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Lintelfilm

Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 First Impressions

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Hey guys - I haven't been here for a while so I'm not sure if the new Sigma APSC Art zoom has been discussed much yet, but I just got one yesterday and thought I'd share my first impressions.

I haven't done any technical tests but I'll start by saying my first impressions are it's a superb piece of glass with the superb sharpness (even wide open), character and build quality that you've come to expect from the Art line. 

However there are a few things those of you interested in adding it to your kit might like to be aware of - especially if you're thinking of it as a companion to the now classic 18-35mm 1.8.

1. It's HEAVY, and pretty big. The 18-35mm feels like a modest MFT lens next to it! It's not exceptionally long but it's got a lot more heft to it and is quite front heavy, meaning it's probably a bit unweildy on a hybrid camera. On my C100 Mark II it's OK to hand hold, but only just.

2. Focus breathing is EXTREME. Personally this isn't a big problem for me but it does impose a certain style on your focus pulls, so if you don't like that look take note. It's going to take a bit of getting used to for me.

3. While the 18-35mm has minimal focus breathing it is not parfocal, which can be annoying at times. The 50-100mm however appears to be parfocal (or at least very close to it). I don't know if trading breathing for focus consistency was an intentional choice by Sigma, but it is another difference to the wider zoom.

4. I read somewhere that it was effectively as quiet when autofocusing as an STM lens. This is not the case at all - not with my copy anyway. It's at least as noisy as the 18-35. Of course this is only really an issue if you're using it on a Canon DAF camera or a6300.

The 18-35mm has been my go-to lens on my BMPCC and GH4 (with their respective speedboosters) for a while now. The relatively compact size of the lens was a big part of this. Now I use a C100 size is not such an issue, but if you're hoping the 50-100 will make a great partner for the 18-35 on a smaller camera as a full walk-around "prime" kit, you may be disappointed. It's so heavy in fact that Sigma's included lens case comes with a shoulder strap! Even on the C100 I'm going to be using it on a tripod most of the time, as the longer, front-heavy focal length makes footage pretty shaky. Of course the flipside of this is that the extra weight helps with reducing micro jitters and with a bit of practice focusing and holding it, it may be useable handheld. 

I'm happily holding on to the lens because the image quality is superb, it's made really nicely and the convenience of having prime image quality (minus the breathing) in two modestly sized zooms is invaluable for my work. In most cases I'll be using the 50-100mm as a portrait lens for interviews, so in general it will be on sticks and this negates the weight issue. It's by no means so huge and heavy I don't want to put it in my kit bag. 

If you want to keep your kit small and think you'll get by with one or two fixed focal length lenses and value compactness and ease of handling, I'd weigh up the pro's of sticking to primes before shelling out $1000 for the 50-100mm.

 

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@Lintelfilm I know being a stills lens first the focus throw isn't great, but what kind of focus throw does the focus ring have? I have both the Sigma Art 18-35 and the Sigma Art 50 and I was pretty bummed with how short of a focus throw the 50 Art had even in comparison to the Sigma 18-35.

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6 hours ago, Caleb Hauff said:

@Lintelfilm I know being a stills lens first the focus throw isn't great, but what kind of focus throw does the focus ring have? I have both the Sigma Art 18-35 and the Sigma Art 50 and I was pretty bummed with how short of a focus throw the 50 Art had even in comparison to the Sigma 18-35.

150 degrees

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12 hours ago, Caleb Hauff said:

@Lintelfilm I know being a stills lens first the focus throw isn't great, but what kind of focus throw does the focus ring have? I have both the Sigma Art 18-35 and the Sigma Art 50 and I was pretty bummed with how short of a focus throw the 50 Art had even in comparison to the Sigma 18-35.

Focus throw is decent. I don't know the numbers but it feels longer than the 18-35. Becaus I don't use marks or gears I don't like focus throw to be too long, and this one feels just about right. The breathing is much more of an issue for pulls. The focus ring's smoothness is similar to the 18-35mm - a bit stiffer now but I expect that to change with use. Like the wider lens, the zoom ring is smooth as butter and because of the 50-100's parfocalness it can actually be used for quite elegant in shot zooms.

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1m is a long min focus... I'd be tempoted to go with a 100mm macro and a 50mm 1.4 instead!

Quite a vintage milky look there in the bokeh too, not totally smooth but not crazy vintage jitters. a strange one by the looks of it... not quite the essential lens-bag winner that is the 18-35 1.8, but still unique.

But hey, I've not used it ;)

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5 hours ago, jgharding said:

1m is a long min focus... I'd be tempoted to go with a 100mm macro and a 50mm 1.4 instead!

Quite a vintage milky look there in the bokeh too, not totally smooth but not crazy vintage jitters. a strange one by the looks of it... not quite the essential lens-bag winner that is the 18-35 1.8, but still unique.

But hey, I've not used it ;)

Yeah 0.95M is on the barrel. It is quite a big downside in many ways. As I say it's going to be mainly a portrait lens for me so not a huge issue, but for some it may be another reason to look elsewhere.

The fact remains though it stands alone in the market, effectively offering a set of 3 fast, sharp primes with nice character in one reasonably sized zoom. For that fact alone it is invaluable to me. I can go out on a shoot with just the 18-35mm and 50-100mm and be sure of cinematic images without the hassle of swapping all the time. If I need small and handheld, I can put an XC10 in my bag (which has impressed me hugely by the way - it's just a rock-solid 4K camera with a gorgeous image that cuts perfectly with the C100). 

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Sounds like you use the same main kit as me C100, 18-35 1.8, and an XC10. Can't complain at all! As such I'll have a look at this lens, since on a two-cam interview that's both your angles covered.

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1 hour ago, jgharding said:

Sounds like you use the same main kit as me C100, 18-35 1.8, and an XC10. Can't complain at all! As such I'll have a look at this lens, since on a two-cam interview that's both your angles covered.

Yeah I've literally just swapped from a BMPCC and GH4, both with Nikon mount speedboosters. I was doing a shoot all last week at a mining museum in the wilds of the Durham dales and had a major Canon epiphany. The GH4 is great as a workhorse but the image just wasn't up to the massive changes in lighting (dark forests, underground mines and extreme midday sunshine) and the BMPCC which has a wonderful image but just isn't up to the functional demands of an on the fly doc shoot chasing school kids around an old mine site. Canon DAF alone would've saved about 60% of the shots I've had to trash. So immediately after the shoot finished I dumped about £6K on CVP & WEX and will be selling my BM & GH4 & Nikon glass.

I'll miss the Pocket's 10bit 13 stop image but that's about it. The XC10 doesn't offer the lens choices of the BM but the 305mbps image is comparable and the stabilization, zoom range and AF/face tracking outweigh that for me. I also picked up a 10-18mm STM for the C100 as the XC10 doesn't go quite wide enough for some things (my current shoot involves cathedral interiors). I may pick up the 18-135mm STM but I'm not sure what it'd offer on the C100 that the XC10 can't do.

What lenses do you use most on the C100? I'm considering a Canon 17-55mm 2.8 IS or a Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC purely for the stabilisation (and the USM as the Sigmas are pretty noisy with DAF).

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I don't have the DAF upgrade on either C100 body, so I have no STM lenses. I don't think I'll look into it at this stage really, I'll probably wait til C100 MKiii if it ever arrives with 4k.

I use the Sigma 18-35 1.8 and the 24-105L f4 mainly. The latter is not by any means spectacular, but it's a sort of "camcorder" workhorse with the IS. That's what puts me off this one a little too: lack of stabilisation.

I have a bunch of nice Contax primes and so on but they only come out for the big projects to reduce general wear and tear on them, and because using primes is very slow in comparison.

What you talk about there is the secret to Canon success: doing all of it well enough. The package is just very usable. You can rescue the AVCHD from much worse mistakes than you'd think too!

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57 minutes ago, jgharding said:

I don't have the DAF upgrade on either C100 body, so I have no STM lenses. I don't think I'll look into it at this stage really, I'll probably wait til C100 MKiii if it ever arrives with 4k.

I use the Sigma 18-35 1.8 and the 24-105L f4 mainly. The latter is not by any means spectacular, but it's a sort of "camcorder" workhorse with the IS. That's what puts me off this one a little too: lack of stabilisation.

I have a bunch of nice Contax primes and so on but they only come out for the big projects to reduce general wear and tear on them, and because using primes is very slow in comparison.

What you talk about there is the secret to Canon success: doing all of it well enough. The package is just very usable. You can rescue the AVCHD from much worse mistakes than you'd think too!

Yeah I'm finding that with the AVCHD. It's crazy. And my hard drives love the tiny files. The XC10 is awesome in 1080 too. For interviews and people shots I'll probably stick to HD. It's landscapes and wide detailed shots where the 4K high bitrate shines.

I think there's a huge misunderstanding of Canon's choices out there. They make very intentional choices based on factors that aren't just spec-centric. They don't just do it "well enough" though IMO - they do just enough, very well. I do wish they put 10 bit 422 in the Mark II but I'm not going to complain too much. As a professional tool for corporate video the MkII (and MkI) is plenty for a few more years to come. DAF is nice but I'm using manual focus a lot with the Sigma's a lot so far because AF is really fast and not massively consistent with the 50-100. I see the 50-100 purely as a replacement for a set of fast cine primes, it's not one for run & gun. I think the C100 is at its best with shallow DOF and that's why I have the Sigmas. If I get a runngun zoom I'll probably go for a 2.8. Otherwise I'll go for the 18-135 STM. I've seen some nice stuff shot with the C100 and the 24-105 though (see Noam Kroll).

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I tried this lens out yesterday, expecting it to be super heavy but it's really not...not considerably much heavier than my other Sigma ART lenses. I don't understand how people have commented on it's weight like it's almost a deal breaker. come on. 

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7 hours ago, Dan Keeble said:

I tried this lens out yesterday, expecting it to be super heavy but it's really not...not considerably much heavier than my other Sigma ART lenses. I don't understand how people have commented on it's weight like it's almost a deal breaker. come on. 

The average weight of all the other Art lenses is 750g (see above) which is exactly half the weight of the 50-100mm at 1500g. It's also the only Art lens over 1000g - and by quite a margin.

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my guess is that generally speaking, it's more likely to be considered heavy to a photographer who is using it with a camera body and not much else. but to a filmmaker who often already has a "lightweight" rig in the neighborhood of weighs 7 to 15lbs, the extra 1.6lbs of the 50-100mm over the 18-35mm isn't going to feel like much of a difference.

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It's a very noticeable difference - and as I say it's front heavy so that doesn't help. If the weight was added to the centre of the rig I'd agree but it's out front so it affects balance a fair bit. It's not a deal breaker but just don't expect a slightly longer 18-35mm. It's nearly twice the weight.

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