The Battle of the 30s: Sigma 30mm f1.4 EX vs 30mm f1.4 ART Part 1


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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).

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART & Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART & Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EXSigma 30mm f/1.4 ART & Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX

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:

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHSigma 30mm f/1.4 ART @ f1.4Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHSigma 30mm f/1.4 EX @ f/1.4
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHART @ f/2Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHEX @ f/2Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHART @ f/2.8Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHEX @ f/2.8Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHART @ f/5.6Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHEX @ f/5.6

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.

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHART @ f/1.4Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHEX @ f/1.4Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHART @ f/2Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHEX @ f/2Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHART @ f/2.8Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHEX @ f/2.8Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHART @ f/4Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHEX @ f/4Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART BOKEHART @ f/5.6Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX BOKEHEX @ f/5.6

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 😉

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ARTART @ f/1.4Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EXEX @ f/1.4Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ARTART @ f/5.6Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EXEX @ f/5.6Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ARTART @ f/8Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EXEX @ f/8

You can find additional photos taken with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX on Flickr.

Additional photos taken with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ART on Pinterest and Flickr.

ART vs EX set on Flickr.

  1. A Fast lens that cannot be used at full aperture is really useless and an oxymoron. If it starts being decent at f2.8 , better buy an f2,8 at a much lower price.

    Reply

    1. Both Sigma 30mm lenses can be used at f/1.4. The EX version is sufficiently sharp for portraits and group protraits straight from max. aperture. The Art version is even sharper.

      Reply

  2. […] amount more than drawing comparisons afterwards. This is why so much time has passed since the last Bokeh-comparison between the ART and the EX HSM. A month later, I could finally get myself to begin searching for […]

    Reply

  3. […] Up to f/2.8 the EX has a slight lead, above f/2.8 ART takes over. Please follow the links to view bokeh and sharpness comparison tests. All images are available in full resolution (15 Megapixel) on […]

    Reply

  4. sharpness depens on focus November 29, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    In the sharpness comparison at f1.4 the EX and Art lens have a different focus. The EX version is NOT properly in focus in the center of the frame. Look around and you’ll see the EX is sharp elsewhere where the focus really is.

    Reply

    1. I think you are right. The of center parts look sharper than the center. But, when you are photographing a plain straight up, the only reason for uneven sharpness I can think of is field curvature. Strangely, I’ve never encountered it with the EX when shooting everyday subjects. Unfortunatelly I don’t have the EX anymore, that’s why I can’t test it.

      Reply

  5. […] that DP’s lens is much sharper. I’ve also compared the two 30mm lenses, the EX and the new ART (Part 1,Part 2). The only thing left to do is to compare the DP2M with the new ART on the SD1M. Can […]

    Reply

  6. […] ones before the 35mm Art against one another. Here and here, I compared the DP2M with the 30mm EX, here and here the 30mm EX with the 30mm Art and here the 30mm Art with the […]

    Reply

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