Up until recently, Fuji has been lacking in third-party lenses for X-mount. Sigma has finally dipped its toes into the X-mount waters with its APS-C prime lens trio. The Sigma 56mm f/1.4 could be an excellent alternative to Fuji’s own 56mm f/1.2 lens.
At a little under half the cost of the Fuji 56mm f/1.2, the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN is positioned to be an amazing bargain for Fuji photographers. I’ve been able to put it through some tough shooting situations in the time I’ve had it. So let’s see how this lens weighs up.
- Lightweight and small size
- Tack sharp performance
- Great bokeh quality
- Some weather sealing
- More affordable price
- Some barrel distortion
- Weather sealing is only at the lens mount
- Would benefit from an aperture ring on Fuji bodies
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN — Technical specifications
Tech specs for the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 have been taken from the B&H product page:
- Aperture Range: f/1.4 to f/16
- One SLD Element, Two Aspherical Elements
- Super Multilayer Coating
- Stepping Motor AF System
- Weather-Sealed Construction
- Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN — Ergonomics and build quality
The Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN is a pretty simple lens. Ergonomically, there isn’t a whole lot to say. The lens features a manual focus ring that feels pretty standard for a Sigma lens. It’s lightly damped and has a feel that’s fairly normal to modern lenses. That is the only control point on the lens.
Luckily, that isn’t entirely a bad thing. The lens is nice and light. Its small size balances well on the X-T4 I tested it with. It also looks right at home on the camera. However, I did find myself wishing for an aperture ring quite often. Using an XT4 without a lens with an aperture ring feels wrong.
The build of the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 is standard fare for Sigma’s Contemporary line of lenses. The lens feels nice to use. It’s got a solid build without being ungainly. The lens mount is made of brass and should last a good long time. In addition, the focus ring has a rubberized texture to it.
Sigma does provide some splash and dust resistance in the form of a seal between the mount and the camera body. However, it doesn’t seem that this lens is fully sealed throughout. Also, it is nice that Sigma includes a lens hood with the lens. It’s a standard composite material, but nicely made and fits snugly on the bayonet mount. The lens accepts 55mm filters as well.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN — In the Field
As mentioned, the Sigma 56mm DC DN is the epitome of simplicity. The only control to worry about on the lens is the focus ring. There’s no lens stability, however, the IBIS in the Fuji X-T4 makes this a non-issue. It’s more than capable of providing great stability with this lens.
Being so simple makes it an easy lens to get along with. You can just slap it on the camera and go. It just does what a lens needs to do without any frills. When it comes to manual focusing, it is focus-by-wire. That said, it feels pretty normal for an electronic focus system on Fuji. Not my favorite method, but it gets the job done easily enough.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN — Autofocus Performance
I was really curious to see how the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 performed in the autofocus department. Fuji AF doesn’t quite match the best of Sony, Canon and Nikon, so I wanted to push the Sigma and see how it handled tough situations. Above is a sequence of photos from a burst with continuous tracking AF turned on. With the rider wearing red, the Sigma and Fuji combo did a great job of tracking him against a busy background, even at f/1.4.
However, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. While I was also able to get decent tracking performance on riders in black clothes, it took a lot more work. Sometimes the camera tracking box would stay in place on the rider, but the lens would unfocus and not know where to go. How much of that is on the X-T4 and how much is on the Sigma is tough to say.
Overall, I give the Sigma 56mm lens a good rating for autofocus. It’s zippy and responsive in single focus. It seems quick and accurate in continuous autofocus. While my hit rate with tracking was probably only around 60%, I’m inclined to blame that more on the X-T4, as that’s similar to what I’ve got with Fuji’s own lenses mounted. It’s also worth noting that in the brief times I used the 56mm lens for video, it seemed to perform quite well at keeping riders in focus.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN — Image quality
It’s no secret that this lens is a performer. The Sigma 56mm DC DN has been around for a while now. It started in the Sony E-mount, Micro Four Thirds and Canon M-mount, and now it’s here for Fuji. There really isn’t a lot bad to say about this lens, optically. Let’s break it down further.
Ghosting, flaring and chromatic aberrations
Unfortunately, it’s been damp and dry for most of my time with the Sigma 56mm. However, I’m fairly confident in saying it has very little issues with any kind of chromatic aberration.
In worse-performing lenses, areas around the spokes of the bikes, highlights on the black handlebars, and shiny parts of the silver bike frame would be lit up with purple or green fringing in the situations above. Even when looking in slightly out of focus areas and deep into the background of these images, I haven’t noticed any issues of the sort with the Sigma.
I did notice, however, that when editing the RAW files, there was some noticeable barrel distortion present. It wasn’t major, but it was enough to be easily noticed when applying lens profiles in editing. That said, the lens corrections fixed it right up easily.
The Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN is pin sharp. It’s unfortunate that web-optimized images really don’t show off just how sharp these images are. Sigma has really managed to get it right with this lens.
These images really have a nice pop to them due to how sharp they are combined with that uniquely “Sigma” way of rendering images. Even wide-open at f/1.4, in focus areas are rendered with plenty of detail for the X-T4’s 26-megapixel sensor.
The Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN delivers on the bokeh. Wide-open it will give you pleasing, buttery smooth out-of-focus areas. Even when stopped down to f/8 (as seen in the first flower photo above), the backgrounds stay quite smooth and tasteful.
This lens is well regarded as a great portrait lens for APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras, and with good reason. The combination of the 56mm focal length, the f/1.4 max aperture and good design by Sigma will get you an excellent bokeh producing lens for your Fujifilm camera.
Color rendition with the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN is overall great. It produces brilliant, vibrant color with that signature Sigma contrast. I found that this lens paired with Fuji’s color profiles made for extremely pleasing color reproduction. This held true whether shooting RAW and editing or taking JPEGs straight from the camera.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN — Small, lightweight and chock full of goodness
The Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN is a real winner from Sigma. It’s silly sharp, produces great bokeh, is light and small, and renders excellent images. The lens can autofocus quickly and accurately, at least as well as any Fuji lens. The colors are great, there are no problems with chromatic aberration and overall is well corrected.
At $479, it’s a steal compared to the Fuji 56mm at $999. Sure you lose a little max aperture from f/1.2 to f/1.4, but if you can deal with that, the Sigma is a great value for the money. The other potential sticking point for Fuji users is the lack of an aperture ring. I have to admit that not having one on a lens paired with an X-T4 didn’t feel the same. However, if you can get past those issues, this lens comes highly recommended!