Today I’d like to present you a somewhat untypical comparison. The two lenses I want to compare are very different but both have their clear advantages which I will briefly mention as well. A comparison will be made between two lenses of the high-quality and popular SIGMA Art series. I’ll contrast two of my favorite lenses, the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art and the SIGMA 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM | Art. However, when using the SIGMA 24-105mm lens, I’ll only focus on the 50mm focal length in order to create “pictures on an equal level” (with the same/similar image details and angles) that can be compared very well.
You may all be familiar with the advantages of a zoom lens: It has a great range of focal lengths, which makes this lens a perfect all-round lens. Especially with focal lengths ranging between 50mm and 100mm, you’ve already got a lot of “typical focal lengths for portraits” on board (50mm, 85mm and 100mm). The praised SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, of course, surpasses the zoom lens in terms of sharpness, image performance and excellent image quality. Beyond that, it’s aperture of 1.4 makes it much more light intense and create impressive bokeh with an open aperture. But the question I and perhaps you as well wonder about is how big this difference actually is. Is it necessary to buy both lenses in order to achieve high image quality or will “only” a zoom lens do just as fine for the beginning?
Now I’d like to show you in a few examples how big or how small the difference between both lenses really is. Therefore I’ll test both lenses with an open aperture, then with an aperture of 4 (which equals an open aperture with the SIGMA 24-105mm), then with an aperture of 5.6 and finally with a rather closed aperture of 8.
I’ll only say a few words so each one of you can decide for themselves.
Of course, the difference between both lenses is most evident with an open aperture:
With apertures of 4 and 5.6, in my opinion, you can only notice a difference in quality in the zoom area.
When you close the aperture even further, this difference decreases as well.
This test has certainly not surprised me but proved my assumptions true. Of course, the 50mm lens can’t be surpassed in terms of sharpness and image quality; however, I believe that the 24-105 still does a pretty good job along with the fixed focal length! With an open aperture of 1.4 the bokeh of the 50mm lens is clearly more intensive and refined than with its competitor. A difference becomes evident as well with both pictures taken with an aperture of 4. Yet I think both lenses perform very well.
I often wonder at what occasions I should put both lenses in my camera bag and when taking the zoom lens only will be enough. In my opinion the 24-105mm is a great travel companion with which you can take fantastic and varied photos without swapping your lenses and carrying too much weight. However, when it comes to portrait or staged still life shootings, I prefer to rely on the 50mm lens, as both its quality and creative potential are just incomparable. But everyone can decide for themselves. I can only say that both are really great lenses and there’s a good reason why they count among my favorites.