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Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

sigma50-14jpg
Review Date: Apr 23, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: bokeh, fast, little vignetting, sharp, good colors, AF, good at f/1.4-2.0, good at short distance
Cons:
CA for OOF objects in front of the focus point, build quality, outclassed at f/4.0+, non-planar design


Photos I took with this lens: http://highaperture.com/Sigma50mm-Index.html

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is an amazing lens. But you should know its strong and weak points:

1. Bokeh. Unique bokeh, very smooth and washed. Different rendition than the Canon 50mm f/1.2. I bought this lens for this bokeh alone.

2. Size: big for a 50mm lens. It's actually bigger than the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2, and almost as heavy.

3. Build quality look ok. The plastic feels cheaper than the Canon plastic. There is no comparison with the metal lenses made by Zeiss or CV.

4. Focusing: lots of people complained about the lens having focusing problems. Those may have been earlier copies. My copy works like a charm.

5. MTF graph shows extremely good performance.

6. Vignetting: very low. Better than the Canon 50mm f/1.2 even when stopped down to f/1.4

7. The positive field curvature is a problem for shooting at infinity. It works very good with short distances.

8. For stopped down and distance shooting, the Sigma is outclassed by simpler lenses, such as the Zeiss ZE 50mm f/1.4.


 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Apr 1, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp at all distances and apertures, good contrast and colors, high resolution, small and not intrusive, very fast focusing, flare well controlled, low distortion
Cons:
bokeh a bit too busy/harsh, build quality ok, but still plastic, and not comparable to Zeiss or others, small chromatic aberrations may appear at high aperture

I have lots of top quality lenses (such as EF 85L mk2, EF 135L, Voigtlander 125mm apo macro, Sigma 50mm 1.4, etc), and this is one of my most useful lenses. Note, I didn't say favorite, but useful. The thing is that this is a lens for reporters, because it captures more than the standard 50mm. It's very sharp, with high resolution at all apertures, with good colors and very fast focus. Where it is a bit short is at the bokeh. I like for most of my photos to have a smooth bokeh. This lens doesn't quite deliver this. However, if I had to have only 1 lens, this would be it! It's just very good for most of my photos. Also, very even light (unnoticeable vignetting). Chromatic aberrations can be seen at high aperture.

Here are some photos taken with the 35L, on full framed Canon 5d mk2 and on cropped Canon d40.

on Canon 5d mk2:
- haunted house in sepia: http://highaperture.com/h/a/haunted_house/haunted_house-0.html
- lake in central park: http://highaperture.com/l/a/lake/lake-0.html (taken at f/9)
- financial district: http://highaperture.com/f/i/financial_district/financial_district-0.html
- brooklin in HDR: http://highaperture.com/b/r/brooklyn/brooklyn-0.html

on Canon d40:
- benches in central park: http://highaperture.com/b/e/benches_in_central_park/benches_in_central_park-2009.html (the bokeh came ok in this picture, I had to control it by stopping down to f/4)
- bridge in central park: http://highaperture.com/b/r/bridge/bridge-0.html
- picture taken indoors in black&white: http://highaperture.com/m/i/mirroring/mirroring-0.html
- picture taken outside (with lots of light) http://highaperture.com/m/o/mohonk_skytop_tower/mohonk_skytop_tower-0.html (you can see how sharp this lens can be)

Bottom line: this lens is close to perfection for most use cases. I'm never selling mine. Zeiss 35mm f/2.0 macro is supposed to be slightly better in IQ, but you lose f/1.4 and AF.


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Mar 5, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: high IQ, amazing bokeh, fast, light,
Cons:
none

This lens is amazing. It focuses very fast, it gives high IQ, it's sharp and with beautiful bokeh and colors. The only thing that can be negative is it's weird focal length: a bit too long for portraits and too short for tele.

Compared to other lenses: I prefer this one to the 70-200L, it's IQ is on par with the 85L. Although I prefer the 85L for portraits, the 135L works as well on full frame. Compared to the other lenses in the same league, 85L, 70-200L, 35L, 50L, the 135L is the cheapest.

Here are some shots I took with this lens:

outside, good light: http://highaperture.com/y/o/yoga/yoga-0.html
outside, ok light: http://highaperture.com/photos/p/o/pop_singer.jpg
inside, low light: http://highaperture.com/s/i/silvia/silvia-0.html


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

85II
Review Date: Dec 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: beautiful bokeh, sharpness at all apertures, colors, contrast, best lens for portraits
Cons:
bulky, slow to focus, does not focus at very very low light levels, rear element exposed

In spite of slow focusing, this is my favorite lens, not only for portraits, but also during the day and for low light work. The reason is that the lens is sharp and has a very smooth bokeh. I also like to take portraits.

Here are some pictures taken with this lens:

<a href="http://highaperture.com/m/a/matei_varga/matei_varga-0.html">Pianist</a>

<a href="http://highaperture.com/e/m/emanuela/emanuela-0.html">Headshot (low light)</a>

<a href="http://highaperture.com/c/a/carriages/carriages-0.html">Carriages in Central Park</a>

<a href="http://highaperture.com/c/a/cannon/cannon-0.html">Canon</a>

<a href="http://highaperture.com/o/c/octavian_and_ina/octavian_and_ina-0.html">Couple (black and white with added vignetting for an aged look)</a>

<a href="http://highaperture.com/c/e/cello/cello-0.html">Super low light at a Jazz Concert</a>