustingly overpriced for what they are. at least nikon can match the performance and warranty of newest sigma lenses, even though at a higher price. canon can’t do either of those things but still charges too much money,

        canon only good lenses are their 70-200 tele lenses. those are still good, build quality, performance and all. but the others suck. they are really making me regret switching from nikon

    • alreadyupsidedown

      Because they’re lazy, and still clinging to this delusion that people will buy their stuff because it’s the only option.

      Look at Fuji. They managed to throw together a nearly complete line of primes and zooms in just a few years. More pro zooms and telephotos on the way.

      That would take Nikon… decades.

      • johnny

        They are not just lazy, they’re sleeping. Canon used to have decent std lenses in FD era. I converted a FD 55/1.2 SSC Aspherical into EOS mount, and it kills every 50 lenses Canon have right now.

        • Just don’t keep that 55/1.2 on your lap… 😀

        • outkasted


      • VK

        When a company has lost it sense of direction, and let its competitors take over, who should be blame? Its the CEO! Thus, I always feel the Nikon CEO should be FIRED! Plain and simple.

  • Hmm, the actual Sigma 50/1.4 is more extensive than the nikon and canon, so why should this beast shoulf be cheaper?

  • Duncan Dimanche

    Can’t wait to see it’s performance and if the price is around 900$ like the 35mm and just as good I’ll go for it no doubt !!

    Can’t wait to see how the new Nikon 35mm 1.8g fares !
    Things are getting exiting !!

    Funny that Tamron never made a 50mm or 35mm FF…. or am I wrong ?

    Oh and Stabilisation would have bee a nice touch too 🙁

    • preston

      The only primes Tamron offers are 1:1 macro lenses with a max aperture of f/2.8, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to jump into fast primes at this point. Their bread and butter is large zoom range lenses, although they are doing very well lately with f/2.8 zooms as well.

  • LensKiller

    Nikon 58mm got killed again. In its grave.

  • madmax

    For sure better than Otus as it also has an amazing modern invention inside. It is called “autofocus” and is state of the art since… 50 years ago.

    • saywhatuwill

      Too bad AF hasn’t been around for 50 years. My old Nikon 400mm f/5.6 AI-s made in the 1970’s would be AF now. AF wasn’t commercially introduced until Minolta came out with the 7000 in 1985, then everyone had to play catch up. I remember all the crazy debates on how AF was horrible and they could focus faster with manual lenses. People just don’t like change.

    • And do you know the reason why Zeiss hasn’t put AF in the ZF/ZE lenses?

      • RBR

        Good Q. It would be interesting to know.

        • Ratheesh

          Only japan companies can produce lens with autofocus for canon or nikon cameras, they have patented it in such a way. any lens which produced outside japan wont have the autofocus compatibility patent.

          • RBR

            Thanks. I always thought they had just reverse engineered things. Cheers.

        • Many people know why already:

          People who can’t use a search feature think it’s because Zeiss is stuck in the past, etc.

          • RBR

            Strange things are happening with disappearing posts. Someone else has already replied about the license issues (minus the snide comments) and I had replied it them that I had always thought that various companies had simply reverse engineered the interface.

            I don’t think Discus is a reliable system the way things seem to be working.

            Not being a Zeiss user, It is not a matter of great concern to me in any event.

          • Try the sorting feature in Disqus or refresh your browser – it is one if the best commenting systems available today.

          • RBR

            I don’t know whether that is the problem or not or whether it is a default configuration issue or whether the system simply does not workdays well as desired, but there have been complaints on enough different discussions on enough different websites that I have to suspect that more than that is involved . In any event, thanks for the suggestion.

            [Edit] P.S. I know from experience that refreshing or even restarting the browser does not resolve the matter.

          • whisky

            they are stuck in the past. they’d have to license the electronic contacts — much like kodak did, or Sigma hasn’t, and then charge a hefty premium on top of Zeiss’ current premium premium.

          • Do you think if they could they wouldn’t? If you read again, the issue is they’re not allowed to license.

            It’s different when it comes to what Japanese companies can do with each other’s tech.

          • whisky

            i didn’t extract that from Zeiss’ brief explanation. it also ignores the point that Kodak, a non-japanese company, licensed Nikon tech (Nikon bodies) to produce Kodak digital cameras.

          • whisky

            here is Zeiss’ more flushed out explanation:

            Why does this lens family feature an autofocus (AF), while the SLR lenses only have a manual focus (MF)?

            The development of autofocus lenses requires close collaboration with the camera manufacturer in order to ensure full compatibility with the pertinent camera system. In its collaboration with Canon and Nikon, ZEISS currently is not even licensed to use the autofocus interface on the camera. Therefore, we are concentrating on offering the best manual focus lenses for these systems.

            In its collaboration with Sony, ZEISS is developing autofocus lenses for the Alpha and NEX systems. The new Touit lenses are also available for the Fujifilm X system. ZEISS and camera manufacturer Fujifilm worked together closely on this project.


            in other words if Zeiss is too stingy to pony up and license Nikon’s mount, they’ll need to reverse engineer the mount like Sigma does, and from time to time supply firmware upgrades — something i don’t think they’re interested in.

            from what i’ve seen over the years, Zeiss is a small company primarily dedicated to the effort of licensing their own brand to others.

          • The most important line from the text you have quoted above is “… Zeiss currently is not even licensed to use the autofocus interface…”

            It doesn’t say “Zeiss is not interested in licensing the autofocus interface”, which is what your interpretation is.

            In the link I showed earlier, Zeiss specifically says “due to international licences, it is not possible at the moment for companies outside Japan to offer AF lenses with EF- or F – mount”.

            Does it need to get any more specific than that? You are trying to bend this to fit your unsubstantiated explanation of things that you have picked up from places like dpreview.

          • RBR

            Not being an international trade specialist, I can not comment upon the validity of the “nobody outside of Japan can license” matter, but it would certainly seem to invite litigation or even trade retaliation if that is the case.

          • Nothing surprising in people favouring companies from their own country… I might be wrong here but what’s Zeiss going to do legally other than trying to stop Canon and Nikon selling DSLRs in Germany just like how Apple wants Samsung to stop selling phones in the US? Besides, how are they going to even get the income they’re getting from the manual focus lenses if they officially declare war against Japanese AF 35mm DSLR makers? Last time I checked it’s only the Japanese who make AF DSLRs 🙂 Besides, what if Sony pulls out and stops handing them free money for “approving” Sony Zeiss lenses?

            If Zeiss wants to win, they should look in to making their own DSLRs… but if Zeiss releases a DSLR or mirrorless of their own, they’re going to face the same treatment that Leica gets. With the licensing not being an issue for mirrorless mounts (Fuji X and Sony E/FE) I think they have a more promising future as a specialised lens maker.

          • whisky

            fact: kodak licensed nikon tech in the past
            fact: zeiss does not. it’s not that they can’t, because obviously other companies have — but that they’re not willing to license . OTOH, they can and have licensed other japanese tech.
            fact: i don’t subscribe to dpreview
            supposition: perhaps you jump to conclusions too easily and have been duped by Zeiss. for some reason, this outcome is making you defensive. JMO.

          • genotypewriter’s “duped by Zeiss”… ROFL… then I must also be duped by Canon, Chamonix, Contax, Fuji, Gitzo, Graflex, KMZ, Kodak, Manfrotto, Nikon, Novoflex, Pacific Optical, Polaroid, Schneider, Shen Hao, Sigma, Sony, Tokina and Voigtlander as well because I have cameras, lenses and gear from those makers too.

            Your argument carries zero appeal because all you’re going by is “Kodak did it once a long time ago so anyone else can do it now” and “la la la la cos I said so”. Anyone can speculate… you need to bring some evidence to the table.

          • whisky

            so how does this differ from your argument, where you claim “the issue is they’re not allowed to license.”? allowed by whom?

            all you’ve brought to the table is an ambiguous statement by Zeiss — which the existing evidence contradicts. in order for Zeiss to make AF lenses for Nikon & Canon, not only would they need to license tech from the camera makers, $$$, but they’d also need to know how to design a state-of-the-art motorized engine, adapt image stabilization technology, and leverage material science to build lightweight plastic and carbon fiber helicoids to support AF/MF technology. all this seems a little out of character for a small optical company which derives the vast majority of their income from licensing their brand.

          • rt-photography

            so why does sigma have compatibility issues and tokina and tamron dont?

          • This is my personal speculation but the incompatibility of older Sigma lenses with newer bodies is most likely caused by the software in the newer bodies rather than due to an issue in Sigma’s reverse engineering of the lens mount.

            For example if you take Canon’s cutting edge lenses with all kinds of modern features, they work normally on Canon’s 90s film SLRs without any issues. Newer Sigma lenses work with such older bodies too (AFAIK) and this means Sigma has figured out the fundamental communication protocol. So when newer bodies suddenly stop working with existing Sigma lenses, I can’t think of pointing fingers at anyone but the body makers.

            For what it’s worth, there have been instances where incompatibilities have risen between manufacturer’s own existing lenses and newer bodies. So by no means I’m saying what the manufacturers are doing is deliberate.

        • FredBear

          Because the best focus can only be achieved manually?
          Autofocus units are not as accurate as most people actually think they are.
          CD/liveview is better than PDAF for critical work.
          Zeiss lens are not designed for ‘happy snappers’ but rather for those who take time in composition and focusing – as demanded to get the best out of the lens and sensor combination.

      • Falk Lumo

        Maybe, the true answer lies in history.

        If one looks up history, we are finding:

        “Therefore, when Minolta lost a patent case on auto-focus devices in 1992 and paid $127.5 million to Honeywell in settlement, almost all Japanese companies were greatly shocked.” [ ]

        Japanese companies incl. DSLR makers feel they are treated unfair by Western culture of making money at the court. So, they may have agreed (and may never have documented) that they will NOT share autofocus technology with the West. Kind of revenge.

        Zeiss may just have become victim of these large geo-political events. Which may explain why they always remain a bit vague on the issue. And why Sony was first to give them a license as Sony is known to act on its own, not always like Nippon Inc. desires.

        All of this is speculation, just my educated guess …

  • Jon Ingram

    I hope the Sigma is as good as this implies. A 50 1.4 MUST have good bokeh. Here is to hoping it has great bokeh and is sharp as hell. If so, I’ll get one.

  • FredBear

    About time. Iff they can produce a very good 50mm lens at a reasonable price I’ll give Sigma a shot (for the first time).

  • Saffron Blaze

    I don’t care why Zeiss systems do not have AF. I do care that this Sigma lens might be a paradigm shift in 3rd party lenses, which the 35mm 1.4 was a harbinger.

    • Neopulse

      Zeiss doesn’t have AF because they can’t get a license to make it outside of Japan. You should google it

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