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03.14.2011
Hi, I’m Jack Howard, and I’m working for Sigma as a Web Editor now. My mission here is simple and concise: create and curate web content for Sigma’s Photo World that is informative and inspiring to the Sigma community of photographers.

Of course, this means I’ll be writing and editing How-to, Tips & Tricks, and Tutorials for making the most of your Sigma lenses, cameras, and small strobes. And it also means finding, sharing and celebrating fantastic photos and videos created with Sigma’s tools. Are you (or someone you know) doing something amazing with Sigma gear? We want to know! Have a question about field technique, or which lens is right for you? We’ll do our best to tackle these, too!

Jack Howard, self-portrait February 2011. Rutgers Gardens, New Brunswick NJ. Captured with the Sigma 8-16mm f4/5-5.6 HSM DC lens on a Canon EOS20D with a 580EX II strobe for foreground fill. I’m holding the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 EX APO DG HSM OS mounted on a Canon EOS Rebel XTi. Rutgers Gardens, New Brunswick NJ.

Who am I? Part 1

I’m a photographer!

I’ve been crazy for photography most of my life, due to the influence of both my mother and father.

My mom always made sure we had fantastic books and magazines in the house when my brothers and I were growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The images in Ranger Rick and World magazine, and National Geographic books “Our Fifty States” and “Our World” amazed and inspired me, and I dreamed of one day being able to capture my experiences in dramatic and amazing images like the ones I’d see as I flipped these pages and countless other books and magazines.

Photo by my dad, Jim Howard, 1960, McGovern’s Tavern, Newark, NJ. That’s my grandfather, James Howard, at left, with his business partner, Frank McGovern.

My father, Jim Howard, is himself a lifelong photographer. He freelanced for papers such as the Newark Evening News back in the 1960s and shot tons of weddings and events through the years. He taught me a lot of the basics and fundamentals of photography in my early days–which I begrudgingly learned, although always wanted to run before I could walk (and not just in photography, he’d probably add!) I still occasionally pester him with certain technical questions about old-school flash and strobe techniques, and he pings me with for help with obtuse commands and workpath shortcuts in Photoshop. He helped me get my first regular pay as a photographer back in late 1997: a permanent part time gig with our hometown weekly.

Since then, I have been working in the photography industry in one capacity or another, and it has been an amazing journey. Through almost all of it, Sigma gear has factored in to my photographic growth and career arc in one way or another and I am very excited to be working with the great Sigma team, and also with our amazing fan base in this new role.

  • My brother and I brought a camo green Sigma 400mm f5.6 APO tele lens on a month-long ski and exploration adventure to New Zealand in 1992. I shot tons of sheep and made some really bad frames of Keas, New Zealand’s alpine parrots on this trip.
  • I shot much of my early newspaper work with a Sigma 28-200 superzoom, and packed this as my only lens for a visit to Ireland in August 1998. Photos from this trip still decorate my home office. (And I’m pretty sure one of my brothers is still shooting with this lens!)
  • Shortly after the Ireland trip, I picked up the Sigma 17-35 f2.8-4.0 ultrawide zoom for newspaper work, and this was one of my workhorse lenses for many years. I can’t even count how many frames I made with this lens in the first years of the new century.
  • I dreamed of getting to shoot with the 300-800mm f5.6 “Sigmonster” when I first read about in Popular Photography around 2002 or 2003. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d wind up working for PopPhoto just a few years later, where I’d finally get the chance to shoot with this lens! To this day, this is one of my all-time favorite pieces of camera gear.
  • As I began to explore professional-level HDRI photography beginning in 2006, I had been waiting for a compact camera that was truly up to the challenges of this particular subgenre of photography. Sigma’s original DP1 was the first compact camera that I felt produced truly professional quality images for HDRI photography. There’s now a few worthy competitors in this class, but every DP camera has built on this quality. I’m a big fan of the DP cameras for top-quality HDRI without lots of bulky gear!
  • And I can’t wait to get my hands on the new SD1!

Visit back next week when we’ll tell Part II of my background story focused on the writing side of things.

Me and Sigma gear through the years: A Photo History

I packed a Sigma 28-200 superzoom, a Canon EOS Elan II and tons of film for a visit to Ireland in August 1999. It rained horribly for pretty much all but one afternoon I was there. I made these three shots in Galway when the weather finally cleared. The shot of the boat is sitting in a frame in my home office not eight feet from where I’m writing this in 2011.

That Sigma 17-35mm f2.8-4.0 was one of my workhorse lenses for many years, as reflected in this stack of prints that were in, or considered for, my portfolios, at some point.

I’ve been lucky enough to shoot with the amazing Sigma 300-800 f5.6 “Sigmonster” on more than one occasion. I love birds and bird photography, and I’m crazy about this lens, especially when it is pointed at anything avian, be it ducks, penguins, or what have you! What great reach and flexibility this unique supertele zoom offers!

As many of you may know, I’m a big fan of High Dynamic Range Imaging, and I am also a very big fan of the feature set of the DP class of cameras for serious, high-quality tone mapped images. Both of these HDRI shots were made using the Sigma DP2 within the past two years.

I made this frame of a snacking Cooper’s Hawk just a few weeks ago out my 2nd floor bathroom window with the new Sigma 70-200 f2.8 EX APO DG HSM OS mounted on a Canon EOS Rebel XTi. This was a grab-it-and-shoot-before-it-is-gone pop-up photo, and I am very happy with this frame. I’ll talk more about this image in a subsequent blog posting in the near future.

Read Part II of Jack’s story here.

Got a question relating to Sigma gear or field technique for a particular type of shoot? Email it to me at PhotoWorld@Sigmaphoto.com, and we’ll do our best to answer it! Know of a great photo project created with Sigma cameras, lenses or strobes? Send us a link! We can’t guarantee we’ll be able to cover every single email we receive in the blog, but we’ll always try to be informative and enlightening!

Facebook comments:

51 comments so far

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  1. Is there an ETA on the SD1 yet? Hoping it will be in the next few months.

  2. Hi, Jack,
    Welcome aboard. Particularly enjoyed your Ireland photos. I have a few with various equipment on http://www.pbase.com/ecsquires/ along with my mostly Sigma SD9 and 14 work. Would love to exchange notes on Ireland sometime – have been there 7-8 times.
    Regards,
    Ed

  3. Welcome to Sigma, Jack. I’m sure you’ll bring here the same thing you brought to all your other work — professionalism and fun. I look forward to your writing and photos!
    Paul

  4. Hey folks, Jack here. We’re working on getting this silly tone-on-tone text and background color similarity issue fixed ASAP for Facebook comments. In the meantime, if you drag and click your mouse over the FB comments, you’ll highlight and reveal the “secret messages!”

  5. Hi Jack, as it happens I’m using a Sigma 18-50mm f 2.8 mac on my new D7000. Nikon tells me not to do it, but I love the lens. Do you think its ok to use non-Nikon lenses on the D7000? pith

  6. Pith: You’ll be just fine! Glad to hear you are enjoying this lens!

  7. Hi Ed, nice work in your Irish galleries! So fitting as we go into St. Patrick’s Day! Thanks for the link, and feel free to drop me a line at photoworld@sigmaphoto.com!

  8. Paul, thanks for the note. How’ve you been, old friend? Would love to see some of your recent astronomy work–especially if you’re using Sigma gear ;)

  9. Congratulations on your new position at Sigma. My frien bought a Sigma 150-500mm and the photos he gets are fantastic with his Nikon D300. As a birthday gift I purchased the 12-24mm for him and he loves it. I have been thinking of getting the Sigma Flash and after seeing the photo of you the 8mm-16mm looks as if it would look nice on my 40D.

  10. Jack… glad to see your doing well. Sigma is fortunate to have you on board.
    It’s a shame they don’t still produce that 400mm f5.6. Heck, I wouldn’t mind seeing it in camo green.

  11. HI JACK!!!! Sharna here! Glad to see your writing this blog. I look forward to learning from you as usual. You’ve taught me so much in the past. Good to see you friend!

  12. I may have written in the FaceBook comment slot, so I’ll re-write this note:

    How do we go about submitting content to you / this blog?
    I have been using the 50-500 primarily for aviation photography, which is my field.

  13. Hi Irene:

    You can reach me with questions, comments, suggestions (and yes, guest blog pitches ;) ) at PhotoWorld@SigmaPhoto.com

    And be sure to share some photos over at http://www.facebook.com/sigmacorporationofamerica too!

  14. Jack wrote:
    “Paul, thanks for the note. How’ve you been, old friend? Would love to see some of your recent astronomy work–especially if you’re using Sigma gear ;)”

    I’ll contact you via the e-mail. The majority of my lenses are Sigma, and I’ve got three Sigma flashes…always been a huge fan!
    Paul

  15. Just bought a 24-70 (IF version) in anticipation of the SD1 arrival (yes, I know, you can’t tell us “when” yet, especially given current events, but I’m reading tea leaves in the new flash animation featuring it at the Sigmaphoto.com home page). Have been an O—— shooter before now, but already committed mentally to trying out Sigma for the first time.

    Anyway, realized after I did so that the lens diameter, at about 3.5″, is probably too wide to use once I get an underwater housing for the SD1. Can you advise what you think is the sharpest general-use wide-zoom lens Sigma offers in their own mount, that would have a diameter of say 3.2″ or 82mm as a maximum? I have looked over the MFT tables but as those are wide open it doesn’t clearly indicate how sharp the relative lenses would be once you stop them down a bit (say to f4 – 5.6 at the wide end). For underwater use, outside of macro, usually stopped down in the 4-8 range is the primary interest, with best possible corner-to-corner sharpness as the housing dome port setup around the lens will add its own optical ‘flaws’ to the net result. OS is probably not hugely important as water helps minimize shocks (you tend to drift more slowly with your framing, not ‘shake’) but wouldn’t be frowned upon by any means.

    Right now I’d be leaning toward the 18-50 F2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM vs. the 17-70 F2.8-4.5 DC Macro HSM, based on apparent sharpness at the long end (where I wouldn’t be stepping down perhaps at all, optimally. Or am I fooling myself because the 17-70 has a wider range, so at 50mm it would still be sharper than the 18-50? (As a side note, also drooling over the 8-16….ultra-wide U/W shots are fabulous, and the dimensions on that puppy are amazing for what the specs show!

    Anyway, best wishes to Sigma workers and family during the current events in Japan. Don’t mean to be ignoring their hardship, but from my personal experiences (visited Japan on business) the Japanese people are intelligent, proud and extremely resilient, and if any nation was “prepared” for an event of that magnitude, it would be theirs. Rebuilding will be tough, but I would bet very short odds they’ll come out much stronger in the long run. I hope to support them by buying products ASAP (and of course have already made the requisite Red Cross donations).

  16. Hi RTR, thanks for the note. I’m sure whichever lens you choose for your underwater adventures, the results will be quite pleasing. I can tell you from personal experience above water that the 8-16 is quickly becoming one of my favorite lenses. I think in your case, especially stopping down a little bit underwater, what it might really come down to in your case isn’t necessarily a blip here or a beep there on the MTF charts, but instead a few other lens design functions including close Focusing distance and maximum magnification for sea creatures small and large, as you know from experience that even the clearest sea water diminishes clarity over relatively short distances.

  17. Glad to see you here. I used to own a 600 cat in M42 mount. What a fun lens! Sadly it was destroyed in a fire. I think the only Sigma lens I have now is an 80-200mm with closeup focus. Nice combination that produces great photos.

  18. Glad to have you as part of the Sigma team! Great work…and looking forward to more images, tips, and Photo World insights.

  19. Great to be working with you again, as well, David! Thanks for the note!

  20. when will this Cinderella show at the Ball ???,We’re anxiously awaiting Her arrival.How do I get my hands on this camera now?

  21. Enough hipe? Get it released! Can you at least tell us when?

  22. I have a Nikon D-40 can it accept a 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 lens and be fully functional?

  23. Hi Sal, let me check on this for you.

  24. Sal, yes, this has the internal HSM motor, so it is fully compatible with the D40. Hope this helps!

  25. hi, I have already posted my comments on FB but would like to write here as well. I have been using Canon gear now and would like to know more about UWA 8-16mm lens for landscapes and architecture photography and 600mm prime lens for wild life/bird photography.

  26. Hi Nitin, we’ll be posting a piece focusing on the 8-16mm in a few weeks. We’ve got some supertele content scheduled a bit farther down the line.

  27. Would love to have the Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM for Canon in time for my trip to Rome in June. Any Chance?

  28. Any word on when Sigma will be rolling out the weather sealed lenses for Pentax mount? Thanks and congratulations on your new position.

  29. Will the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM work with my Nikon D3100, Asking the same as does this lens have a Nikon AF-S & VR equivalent, Nikon D3100 body does not have a motor thus need to know the same.

  30. Yes, this lens (Sigma 150-500) will work with this camera (Nikon D3100_, as HSM stands for Hypersonic Motor, and OS stands for Optical Stablization.

  31. Just wondering if and when sigma were going to be releasing a pentax K-mount 1.4X Tele converter that will allow HSM operation as I am really keen on the 70-200 f2.8 EX DG HSM but without the TC I think i will need to look at my other options!

  32. Hi Scott, let me look into this and see what I can find.

    Jack

  33. Hi, I have been using sigma 70-300 APO DG Macro lens for the past one year.I was very happy with the results until now.Recently the images have become rather soft especially at the 200 -300 range and i am geting flaring at the bright edges.This started happening only recently.What could be the reason for this?Is there any way to correct this.

  34. Hi Manjith, let me see what the tech team has to say about this. Can you tell me where you are located?

    Questions from our tech specialists:

    Are these photos soft when handheld, as well as on a tripod at all shutter speeds?

    For the flaring problems, is the hood on his lens?

  35. I used Sigma lenses for a long time and ended with many great images, the 24-70MM F2.8 HSM remained my favorite one, I used it for landscape and even inside the studio for modeling and portrait work, this lens has always given me the satisfaction I needed and my images out o this lens always been so sharp and with very well saturated and pleasant colors.
    The lens been traveling with me to Thailand for three times and to Sri Lanka for w times while it been with me around the Arabian Gulf for several times and found it given any sort of trouble.

  36. I am from the southern part of India.
    The photos appear soft when hand held and shot using tripod.The fact about shutter speed,
    I will have check it.The hood is always there on the lens.I was not able to use any UV filter
    with this lens from the beginning itself.When used it produces a foggy effect.I tried 2-3 filters from different companies like Hoya etc.

  37. Thanks for the note, Rashid. Where can we see some of your photos?

  38. Update for Manjith: Our US-based repair center has pointed us to the local repair service in India.

    For everyone:

    If you are outside the USA, you may find your local repair/maintenance facility on this list:

    http://sigma-photo.co.jp/english/network/index.htm

  39. Thank you,Jack

  40. http://photo.net/photodb/member-photos?user_id=6027013

    Around 130 images of mine on this link at photo.net

    Thank you

  41. I have also posted on your web site here, 3 images in which I captured using the Sigma 24-70MM F2.8 HSM, but I can not find where they hide in.
    All of the best.

  42. Dear Manjith said, I do not know if I could be of a little help to you or not!

    Personally, I used Sigma 70-200MM F2.8 for a long time and the lens always delivered very sharp images, specially when used for street portrait at 5.6 or smaller aperture, the reason why I been using this lens out door at 5.6 is to provide sufficient separation effect for my portrait and to have the background relatively blurred in a pleasing manner..

    I never used UV filter of any make on this lens, as I know such filters will only cut a ratio of the quality where sharpness is concerned.

    With your problem which developed recently and after being your lens successful earlier, I would advice you to test this lens on another camera, a slight alteration of the clearances between the camera and the lens could cause such problem, or the lens rear attachment ring been some how defected otherwise miss aligned, mind some times such technical fault or defect is not easy to spot by your eyes and need a laboratory technician with proper tools or instruments in order to fine tune the lens or the camera.

    My Sigma lenses been hammered severely and under all sort of critical climatical conditions but never failed to perform according to my requirement and I always been satisfied with their result.

    All of the best my friend Manjith said

  43. Sigma lenses work under any lighting conditions.

    This is an image I have captured on my last vibist to Khoor Fakan in United Arab Emirates using Nikon D3X and the Sigma 24-70MM F2.8 HSM Lens.

    http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=12899114&size=lg

    It was all dim light around the boats and the lens still auto focused superbly, before viewing the image in the monitor I was so scared that this image will not turn to be ok but after viewing it on the camera monitor and with the wireless unit and transmitted the image to my Mac Book in my car which was parked near by these boats, I found the quality of the image much more remarkable than what I have expected.

    This one of the reasons why this 24-70MM F2.8 Sigma Lens is my Prime Lens and never ever left behind when I am on a photographic assignment.

  44. The Famous Rock Of Sigiria Sri Lanka 2010 October.

    Landscape is one of my major interest and the second to the street people photography or what I call People On The Street.

    I captured this image again using the Sigma 24-70MM F2.8 HSM Lens, I had the lens on a tripod and a cable release, F16 at 1/60 Shutter Speed, no filters used on the lens at all, what I got out of this image just reflect the quality of the lens I used, I hope you like it.

    http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=12772352&size=lg

  45. My thread been removed, earlier it says” waiting for moderator approval and then just removed, why ?

  46. Sigma 24-70MM F2.8 HSM

    From Al Thead United Arab Emirates

    http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=12903220&size=lg

  47. Rashid, it may have accidentally gotten swept away by our spam detection software, which will happen even to legitimate replies from actual users, if you posted several links in a row, which is one of the spam-ID triggers.

  48. Thank you a lot for your answer my friend and wishing you all of the best.

  49. Sigma 24-70MM F2.8 HSM, set at 70MM, I am taking this lens with me to my third photographic assignment to Thailand on 15th. of May.

    http://gallery.photo.net/photo/12915439-lg.jpg

  50. “Scott said: 2011.03.29 03:31

    Just wondering if and when sigma were going to be releasing a pentax K-mount 1.4X Tele converter that will allow HSM operation as I am really keen on the 70-200 f2.8 EX DG HSM but without the TC I think i will need to look at my other options!”

    Just a follow up to Scott’s question. Pentax is supposed to be releasing a weather sealed TC for the sdm (HSM)lenses but I can’t wait for pigs to fly so would like to acquire a Sigma 1.4x TC which will work with sdm lenses. Any possibility of one of those becoming available>