The Sigma 24mm f1.4 DG HSM Art is a very compelling addition to large aperture wide-angle lenses: it combines very good performance overall with Sigma’s build-quality of the “Art” series.
In optical performance this lens has only two flaws: It has some field curvature and a dip in resolution at the DX-corner but that does not prevent the lens from producing very sharp images at longer distances. And it has some coma which makes it less desirable for astro-photography. Yes, the lens has also some longitudinal CA but less than many other large aperture lenses. But other than that the performance is very impressive with sharp and contrasty rendering across the full frame, little distortions and a quiet, fast, and reliable AF.
Does this make it the new reference in 24mm lenses for full-frame bodies? Let’s see how the new lens compares to the competition.
Compared to Nikon AF-S 24mm f1.4G ED
A big step-up in price over the Sigma is Nikon’s AF-S 24mm f1.4G ED. At more than double the price of the Sigma it offers weather sealing at the lens mount but nothing more: it is less sharp in the center and has stronger coma in the FF/FX-corner than the Sigma. It focuses slower and has stronger longitudinal CAs and distortions. Only the close-up performance (tested at 1m distance) at the borders of the APS-C/DX image circle is better than the Sigma’s. And did I mention that the Nikon 24/1.4G costs more than double than the Sigma? From the outside the Nikon even feels less well-built than the Sigma, but that does not show what’s on the inside. So it may just be that the Nikon can last longer as the workhorse of a professional without braking down. But the play in the focus-ring did not leave a convincing impression. In my Nikon 24/1.4G review the lens produces very good images but I’d recommend the Sigma over the Nikon.
Compared to Samyang 24mm f1.4 ED AS UMC
The Samyang 24/1.4 is the cheaper alternative for the new Sigma. But don’t forget that you give up the support of a very fast and reliable auto-focus from the Sigma for a 25% discount. Is that really worth it? Optically the Samyang is quite good: It has the least coma of all three lenses and produces quite a soft Bokeh. At close range its resolution can keep up with the other lenses but at infinity it is less sharp than the Sigma or the Nikon. It also shows the strongest distortions of the trio. In my Samyang 24/1.4 review the lens shows its merit but I’d recommend the Sigma over the Samyang.
Compared to Nikon AF-S 24mm f1.8G ED
The Nikon 24/1.8G is perhaps another alternative. It costs only little more than the Sigma, has weather sealing, is smaller and lighter, and performs on a similar level. It earned a Recommended in my Nikon 24/1.8G review. Optically the Nikon 24/1.8G has a similar dip in performance at the borders of the APS-C/DX image-circle wide open as the Sigma at close distances. Unfortunately the Nikon also shows this weakness at long-distance shots where the Sigma produces better results. And it has a two thirds smaller aperture than the Sigma which also results in a slightly weaker Bokeh. All-in-all this would lead me (again) to recommend the Sigma over the Nikon 24/1.8.
Sigma 24mm f1.4 Art final verdict
The Sigma 24/1.4G Art is another winner in Sigma’s line-up of wide-angle “Art” lenses. You can produce shots with image quality you might think were impossible at a wide open aperture of f1.4. It has low distortions, normal vignetting, little longitudinal CAs, plus a fast and reliable AF (after some tuning with the USB-dock). And the build-quality and the new design support Sigma’s claim to have developed and manufactured a lens to professional standards. I was quite impressed to see this lens surpass the optical performance of the venerable Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G in almost every aspect. Except for this dip in APS-C/DX corner performance at close distances. And I miss the weather sealing at the lens-mount which seems a bit out of place for a lens targeted at professionals. But other than that the Sigma 24mm f1.4 DG HSM Art plays on a very high level – and it does deliver this impressive performance at a price that is much lower than the 24mm f1.4 models from Nikon or Canon. This clearly earns the new Sigma lens our Highly Recommended rating.
- Outstanding performance in the corners of a high-resolution full-frame sensor even wide open.
- Good build quality.
- Quiet and fast AF operation.
- Relatively low price compared to the big names.
- Low distortions.
- Relatively low longitudinal CA.
- USB fine-tuning and chance to swap mounts (for a fee).
- Performance at the borders/corners of the DX/APS-C image circle at closer distances could be better.
- No weather sealing.