If you have been using the Sigma MC-11 adapter with your Sigma Art lenses in Canon mount, you may be wondering if the native Sigma FE Art lenses perform better with your Sony mirrorless camera. I was certainly curious and so I spent a few hours doing this research. Here is a complete list of Sigma FE Art lenses for Sony E-mount:

In this article:

  1. Are Sigma lenses any good?
  2. Sigma FE Art series for Sony mirrorless cameras
  3. What is eye AF and how does it work?
  4. Which Sony cameras have eye AF?
  5. Initial reactions to Sigma FE Art lenses for Sony E-mount
  6. Canon EF to Sony E-mount lens adapters
  7. Nikon F to Sony E-mount lens adapters
  8. Eye AF: Sigma FE vs Sigma EF (Canon) with MC-11
  9. Conclusion: why I won’t be buying any Sigma FE Art lenses

Are Sigma lenses any good?

I remember my first Sigma lens – it wasn’t very accurate and it tended to focus hunt a lot and exhibit front/rear-focus. But when the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (non-Art) did nail focus, it produced a far better result than the Canon and Nikon 50mm f/1.4 counterparts. In fact, because I switched camps from Canon to Nikon, back to Canon and once again to Nikon (URGH!), I owned this Sigma 50mm f/1.4 on both Canon EF and Nikon F-mount variants. Like the Canon 50L, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 had good copies and atrocious copies.

I should also note that I only started calibrating each of my lenses with my DSLR camera in 2017 ..

So when Sigma released their Art series, I got out my wallet.

Ever since they were released for Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras, I have loved Sigma Art lenses.

After buying my first Sigma Art lens (50mm f/1.4 DG HSM), others quickly followed (35mm f/1.4 DG HSM, 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM). They were significantly cheaper than the Nikon and Canon counterparts and autofocus speed and accuracy nor sharpness ever an issue with the Sigma Art lens range.

The only reason why I never bought the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM was because I scored the Nikon Af-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G second hand at a bargain price.

In the past, Sigma lenses had a reputation for having inaccurate focus. The Art series changed that. Plus, after meticulously calibrating each lens with each of my Nikon D750 bodies before any paid assignment, front-focusing and back-focusing issues were a thing of the past.

But not all my experiences with Sigma Art lenses have been positive. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art was notorious for having a loose barrel. I had to send the lens back to Sigma in order to have it fixed.

On another occasion, I owned the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art zoom lens to have it die on me in less than a month. When I took it in for repairs, I was told that it was because I had dropped the lens. I hadn’t. I mean, I’m rough with my gear when I work but I was 100% sure that the lens had never been dropped.

On a more positive note however, I have photographed many weddings and engagement session with the Sigma Art lenses in the rain and none have failed on me – despite the Sigma Art lenses have no weather sealing.

Meet the Sigma Art Sony E-mount FE lenses

Sigma were one of the first third party lens manufacturers to announce native Sony E-mount FE lenses.

 

There was much excitement within the Sony photography community. Myself included.

We knew that the quality of the lenses would be worthy of the Art series  label. The APS-C lens (a6500, a6300, a6000) Sigma 16mmf/1.4 DC DN had been getting consistent positive reviews. And that wasn’t even an Art series lens. So the excitement was justified.

Another reason for the hype was because native Sony FE lenses were inherently very expensive. Before buying the Sony a7 III, I had never paid so much for a f/1.8 lens in my life. For example, my Sony Sonnar T* FE f/1.8 ZA costs $898 from B&H while a Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA would set be back $1,498. That’s a lot of money for a f/1.8 lens!

After a wait that seemed like forever, the first Sony FE Sigma Art lenses started to trickle into the world. Considering the price of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art ($949 from B&H), it is a significant one.

Quality-aside. Pricing-aside. There is one more reason why Sigma FE Art lenses are popular.

It’s all about Sony’s eye AF.

What is eye AF and how does it work?

Coming from DSLR photography, eye autofocus was a complete game changer. It just made photographing people at events so much easier. Quite literally, I am pointing the camera and pressing a button. An EVF to help get the right exposure and eye-AF – this is what photographer’s dreams are made of. Literally.

 

 

Which Sony cameras have eye AF?

Based on my research, eye AF is available on these Sony mirrorless cameras:

  • Sony A6000
  • Sony A6300
  • Sony A6500
  • a99 II
  • Sony a7
  • Sony a7 II
  • Sony a7 III
  • Sony a7R II
  • Sony a7R III
  • Sony a7S
  • Sony a7S II
  • Sony a9

However, not all of these Sony mirrorless cameras have eye AF with continuous tracking (AF-C).

Eye AF with continuous tracking means that once your Sony camera has acquired your subject’s eye, even if they move, the camera will continue to lock onto your subject’s eye. These cameras have been highlighted for your reference.

 

Initial reactions

One of the biggest reasons why DSLR photographers such as myself switched from Nikon and Canon was because of Sony’s ingenious implementation of eye autofocus.

Other camera systems had facial recognition and super fast autofocus (Olympus OM-D) but to date, no other camera system has implemented eye autofocus

Even the new Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless digital cameras do not have a similar feature to Sony’s eye AF.

Eye AF is a game changer.

Paired with the very attractive price point of the Sony a7 III, it became a no-brainer game changer for many professional photographers.

Imagine not having to think about focusing.

Imagine how much more time and effort you could spend on giving your clients and/or subjects a better experience,

As I said, eye AF and A7 III is a no-brainer game changer.

I thought Sigma was developing a whole new line of Sigma Art lenses for maximum Sony FE compatibility. I was really excited seeing as I was on the edge of buying my first Sony mirrorless camera (the a7 III).

My excitement somewhat died completely when a friend revealed to me that the new Sigma FE Art lenses were simply an optimized version of a MC-11 and a Sigma Art lens. In my disbelief, I searched the Internet and the photos of pre-production models of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art confirmed my friend’s comment.

This experience of mine was shared within many other photographers. We all had high hopes for Sigma FE Art lenses. Now, instead of ‘hurry up and take my money’, there were concerns.

I think we can all agree that the Sony a9 is a beast of a camera. However, it wasn’t enough to push me across the line to give up on my trusty Nikon D750. You see, for the longest time, I believed that Sony’s Achilles’ heel was its lackluster lens line up. But this was based on outdated information.

Sony actually has a very impressive lens line up (click here to see the complete list).

But native Sony FE f/1.4 fast primes were very expensive and for the longest time, I looked down on f/1.8 prime lenses (mostly because f/1.8 prime lenses for Canon and Nikon were not good enough for professional work IMO).

Then came along adapters.

Canon EF to Sony E-mount lens adapters

There are only 2 worth mentioning:

  1. Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-mount T Smart adapter
  2. Sigma MC-11 EF mount converter for Sony E-mount

Both work but you should be aware that by introducing a third party adapter between a lens and your camera increases the chance for errors.

 

 

 

The general consensus is that the Sigma MC-11 works best for Sigma lenses. If you have existing Canon EF Sigma Art lenses, the MC-11 comes highly recommended based on multiple reviews. However, the pricier Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-mount T Smart adapter (click here to check current prices on Amazon)

 

For videographers, I would recommend sticking with native Sony FE lenses if you rely on autofocus and focus tracking.

Nikon F-mount to Sony E-mount lens adapters

They do exist but to be honest, nothing worth writing about or trying.

Sorry Nikon users (myself included).

Eye AF: Sigma FE Art vs Sigma EF Art using MC-11 adapter

Optical image quality and sharpness have never been an issue with Sigma Art lenses. The same applies to Sigma FE Art lenses for Sony E-mount.

But if you have been using the Sigma MC-11 with Sigma Art lenses in Canon EF mount, you may be curious to know whether the new native Sigma FE Art lenses perform better.

I found these reviews for you:

 

 

 

Conclusion: why I won’t be getting any Sigma FE Art lenses

I still have my Nikon D750 and lenses. They have served me well for the past 3 years and I don’t see a reason to discard them at a big loss.

I also have 2x Sony a7 III bodies. Initially, my intention was to switch completely across to Sony for photography and sell my Nikon gear to recoup some finances. But, as much as I enjoy the features of the Sony a7 III, I prefer using my Nikon D750 for stills.

Am I going to sell my Sony a7 III bodies then?

No.

Why Dan? You said you prefer to use your Nikon D750 for taking stills.

Well here’s the thing.

Because of the a7 III, I have come to love film making. Having access to 4K 30fps, dual card slots, and a very smart inbuilt autofocus system removed many of the barriers of film making for me. And so, that is why I will be keeping my Sony a7 III bodies and the accompanying Sony FE lenses.

Yes. I own a number of Sony FE lenses:

  • Sony Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA (yes, I bought this APS-C lens thinking it was a full frame FE lens ..)
  • Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
  • Sony Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 ZA
  • Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
  • Sony FE 85mm f/1.8

There is not a single Sigma FE Art series lens in my possession. This is because I prefer to film videos on my Sony mirrorless cameras. From reading reviews, I gathered that no matter how optically perfect Sigma Art lenses were, I needed lenses that would work 100% of the time. Hence, I stuck with native Sony FE lenses.

Will I change my mind the future? Perhaps. But for now, I am actually very surprised by the performance of the Sony FE lenses and have not missed having f/1.4 fast primes one bit.

But that’s just me – my situation is probably very different to yours.

If you use your Sony mirrorless camera for predominantly photography, you probably have every reason to buy all the Sigma FE Art lenses.

PS – I wasn’t having much joy with custom Sony Picture Profiles until buying EOSHD. Seriously, worth every penny!