This is a guest review of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART lens by Jay Cassario of Twisted Oak Studios.
If you’re a Nikon fanboy and refuse to believe that your beloved Nikon 24mm f/1.4G is untouchable, this Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART review may be painful for you to read.
Take a moment to go get some Tylenol or grab a beer, or simply don’t continue to read past this point..
I have spent the past 3 months shooting the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art now, the first month testing with a loaner, the last two owning it. My Nikon 24mm f/1.4G went up for sale and was sold 6 weeks after first getting my hands on the Sigma, and I haven’t looked back.
Is the Sigma that much better? I wouldn’t say that it’s that much better, but it’s better, and with the Nikon being more than double the price, it’s a no brainer. For those of you who follow my work know that I simply want the best, price aside.
I shoot Leica, that should say enough. If the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art wasn’t better, I would have kept my Nikon 24mm f/1.4G, which many still consider to be the best wide angle lens for Nikon.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art Review Summary
An exceptionally sharp lens that performs reliably well, even when wide open at f/1.2. Take beautiful portraits with crisp subjects and soft background bokeh, or capture action with a fast and snappy autofocus. Offers exceptional build quality without being bulky, and delivers great value for money in comparison to its competitors.
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART
Being that I previously owned the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G, and still own the Canon 24mm f/1.4L (aka the best wide angle lens for Canon), the 24mm focal length is a favorite of mine.
Prior to receiving the new Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art, I was pretty skeptical, it had some big shoes to fill. Being that I am a big fan of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens, but not a huge fan of some of their others, including the very popular Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, I really had no idea how this review was going to go.
A lot of photographers only concern themselves with two things, sharpness and bokeh, but for me personally, a lens needs to have character. The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art is a sharp lens, corner to corner, and the bokeh is pretty good as well. Compared to the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, a lens that isn’t as sharp and is actually pretty soft in the corners, the Sigma lacks that something special.
The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art has that something special and immediately won me over. The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art was a tough one, being that it does perform very similar to the Nikon version, but it ended up winning me over and put an extra $1,000 in my pocket after selling my Nikon.[If you’re interested in other wide angle lens options available, check out this post on the best wide angle lens for your dSLR]
Built like the other Art series lenses, the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art has that cold metal feel to it in your hands, not cheap plastic like the Nikon version.
It’s also surprisingly not that heavy, weighing in at only 1.5 pounds, the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G weighing in at 1.4.
Compared to the other Art series lenses, it’s also the shortest. I won’t bore you with any more on this – just know that the Sigma easily beats the Nikon in build.
A big concern from those who I have spoken to about this lens is its autofocus. Not its accuracy, but how quick it is, and with this Sigma 24mm ART review I was concerned too that it would fall short.
I guess there are a few reviews out there stating that the AF isn’t that impressive, but from what I can tell, those were all review of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art with the Canon mount. I can tell you this, I couldn’t tell a difference between the Nikon and Sigma versions, and the AF didn’t disappoint me at all.
I personally rely on manual focus a good amount of the time when shooting the 24mm focal length. Being that it’s a lens I typically use to bring in the environment with my images, shooting and manually focusing in Live View allows me to better compose my shots.
When I did however use the autofocus, I found the Nikon and Sigma versions to be pretty much identical, both being fairly quick and accurate.
I wouldn’t be too concerned here if you rely heavily on AF, I don’t think you would be able to tell the difference between the two.
The one little important thing to note, since a few photographers seem to consider this a deal breaker, is the fact that the focus ring focuses in the opposite direction than the Nikon lenses.
However, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest, and I find it pretty comical that this would be a deal breaker for some.
The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art is sharp, very sharp, which really isn’t a big surprise since the rest of the Art series lenses are sharp as well.
I like to shoot the 24mm wide open, and even shot at f/1.4 it is impressively sharp. As you’ll see in this Sigma 24mm ART review, all but the group shots were taken wide open.
Being that the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G is known as one of their sharpest, this was one of the first head to head comparisons I did.
Both lenses being fine tuned to the Nikon D750, I compared the two lenses a lot testing the sharpness.
For those of you who know how sharp the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G is, I can show you, the Sigma is sharper.
Remember though, just as I stated earlier, sharpness isn’t everything, but the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art does a good job at keeping character, contrast, and smooth bokeh with its sharpness.
The out of focus areas and rendering are pretty smooth and the bokeh blurs nicely without being too distracting.
When shot up close to your subject, the out of focus areas are actually pretty similar to the Nikon, almost identical actually.
Distortion is just about the same as you’d expect from a 24mm focal length, not any better, not any worse. Compared to the Nikon it’s pretty identical.
ABILITY & CHARACTER
Being that I earn a living from my wedding photography and I am primarily a wedding and portrait photographer, image quality is my main concern when it comes to the gear I choose to shoot with.
Not only how well it performs, but how well it can help me create the images I am looking to create.
Image quality isn’t always about being extremely sharp corner to corner, that’s just part of it.
The character of a lens is the biggest influence on whether or not I choose to shoot a lens, but it’s also the hardest to show in a technical review.
The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens is extremely sharp, but I personally feel that it lacks character. The Nikon 58mm f/1.4G is very sharp in the center of the frame but quickly dulls down towards the corners, something that turned a lot of people off.
However, the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G is one of my favorite lenses to shoot with, and the fact that it isn’t as sharp makes it special.
So what am I getting at? The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art is a pretty well rounded lens, and while it is extremely sharp, it also has the ability to give that something special in its images.
It has character, not as much as some of my other lenses, but it doesn’t fall flat either. It has nice colors, nice contrast, and it does a good job of doing everything that my Nikon 24mm f/1.4G lens did… it just does it just slightly better.
SIGMA 85MM F/1.4 ART SAMPLE IMAGES
Rather than trying to explain how much I love this lens, I just wanted to show you a handful of the images I have taken with it so far. All the sample images are edited the same way I edit all of my work.
I have only tested and shot with a Nikon mount of the new Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lens, a lens that doesn’t have a lot of reviews currently floating around.
I chose the Nikon mount to test and review since I currently already own the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art and to be honest, I was curious to see just how well it would compare to one of my favorite lenses in my Nikon line-up.
Whenever I test and review a lens, I do so by shooting it in real life shoots, weddings, and do my best to not take photos of brick walls.
Lenses are also tricky to review because a lot depends on the body that you are shooting them on, so any time that I make comparisons, they are done on the same camera body.
Comparing the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art to the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G proved tricky because honestly, they turned out to be very similar. I was surprised right off the bat to see how close the Sigma got to my beloved Nikon lens, I was even more surprised when I started to see it out-performing it.
If you don’t own a 24mm lens and are looking for the best, the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art is in my opinion the best wide angle lens right now. It just also happens to be the cheapest option as well.
If you already own the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G, well I’ll let you decide for yourself whether or not you want to make the switch and make a few bucks from selling it.
It may way be the best Nikon wide angle lens ever produced, but this humble Sigma is much better value, and can definitely stand toe-to-toe with it in image quality stakes.