The Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art ($799) is the mirrorless successor to the company’s well-regarded 24mm F1.4 DG HSM Art for SLR systems. Available for both L-Mount Alliance and Sony cameras, the lens has a relatively carry-friendly design, weather protection for the outdoors, a wide aperture for blurred backgrounds and low-light photography, and robust on-barrel controls. Best of all, it significantly undercuts Sony’s top-end FE 24mm F1.4 GM ($1,399) on price. Simply put, if you’re chasing the F1.4 look, this recent Art entry might be the ideal wide standard prime for your bag. It earns our Editors’ Choice award, though it isn’t a clear favorite over the slimmer Sigma 24mm F2 DG DN Contemporary ($639), which remains a solid option for packing light.
A Standard Lens for Wide-Angle Photogs
In the manual focus days, most starter cameras bundled a 50mm lens, which many considered the standard angle at the time. Tastes have changed, though, and, today, almost every ILC kit lens is a zoom. For full-frame systems, a 24-70mm or 24-105mm is the standard. And many creators now appreciate the wide end of those zooms because the main camera on most smartphones tends to dance around the 24mm focal length.
The number of 24mm primes on the market is no surprise then. But the Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art sets itself apart from other sub-$1,000 options because of its complex optical formula and fully weather-sealed build. It gathers more light and is a better fit for use outdoors in rough weather compared with the Sigma 24mm F3.5 Contemporary ($549.99) or 24mm F2 Contemporary, for example.
As mentioned, the 24mm F1.4 Art is available fo L-Mount Alliance cameras from Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma, as well as for Sony’s E-mount mirrorless system. We received the latter version for review. It measures 3.8 by 3.0 inches (HD), weighs about 1.1 pounds, and supports 72mm front filters. It’s an easier lens to carry than the older 24mm HSM Art for SLRs (3.6 by 3.3 inches, 1.5 pounds), and only a bit bigger than Sony’s FE 24mm F1.4 GM (3.6 by 3.0 inches, 15.7 ounces).
Dust, splash, and anti-smudge fluorine protections are all here, so you can freely use the 24mm F1.4 Art in inclement weather along with a protected camera. The weather protection is on par with Sony FE lenses, including the 24mm F1.4 GM and budget-friendly FE 24mm F2.8 G. The weather protection is also a step above that of Sigma’s two 24mm Contemporary primes. The box includes a reversible lens hood; front and rear caps; and a soft zippered carrying case.
L-mount photographers only have a few autofocusing 24mm prime options. The Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art joins the aforementioned Sigma 24mm F2 and 24mm F3.5 Contemporary primes, as well as Panasonic’s Lumix S 24mm F1.8 ($899). Leica does not make a 24mm but does offer the APO-Summicron 28mm F2 ASPH, which costs a very Leica-like $5,195.
Sony system owners can use any of the aforementioned Sigma and Sony lenses, as well as true value options like the Tamron 24mm F2.8 1:2M ($249) and Rokinon 24mm F2.8 AF ($399). Both often sell for less than their official price; for instance, at press time, you can find them each for around $200.
Handling and Autofocus
We paired the 24mm Art with the full-frame Sony a7R IV for testing. The lens balances well—it’s not overly large or front-heavy like more exotic options such as the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art. We definitely prefer the 24mm Art’s form for everyday photography, handheld use, and photo walks; the bigger 20mm Art is a more specialized tool for architecture and night sky photos.
Sigma puts a slew of controls right on the barrel, supplementing those on the camera body. Discrete rings set manual focus and adjust the f-stop. You also get a customizable function button that defaults to AF-ON on most cameras. Toggles include a Lock switch that disables the function button and focus ring when you engage it; this switch is a useful tool for astrophotographers who want to lock in focus on the stars. Another toggle switch swaps between manual focus and autofocus modes.
On-lens aperture control is handy for photos and video alike. The f-stop ring turns from f/1.4 to f/16 and clicks in at third-stop settings for photos. A toggle switch is all it takes to de-click the ring for silent, video-friendly operation. Photos who prefer to set aperture via the camera body have that option, too; the lens ring has a position to move aperture control to the camera body, along with a lock that prevents inadvertent swaps between camera-body and on-lens aperture control.
An STM focus motor drives the lens; it does so quietly and with aggressive speed. The lens drives across its entire focus range, locks, and makes an exposure in just 0.1-second. The manual focus response is nonlinear with Sony cameras, a mark against the lens for cinematographers who want to repeat focus racks from take to take. That said, you can pick between linear and nonlinear response on L-mount system bodies.
Some focus breathing is visible: The lens shows a slightly wider angle of view when you focus at closer distances than at farther ones. Photographers need not worry about this effect but it is a concern for video clips in which focus shifts from one subject to another—viewers tend to notice the change in angle. We haven’t tested a comparable 24mm prime that eschews the effect, however. A handful of Sony cameras offer an in-camera option to compensate for breathing with select lenses including the 24mm F1.4 GM, but not for third-party lenses.
Close-up focus is available to 9.9 inches, which is good enough for 1:7.1 life-size reproductions. If you’re looking for a wide prime for macro shots though, these results might disappoint. But that’s also the case with other wide aperture 24mm lenses. The Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM gets a little closer (9.9 inches for 1:5.9 macros) and the Sigma 24mm F2 Contemporary is in the same ballpark (9.7 inches for 1:6.7 reproductions). Photographers who love leaning in are better off with the Sigma 24mm F3.5 or Tamron 24mm F2.8, both of which focus close for 1:2 magnification.
Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art: In the Lab
We paired the 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art with the 60MP Sony a7R IV and used Imatest software to evaluate its resolution in the lab. It’s an excellent performer (4,450 lines) wide-open and manages outstanding results (5,000 lines) by f/2.8 in the center of the frame. The lens shows some field curvature, so it doesn’t score well in the lab at the edges, but real-world images show sharp performance across the frame.
Sigma bills the 24mm F1.4 Art as a lens for astrophotography and, although I’m by no means a good night sky photographer, I tried the lens for that purpose. The lens is sharp across the frame at f/1.4, a benefit for disciplines that call for wide-open use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the promise of suppressing sagittal coma flare—brighter stars toward the edges of the frame show as crosses with some false purple color, not perfect pinpoints.
If you’re an astrophotography specialist, we recommend the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art more strongly. It captures a broader view, suppresses coma across the frame, and also includes the focus lock feature for night sky work. Sony system owners may also want to look at the FE 14mm F1.8 GM, another astro-tuned lens with an even wider angle of view.
Optics are well-corrected for distortion. There’s just a hint of the barrel effect on Raw files, though dim corners in photos at f/1.4 are more of a nuisance. In-camera corrections do away with both for JPGs and photographers who prefer Raw images can take advantage of a lens correction profile. Sigma provided a Lightroom profile for us to try during testing, which proved effective.
At wider f-stops, the 24mm Art lives up to its moniker and blurs backgrounds for a soft, defocused look. The bokeh quality is pleasing; the optics draw highlights with smooth, soft edges, for generally soft backgrounds. We did note a bit of longitudinal chromatic aberration (LoCa) in some focus transitions, however. It pops up as false purple and green color just off the plane of focus. LoCa is not an issue in every photo, but it can be tricky to remove when it does appear. Lateral chromatic aberration is completely absent.
Landscape photographers may chase the sunstar look. The 24mm F1.4 Art produces its best starbursts at f/16. The stars have an impressive amount of lines, a result of the 11-blade aperture, but are not sharply defined. Flare control was not an issue with into-the-sun shots, however.
Premium Optics at a Reasonable Price
Sigma’s Art series lenses combine quality optics with premium build materials and often cost far less than first-party options. The 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art carries on the tradition—for around $800, the lens keeps up with expensive alternatives like the $1,400 Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM in most respects. That said, pros and well-heeled enthusiasts may prefer the FE 24mm for its video-tuned linear focus response, compatibility with Sony’s breathing compensation function, and lighter weight.
For general use, we don’t have any major complaints about the 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art. Focus locks quickly, photos look sharp, and blurred backgrounds are easy to achieve. Add dust, splash, and anti-smudge fluorine protection, and you get a lens suitable for any condition, indoors or out.
We’re disappointed the lens doesn’t quite live up to its promise as an astrophotography specialist, however. Although stars were pinpoint through much of the frame, we did see the sagittal coma flare effect toward the edges. If you’re buying a lens strictly for astrophotography, the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art is a better choice.
Of course, the 24mm F1.4 Art is just one of several excellent value options from Sigma. The company’s 24mm F3.5 DG DN Contemporary won us over because of its compact size and 1:2 macro focusing. And then, a few months later, the 24mm F2 DG DN Contemporary earned our Editors’ Choice award as a value option with a big f-stop.
As a reviewer, I don’t like to give every participant a trophy, but Sigma’s 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art also deserves our Editors’ Choice award. If you can’t quite justify the cost of the FE 24mm F1.4 GM and frequently work in inclement weather, this is the Sigma 24mm to get. We continue to recommend the 24mm F3.5 and 24mm F2 Contemporary as well. They’re still excellent lenses, but just now have upmarket competition.