Sigma 50mm f/1.4 GD HSM
After much deliberation over which 50mm prime lens to get, I finally decided to go for the Sigma f/1.4. I had read many reviews saying this lens was fantastic from both review sites such as DP review, and photography forums with people saying it was the best lens they had ever owned. However there were also many reviews by people saying that they had terrible focusing issues with front and back focusing and often the lens would just miss the focus all together. The general consensus with this lens is, that if you get a good copy, you have yourself a fantastic lens. So I sat in all day eagerly awaiting my delivery from Wex Photographic with my first fast prime. To my dismay as soon as I got this lens on my camera and started shooting at f/1.4 I immediatley noticed the error I had been reading about all week. I tried the lens in many different controlled conditions as well as walking around and shooting as I would do normally, and in both cases the focus was interment, switching from front to back focus with each shot and even when the focus appeared to be in the right place the subject was far from sharp. As soon as I stopped the lens down to f/2 the lens became pin sharp and I could see what all the fuss was about over this lens, f/2.2 was even more magical!
However, I have lenses that are f/2.8, the reason for this lens was so that I could shoot wide open. So, heavily dissapointed and deflated, I sent the lens back to Wex.
I decided that this lens wasn't for me after being stung like this, but after a good nights sleep (and a lot more reading of forums) I decided to give this little lens another shot! This time I went down to my local camera shop where I could try the lens out myself. I took in my own camera to ensure that this copy worked on my own body and to my delight, even when wide open, this lens did exactly what all those great reviews said it does, producing outstanding results even at f/1.4.
I bought it immediately and brought it home and caried out the same tests as I had done with the first copy. The new lens still had a little front focusing but this was easily corrected in the 5D ii micro adjustment making it spot on. It is still the sharpest at f/2.2 (to be expected of any fast prime) but you have to have a pretty keen eye to notice any marked difference.
I am so glad I gave this lens another try! it feels beautiful to use, is a nice balanced weight on the front of my 5D ii and it looks fantastic! But the most important thing, is that the images quality is superb. Please see the images below to see the comparison between the bad copy and the good copy. In each photo the focus was on the front middle flower.