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Comparing the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 to Four Fast Manual Prime Lenses

Autofocus was one hell of a quality-of-life upgrade in photography, but it's not always necessary. In this video, see a comparison of one fast autofocus prime with four fast manual focus primes to see how they hold up.

By the time I had taken up photography, autofocus was about as staple as it could get. There was plenty of vintage glass you could get with manual focus, but anything new or even recent had AF built-in. However, my propensity for vintage glass had me using manual focus from quite early on in my career and I got used to it. While I would always reach for an AF lens in most scenarios, there are plenty of slower, controlled shoots where manual lenses work just fine.

Since I started, there has been a gradual incline on the number of new, manual focus lenses for sale. I wouldn't have predicted that, but it seems many of the peripheral brands that produce only lenses figured out that they can create fast glass for a fraction of the price if they forgo AF. This has led to a wealth of manual lenses on the market and I have several of them.

While they don't work in all scenarios, I use my manual focus lenses on most shoots and there are several I reach for regularly. For example, on my Fujifilm GFX 50R my go-to lens, in general, is manual focus, the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 65mm f/1.4. This video is an interesting comparison of how they all fare, though it's worth noting that you don't always have to shoot wide-open. Part of the benefit of having a lens that's as quick as f/0.95 is that you can shoot as wide as f/1.2 and increase the sharpness.

That said, there is no denying the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 is a superb lens and great value too!

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