Using the Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART Lens for weddings
First of all I’ll get the usual “this is not an in depth chart and numbers review” disclaimer out of the way and just let you know this is a real world review. If you want to check out the in depth MTF charts and everything else then google is your friend. The only specs I’ll be showing are the ones below and these are the ones I tend to find practically most useful. My main photography work and passion lies in weddings so that’s pretty much what I’ll be talking about in this review. I’ve always found 24mm a little bit of an odd focal length for my needs, and never thought I would use it for anything other than wide shots of decorations or venues. With that in mind – I always thought it wasn’t much wider than 35mm and therefore not wide enough to make a difference. This all changed when I got my film camera which came with a 24mm and a 50mm. I use film for personal stuff and with not having the funds to invest in other lenses I stuck to using those lenses that I had. More and more I found that the results I was getting from a 24mm lens on film were really peaking my interest. I also found myself at weddings with a 35mm not capturing enough of the scene in certain situations when I wanted that extra bit of context, and the ability to get a little bit closer. Enter the 24mm! At first I thought the idea of constantly having to switch between 24mm and 35mm was ridiculous, so I initially purchased the very much overlooked Sigma 24-35 f2 lens. Sigma was always brave to release a zoom lens with such a short focal range, but I thought it was perfect for my needs – and if it was going to be a zoom that acts like a prime lens then it would be perfect for me. I tried it once at a wedding and honestly I just didn’t like it – it was sharp for a zoom but not as much as a prime. There was also more vignetting at its max aperture and I just couldn’t get on with it! Enter the Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art Lens. I tried it for the first time at a wedding and found switching between that and the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lens was a breeze. You have to know when you will need one focal length over the other – but that’s just a simple case of knowing which lens works best in each scenario and changing them in advance.
Max Aperture: F 1.4
Min Aperture: F 16
Filter Thread: 77mm
Focusing: Silent Autofocus
Immersing yourself in the scene
Now this is where this lens shines! The fact you can have a nice enough shallow depth of field combined with a wide focal length is perfect. It’s a matter of preference and I just love getting more context into a scene where I can. I love longer focal lengths too but I just can’t see myself shooting a wedding without bringing along a 24mm. It’s just so useful! I can be stuck in the middle of a packed room and get a photo that has both the people and the surroundings all in the same scene, despite being within a metre of them. It’s definitely a lens that allows you to capture the energy of a moment as well as where that moment took place.
Depth of field & Bokeh on the Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens
The ability to get a shallow depth of field is pretty good for a wide angle lens, and like most of Sigma’s ART lenses, it’s sharp wide open too – with great overall image quality when shooting at 1.4. At very close distances you get great subject separation right up to about 2 metres away – anything beyond that can be a little funky unless you purposely put something close in the foreground that you want to be blurry. If shallow depth of field is your thing and lots of lovely bokeh, then 24mm certainly isn’t your focal length to use and the Sigma 24mm ART is no different.
Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art Lens Autofocus Performance and Speed
On the whole it’s fine and perfectly fast enough. It’s not lightening quick but I have no complaints for using it at wedding. It doesn’t hunt and is quick enough to capture almost every scene. My only gripe is low light performance. On a dimly lit dance floor it struggles – so despite it being my go to dance floor party lens – I use it almost exclusively in manual mode with the focus locked when it comes to party time. It’s a shame the autofocus isn’t the best in low light because when it comes to non dance-floor stuff, I have to bring out the 24-70 which focuses far better, the compromise being the max aperture of 2.8 which ends up bumping my ISO up.
Couple photos / portraits
I’ve used this lens a few times for couple photos and whilst you can get nice results I still prefer 35mm and above. Again – it does come down to knowing when to use it. If you want your portraits to be intimate and more about the couple – then 35mm can work a lot better (or longer focal lengths of course). The 24mm can perhaps have a little too much width and introduce more distractions into a photo, whereas longer focal lengths would focus more on the couple. With that in mind if you want to include the surroundings to make it a strong feature of a couple photo (especially things like buildings/architecture) then going wide to 24mm works perfectly – and when you shoot wide open at 1.4 it can look great.
The flare you get with this lens is awesome – I’m pretty sure there’s a term for it but towards the corners of the lens you get this crazy curved lens flare. I’m a big fan of lens flare and personally prefer to see it going crazy when it can, so it’s a nice surprise to see this lens throwing out some pretty shapes when the flare is on form!
Sigma 24mm 1.4 ART lens sharpness
It’s very sharp at medium apertures. It’s very sharp wide open at f1.4, and it stays acceptably sharp even at f16. It’s definitely a sharp lens – enough said. Just look at the examples in this review.
Decorations, context & details
This lens is just so useful – not only can I use it for documentary type photography at a wedding – but it’s also a perfect focal length for wide shots of venues and decorations, as well general wide shots of scenes to build up context.
I used to be forever switching between my 35mm lens and other various ultra wide lenses on the dance-floor, and never really settled on a focal length but after using the 24mm once – I’ve never used anything else. The only other lens I use on the dance-floor now is my 24-70 but that’s for more first dance type photos. For the hectic light trail party time stuff you see below – I’ll always use my 24mm.
I’ll keep this simple – it’s awesome. I love mine and I love the focal length. I’ve had limited experience with the Nikon 24mm 1.4 so I couldn’t say which is the best but from all the sample images I’ve seen from the Nikon 24mm 1.4 (and I looked at thousands when doing my research before buying the sigma) I can’t see a massive reason to spend the extra money. The Sigma in the UK is around £649 vs the Nikon at £1200-£1600. The price of the Nikon 24mm has been up and down over the years so varies from place to place.
More Sample Images
Where did I buy mine?
I generally use Amazon to buy my camera gear. If you feel you get a bad sample or simply just don’t like something – they always take it back. In the past If I feel a lens has been soft compared to a friend who has the exact same lens, or if the lens needs massive AF adjustment in the camera menu then I’ll always send it back – Amazon are great for that! I’ve used some of the big camera stores and wanted to send a lens back only to be told there is a restocking fee or that my lens is fine!
Here are some links to buy this lens from Amazon (and importantly – Amazon themselves – and not a 3rd party seller)