50mm (full frame equivalent) fixed focal lengths are counted among the lenses with the widest field of application. It comes as no surprise, then, that both 30mm f/1.4 Sigmas are repeatedly mentioned in threads focusing on purchase advice. Before the appearance of the 30mm ART, the selection was somewhat more transparent. You could either opt for the faster, yet more expensive, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX or for the comparable lens by the original manufacturer when it comes to focal length. With the arrival of the ART, the whole matter got slightly more complicated. Now, you need to decide between two lenses with almost identical specifications from the same manufacturer, provided that you cannot do without aperture of f/1.4. The ART has a new lens design, it is over 50% more expensive with a price tag of €420, and according to initial reviews, optically better across-the-board than the old EX. I have both lenses with the Sigma mount and I am planning on comparing them thoroughly. The first part will be dedicated to BOKEH. All photos are available on Flickr at a resolution of 15 megapixels (the native resolution of the Sigma SD1 Merrill).
The ART is longer by a few millimeters, but also narrower and has a small glass element up front.
Let’s move on to the photos:
It’s a tie, I’d say.
How about a more difficult, chaotic background? Backlit branches are the acid test par excellence for any fast lens.
At f/1.4, both seem to have similarly intense green double contours. This effect is even amplified by the Foveon sensor. The EX seems to be clear at f/2 already – hardly any green double contours anymore. This is why the bokeh appears more harmonious and creamy. The ART needs f/2.8 to get the same effect. The more one stops down, the more contrasty the bokeh of the EX seems to get. At f/4 and f/5.6, the ART is in the lead. What do you think? 🙂
And one more little comparison in sharpness, as a foretaste of what is to come 😉
You can find additional photos taken with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX on Flickr.
ART vs EX set on Flickr.