It's huge, it's heavy and it's taken me a while to work up to trying it. But I had three Weetabix for breakfast, took a deep breath and ventured out with my Sony A7r + Battery Grip + Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART lens to see if my suspicions were correct. That this would be close to the best quality it's possible to get with a digital camera this side of medium format. Was I right, or did I just return home with a bad back and a sense of anti climax? Read what happened after the camera porn.
This combination certainly gives the idea that Mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L cameras have a size and weight advantage a bit of a kicking. OK it is a DSLR lens, but I had no Mirrorless Inferiority Complex walking around a stately home with this thing. I also had a quiet inner grin when I walked past some guy swanning around with a Canon + zoom and seeing his eyes pop out of his head when he clocked this.
If you haven't seen the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART lens, then be prepared for a bit of shock. It is HUGE. With 815g of metal and glass it's bigger than most zooms and one of the heaviest lenses I've ever carried around. You'll not be surprised to learn that I didn't take anything else with me.
Focusing was also a bit of a pain, since the lens, the Metabones adapter and the camera didn't seem to see eye to eye about what they were all supposed to be doing. But I managed somehow and hoped I'd got some decent shots.
So back at Soundimageplus HQ, I got the pictures up on the screen and suddenly all was forgiven. This lens is simply amazing. Sensationally sharp, Bokeh that made even me think there was a point to it and a genuinely beautiful rendering. It used every one of those 36MP to create almost forensically sharp, hyper-realistic images with extraordinary detail and resolution.
It's certainly more lens than I'll ever need and while today was supposed to be a one-off, I may well be tempted to give this another go at some point. I went somewhere I have a lot of pictures of, plus the weather wasn't great, so it was an ideal testing scenario. But the thought of this combination in great light with scenic landscape in front of me makes my mouth water (and my back groan!!)
Here are a few samples with 100% blowups.
FULL-SIZE IMAGE SAMPLES FOR APPRAISAL
N.B. These are full-size images processed from raw via ACR and photoshop. Clicking on the image takes you to my Google Drive account where you can view the image at full size and / or download the image.
Please note that these are © images and CANNOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES be re-used, re-sold or shared with anybody, anywhere, anytime. Pleae respect copyright. These images are provided so that you, on an individual basis, can make an assessment of the camera / lens performance. Links to this post are permitted. If I detect ANY unauthorised use or sharing, I will take legal steps to obtain compensation. If the images are uploaded to a stock photography site, please note that they will also take legal steps to obtain compensation.
So seriously impressive. And yes this is the sharpest lens I've ever owned.
But, in terms of going out and using it, I doubt I'll be carrying it around much on my stock shooting trips. The manual focusing is just so slow and fiddly that it certainly wasn't a pleasure to use. It's a different matter when it's mounted on my Nikon DF. Yes it's still big and heavy but it has AF (and pretty quick AF as well) so it's a much more usable lens.
For tripod mounted video and for studio type work where i've got plenty of time to set up however it's a different story. This is a special lens and under the right circumstances is just what's requires. I'm also planning to use it as my 'reference' lens. Since via adapters it can be used on virtually all my cameras (and I'm hoping those Chinese factories who make every kind of adapter possible will eventually get round to a Nikon to Leica T one) so it's going to be used for that. I'm going to be putting together a Nikon Df / Sony A7r comparison and I'll be using it for that.
And of course there is the question of how it compares to the Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens. Now that's going to be the subject of a whole post which should be arriving sometime next week. (Update - That comparison is done and is HERE) In use terms, the Sony / Zeiss is the one I'll take out with me for my stock shooting. It's so much lighter and smaller and almost as fast, as well as being an AF lens.
So as far as my Sony A7r is concerned the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART is a 'special occasion' lens. And special is an VERY appropriate word for it.
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