Review: SIGMA 24mm F1.4 DG HSM | A by Alpheus Danson

Alpheus Danson: Before I get cracking, remember this isn’t an all-out technical review of the Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art. I’m pretty sure you’ll find dozens of articles that give you pixel-peeping pleasure and hard data on all things nerdy. You will find a comprehensive roundup of the lens’ features and specifications on the sigma website.

My review instead is about a real-world shoot experience with a lens that is already highly recommended by gear-heads with lofty standards.

I have been a Sigma Art user for about three years now and also an ardent fan. So, my focus was on figuring out how this lens can find a place in my camera bag. And how I could integrate it into my typical shoot workflow that has over the years felt complete with just a 35mm and a 100mm.

Appearances first

Right off the bat, the Sigma 24mm is a design marvel. For someone who loves Batman more than any other superhero, the matte black shell of this lens is an instant allure. Just like its brethren in the Sigma Art lineup. With its combination of ruggedness and refined fluid curves,I’d call it the Bat Tumbler of the photography world. Cheesy? perhaps.

You can’t just ignore how beautiful the Art lenses are.

Without delving into numbers, I can also tell you that the 24mm is not heavier than the
35mm Art and not much different in size either. So, if you own a Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art and love its ergonomics, you’ll be just as pleased with the 24mm.

I shoot with dual camera bodies — one Canon and one Nikon. I have a 35mm 1.4 Art almost always fixed to my Canon 5d Mark III and the combo is perfect for crowded Indian weddings. I wanted to pair the Sigma 24mm with my Nikon D750, which is a beast in the matters of dynamic range and auto-focus abilities.

I did a quick initial test run with some commonplace objects.

Don’t you love the shallow depth of field? Also, when you have a frame this wide complementing the buttery-smooth DoF, you know this lens is a wedding photographer’s
delight.

When you have a frame this wide complementing the buttery-smooth DoF, you know this lens is a wedding photographer’s delight.

Moving on to the actual test — a two-day wedding that was perfect for all relevant
considerations. I managed to test a few things that matter to me the most: focus, color, low-light performance, distortion, and weight. Yes, weight; I’ll get to that in a bit.

 

Auto-focus

With the 5D III and the 35mm, there is at least one focus fail in every 10 frames I shoot — more often than not, when the aperture is wide open. It was never a cause for worry, because I shoot multiple frames of moments that involve a lot of action.

I was curious to know how the D750 and 24mm combo would fare — considering the D750’s AF is undeniably superior.

Yes, it isn’t an apples to apples comparison — the difference in focal lengths can skew the results. However, in isolation, the 24mm performed admirably well. Even in bright, backlit situations. And during peak action. In low light, too.

The 24mm performed admirably well. Even in bright, backlit situations. And during peak action. In low light, too.

Note that locking focus — when the subject’s movement is measured in yards and not inches — also depends on your skill and anticipation. So, my assessment is based on how quickly the lens locked focus on anything at all — the “anything” dependent on my skill to figure out the best place to focus.

Mated with the D750, the 24mm will give you the confidence to tackle “fast-moving subject”

scenarios at a wedding with minimum fuss.

 

Low-light performance

The focusing ability of a lens is also a factor of how much light the lens can let in. The Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art is brilliant in this regard. Because it sucks in so much light, focusing in low-light

situations isn’t arduous. It should find a place in your camera bag for this reason alone.

 

Image quality

The Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art is a testament to the revolution that the Sigma Art series unleashed upon the photo community. The image quality is just as brilliant as the rest of the lenses in the Art lineup.

While 35mm or 50mm might be the primary choice for wedding photographers, the 24mm focal length warrants a lengthy consideration for its utilitarian benefits in cramped spaces. Throw in a bunch of image quality reasons, you’ve got a winner in the Sigma 24mm.

How about we dissect it further?

Color and contrast: as artistically pleasing as the more popular 35mm and 50mm Art lenses.

Shooting distance: near-macro, which is an undeniable advantage and the results at 1.4 is at best poetic storytelling.

Sharpness at 1.4: impressive even for pixel-peeper standards.

Chromatic aberrations: almost irrelevant in the age of high-quality glass and powerful editing software.

Distortion: may not be the perfect lens for architecture, but for wedding photographers the distortion is correctable and in some cases, even desirable

 

Weight

I mentioned earlier in the review that weight is an important consideration for me. As a wedding photographer, lugging around heavy camera bodies with hefty prime lenses can seriously limit your longevity. I face this problem with the Canon 5D Mark III. There are arguments in favor

SIGMA - Our bangalore - 24th to 3rd march edition - page 12

of mirror-less alternatives, but it isn’t an option that I’d like to consider at this point in my career.

So, when the D750 came along and ticked all the boxes, in addition to solving the weight problem, I picked it up. A Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art lens on a D750 isn’t light — but it isn’t back – breaking either. The balance is pretty good and the combination worked out pretty well for me on a 12-hour shoot day followed by another 10 grueling hours the following day.

I see the 24mm as a practical alternative to the 35mm — especially on a D750. Not just as a substitute, but with its own set of benefits and a wider perspective to boot.


Conclusion

The Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art is a performer all the way. From a wedding photographer’s perspective, it hits all the right notes. So, if you have the money and extra space in your bag, and if you’re looking for a wider lens, the 24mm 1.4 is a no-brainer.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s