Though no one at Sigma has ever told me they were gunning to best the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus when they released the 50mm f/1.4 Art, it's been pretty widely accepted that was their goal (since crushing Nikon and Canon glass doesn't seem to be a challenge lately). But recent DxO tests show Sigma fell short of this. But it's pretty easy to see it's still the best 50mm on the market.
What follows here is 100% opinion from me. Though some will agree with me, I'm certain there are just as many if not more who disagree, but I still feel like this perspective is worth sharing.
In our review of the 50mm f/1.4 Art, John Schell and I found the lens to be better in every category than both the 50mm f/1.2 L and the 50mm f/1.4 from Canon. Not just a little better, but a lot better. It focused faster, it was sharper, had less chromatic aberration and basically gave John lens lust despite his attachment to his beloved 50mm L.
No one seemed to disagree with our findings, but what people did disagree with was the price point.
I argued that the lens is priced extremely well, and even lower than what many were expecting. I stated in the pricing release that the general guess for the price was around $1200, and Sigma's sub $1000 pricing was, to us at Fstoppers, pretty surprising. Those who disagreed said the Sigma was priced too high since comperables from Canon and Nikon at the same aperture were much less expensive. Those who agreed seemed to say that the lens can't and shouldn't be compared to Canon and Nikon 50mm lenses because it was more comparable to a Zeiss Otus, therefore the pricing was amazing.
Well, we can really compare it based on performance and price. The Zeiss Otus, according to DxO, is better. I'm not surprised, the lens is nearly $4000 and very well should be awesome. But it's not four times better than the Sigma. It's a hair better and it doesn't have autofocus.
So if we accept that the Sigma is better than Canon 50mm options (from Fstoppers testing)... If we accept it's better than Nikon (if you want to believe DxO tests)... If we accept that it is almost as good as a Zeiss that's priced four times higher... Where does that leave us?
To me, it means that if you want the absolute best bang for your buck - the best value on the market today for a 50mm lens - it's pretty difficult to argue that the Sigma isn't that product. Am I wrong?
Note: No, this post wasn't sponsored.