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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old October 9th, 2010, 11:30 AM   #1
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Sigma 50mm f1.4

I haven't seen much mention about this lens, but having seen a bokeh test, I bought one. As people may wonder at the madness of selecting this lens over the Canon 50mm f1.4, thought I'd offer the following thoughts after a week of testing and working with it.


As a stills lens, the auto-focus sucks. There. Finished. Let's move on.

As a video lens, it's all I wanted from this specialised corner. After all, I have absolutely no interest in this lens beyond f2.8.

Tried a friend's Canon 50 1.4, the focusing was exemplary, but based on my initial fumblings at the widest aperture, the overall imagery wasn't quite there. Not enough to make me go out and buy one straight away. Cut to the chase. Saw some video tests from this lens, loved the bokeh, bought the lens.

Totally irrational. Photographers will dislike this lens. But driven in manual at f1.4 to f2.0, I love it. It's the 'interview' lens, the 'voxpop' lens, the 'GV details' lens... it does not replace the 17-55 Nikkor I own either, as it's easier to hand-hold and gives an extra two stops.

But it comes down to the bokeh. This one feels like whipped cream over the 're-frozen icecream' of the Canon 1.4, even if the latter has far better ergonomics and works as a photography lens.

Oh yes, and the tests...


Warts and all.
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Old October 9th, 2010, 12:21 PM   #2
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Lovely clips. As you said, superb bokeh. I'm already feeling thirsty too!
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Old October 11th, 2010, 06:14 AM   #3
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Love this lens on my 550d. It never leaves the lens mount. I just stand back more than I would normally have too, lol.

Seriously, this is just a great lens, think i will also pickup the Sigma F1.4 30mm
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Old October 12th, 2010, 12:17 AM   #4
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there are a ton of GREAT 50 1.4's out there you can pick up for $100 on ebay - OM is really nice, Pentax, Ziess, Contax, Nikon ( backwards focus ) even some Mir and Porst's. manual iris ring, real focus ring with typically 180 deg of focus rotation. just add the right adapter.

thats why I have 2 modern AF lenses - tamron 17-50 2.8 ( love / hate ) and the tamron 70-200 2.8 ( wild mad love , optically equal to the new canon L thats 3X the price ) and the rest are all vintage glass.

to be sure the older lenses have a different look, but still quite nice.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 09:57 PM   #5
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I agree with Steve. In the 50mm range, I greatly prefer vintage manual focus Nikons f/1.4, around $100 and Zeiss Planar T f/1.4 around $300.
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Old January 20th, 2011, 05:28 AM   #6
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Matt,
"As a stills lens, the auto-focus sucks. There. Finished. Let's move on."

I planning to order Sigma 50mm 1.4 for my canon 550D intention use for Photo & Video. Is the Auto-focus really that bad? can you give me more advice on this?

thanks

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Old January 22nd, 2011, 07:03 AM   #7
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Well, speaking as a vidiot rather than a snapper, I don't really have much experience of photographic autofocus. I know how good/bad autofocus is on video cameras, and that critical focus is hyperimportant on HD, and as sensor sizes increase, well, the subject is either in focus or the shot is a waste of data.

So the Sigma, at 1.4, has a very thin DoF, the autofocus system hunts quite a bit, and then when it settles, I think I can do better - but the lens is probably a little soft when it's wide open.

Looking at the test movies, I could see genuinely more beautiful bokeh on the Sigma. Shooting handheld in low light, it creates evocative images - reminding me of what I 'wanted' to see back in the days of 16mm film.

But as time goes on, I think (horror!) I should have gone with the Canon 1.4, and here's why: not many people (especially not our audiences) analyse the big fuzzy balls of bokeh and compare them side by side with other examples.

BUT, when shooting - and with all other things being equal - I have come to the conclusion that focus action is everything. Shooting yesterday in a recording studio, subject was fairly animated and I'm shooting handheld, riding the focus, relying on muscle memory. The Sigma's focus is, like many plastic bodied lenses, a little gritty. And the Autofocus (when you're dangling the camera overhead or round a corner and you can't eyeball it) hunts and misses enough to be untrustworthy.

Will I sell it and get a Canon 1.4? Dunno. Like I said, the images it creates are so filmy. I'll have to actually borrow a Canon, I think. But the Sigma remains, for the time being, a keeper.
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Old January 22nd, 2011, 04:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Daviss View Post
I have come to the conclusion that focus action is everything. Shooting yesterday in a recording studio, subject was fairly animated and I'm shooting handheld, riding the focus, relying on muscle memory. The Sigma's focus is, like many plastic bodied lenses, a little gritty.
I use my EF 50mm 1.4 for still and video on a T2i. A great lens all around, but not perfect.

Here is a link to owners discussing the rotational free play in the focus ring on the Canon 50mm f1.4 that can make manual focus very difficult at times. -
Who has an EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens?: Canon SLR Lens Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review

It's also very susceptible to focus system damage with even very light impact. Mine is off to Canon for repair now. Haven't heard back on warranty or repair bill yet. If the repair bill is close to replacement, I'm going antique.

My old Canon SSC FD lenses had great focus feel that I have missed with EF lenses. Too bad the FDs adapt to the EOS so badly.
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