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General Lens Reviews Video

EF-M Sigma 56mm vs. Viltrox 56mm

I was curious how the two native Canon EF-M 56mm f/1.4 lenses compared. Is one better in image quality or features than the other? At least right now there is a significant price difference between the two. Check out the embedded video to see how it goes!

Check out the YouTube video here:

Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens for Canon EF-M:
B&H: https://bhpho.to/3bNQUjk
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3cC8pUb
Walmart: https://bit.ly/2M3pxa6
UsedPhotoPro: https://bit.ly/2XQiuae
ebay: http://ebay.us/5Q3NxW
Used on KEH: https://shrsl.com/2b947

Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 AF lens for Canon EF-M:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/39sl5Pa
B&H: https://bhpho.to/3nXMoF0
ebay: http://ebay.us/b4IRWE

Those are my affiliate links.

Here are the notes I wrote up while compiling data and deciding what I should mention in the video.

Physical properties of the lens:

  • The Sigma lens is shorter but thicker than the Viltrox.  
  • Weight is 280g for the Sigma and 290g for the Viltrox.
  • Sigma: 66.5mm x 59.5mm (W x L)
  • Viltrox: 65mm x 72mm
  • Both lenses have an aperture range of f/1.4 to f/16.
  • Both lenses have 9 aperture blades.
  • The Viltrox lens has an aperture ring. The only point in the ring that clicks is at f/16. The Sigma lens doesn’t have one. With native EF-M lenses I don’t think an aperture ring is necessary, but that’s my personal preference.
  • Both lenses have quiet STM based focusing motors.
  • Both lenses include a hood. The Sigma lens has a 55mm filter thread whereas the Viltrox has a 52mm thread and it is mostly made out of metal..
  • The Viltrox lens has a completely metal casing. The Sigma lens appears to be a mixture of plastic, aluminum, and rubber.
  • I prefer the metal machined focus ring of the Viltrox lens compared to Sigma’s rubber encased focus ring. It’s just as easy to use and provides as much grip without having a component on the lens that will eventually degrade with age.
  • The Viltrox lens includes a built-in micro USB port for firmware updates. There have been multiple updates since the release of the lens. You need the UD-11 accessory dock to update the firmware of the Sigma lens. Currently there has been a single firmware update that added a feature to adjust the speed of the manual focus ring.

Minimum focusing distance:

  • Sigma: 50cm (19.7 inches)
  • Viltrox: 60cm (23.6 inches)
The Sigma get closer…

Focus breathing test:

  • From what I can tell the Viltrox lens has slightly less focus breathing than the Sigma lens. Of course this test is from extreme close distance to infinity focus. If you were using these lenses for video you probably wouldn’t notice it much.
The Viltrox lens has more chromatic aberrations throughout the aperture range (f/1.4 shown here even at 600px for this image it can been seen at 100%).

Image quality:

  • At normal viewing resolution on a computer, results from the two lenses look close enough. Differences don’t start showing up until around 50% on my 1080p screen. Of course, take any tests I’ve done with a grain of salt. There could be slight variation in focal point among other variables.
  • In reality good luck noticing any large differences. Look at the f/2.8 portraits for example. Based on so many variables in a scene like that I’d say the Viltrox image looks a bit better due to where it focused and how the light hit.
  • Detail 
    • Can look similar, but I think that the Sigma has the edge at larger apertures.
    • At high magnification of the image the Viltrox can appear more washed out looking.
    • In the studio test the Sigma keeps its lead in image detail at high magnification.
  • Background point source light quality
    • Viltrox is smoother and cleaner inside the circles in my studio test. Keep in mind it’s one test at a single focal distance.
    • Sigma has rounder circles. The edges show less color fringing.
  • Optical Aberrations
    • The Viltrox has more visible chromatic aberrations.
    • Bokeh quality (studio scene)
  • Portrait example
    • In a portrait situation the smoothness and color cast of the Viltrox gives the images a less clinical look compared to the Sigma. Other than that difference, they are both great options for photos of people. 
  • Minimum focus reproduction
    • The Sigma lens clearly gets closer.
  • Outdoor sample photos
    • I think the low aberrations of the Sigma makes it a good fit for outdoor nature photography.
  • Photos isolated on white
    • For my thumbnail images I often photograph a camera or lens and remove the background later on in post. For that use case I’m often going with the Sigma lens due to it’s longer focal length than the Canon 32mm f/1.4 lens and it’s lower aberrations compared to the Viltrox lens. That makes it easier to cut the object out of the background with cleaner edges. 
The Sigma’s aperture blades keep a rounder hole through the range.

Video Results:

  • 1080p, 60 fps, f/2.8, 1/125th and 1080p, 60/30 fps, f/1.4, 1/1000th
    • The two lenses appear to look extremely similar and focus decently well with the M50. Any inconsistency in focusing is shared which I think is more on the M50 than the lenses.
  • Sigma @ 4k, 24 fps, f/4, 1/50th, ISO 100
    • Again, not much of a difference between the two lenses which is a good thing. The poor focusing comes down to the M50 itself rather than the lenses.
  • Automatic video mode
    • Both lenses are all over the place when the camera is set to do automatic exposure mode. Before firmware v1.0.8 the Viltrox lenses had major issues with automatic video mode but they fixed the problem. The Viltrox lens was using v1.0.9 firmware for this video.

Conclusion:

  • Both lenses work fine on the M50 and M5. I’ve only used these lenses with the Canon EOS M50 and M5. There is the possibility that they might perform differently on other EOS M bodies. 
  • The Viltrox lens was using v1.0.9 firmware for this video. The Sigma lens was updated to v1.0.1 but that shouldn’t be functionally different from v1.0 because it relates to a focus ring speed adjustment feature with no mention of other changes.
  • At the time of this video the Viltrox is around 54% less in price than the Sigma lens. Obviously prices can change quickly. The Sigma lens needs an add-on to update firmware.
  • Clearly the Viltrox lens is a better value, but think about features as well. Do you want a slightly closer minimum focusing distance of the Sigma? Do you want the silver look and metal build quality of the Viltrox? Do you want the highest image quality of the Sigma? Do you want the click-less electronic manual aperture ring on the Viltrox? 

Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens for Canon EF-M:
B&H: https://bhpho.to/3bNQUjk
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3cC8pUb
Walmart: https://bit.ly/2M3pxa6
UsedPhotoPro: https://bit.ly/2XQiuae
ebay: http://ebay.us/5Q3NxW
Used on KEH: https://shrsl.com/2b947

Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 AF lens for Canon EF-M:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/39sl5Pa
B&H: https://bhpho.to/3nXMoF0
ebay: http://ebay.us/b4IRWE

Those are my affiliate links.