Sigma has quickly re-established it’s reputation as the manufacturer of premium quality camera lens when they released the 50mm f/1.4 ART lens in 2014. Since then the ART logo becomes equivalent to best image quality at very reasonable price and Sigma have released a few more ART lenses such as the 24mm f/1.4 that I’m now reviewing.
The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART (Sigma 24mm ART) has been released for a while, and I have been wanting to try out the lens. But only recently I got the chance to borrow one and can therefore work on this review.
The Sigma 24mm ART is designed for full frame DSLRs. If used on a cropped sensor camera then you get the approximately 35mm equivalent focal length which is great as a general everyday lens. The body design of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART is very similar to the other new Sigma ART prime lenses. Build quality is exceptional, hold it in your hands and it feels and looks fantastic. There is a small distance focus scale window and a manual/autofocus switch on the body. Like other ART prime lenses, there is no image stabiliser built-in. The focus ring is quite smooth for an autofocus lens.
Filter thread is 77mm which means you can easily share the filter with your other professional lenses. The lens comes with a reversible lens hood which is pretty easy to install and remove. I would say the Sigma ART lenses, including this 24mm ART have the best build quality among all the current lenses from Japan. Yes I think it’s even better than my beloved Nikon lenses and also the Canon L lenses. The ART lenses just feel more solid and less plasticky. Apart from not being weatherproof, Sigma easily earns top mark in build quality.
The Sigma 24mm ART is quite a hefty lens at 665g. Having said that, it’s virtually the same as the 24mm f/1.4 lenses from Nikon and Canon so it’s nothing like the Sigma 50 ART which is significantly bigger and heavier than the first party lenses.
Now let’s have a look at the image quality and see if it lives up to the expectation being a Sigma ART lens .
At f/1.4, the image is a little bit soft at both the centre and the corner, but it is not too bad even when compared with the Nikon AFS 24mm f/1.4G. At the centre, the Nikon is slightly sharper at wide open but the Sigma seems to be a bit sharper near the edges. Overall I would say the Sigma is very similar to the Nikon in terms of sharpness at maximum aperture. At f/2 the lens is already noticeably sharper and becomes really sharp from f/2.8 onwards.
For a wide angle 24mm lens, bokeh is usually not that important. But thanks to the rounded nine-blade diaphragm, the Sigma 24mm ART has fairly round bokeh and out of focus area is rendered beautifully when you are shooting close up objects.
Vignetting is quite common problem for fast wide angle lens, unfortunately even with the large 77mm front filter size, the Sigma still has significant light falloff near the corners at f/1.4. Vignetting becomes less obvious only when stop down to f/4 or beyond. While this may not be too bad for everyday photos or environmental portraits, you probably want to avoid shooting at wide open when shooting landscape to minimise dark corners.
On the other hand, landscape photographers should be happy that barrel distortion is extremely well controlled. There is virtually no noticeable distortion even if you are shooting a brick wall.
Chromatic aberrations and flare are also well controlled and rarely a problem even when shooting really high contrast scene with strong light source in front of the camera.
Coma, or comatic aberration is noticeable at f/1.4, but it is better than a lot of lenses at f/1.4.
Autofocus performance is very decent. Autofocus operation is almost silent and autofocus accuracy appears to be very good as well. I didn’t notice any front or back focus issue. And remember all the Sigma ART lenses (and some late mode non-ART lenses) can be calibrated using the optional Sigma USB dock, so even if your copy does have focus issue, it can be fixed easily.
My previous experience with the Sigma 50mm ART and 35mm ART are both very positive as they both excel in both image quality and build quality.
After using the Sigma 24mm ART for a few weeks, I can say the Sigma 24mm ART is just as good as it’s elder (and longer) brothers. Image quality is very good and same as the build quality. And the best thing is that the price is a lot lower when compare with the first party 24mm f/1.4 lenses which makes it an excellent choice if you want a high quality fast wide angle prime lens.
So what’s coming next Sigma?
Reviewer: Richard Wong
Richard is a multi-award winning wedding/portrait photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. Richard’s website is www.photobyrichard.com
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All samples are converted from RAW to JPG using Adoble Lightroom CC 2015.5. Adjusted to taste but with ZERO vignetting, CA, distortion correction.