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04.24.2014

I’ve spent much of the past month with the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM supertelephoto zoom lens photographing birds along the New Jersey shoreline and in ponds in Central Florida and have come away with renewed appreciation for this variable-aperture telephoto zoom lens. The combination of supertelephoto reach with zoom versatility in a lens that only weighs about four pounds means it is easy to carry all day on photo hikes and easy enough for many photographers to handhold without a tripod or monopod.

A sandhill crane poses for my camera in front of a pond on a golf course in Florida. Thanks to the grab-and-go ease of this supertelephoto zoom lens, it was mere seconds from parking to making the first photos when I first saw this trio of birds.  Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 at 500mm 1/1600 F6.3 ISO 400 on a Sony A-850.

A sandhill crane poses for my camera in front of a pond on a golf course in Florida. Thanks to the grab-and-go ease of this supertelephoto zoom lens, it was mere seconds from parking to making the first photos when I first saw this trio of birds. Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 at 500mm 1/1600 F6.3 ISO 400 on a Sony A-850.

When I say I’ve rediscovered and have a new appreciation for this lens, here is precisely what I mean. For years, like many photographers, I could only bring myself to see the negative trade-offs when considering a variable aperture zoom lens. However, I now also can see and appreciate the positive trade-offs of the variable aperture zoom lens design, as well.

An anhinga dries its wings after diving for food in a pond in Central Florida. 1/1000 F6.3 ISO 250 at 500mm on a Sony A-850.

An anhinga dries its wings after diving for food in a pond in Central Florida. 1/1000 F6.3 ISO 250 at 500mm on a Sony A-850.

Variable aperture zoom lenses can be more compact in design than a similar focal range constant-aperture zoom lens. True, you do lose light-gathering power as you zoom to longer focal lengths, so shutter speeds must be adjusted accordingly, but the tradeoff in terms of overall portability is well worth it in many situations. Many of the photos shown here would have been missed outright if it weren’t for the grab-and-go nature of this compact supertelephoto lens.

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04.23.2014

This February I was invited to join the fast-paced and inspirational conference called Seniors Ignite.  The conference, this year hosted outside of Las Vegas, focused specifically on senior portrait photography and all elements involved– lighting, posing, business, inspiration and more! The event helps elevate senior portrait photography through lecture by those leading the industry and also a great deal of hands-on shooting through their senior model program.

High school seniors around the country can apply to be part of the program through their host studio, and a limited number are selected to come to the event and be photographed in fashion-editorial style shoots at the annual conference.

While I was at the conference I gave a few lectures and hands-on seminars sponsored by Sigma, one of the main sponsors for the conference. One of the highlights of the event was photographing the winner of the high school senior’s model competition. The Senior Ignite coordinators had held a competition where one lucky senior was selected to win a photo shoot by me! The girl that won, McKinley, was beautiful, energetic, elegant and inspiring herself! She had an incredible life story about overcoming adversity, as well as an incredible smile.

During a 3 hour time period, I led a small group of photographers around the hotel grounds as we photographed McKinley in different locations and different beautiful dresses I had provided through Facebook.com/dreamshootrentals. I would grab a shot to illustrate to photographers what vision I had for the lighting, pose or wardrobe, and then everyone had a chance to photograph and get creative!

We began by going for an ethereal and feminine look with playful colors. Whenever I do female portraits I always start with something that helps you connect with the eyes and the soul of the subject. I sit the subject on the ground and have them look up at me. Using the Sigma 85mm 1.4, I shoot a very wide aperture and focus on their eyes. Because their eyes are closest to the camera, they look large and full. This gives me an opportunity to play with emotion and really connect with the subject through the camera. Here I had McKinley lit by a large bank of open windows. The camera angle and lighting combined really makes her eyes glow. By shooting at f/2.2 the background is merely a suggestion of color instead of a distraction.

©2014 Lindsay Adler | Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM | Camera: 5D Mark III | Shutter speed: 1/320 sec | Aperture: F2.2 | ISO 200

©2014 Lindsay Adler | Lens: 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM | Camera: 5D Mark III | Shutter speed: 1/320 sec | Aperture: F2.2 | ISO 200

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04.21.2014

There is one question that is asked of me most often when I am teaching photography. That question is “Which lens is your favorite”? That’s such a terribly difficult question for me to answer. Lenses are like children, I love them all and hate to play favorites.

All kidding aside, I carry 5 lenses with me everywhere I go. Sigma’s 35mm F1.4, 50mm F1.4, 85mm F1.4, 24-70mm F2.8 and the 70-200mm F2.8.  Most of my boudoir shoots are done in studio. My studio is very small (about 10’x10’) so I most often shoot with my 50mm due to size constraints. What if I want to take my client out to the rooftop though? (I’m bringing out the 70-200mm for that!) or into the vestibule (only the 24-70mm will do there).  I would be unprepared without the other lenses.

It’s our responsibility as photographers to get the look our clients want. In order to accomplish that I prepare the clients with what wardrobe they should bring, makeup they should wear and hairstyle as well. Variety is the key. In turn, I also need to be prepared for anything thrown my way. Having a variety of lenses gives me the confidence walking into any shoot that I can accomplish anything.

During this shoot with Lauren, I photographed her in many different areas of the studio and common space on the floor the studio is on. I used all 5 lenses in just one shoot which allowed me to get the variation I was looking for.

35mm F1.4 DG OS HSM

Shot in the common space in the hallway outside my studio. This allowed me to get some amazing negative space and create impact in the image.   © 2014 Jen Rozenbaum | Lens: 35mm | Aperture: F3.2 | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec

Shot in the common space in the hallway outside my studio. This allowed me to get some amazing negative space and create impact in the image. © 2014 Jen Rozenbaum | Lens: 35mm | Aperture: F3.2 | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec

50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

The area around the bed is very tight in my studio so I almost always use the 50mm. It allows me to get full body shots and close up shots with ease.  © 2014 Jen Rozenbaum | Lens: 50mm | Aperture: F3.5 | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec

The area around the bed is very tight in my studio so I almost always use the 50mm. It allows me to get full body shots and close up shots with ease. © 2014 Jen Rozenbaum | Lens: 50mm | Aperture: F3.5 | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec

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04.14.2014

Gold Coast

The magic of Hawaii, and the reason to keep returning time and time again, lies beyond the well-manicured resorts and pristine sandy beaches. The spirit of the land, or aina as the natives call it, is in the towering cliffs, lush rainforests, volcanic rock-strewn black sand beaches, deep canyons, lava-spouting volcanoes and tall mountains. Most visitors don’t see the incredible diversity Hawaii has to offer, but to those willing to explore, including dedicated photographers, it’s literally a paradise. I will show you only a small part of that incredible natural beauty here in two images of Big Island’s wild coast.

On two mornings during our exploration of the Island of Hawaii, my wife and I rose earlier than we usually do. The driving times on the Big Island are pretty long, especially when going to places that are a bit off the map such as Pololu and Waipio Valleys from Waikoloa, where we chose to stay.  On both occasions, we were well rewarded. As we hiked down a rocky steep path into Pololu Valley with flashlights, it had begun dawning but it seemed that sunrise would be obscured by dense clouds. However, the further we descended, the more magnificent the view had become. Sheer cliffs rose out of the Pacific, enveloped by the orange light of a dawn breaking through parting clouds, as the waves crashed ashore below us. We almost ran down, navigated the black volcanic rocks and set up quickly, leaving our belongings scattered behind us. The first image, “Gold Coast,” shows the sight that unfolded before our eyes that morning. When shooting, I contained the bright sun by stopping down to f/18 and bracketing exposures but in processing the image, purposely allowed overexposure in the favor of the dramatic effect.

Waipio Morning

Our second journey to Waipio, the Valley of the Kings, was just as memorable and even more spiritual. Following an even longer drive, we had descended down a 25% grade looping one-way road in pitch-black darkness, to find ourselves by a wild stretch of shoreline sandwiched between imposing cliffs. Markings of ancient burial sites told the story of the generations of kings and their families that had been buried just behind us. As “Waipio Morning” shows, early light fell on an impressive cliff considered holy by the natives as the departure point for souls of the deceased as they float down into the afterlife (each island has one such place). In making this photograph, every time I tried to get closer to the water to capture its motion, I found my gear soaked by violently crashing waves.  As in the image above, I used my trusty Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM wide angle lens to encompass the entire scene. The seasoned photographers will notice that I used leading lines – in this case, the shape of the coastline – to direct the viewer’s eye into the distance.

I will bring you more from Hawaii in the post to come. Meanwhile, motivate yourself to explore the places you travel to – you will come away with a different impression than everyone else and chances are, you will be richly rewarded. Rise early, go to bed late. In the words of the great Galen Rowell: “You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn’t waste either.”

Alex Filatov is an internationally published professional nature and city fine art photographer. More of his work may be found on his website.

04.10.2014

Variable-aperture supertelephoto zoom lenses like the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM offer photographers the ability to fill the frame with distant subjects—which is incredibly rewarding for capturing wildlife, sports, on-stage performances and more.  This style of lens offers a lot of reach, range, and versatility in a relatively compact package. For example, the 150-500mm weighs in at just over four pounds and is just about a foot long in the camera bag. (Learn more about the 150-500mm zoom lens here.)

Supertelephoto lenses can help bring a whole new level to your photography; and it just takes a little practice to get the hang of some of the particulars of working with long-reach lenses. Here are some top tips for making the most of supertelephoto zoom lenses.

The Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 offers supertelephoto reach and zoom versatility for capturing great detail from a distance. This Sandhill Crane portrait was made at 500mm at a distance of about ten feet. 1/2000 F6.3 ISO 200 on Sony A850.

The Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 offers supertelephoto reach and zoom versatility for capturing great detail from a distance. This Sandhill Crane portrait was made at 500mm at a distance of about ten feet. 1/2000 F6.3 ISO 200 on Sony A850.

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04.07.2014
©Judy Host 2014 | Lens: 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Aperture: F6.3 | Shutter speed:  1/250sec | ISO 250 | Focal length 200mm | Exposure mode:  manual mode

©Judy Host 2014 | Lens: 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM | Aperture: F6.3 | Shutter speed: 1/250sec | ISO 250 | Focal length 200mm | Exposure mode: manual mode

Learning to use manual settings in your camera will provide you with the ability to create the beautiful exposures you desire. The exposure in your camera is determined by several different settings. Exposure refers to the lightness or darkness of the image.  The settings are: 1) the aperture, the lens opening, which lets in light and controls the depth of field; 2) the shutter speed, the speed by which the lens lets in light, and 3) the ISO, which controls the camera’s sensitivity to light.  The right combination of these three settings will give you a nearly perfect exposure and give you the effect you want for your image.

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04.03.2014

Over the last weekend a huge swell focused giant waves on California triggering a high surf advisory and I had my Sigma 50-500mm to document some of the action. By the end of the weekend the awe inspiring power of this swell took its toll with lots of snapped surfboard leashes, broken surfboards and injured surfers (one had to be taken away by ambulance), my friend Jim broke his foot on Sunday dropping into a huge wave!

At my local beach in south Los Angeles the waves break close to shore so my Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM works very very well to document the action in the water here. Prime lenses are much harder to shoot with at beach breaks especially when the surf is large.

Professional surfer Alex Gray on the face of a wave setting up for a barrel ride, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 460mm, Nikon  D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 1250, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

Professional surfer Alex Gray on the face of a wave setting up for a barrel ride, Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM @ 460mm, Nikon D4, manual mode, 1/1250th s at f/8, ISO 1250, Auto-ISO, +0.7 EV, handheld.

Alex Gray is an LA local and one of the leading barrel and big wave riders in the world so it was really nice to see him charge the biggest waves over the weekend.

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04.01.2014
© 2014 Roman Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO macro | Aperture:  f/22 | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | ISO 800 hand held with Canon MT 24EX twin flash at -2.  Led video light and silver reflector.

© 2014 Roman Kurywczak | Lens: Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO macro | Aperture: f/22 | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | ISO 800 hand held with Canon MT 24EX twin flash at -2. Led video light and silver reflector.

In my last post, I left you with an image of a flower from my own garden that I was desperately trying to photograph against the beautiful spring sky.  I was lying on the ground trying for a good angle when Darrell Gulin’s lesson came to mind.  Why struggle out in the field?  He often photographs butterflies in his own kitchen and uses printed natural looking backgrounds behind his subjects.  Why was I crawling in the grass, struggling to get a good angle?  It was my flower so I simply clipped it and brought it inside.  I went back outside and took a picture of the beautiful sky.  Back inside, I printed it on some cheap 13×19 matte paper, mounted it on some stiff backboard, placed it behind the bloom, and voila! The image at top is very similar as I used a printed natural green background, but done outdoors.  My question to you is; could you tell that it was a printed background?  It was an actual “real sky” (in the last post) and some “real” foliage, in this image. Does it really matter? How is that different than the manipulation in the field with the bark or the snow? That is a choice for you to ultimately make but now, I could easily have any background I wanted behind the subject and the sky literally was the limit!  Below is my low-tech indoor setup that I can use, any day of the year, and have any background I want even if there is a foot of snow outside! Just remember to close the window too.

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04.01.2014

Sigma Corporation of America has teamed up with Kupo Grip and The Phoblographer as sponsors of a giveaway that will be sure to make the winning videographer beam with joy.

 

Sigma Corporation of America, Kupo Grip and The Phoblographer are sponsors of this great giveaway!

Sigma Corporation of America, Kupo Grip and The Phoblographer are sponsors of this great giveaway!

Sigma is supplying the 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 ultrawide zoom lens and 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM standard zoom lens to pair with Kupo Grip stands, a Black Magic Cinema Camera, and more in a prize package valued at over $12,000.

Click the jump to see how to enter right here on the Sigma blog!

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03.28.2014

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens is the biggest, longest macro lens in the Sigma lens catalog. This telephoto lens offers true life-sized reproduction with a 1:1 maximum magnification ratio. Incredible sharpness—thanks to its state of the art optical design—Optical Stabilizer, and a three-zone focus limiter make this a serious lens for advanced macro photographers.

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens.

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens.

This is a lens with serious presence. At 3.7 x 8.0 inches and 57.8 ounces, it’s a touch bigger and heavier than the 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens. 19 elements in 14 groups, including three FLD elements, ensure incredible real-world image sharpness as demonstrated in the MTF chart.

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 lens can capture detail at 1:1 magnification at its closest focus distance of 18.5 inches from the focal plane. At this focal length and close-focusing distance, depth of field is incredibly shallow, even when stopped down. This image of a US 25 cent piece featuring Mississippi on the reverse was captured at F/11. A studio strobe with a shoot-through umbrella lit the scene, captured at 1/200 F/11 ISO 100 on a Rebel T3i (288mm effective focal distance on this APS-C camera.)

The Sigma 180mm F2.8 lens can capture detail at 1:1 magnification at its closest focus distance of 18.5 inches from the focal plane. At this focal length and close-focusing distance, depth of field is incredibly shallow, even when stopped down. This image of a US 25 cent piece featuring Mississippi on the reverse was captured at F/11. A studio strobe with a shoot-through umbrella lit the scene, captured at 1/200 F/11 ISO 100 on a Rebel T3i (288mm effective focal distance on this APS-C camera.)

The MTF Chart for the Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens illustrates its exceptional sharpness.

The MTF Chart for the Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens illustrates its exceptional sharpness.

This is a lens for experienced macro photographers who want a longer focal length and greater working distance for specialized applications. And while it is a big and weighty lens, internal focusing and Optical Stabilizer mean, respectively, that the lens barrel remains the same length at all focal distances, and that it can be used in the field without a tripod at slower shutter speeds, both of which are really nice touches.

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