Sigma’s Art lenses have been very well received by photographers and the line has quickly grown to encompass several different focal lengths. The 24mm f/1.4 is a full-frame, wide-angle lens tailor-made for photojournalism, nature, street and architectural photography. We tested a Canon mount lens primarily on the 50-megapixel EOS 5DS in tandem with photographer and director David Patiño.
The full-frame 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM uses both FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) and SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements to keep aberration and distortion at bay. It has a nine-blade aperture and stops down to f/16. You can focus on objects as close as 9.8 inches away with a magnification of 1.5.3. A hyper-sonic motor ensures smooth, quiet autofocus while a manual focus override feature allows you to dial in small focus adjustments manually after the lens has auto focused.
The lens is compatible with Sigma’s optional USB Dock ($59) for future firmware upgrades and focus micro adjustments. It accepts 77mm filters and is sold in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts. Like all members of the Art lens family, the 24mm lens qualifies for Sigma’s Mount Conversion Service. For a fee that ranges between $80-$200, Sigma will change the mount on the 24mm lens to another full frame system mount of your choice. Shipping charges between $25-$100 will also apply.
Sigma’s 24mm Art lens is solidly constructed and while it’s a touch heavier than some of its competition, it didn’t feel unbalanced on an EOS 5DS.
The 24mm f/1.4 lens weighs in at 23.5 ounces. While it’s on the heavier side of the 24mm market, Patiño tells us it didn’t feel unbalanced on his 5DS. In fact, he says he loved the feel. “It has a solid, robust design.”
There’s a switch on one side of the barrel to flip between auto and manual focus. Focus and depth of field markings are clearly visible through the window and the focus ring provides a nice smooth turn, although it’s not a very long rotation of the barrel before the lens focuses past infinity—something to keep in mind if you shoot a lot of video and need a longer focus turn.
The lens isn’t weather sealed, so you’ll need to take care to keep it out of inclement weather.
IMAGE QUALITY & PERFORMANCE
Patiño used the 24mm lens to frame a large group portrait with 35 individuals across a spacious corporate lobby. He tells us the lens was an excellent match for his Canon 5DS, able to faithfully resolve details on subjects as he zoomed in 1:1. It stayed sharp out to the edges at higher f-stops but also fell off gently and smoothly when shooting at a shallow depth of field. Vignetting was very minimal considering the speed of the lens.
It was especially good when it came to preserving contrast. “It holds the blacks well,” Patiño says. When shooting outdoors, with the sun rising above the clouds, the lens didn’t pick up an undue amount of flare and we looked in vain for signs of chromatic aberration. Autofocus proved swift and mostly silent.
The 24mm DG HSM Art lens is a great, budget-friendly addition to your gear bag for wide-angle photography. While it’s not the absolutely cheapest 24mm f/1.4 prime on the market, it does a great job of delivering excellent image quality and performance for the price.
There’s plenty of competition, though, in this lens category. If you’re willing to forgo autofocusing, the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 sells for about $300 less. The Sigma lens’s primary EF-mount competitor is Canon’s EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM. Canon’s can be stopped down further, to f/22, and offers much closer focusing than Sigma’s Art lens, down to 3 inches. It’s also a touch lighter (22.9 ounces) but at $1,449, it commands a premium over the Sigma. Nikon’s 24mm f/1.4 prime is more expensive still ($2,000) with comparable close focusing to the Sigma while weighing in slightly lighter. However, Nikon’s new 24mm f/1.8, while not as fast as the Sigma, comes in $100 cheaper and considerably lighter (12.6 ounces).
PROS: Sharp edge-to-edge; manual focus override; minimal vignetting; excellent price.
CONS: Stops down only to f/16; relatively heavy; not weather sealed.