(Editor’s Note: We welcome Darren Miles to Photofocus. Based in Naples, FL, Darren is a photographer who specializes in capturing architecture, weddings, family portraits and headshots. You can view his work at darrenmiles.com, and for more gear reviews and tutorials, visit him on YouTube.)
I had a hole in my prime lens lineup on my Sony cameras. My current lens inventory consisted of the 14mm f/1.8 from Sigma, the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4, the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 and the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. I needed something between the 14mm and the 35mm, and 24mm seemed like a good focal length to try — I’d use it for weddings and environmental portraits.
I’m a big advocate of buying used gear, especially from reputable sellers who offer money back guarantees or from a website that has a feedback mechanism. I purchased a fantastic condition Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lens with a UV filter for a bargain price of $615 from the buy/sell board on FredMiranda.com.
Watch my video review
Upon first inspection, what will impress you most about the 24mm is the build quality. It’s made with the same outstanding “thermally stable composite” that Sigma’s been using on their Art series line. It’s sleek and refined — it just looks like a quality lens.
I love the fact that Sigma has included a focus distance meter — something we just don’t see on Sony lenses as they’re almost all “fly-by-wire.” With Sony lenses there’s no physical connection between the focus ring and the elements contained within. This isn’t the case with the Sigma — if you’re a videographer, you can mark your focus points for a scene and achieve consistent results.
On the downside, the Sigma comes in at nearly 1.5 pounds, like the other lenses in the Art line. Sigma also makes no reference to weather sealing, unfortunate for a nearly $900 (new) lens.
Autofocus performance is snappy, decisive and in my experience very accurate — even at f/1.4. I like to use Face/Eye Detect AF in wide focus area mode — and the Sigma has no discernible issues detecting and capturing faces and eyes.
Even the animal face detect worked seamlessly. Unlike my experiences with other camera manufacturers, third-party lenses like the Sigma work almost as seamlessly as native Sony lenses.
Now that said, I did run into an issue with initial focus acquisition in video, where the camera/lens didn’t capture my face at all. I found that if I focused first before pressing the record button, then in fact locked on to — and held — its intended target without “jackhammering” around. Focus transitions were smooth and predictable and the lens had no issues keeping up with and maintaining accurate focus.
Sigma 24mm F/1.4 DG HSM Art specs
- Focal length: 24mm
- Aperture range: f/1.4 — f/16
- Aperture blades: 9 rounded
- Elements/groups: 15/11
- Size: 3.35″ diameter, 3.55″ length
- Weight: 1.46lb / 665 g
- Field of view: 84.1 degrees
The resulting images taken with the 24mm are sharp and contrasty, with excellent subject isolation especially wide-open. The 24mm isn’t tack, tack sharp at f/1.4, but it’s certainly sharp enough. We as photographers have a tendency to zoom in 300% to judge a lens’ sharpness or lack thereof. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of our clients aren’t nearly as obsessive.
Vignetting is strong and very noticeable, especially wide-open. Fortunately, resolving that issue is just a click away in programs like Lightroom or Capture One Pro with their lens profile corrections.
Overall, I found the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art a compelling and affordable option for this focal length and aperture combination, especially when compared to first party options from the big three (Sony, Nikon and Canon). The combination of build, image quality, AF speed and accuracy make the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art a compelling option for the professional or enthusiast photographer or videographer.
- Excellent build quality
- Fast, silent, accurate autofocus
- Very, very good — almost excellent — image quality in the frame center, even wide-open
- Size and weight — it’s a beast, get to the gym
- Lack of weather sealing
- Strong vignetting wide-open
The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lens retails for $849 new from B&H, and I highly recommend it.