This past August I had a break-in at my house, and the savvy thief stole most of my camera equipment. Gone were the D300s, D700 and D750. 18-35 f/3.5-4.5, 60 f/2.8 macro, 135 f/2 DC and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX. With insurance to the rescue, I set about replacing what I’d lost. The D750, 18-35, 60 and 135 were straightforward to replace directly. The Sigma 50, on the other hand, was tricky.
I’d picked up the 50 EX at BH Photo in Manhattan a few years ago and it was a bit of a mixed bag. Often, but not always, sharp but with incredibly inconsistent metering and AF. It was a beautiful lens on the D700 when it was on its best behaviour but with the higher resolution D750 (and when playing around with the D800 and D810) it just wasn’t that sharp at wide apertures. Now, the EX is no longer produced and couldn’t be found at any stores. The natural substitute was the newer, bigger and heavier ART version. Much bigger and heavier. Like huge for a 50.
The resolution from this lens is outstanding across the frame at every aperture. Focusing on just the eye gives a great effect for portraits and shooting wide open with a razor-sharp focal plane and creamy bokeh is no problem.
D750 f/1.4 ISO 720
AF accuracy has been a bit inconsistent but really not bad. Better than the EX but not as rock solid as Sigma’s 35mm f/1.4 ART. Unlike the old EX, exposure accuracy is no worse than the rest of my lenses (not counting the AF-S 85mm f/1.8 G, which tends to overexpose).
I tested the lens against my AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G and found it to be considerably sharper at open apertures. Out-of-focus highlights show less of a cat-eye effect but the overall bokeh isn’t much different. I shot the two lenses back to back using christmas lights as point source highlights. In the second image you can see that the ART is sharper at f/1.4 than the Nikon is at f/1.8.
Left: ART at f/1.4; Centre: ART at f/1.8; Right: AF-S G at f/1.8
Here are a few more shots: