Sigma is reported to be developing two new 50mm lenses for the Sony E Mount, a 50mm f1.2 DG DN Art and a 50mm f2 DG DN Contemporary. But, the new lenses, if the reports are in fact true, beg the question, how many 50mm lenses does one system need? With several 50mm E-mount lenses already available — eight in our Sony E Mount lens guide alone — Sigma is going to need to set itself apart with more than just price.
The Reports are Saying…
A source told Sigma Alpha Rumors that the third-party optics brand is getting ready to launch two new nifty fifties in the next few months: Sigma 50mm f1.2 DG DN Art and Sigma 50mm f2 DG DN Contemporary. The blog suggests that the reported lenses will be similar in size to the 35mm f1.2 DG DN Art and the 35mm f2 DG DN Art and suggests a launch between April and June but offers little else in the way of details. It’s unclear if the reported lenses are destined for solely the Sony E Mount or if other mount options will launch at the same time. Perhaps it goes without saying but, sometimes these murmurs are not true — and sometimes they are. Either way, Sony E Mount photographers should avoid getting pre-inflated hopes until an actual announcement.
What a New Sigma 50mm Lens Needs
Sigma’s Art series has a near-cult following — many photographers love the sharpness and the richly saturated colors. Others try out Sigma because the lenses tend to sit at a lower price point than optics with similar specifications from big brands. While it’s difficult to apply one statement to a broad group of lenses, if forced to do so, I would categorize Sigma’s Art lenses with sharp subjects and saturated colors in a lens that sometimes doesn’t quite have the same level of autofocus performance or weather-sealing. But, on the flip side, if I had to categorize Sony’s lenses I would say that they tend to be so technically superb that they edge out the features that build character. The last few Sony G series lenses that I’ve tested have been super sharp — perhaps a bit too sharp — and the clinical design makes it difficult to create lens flare. The Sony 50mm f1.2 G Master delivers lots of details and bokeh, but only a little flare.
Sigma would do well by meeting in the middle of those two characteristics. A lens with Art series sharpness, yet the ability to create some beautiful flare in backlighting would offer something unique for Sony E-Mount bodies. While the lower contrast that comes with flare is unwanted in genres that need technical accuracies like product photography and real estate, flare is lovely in portraits. (Which is arguably one of the best uses for a nifty fifty). The Sony system needs more lenses that have the ability to create beautiful flare when you want and add a hood when you don’t.
Of course, lens flare will only work if the lens can focus in backlit situations — some past Sigma lenses have struggled here. I don’t think a 50mm needs sports-level autofocus motors. But, if the new 50mm f1.2 Art can generate some flare and get at least 95 percent of portraits sharply focused, the lens could become a favorite of many. Another request — though doubtful of its fulfillment — is weather-sealing at more than just the mount.
With eight 50mms alone just in our Sony E Mount lens guide, standing out is hard to do. We’ve already said “just how many 50mm lenses does one need?” — and that was back in 2016. There are lots of options, even on a limited budget. We gave the $599 Rokinon 50mm f1.4 AF FE Editor’s Choice honors for its mix of bokeh, sharpness, and colors in a metal build.
But, if the reported Sigma 50mm f1.2 Art can deliver the right mix of technical accuracy and character, then there’s certainly room for one more option. Only time will tell if the lenses are able to mesh sharpness and flare, color, and minimal aberration — if, of course, these reports are accurate.