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Gear Reviews

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art Review | A Wide Lens In A League Of Its Own

By Matthew Saville on May 2nd 2016

It seems like we are seeing quite a few “trophy” lenses these days. For example, Sigma has twice broken the f/2.8 zoom barrier, once for APS-C sensors with the 18-35mm f/1.8 Art, and once for full-frame sensors with the 24-35mm f/2 Art. Also, remember that Canon just created a new class of wide lens altogether with the 11-24mm f/4. I find myself asking, what’s next? Anything is possible, even practical. (Except probably not a 24-70mm f/2. Sorry!)

You would think with so much exotic glass hitting the market that Sigma would pause and dial it back a notch, to create a lens for us,mere mortals, like an 85 f/1.8 Contemporary, or of course an 85mm f/1.4 Art. Tamron is up to three new f/1.8 primes now, by comparison.

Instead, we have received another lens with a jaw-dropping set of numbers that should make any nightscape photographer begin to drool immediately: 20mm f/1.4.

Previously, the only lenses to even come close to this have been the Leica 21mm f/1.4, a $6,700 lens, and Sigma’s own 20mm f/1.8 EX, a discontinued (?) $450 lens. (Only recently did we get the $800 Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G, which I reviewed HERE.)

Not including fast 24mm options or f/2.8 zooms, this essentially leaves a total void for any non-Nikon shooters who wish to have decently good image quality, center to corner, at a fast aperture. And Nikon shooters, well, I will leave the f/1.8 versus f/1.4 debate for a later time, or the comment section below. Have at it, all you speed junkies!

Enter the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, a unicorn of a full-frame lens. At $899, it’s pricey enough to incite cries of “it had better be sharp!” Yet in my opinion, if it turns out to be even half decent it will be both an impressive feat and an incredible value.

[RELATED:Sigma 24-35mm f/2 Art Quick Review]

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art Sample Video And Images 

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art Sample Crops

Sigma 20mm 14 Lens Review SLR Lounge Crop Sample

(I create my 100% crop samples by shooting with the lens diagonal and at infinity, to inspect the entire zone from center to corner.)

 

001_Sigma 20mm Art Review_4.0 sec at f - 1.4_20 mmF/1.4, Center (Normal details are sharp, highlights bloom a lot!)

002_Sigma 20mm Art Review_4.0 sec at f - 1.4_20 mmF/1.4, Rule-of-Thirds Area

003_Sigma 20mm Art Review_4.0 sec at f - 1.4_20 mm

F/1.4, Corner (50 MP)

Sigma 20 14 art review 24 mp cornerF/1.4, Corner (24 MP)

Sigma 20 14 art review 4K cornerF/1.4, Corner (4K)

004_Sigma 20mm Art Review_8.0 sec at f - 2.0_20 mmSigma 20mm Art, F/2, Center (Normal details very sharp, highlights bloom less!)

005_Sigma 20mm Art Review_8.0 sec at f - 2.0_20 mmSigma 20mm Art, f/2, Rule-of-Thirds Area

006_Sigma 20mm Art Review_8.0 sec at f - 2.0_20 mm

Sigma 20mm Art, f/2, Corner

007_Sigma 20mm Art Review_15.0 sec at f - 2.8_20 mm

Sigma 20mm Art, f/2.8, Center (Normal details very sharp, almost no blooming)

008_Sigma 20mm Art Review_15.0 sec at f - 2.8_20 mm

Sigma 20mm Art, f/2.8 Rule-of-Thirds Area

009_Sigma 20mm Art Review_15.0 sec at f - 2.8_20 mm

Sigma 20mm Art, f/2.8, Corner

010_Sigma 20mm Art Review_30.0 sec at f - 4.0_20 mm

Sigma 20mm Art, f/4, Center

011_Sigma 20mm Art Review_30.0 sec at f - 4.0_20 mm

Sigma 20mm Art, f/4, Rule-of-Thirds Area

012_Sigma 20mm Art Review_30.0 sec at f - 4.0_20 mm

Sigma 20mm Art, f/4, Corner (Finally, decently sharp!)

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art Sample Crops For Comparison

013_Sigma 20mm Art Review_4.0 sec at f - 1.4_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/1.4, Center (Normal details sharp, highlights bloom purple)

 

014_Sigma 20mm Art Review_4.0 sec at f - 1.4_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/1.4, Rule-of-Thirds Area (Slightly less sharp)

 

015_Sigma 20mm Art Review_4.0 sec at f - 1.4_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/1.4, Corner (Severe coma, softness, and vignetting)

 

016_Sigma 20mm Art Review_8.0 sec at f - 2.0_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/2, Center (Extremely sharp, blooming & halos mostly gone)

018_Sigma 20mm Art Review_8.0 sec at f - 2.0_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/2, Corner (Coma not improved much, Vignetting improved)

 

019_Sigma 20mm Art Review_15.0 sec at f - 2.8_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/2.8, Center (Very sharp, very little blooming)

 

021_Sigma 20mm Art Review_15.0 sec at f - 2.8_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/2.8, Corner (Coma significantly improved, Vignetting almost gone)

022_Sigma 20mm Art Review_30.0 sec at f - 4.0_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/4, Center (Extremely sharp, no blooming or fringing)

024_Sigma 20mm Art Review_30.0 sec at f - 4.0_24 mm

Sigma 24mm Art, f/4, Corner (Sharp, no blooming, very little chromatic aberration)

Distortion, Vignetting, Field Curvature, Coma, Etc.

The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art has almost no distortion, and Adobe has a profile available to correct it already even if it did.

Vignetting is significant wide open, as you might expect, but decreases greatly at both f/2 and f/2.8; in my opinion becoming basically a non-issue by f/2.8.

Coma, unfortunately, is prevalent starting from the rule-of-thirds area and worsening towards the corners. It doesn’t clean up much at all when stopping down to f/2, but improves greatly at f/2.8. (Then again, plenty of f/2.8 zooms hit this range and do just as good.)

Furthermore, there is some sort of weird field curvature or other blooming effect happening at f/1.4, through the whole image. (See below)

Sigma 20mm 14 Art Lens Review SLR Lounge-10

Sigma 20mm Art @ f/1.4, Central Area

 

Sigma 20mm 14 Art Lens Review SLR Lounge-11

Sigma 20mm Art @ f/1.4, Rule-of-Thirds Area

At first, I thought this might be a bad copy, however, based on the differentials of various MTF chart lines, I think it might just be a characteristic of the lens. I’m not an optical engineer, mind you, but whenever I see the lines wobble like that half-way down the chart, I fear for the rule-of-thirds area of the image.

Sigma 20 Art MTF

 

Sigma 20mm 14 Art Lens Review SLR Lounge-01

Oh, I almost forgot, sunstars! Sunstars on the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art are pretty awesome, but because of the rounded aperture blades (which do create nice soft bokeh) the points are not as sharp as the old manual focus lenses from Nikon and Pentax.

Also, flare is extremely low, (see above) and overall colors and contrast are fantastic.

 

03-performance-4-stars

Performance:

Okay, let’s get right to the point: Considering the limited scope of what this lens might be useful for, I wish it had slightly less coma, blooming, and vignetting. Don’t get me wrong, for both the price and the weight I am very impressed with the overall image quality.

The center-to-edge image quality is in fact entirely adequate for both print work and 4K timelapse work. However, if you’re going to make a lens as exotic as a 20mm f/1.4, and do it hot on the heels of a 50mm f/1.4 that gives even a Zeiss Otus a run for its money, I feel like it ought to be almost completely flawless, even if it costs double and weighs an extra half-pound. I know dozens of nightscape photographers who would have gladly paid $1.5K or even $2K for this lens if it had been as incredible at f/1.4 as the 35 Art or the 50mm Art.

Based on the MTF charts and the optical formula, though, it almost looks like Sigma just took their 24mm f/1.4 Art and tweaked the light path ever so slightly to make it a 20mm angle of view instead of 24mm.

So, when it comes to image quality, I’ll simply give credit where it is due: Sigma did something amazing, though not perfect.

However, a lens’ performance is not just found in its images. I’m giving the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art a four-star rating not just because I feel like it could have been slightly better optically, but also because like its f/1.4 Art siblings, it still seems to be slightly behind both Canon and Nikon’s low-light autofocus consistency. Sigma’s HSM autofocus is impressive, quiet, and snappy, but both Nikon and Canon shooters will find it to be ever-so-slightly more “hit-or-miss” than a ‘name-brand’ lens. Most folks may not notice this in casual situations, but I fear a demanding pro will notice a slightly higher percentage of misfocused shots.

I really hope that Sigma is working day and night to eliminate this slight drawback, as I’m sure Tamron is too, now that they’re developing fast primes.

As an aside, it is a shame that Nikon in particular, has tried to mess with Sigma lens AF performance so much over the years. It seems like Sigma is often having to update the firmware of their lenses just to get them to function properly on new Nikon bodies. So, Kudos to Sigma for fighting the good fight, and shame on Nikon for playing so dirty.

 

Sigma 20mm 14 Art Lens Review SLR Lounge-04

 

09-features-5-stars

Features:

It goes to eleven. Wait, it goes to 1.4. Enough said.

Some might see this lens as a one-trick pony, and even to many general low-light photographers, this single most important feature may not actually be that necessary.

However, the minute you find 24mm isn’t wide enough and f/2.8 isn’t fast enough, this might be your only solid option, period. That’s a feature worth five stars, plain and simple.

It’s got decent autofocus and convenient AF/MF switching, plus the physical switch is solid and impossible to accidentally bump. It’s got a focus indicator window, although the focus throw is so short that even on such a wide lens they barely have room for hyperfocal markings at f/8 and f/16, let alone enough distance markings to make them useful. That’s pretty standard, though, for almost every modern autofocus lens, so I can’t complain.

The Sigma Art lens lineup, lamentably for some, is not fully weather sealed. Even Nikon’s cheapest f/1.8 G primes, like the 50mm f/1.8 G, have at least a rear mount gasket.

Having said that, the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art (like its siblings) is made with precise tolerances and seems to be impervious to both moisture and dust. It’s not an L lens, (or a Pentax WR lens) but it’ll certainly get the job done when faced with slight rain or a sand storm.

 

14-design-5-stars

Design:

The design and construction, like the quality, is impressive. The AF/MF switch is slightly recessed and impossible to accidentally switch, as I mentioned, and the fixed hood is just as robust as the rest of the body. This ain’t no Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, that’s for sure.

As I already mentioned, some would dock the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art a point for being unsealed, however, I feel like the construction and assembly itself is so tight that it might as well be weather sealed, for all but the worst kinds of weather.

Lastly, that exposed front element, and the overall heft of the lens may be a deal-breaker, especially for a Nikon shooter who has the comparatively dinky 20mm f/1.8 G as an option. However, I simply cannot call this lens’ size or weight a “design flaw” after I already docked a point for the image quality not being even more flawless. That would be an unfair catch-22. So, well done Sigma.

Sigma 20mm 14 Art Lens Review SLR Lounge-20

One thing I should note, however, is the greater care needed in keeping the front element moisture and dust-free. If a lens accepts front filters, I can slap on a cheap UV filter and just wipe it down incessantly between every photo, when it’s raining very hard or if there are waves splashing, etc.

However when UV filters are not an option, you must take great care each time you clean the front element. Sometimes, honestly, this inclines me to just leave it alone which can ruin photos as you see here.

 

19-quality-5-stars

Quality:

I have tested each of Sigma’s new Art lenses over the years, and they are always very impressive right out of the box. They’re rugged, finely crafted tools that one feels proud to mount on their camera. The heft and solid feel of the 20mm f/1.4 Art is as reassuring as it looks.

There have been claims and examples of heavily abused Sigma Art lenses that broke down or fell apart, but in my experience, aside from Sigma’s oldest Art lens, the 35mm f/1.4, build quality has never been a concern at all.

It will take about as much abuse as any modern (largely plastic) Nikon f/1.4 prime, and probably almost as much abuse as any of the legendary Canon (more metal) Canon f/1.4 and f/1.2 L primes.

 

24-value-5-stars

Value:

Let’s get this discussion over as quickly as possible: Ask yourself, if Canon or Nikon were to make a 20mm f/1.4, let alone Zeiss, what do you think it would cost? $1.5-2K? $5K  if from Zeiss?

Canon just updated their 35mm f/1.4 L, and it is $1,800. Zeiss just released a Milvus 21mm f/2.8, and it is $1,800 as well. I rest my case.

Simply put, considering the performance and quality of the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, it is an absolute steal at $899.

Who Should Buy The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art

Now that we’ve established what an impressive feat of engineering this lens is, the  one remaining question is still the most important one: Is this lens right for you?

To be blunt, there’s a chance you might be better off with a Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art instead of this 20mm behemoth. Why? Because the focal lengths are close enough that in most shooting conditions a single step backward will give you want you want. Also, in my experience, 24mm is simply more practical in the real world than 20mm.

The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art also accepts 77mm filters, which is great for photographers who shoot in really dirty conditions, while the 20mm dwarfs all 24mm primes with its gigantic front element.

Furthermore, even if you absolutely must have 20mm instead of 24mm, much of the time an f/2.8 or f/4 zoom (or prime) is probably more than enough for what you’re doing. General photojournalism on a full-frame sensor is very easy at f/2.8 these days, with such amazing high ISO options, and a lens like a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 or Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 is a much more versatile tool.

Simply put, you should seriously consider the specific focal length and aperture that you need because more practical alternatives abound.

So, who or what is such a lens perfect for? Nightscapes, of course. When you’re trying to photograph the milky way over a moonless landscape, you can never have enough light, and wider is almost always better.

Hands-down, this is an astro-landscape photographer’s dream lens. The 24mm f/1.4 class of lenses has always been a go-to choice for photographing the milky way, and this is even better.

One other area where both aperture speed and field of view cannot be easily substituted is in videography, as you should have seen in the sample video footage above. Whatever direction your cinematic creativity may be taking you, whether it’s shooting a film by the light of the moon, or just driving around at night, The 20mm f/1.4 has a unique wide angle view that cannot always be easily replicated by simply taking one step back.

Sigma 20mm 14 Art Lens Review SLR Lounge-06

From Left To Right: Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art

What Alternatives Should Some Photographers Consider

For most photographers, from wedding journalists to low-light action sports shooters, a 24mm f/1.4 is a great alternative, as is an f/2.8 zoom that hits 20mm. If you need autofocus and rock-solid construction, there is no better choice than the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art, which has already proven itself to be a solid optic.

If you’re an astro-landscape photographer who 1.) is on a budget, 2.) doesn’t care about autofocus, and 3.) is okay with mediocre build quality in exchange for slightly less coma, then a Rokinon/Samyang/Bower 24mm f/1.4 has been the go-to lens for nightscape shooters. (However, be warned, none of those budget lenses will hold up to abuse nearly as well as a Sigma Art lens! The Sigma 24mm f/1.4’s slightly higher coma, and slightly lower vignetting, in my opinion, is an extremely worthwhile trade-off if you can afford it. The Rokinon lenses literally fall apart after a while.)

Hey, what about crop-sensor shooters? Tokina did just come out with a 14-20mm f/2.0, which on a 1.5x Nikon DX sensor comes to 21mm equivalent. I suppose this is pretty much your only close alternative, despite the slight loss of high ISO performance and the whole stop difference in aperture. Personally, I’d consider the Tokina 14-20 2.0 on a Nikon D5300 to be a killer “B-roll” astro-landscape timelapse option, while a Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art on a Nikon D810 by comparison is clearly an all-out flagship choice.

Lastly, if you’re a Nikon shooter, (Or a Sony FE shooter with a Nikon adapter) the Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G does make a killer alternative to the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, just so long as you don’t mind slightly worse corners, or of course the loss of aperture.

Personally, I’m a hiker and a lightweight traveler, so to be honest I’d be happy with the Nikon 20mm f/1.8 G, despite my slight disappointment at its wide-open corner performance. But, if you’re fine with the extra weight, the Sigma sure does beat the Nikon handsomely, especially at f/2.

Just seriously consider both focal length and aperture before deciding to take the plunge on this lens. But if you do decide that 20mm f/1.4 is for you, then you’ll not be disappointed!

Sigma 20mm 14 Art Lens Review SLR Lounge-05

[REWIND: NIKON 20MM F/1.8 G ED N REVIEW – A DREAM LENS FOR ASTRO-LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHERS?]

 

32-overall-score-4-stars

Conclusion:

It’s hard to sum up the review of such an exotic lens, except to use the term I already chose at the very beginning: a trophy lens. The Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art is an accomplishment for Sigma, a bragging right, and a specialty tool that is the only show in town if you need what it has to offer.

Having said that, it would be silly to give a “Must Have” recommendation to anyone other than a serious, die-hard astro-landscape photographer, considering how solid the alternatives are, even from Sigma’s own stable. Looking for something more compact and practical? The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art is fantastic. Don’t mind the weight, and want something equally exotic but in a more useful range? The Sigma 24-35mm f/2 Art is another trophy on Sigma’s shelf right now.

I also suspect that Sigma will have either a Sport or Art series zoom lens to announce, sooner or later, that is either f/2 or f/2.8, and covers the 20mm range. Just something to think about.

All in all, though, if you’ve got a hankering for wide and fast, it doesn’t get any wider and faster than this! Well done, Sigma, I look forward to seeing what you produce next.

Get the Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art here

 

Take care and happy clicking,
=Matt=

EDIT: After some discussion, I have added 100% corner crops from a re-sized 24 megapixel version of my 20mm f/1.4 corner test, as well as a 100% crop from a 4K re-sized image. Hopefully this will give astro-landscape photographers and night timelapse photographers a better idea of what to expect in various real-world situations!

Since this is down-sized from a 50 MP image, this is NOT the per-pixel sharpness that you’d expect if you shot on a Nikon D750 or a Sony A7S. However, it is useful for determining how “big” the coma will be.

In my opinion, it’s not bad at all, especially at 4K.

Sigma 20 14 art review 24 mp cornerSigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, 24 MP 100% crop (extreme corner)

Sigma 20 14 art review 4K cornerSigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, 4K resolution 100% crop (extreme corner)

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Paul Wynn

    After reading this article, I arranged to field test the Sigma 20mm 1.4 ART and was blown away by the experience. I have since ordered one and loving my new found wide perspective.

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  2. Sean Goebel

    Because of the poor coma performance of this lens, I will be sticking with my Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 and (adapted) Nikon 14-24 for my astrophotography. I pre-ordered the Sigma 20 f/1.4 the moment it was announced, but canceled it when the coma tests started coming in.

    It’s such a shame that this lens just couldn’t live up to its promise. :-(

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  3. Peter Stout

    Thanks for the review Matt! I’m looking for a catch-all prime for landscape and astro. 24mm is not wide enough for my taste, and 14mm is too wide. This lens was my hopeful solution. The bulbous front element is a bit of a turnoff considering the Nikon f1.8 can accept a screw-on filter. Perhaps a point that I fee deserves more scrutiny for landscape photography. So, for an all-around landscape/astro prime lens, would this be your choice?

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    • Matthew Saville

      This Sigma 20 Art is definitely not as easy to describe as an “all-around” lens as something like the Nikon 20mm f/1.8. The Sigma 20 1.4 is a specialized tool, for either specific astro-landscape shooting needs in which 20mm in particular is needed, or maybe low-light indoor photojournalism where every mm and every f-stop also counts. Otherwise, get the Sigma 24 1.4 Art, or a Rokinon 24 1.4 if you’re OK with the cheap plastic, or the Nikon 20 1.8…

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  4. JT Blenker

    The coma of the stars in the corners on this lens is bad, as in really, really bad. Stating it’s a contender for nightscape or astro work for the Milky Way is disingenuous at best and show incompetence at worst. Please work with someone who shoots the kind of images that you would state this lens is for. Very poor understanding and expectations of the expected user in this case.

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    • adam sanford

      And you demonstrate a tremendous ability to disrespect a photographer without googling him first:

      http://goo.gl/iXgV9v

      The man knows a thing or fifty about astro. He’s just overlooking the coma for what the lens *could* be instead of what it isn’t.

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    • JT Blenker

      If the highest potential for the lens in use shows it as a below average option (and they are recommending it), who is disrespecting who? Giving advice means you need to be able to admit that the option doesn’t meet the very realistic standard for the work, and hawking the product to a group looking to them for knowledge is just worrisome.

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      JT,

      I’m certainly not an astro photographer, but would think that such a pixel peeping test (100% crop of a 50mp image) shows evidence of what you speak, but to what realistic degree of scrutiny?

      Not trying to argue against your point… just my take on this type lens evaluation to show it’s weakness and make comparisons.

      -Kyle

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    • Matthew Saville

      JT, I’m a dedicated astro-landscape photographer, as Adam mentioned.

      To be blunt, what did you expect from a 20mm f/1.4 lens that doesn’t weigh (and cost) as much as an Otus?

      As I wrote in the review, in my opinion it looks like Sigma actually just took the optical formula of the existing 24mm f/1.4 Art, and tweaked its image circle. This is of course a recipe for disaster, coma-wise.

      I personally would not shoot with this lens unless I absolutely needed 20mm and f/1.4, and even then I’d try to shoot at f/2 if I could.

      Either way, if you check the more scientific tests performed by folks like Lenstip, you’ll see that its performance is not that much worse than most of the existing 24 1.4 options. This test was performed on a 5Ds, which literally makes the coma appear multiple times larger than it would in even a 4K timelapse frame, let alone a 1080p one. As you can see in the 1080p timelapse sample, the coma is fine even wide open.

      Honestly though, even as a nightscape photographer I find myself caring less and less about how bad a lens is in the extreme, extreme corners. Call me old and jaded, but the heavier Art lenses get, and the pricier Zeiss Otus lenses get, I find myself happier and happier to compromise a tiny bit on extreme corners, and just use whatever lens fits the bill for my intended shot.

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    • JT Blenker

      I appreciate your dedication to your craft, as I don’t make any mentions of what I shoot, my knowledge of astro, or my abilities as an educator because it simply doesn’t matter. The issue is the recommendation when coma is the largest issue with any lens when shooting astro. Thanks for your detailed response, but the issue is because your recommendation has weight due to the platform you represent. This lens has issues and sometimes you just have to say the mark was missed by the manufacturer. I don’t see how you can state that the issue is the same as a 2.8 lens/ a lens that is stopped down in the corners in the article, but then in your response say that f/2 is ok for your work. Nightscapes can take hours to shoot and include so much time with research and going out to specific areas that aren’t easily accessible, and to get back and start post processing to find coma issues is tough. Worse when the offending lens is
      recommended so resolutely. Thank you again for the write-up as these can be tedious in the extreme.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Again, “I wish it was better” was the very first thing I said when I began talking about the lens’ Performance category of the review. I even said that I would have been willing to pay 50% more, and lug around another half-pound, if it could have been closer to a Zeiss Otus lens.

      But, thanks for “calling out” the slight discrepancy between the unfortunate coma and my admiration for such an accomplishment in optical engineering. I was hoping that message would come across clearer: This lens is most impressive on paper, still impressive enough in the real world to use if absolutely necessary, yet not something I’d personally own, given that I’m a Nikon shooter and have a lighter, more practical alternative. (Though the coma of the Nikon 20 1.8 G is just as bad, and the overall sharpness is inferior, for what it’s worth.)

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    • adam sanford

      +1 to Matthew on “its performance is not that much worse than most of the existing 24 1.4 options” — many folks opt for slower lenses like the 14mm f/2.8, Tamron 15-30 f/2.8 VC because the large aperture wide primes from Canon and Nikon largely aren’t getting it done.

      I would contend that most large aperture wide primes were made for environmental portraiture and not astro work, so coma as a ‘must’ for these lenses is more of a recent phenomenon.

      THAT is why we need the 35L II coma performance on a 24 f/1.4L III. See here for the kind of improvement we might see:

      http://goo.gl/mULmoq

      Such a 24mm f/1.4L III could be the very fast / *pretty wide* / acceptable coma lens the astro camp has been looking for.

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    • JT Blenker

      Because of the coma issues with Canon’s 24L II, I don’t use the lens for astro work. I do enjoy the field of view provided by 24mm and picked up a full manual lens that met my needs with coma in mind. This might not be viable for some but if you are creating art work in a professional capacity, then this may be your best option for the benefits.

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  5. Kyle Stauffer

    Great review and comparisons as always!

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  6. adam sanford

    “I know dozens of nightscape photographers who would have gladly paid $1.5K or even $2K for this lens if it had been as incredible at f/1.4 as the 35 Art or the 50mm Art.”

    +1. This. Ultrawide + Super Fast + Coma Free. This lens joins a long list that can only pull off two of those things at the same time. :-(

    Many folks looked at the coma performance wide open / near wide open with this lens and said “Well why the hell did they make this lens, then?!”

    Best chance for Canon guys is that the BR gunk makes it into a 24mm f/1.4L III sometime soon. The 35 f/1.4L II has night and day better coma than the Sigma 20 or 24 Art, so Canon just needs to update their 24 f/1.4L II and *then* astro folks can truly rejoice.

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    • Matthew Saville

      The best chances for Canon guys who don’t want to sell a kidney to pay for a lens are Rokinon and Irix, in my opinion. Rokinon’s 24 1.4 is still the coma champion by far, and the 14 2.8 is impressive as well. Considering how old both lenses are, I’d say we’re due for either an update for either of those, or as my own personal hope is, we’re due for something in between, say, a 17mm f/2 or 18mm f/2. THAT would be an astro dream lens, if it had the coma of the 24 1.4 or 14 2.8. (Though, as I’ve mentioned in this review, they’re basically disposable junk compared to Sigma Art quality. But hey, optical performance is nothing to sneeze at, even if you have to toss the lens entirely after a few years. Or, as some of my nightscape friends do, just sell the lens off after 1 year and buy a new one.)

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