Sigma 24mm f 1.4 Review… Stephen Alvarez

Alvarez24mm

Gullfoss, Iceland

ISO 500, f 5.6 1/500 sec Canon 5D MK III

Every photographer has a way that they see. A type of light, a subject and sometimes a lens type that they just see best in. As far as the lens goes my go to has always been a 24mm. No matter if I am shooting a cave or a cathedral, the 24 is just the way my eye works. Of course I use lenses both longer or wider but if I have to chooses just one it is the trusty 24.

Now I am a big fan of the Sigma Art lenses. The Art 50mm f 1.4 is one of the best “normal’ lenses out there. It is certainly the best 50mm I have ever owned so I was happy when Sigma asked me to take a look at their Art series 24mm f 1.4.

Like the Art 50mm, the build quality of the lens it great. It actually feels more substantial than the Canon 24 1.4 I previously owned. It is heavy but also seems like it will put up with years of professional use.

Optically the lens is also very good. I’ve been shooting it lately on the Canon 5Ds. That camera’s 50 megapixel sensor is a challenge for any lens and the sigma 24mm art is up the challenge.

My previous 24mm f 1.4 was a Canon and this Sigma is a better lens. At 5.6 both are very good, but the Sigma surpasses the Canon when you open the aperture wider. At the widest setting it is a substantially better lens.

All bright, wide angle lenses suffer vignetting and chroma. The Art 24 is no exception. At f 1.4 there is noticeable fall off toward the edges and some chroma in the highlights particularly toward the edges. However, the profiles that Sigma has for both lightroom and photoshop clear both issues up with ease and neither chroma nor vignetting are worse than with any other 24 f 1.4 I have owned. By f 5.6 all those issues are gone.

What impressed me the most about the lens is that highlights on the edges of the frame stay sharp. Or at least sharper than I am used to with a 24 1.4. Its particularly noticeable shooting the night sky. Stars in the corners of the frame look like stars. Other lenses I have used make them look more like little slivers of light. The lens is perfect or astro photography. I’ve noticed no internal reflections or really any image issues at all. Color rendition is very good as well.

So the big question is will this lens go into my camera bag? Yes, definitely. I’d not think twice about using it on a magazine assignment. I will carry it anytime I need a fast wide angle lens. It will be my default astro photography lens and my go to 24mm prime.

About the author

RANDY OLSON’s 27 National Geographic magazine projects have taken him to many countries in Africa, the Siberian Arctic, Abu Dhabi, American Samoa, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Dubai, Guyana, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kamchatka, Newfoundland, Pakistan, Palmyra, Republic of Georgia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, and the South Pacific.
National Geographic Society published a book of his work in their Masters of Photography series in January 2011. Olson was the 2003 Magazine Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, and was also awarded POYi’s 1992 Newspaper Photographer of the Year—one of only two photographers to win in both media in the largest photojournalism contest operating continuously since World War II. While working at The Pittsburgh Press, Olson received an Alicia Patterson Fellowship to support a seven-year project documenting a family with AIDS, and a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his story on problems with Section 8 housing. He was also awarded the Nikon Sabbatical and a grant from the National Archives to save the Pictures of the Year collection.
Melissa Farlow and Randy Olson are photojournalists in the documentary tradition. Their work has taken them to 50 countries over the past 20 years. Even though they are published in LIFE, GEO, Smithsonian and other magazines, they have primarily worked on 50 projects for the National Geographic Society. They normally work individually, but have co-produced National Geographic magazine stories on northern California, American national parks, and the Alps. They photographed the southern United States for a book by Collins Publishing and have collaborated on over 70 books by various publishers.