With the introduction of the Sigma 24 mm 1.4 Art, Sigma indicated that this was a lens with the highest optical performance in its class—the perfect lens for all kinds of subjects, from landscape to a starry night sky. Given the high quality of the previous bright Sigma Art fixed-focal point lenses (Sigma 35 mm f/1.4 Art and Sigma 50 mm 1.4 Art), coupled with a clearly attractive price tag (a suggested retail price under a thousand euros), the expectations are high. Would Sigma succeed in meeting them?
Sigma 24 mm F1.4 DG HSM Art @ Canon 5D MK3
Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art @ Canon 5D mk3, 100 ISO, f/1.4, 1/2000
Build and auto focus
Sigma makes everything, from the molds to the smallest parts, in Japan. The Sigma Art line is designed with the emphasis on perfect optical performance and a (I quote Sigma) "rich expressive power." Thanks to an optimized AF algorithm, the AF works more smoothly. The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) is fast and quiet. And there is a new "full-time manual" focus mechanism built in, with which you switch to manual focus by turning the focus ring. Simple as that.
With wide-angle lenses, there is often a sagittal coma. With this, point light sources in the corners are not shown as a point, but with a "tail" (coma). Certainly when photographing a starry sky, coma is very disruptive. The Sigma Art 24 mm F1.4 DG HSM has an optimized optical design with an aspherical element in the back that adjusts the approach angle of the light rays, so that the even at the largest aperture, the rendering is outstanding.
The lens has a wear-resistant metal mount, which, thanks to a special treatment, is extremely precise and durable. The lens body is made from TSC (Thermally Stabile Composite), which has about the same coefficient of expansion as aluminum. In comparison with polycarbonate, a commonly used material for lens bodies, TSC is more elastic and distorts less, so that an extremely high degree of mechanical precision is possible.
The Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art consists of 15 elements in 11 groups. Three FLD ('F' Low Dispersion) elements and four SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements should combat chromatic aberration. Sigma says that they also minimize the skew that occurs with wide-angle lenses. The Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art is delivered with Sigma, Canon and Nikon mounts. The Canon mount is already available. A solid lens bag and a flower-shaped sun cap are included upon purchase.
With wide-angle lenses, the brightness at the edges is almost always decreased in comparison with the center. That also applies for the Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art. The measurement results seem to be worse than what you see in the practice shots. The vignetting is lower than for the Canon 24 mm f/1.4 L II, but will be recognizable at f/2.8 or greater in practice shots with an even, flat (clear blue or gray sky). Vignetting is a weak point with the use of lenses on a camera with a large sensor, and the Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art doesn't escape it.
Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art @ Canon 5D MK3, 100 ISO, f/1.4, 1/8000
Distortion Sigma 24 mm 1.4 Art
Distortion is always present with wide-angle lenses, and is not corrected by stopping down. It was therefore crucial for Sigma to ensure minimal distortion during the development phase. The Sigma Art 24 mm F1.4 DG HSM corrects the approach angle of the light rays that come through the front lens, thanks to the placement of an aspherical element at the front and at the back. This set-up really ensures minimal skew across the enter image surface.
Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art @ Canon 5D MK3, 100 ISO, f/16, 1/160
The Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art does justice to its name; Sigma again shows how good they understand the art of minimizing internal reflections.
Both for bright extreme telephoto lenses and for bright wide-angle lenses, there is a complex lens design, where a large number of lens elements is applied. Every glass-light transition, but also ever part of the inside of the lens tube, can contribute to internal reflections. You see those in your photo in the form of flare (where a bright light source that is directly in frame reduced the contrast in a larger area) or ghosts (light spots). With wide-angle lenses, the use of a sun cap not only protects the front lens, it also clearly reduces the chance of ghosts. In comparison with the Sigma 50 mm f/1.4 Art, ghosts, like the green point in the illustration below that is caused by the bright sun just outside the frame is sooner visible. (I deliberately did not use the sun cap in order to get a ghost.) For a bright, 24-mm lens, flare and ghosts are very well suppressed by the Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art.
Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art @ Canon 5D MK3, 100 ISO, f/4, 1/1600
Short summary: With this wide-angle lens, you will make fantastically sharp pictures starting at f/1.4.
The center sharpness at full aperture is already exceptionally high, but it increases even further up to f/2.8. At full aperture, the sharpness at the edges and in the corners is exceptionally high for a bright wide-angle lens, but you do see a difference from the center sharpness. That disappears after stopping down a couple of stops.
Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art @ Canon 5D MK3, 100 ISO, f/1.4, 1/160
Three FLD ('F' Low Dispersion) elements and four SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements should combat chromatic aberrations. In particular, longitudinal chromatic aberration, which is difficult to correct with software, is commonly seen with bright lenses ("Ordinary" lateral chromatic aberration, recognizable by red and blue edges at sharp contrast transitions in the corners of the image, is also minimized by this lens design. The shots are thus sharp and rich in contrast.
Bokeh Sigma 24 mm 1.4 Art
The aperture has 9 rounded lamellae, which ensures an attractive background blur (bokeh). There is a very small amount of onion ring bokeh visible in the shots of our bokeh test set-up, probably as a result of the application of aspherical lens elements. Bright lenses (<f/2.8) often show color bokeh at full aperture—purple edges in front of the focal point and green edges behind it. Just as with the other Sigma Art lenses, color bokeh is very well suppressed.
Conclusion Sigma 24 mm 1.4 Art review with Canon 5D MK3
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is saved in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.
Sublime build and image quality
Remarkably high center sharpness at full aperture
Extremely little color bokeh
Fantastic price-to-quality ratio
Sigma USB dock and Mount Conversion service available
Did we mention the sublime build and image quality? Again!
Usual distortion for a 24 mm
More sensitive to ghosts than the other Sigma Art lenses
Too long, didn't read (TL/DR)? The measurement results confirm the practical experience (or the other way round): the Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art beats out the much more expensive Canon 24 mm f/1.4 L II also when it comes to image quality.
The Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 Art delivers an outstanding performance, since the Canon 24 mm f/1.4 L II is a wide-angle lens that scores highly in our list of reviews. At f/5.6, I could not find any differences in image quality between the two lenses, but at full aperture, the Sigma is clearly sharper. The Sigma 24 mm Art also appears to have less trouble with flare and ghosts. As far as image quality is concerned, it is true for both: built like a tank. And vignetting –on a camera with a full-frame sensor—is the Achilles' heel for both lenses. That can be corrected with software, if you feel it's needed.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.