Lens Guides

SIGMA 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM vs SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A

Editor’s Note: This article discusses the differences between the 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, which is still in production, and the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, which has since been discontinued.

The SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A sets the new benchmark for fast standard prime lenses for full-frame DSLRs, and is offered at a very fair price for its total performance. Originally introduced in 2008, the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is still in production, and it remains an exceptional fast fifty designed for both the performance and build expectations of professional photographers at a price that puts it well within reach of enthusiasts looking for both fantastic optics and a pro build quality. Choosing either one of these full-frame SIGMA 50mm F1.4 stablemates over an OEM lens is a wise choice; choosing which one is exactly right for your bag really is basically a matter of budget, plus weight and size considerations. But either way, adding one of these SIGMA 50mm F1.4s to your kit is a great idea.

The Original High-Performance 50mm F1.4

To repeat, the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is still in production, and ships for a pretty fantastic street price, especially with our regular Instant Savings deals. At 3.3” x 2.7” and weighing in at 17.8 ounces, this lens is heavy and stocky. Packing eight elements in six groups, it close focuses to 17.7 inches at 1:7.4 magnification. Nine rounded aperture blades and an aspherical element make for pleasing defocused and focused image elements, while a full-time manual-focus ring allows for on-the-fly adjustments.

The World-Beating 50mm F1.4


The SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A was announced earlier this year and has been the talk of the photography world ever since. Pairing world-beating optics and imaging performance with a hypersonic motor for fast, quiet AF, along with four zone microtuning, wrist-flick Manual Focus override and firmware updates via the USB Dock, this lens has already gained a number of prestigious awards, and earned tons of positive reviews from the most demanding photographers around the world. Physically, it is a very large standard lens, at 3.4” x 3.9 inches and weighing in at 28.7 ounces. Much of that weight comes form the 13 elements in 8 groups, so it is a more complex optical design. Super low dispersion glass and super multi-layer lens coatings, along with nine round aperture blades renders photographs with extraordinary image quality. Field distortion is virtually non-existent. Demand is incredibly high, and supplies are still very limited thanks to its very fair street price.

Head-to-Head Comparison

Overall, the 50mm Art does outperform the 50 EX, but both are far and away a superior purchase decision to the nearest competitors. Independent testing shows that on a crop sensor camera, both SIGMA 50s best the top-of-the-line Canon, the 50mm F1.2L. And remarkably, both of the SIGMA 50s come in at a street price below the heavy Canon pro standard prime offering. Switching to the top-of-the-line full-frame sensor for Canon, it’s virtually a dead heat for silver between the 1.2 L and the EX; while the Art 50 is way ahead of the pack. (Exhaustive independent testing on top-line Nikon sensors is lagging slightly behind Canon reports, but everything so far points the 50 Art seriously outpacing the Nikon F1.4 choices as well on all sensor formats.)

So, really, what it comes down to is total performance, budget, physical size considerations, and availability to determine which SIGMA 50mm F1.4 is right for you. Especially when offered with our regular Instant Savings deals, the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is an incredible bargain for a lens of this caliber. And it is ten ounces lighter, and overall noticeably smaller, both in the hand and when hauling a camera bag.

The 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A lens is larger and heavier, as it is designed with an eye first and foremost at performance above all else. Though heavy, it is balanced, and even though it is priced significantly more than the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, it is still more economical than the OEM lenses it leaves in the dust in terms of overall performance and value.

And then when you add in everything about what the SIGMA Global Vision lenses offer: USB Dock for multiple-zone microfocus adjustment and firmware updates, Mount Conversion Service, and A1 MTF testing for every single unit before leaving the Aizu factory; it makes that $949 street price that much more incredible. This is a world-class lens. And that’s why it is so hard to keep in stock. Worldwide demand remains incredibly high, because photographers and videographers have truly fallen for all this lens offers.

So which SIGMA 50mm F1.4 lens is right for you?

Ask yourself these questions:

Am I looking for the absolute best standard prime camera lens with autofocus I can buy at any price and at any size for my super-high resolution DSLR? If you say “YES!” to both of these, you definitely want to order the 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A right now, even if it means waiting some time for backorders to fill!

Am I looking for the absolute best optical performance and pro-quality build  in a standard prime for my DSLR, but I am on a limited budget? Well, in this case, how is your budget defined? The 50mm F1.4 | Art is more economical than any of the three top-line 50mm primes it competes directly against and has significantly better image quality. And the 50mm F1.4 EX also competes incredibly strongly in this class as well, at a fraction of the price of the OEMs.

Am I looking for a 50mm F1.4 that will give the best possible performance wide open at F1.4? In this case, it’s the 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A lens that’s got the edge.

Here's the same image shot through the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, again at F1.4. As you can see, wide open, the Art lens has the edge in total image quality.
Here’s the same image shot through the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, again at F1.4. As you can see, wide open, the Art lens has the edge in total image quality.

Am I looking for the best 50mm F1.4 I can buy right now, but I am on a very limited budget? In this case, the 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is a great choice, especially with our Instant Savings deals.

Whether you choose the original high-performance 50mm EX or the incredible new Art 50mm, you’ll be adding a fantastic fast F1.4 standard prime to your kit, and both ship with a four-year warranty through authorized retailers.

Comments (1)
  1. Isaac says:

    Excellent Comparison. congratulations, you help me to choose. I will buy the old version, because the incredible price used, and because the quality is almost the same (the same for my needs).

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