I purchased the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM instead of the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G AF-S because it is slightly better than the Nikkor. It also uses 77mm filters compared to the Nikkors 58mm filter threads. I have the Nikkor 24mm, and 85mm f/1.4's. I have been very happy with my choices.
I the past I have had the Nikon 50mm and 85mm f/1.4 and f1.8 D lenses. However, for some time I have had the Sigma 50mm and 85mm f/1.4s. They are excellent lenses in terms of operation, IQ and build quality. I find them superior to the Nikons. The only potential downside is they are larger and heavier, if you are concerned about that.
I have the Nikon 35mm f/2.0D, but will probably replace that with the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4. I think every report I have read says that the Sigma 35 is an outstanding lens, superior to its competitors.
The Sigmas now have superior performance and a better price. What's not to like?
If I were going to buy a 50/f1.4 today, it would be the Sigma. Sharper central area, faster focus (at least a little) and less corner falloff (although it's a 77mm lens instead of a 58mm lens for this reason). They charge a premium for this (the Sigma is more expensive than the Nikkor), but that amount is reasonable.
Don't forget that Nikon have the 28/f1.8G and 85/f1.8G too - they are stop flight optics, and while they're not quite as fast they will certainly get you just about the same subject isolation as the f/1.4's in all but extreme cases. And they're a TON less money than the f/1.4's. I'm not, but if I were in the market for an 85-ish fast lens, I'd probably get the 85/f1.8G. Restricting the choice to f/1.4, I'm inclined to the Sigma, but given essentially equivalent price, I don't have a strong preference. Those that have had the Sigma seem to be pretty pleased with it.
I do intend to get the Sigma 35/f1.4 whenever I next will need to use that type of lens, retiring my 35/f1.4 AIS to the MF bodies. I don't see any reason to spend significantly more on the Nikkor, since the Sigma seems to be universally regarded as the better performer. As well, the Sigma will be one of the first that is field-upgradeable. I've also had MUCH better experience with Sigma service than Nikon's (Melville).
Since this is the 3rd party forum, beware that the Sigma 20/f1.8, 24/f1.8 and 28/f1.8 are pretty old designs. They're not bad, but they are far from equaling newer designs like the Sigma 35/f1.4, Nikkor 35/f1.4 and Nikkor 24/f1.4. On the other hand, the 20/f1.8 is the only game in town if you need that combination of ultra-wide angle and speed.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!
Mon 08-Apr-13 04:35 AM | edited Mon 08-Apr-13 04:36 AM by TomCurious
The Sigma 35/1.4 is spectacular and leaves the Nikon in the dust. I also got the Nikon 85/1.8 last month on sale for $398 and will soon sell my 85/1.4 as I found their results are 99% the same. At 50mm, I have the 50/1.8G which is actually better than the 50/1.4G. So at these three focal lengths one can easily find alternatives to Nikon's f/1.4 glass which is about on par or even better.
I echo the sentiments regarding the Sigma 50 and the Nikon 85 1.8. I have both and they are both great lenses. The 50 1.8 is also an incredible bargain - and I don't say that to downplay its quality. Nikon charges about $100 too much for their 50 1.4 and about $100 too little for the 1.8 IMHO.
I currently have the Sigma 35 1.4, Sigma 85 1.4 and I couldn't recommend them enough. I had the Sigma 50 1.4 before and I honestly think the Nikon 50 1.8g is a better lens, let alone cheaper.
I miss the build quality of the Nikon 85 1.4 although the Sigma 85 is not cheap by any means. I couldn't see much of a difference in IQ between the two except for a tad smoother bokeh from the Nikon, they're both very sharp.
The Sigma 35 1.4 has a Zeiss build feel and the image quality is the best I've seen so far in that FL (compared to Zeiss 35 f/2 and Nikon 35 1.4), by far. I had to look at the EXIF to believe it was shot wide open. I second that the 28 1.8g, 50 1.8g and 85 1.8g are one of the best values in photography but I replaced them due to the need for speed
>... >I think it is a better buy than the Nikon 28/1.8 as the prices are close.
Actually you do raise a good point there. I never thought of the two lenses in quite this way. I've never owned a 35mm prime, always thought of that focal length as generally rather blah, but I've owned a couple 28mm primes back in the day which I always loved. Food for thought though as the 35mm FOV is not a ton different than 28mm (63 vs. 75 degrees) and I do love f/1.4 and the thought of a lens that is sharp at that aperture is an additional attraction.
On the 85mm topic, I think the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G is the class of the crop though; even when compared with the very good value Sigma and Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. I sure want the Nikon f/1.4G one day.