I’d decided to add some more dimension to my portrait photography by bringing going wider than my usual 85mm focal length and heading straight to a 24mm prime. Getting one seemed simple enough, I’d done the usual research and decided on the Sigma 24mm Art F1.4, but this turned into a more difficult task than I had expected. Recently I have had a lot of interest in Sigma lenses, especially the Art series. I have the 15mm fish eye, the 50 Art and the 35 Art, and these are all spectacular lenses that bested the Nikon equivalents that I compared them to at the time, both in online reviews and my experience. So I really looked forward to adding the 24 to my Arsenal.
I picked up the 24mm at my local camera store, unboxed it and started testing. To my horror everything was soft and out of focus. As far as I could tell there was severe front focusing issues. I had seen some talk about this on the Internet, but all the credible reviewers claimed that this lens was stellar. I went back to the store and purchased the USB dock and spent the night trying to fine tune autofocus. What I found was even more perplexing. Once I got the center point focus tuned the outer ones went out. Also focus when locked was tack sharp, but I found that it was necessary to press the focus button twice because the first time was always off slightly.
I returned the Sigma and tried another sample, but my confidence the brand was now shaken and it didn’t help when the 2nd sample exhibited similar problems. That’s it!! The end of my relationship with Sigma and I bought a used Nikon 24mm F1.4 for almost 70% more. I mounted the Nikon 24mm F1.4 on my D810 and expected to start shooting without worrying about focus issues. But there were other problems, colours were a little less saturated than the Sigma, the CA wide open was far worse than the Sigma and the images were generally never as sharp as the Sigma (when it did focus). I could not live with the Nikon, so it went back to the shop.
I gave the Sigma another try with a 3rd sample and planned to send it for focus tuning at the service center, but right out the box it was much better. Focus was good, images were sharp, there was some minimal fine tuning with the dock for distances beyond 1 meter. But all the other ranges were acceptable. Finally a good sample.
I can only conclude that the sample quality varies widely on this lens. I’m glad I got one that works and Sigma is on my good list again, but with some conditions. I’ll kake sure I get it from a store with a good return policy. I have the dock – which I highly recommend, but I’ve never had to use it on my 35 or 50mm Art lenses.
I’ll be shooting more than rulers this weekend and will post some images shortly.
I wish I could say that there was no trouble in paradise. Still having focus problems wide open. Focus is fine at close range but I’m not happy with the focus at distances beyond one meter. I will take the lens to the canadian distributor for repair tomorrow.
Sigma repair tuned my lens to my camera and everything was fine. They suggested that there was something wrong with the camera so I took it back to Nikon. Nikon did a repair on the camera. Luckily I had purchased the Henrys warranty and that repair was the 3rd one in the life of the camera so I invoked the lemon clause as part of the warranty which gave me a chance to step up to Nikon D850. 2 weeks before Nikon announce the release of the Nikon Z6 and Z7.