By Lindsay Adler
For years I used to be a “prime lens only” shooter. I love my 85mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.4, and would try to shoot with those lenses only. For portraits I love the narrow depth of field and overall quality of image achieved with those two lenses.
Yet as a working professional sometimes I need a bit more flexibility offered by high-quality zoom lenses. I don’t always have the time or space I need to work with only prime lenses. When shooting weddings or group portraits, the flexibility of a zoom becomes essential. For fashion it gives me flexibility and saves me time.
In my experience the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM lens has become an important part of my photographic kit. The lens is fast, with a 2.8 aperture constant throughout. It is sharp, giving me the excellent image quality I need. It also gives me much-needed flexibility. By giving me wide angle to telephoto in one lens, this lens gives provides the versatility I require for a wedding, event, group portrait, or just when I’m out exploring with my camera.
This versatile lens has become a go-to lens when I know I need speed and flexibility.
The combination of Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 and Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM really has become priceless to give me fast lenses over a wide focal length. I have fast glass all the way from 24-200mm. When I shoot weddings I have one the 24-70mm 2.8 lens on one camera body and the 70-200mm lens on the other camera body making it possible for me to quickly adapt to the situations around me. For group portraits I am able to easily capture a group shot at a wider focal length, and then zoom in to capture images of individuals or couples within group. Weddings and group portraits are situations where you have less control and need to act quickly to capture the emotion-filled shots.
A 24-70mm lens is essential for fast-moving subjects. When I photograph dancers or performers, I like to shoot my 24-70mm lens. At one moment the subject might be doing slower, subtle movements where I can shoot at 70mm to help fill the frame with the action. Other times there subject might be jumping and exploding into motion. With a great deal of motion I often need to shoot more loosely so that I don’t accidentally cut off some of the movement. For this fine art nude I could not always estimate how high the subject would jump or where the trail of dust would lead. For this reason I needed to adjust my focal length regularly and even sometimes shot loosely so I would not miss capturing any of the essential elements of the image. By shooting a 24-70mm lens I was able to change my focal length easily between shots without having to switch lenses or move back within the studio space.
Need for versatility in focal length is often required in fast-paced fashion shoots with models. When on a deadline or with many looks to capture in one day, I need to be ready to quickly capture all the action and movement of the model. In this editorial ‘When Quiet Crows”, as the model was throwing her dress I needed to shoot at a wider focal length so as to catch the movements of the dress upwards without cutting them out of the frame. In a later look, I would then use a long focal length to get a tighter shot of the model in the scene.
When I am shooting environmental portraits, the scene becomes an important element to the concept of the shoot. For this reason I want to include elements of the environment without letting it overpower the shot. The subject is still the individual, yet the environment should add depth and context. In this image I wanted the rich red tones of the background to compliment the subject’s dress and add architectural interest in the background. By shooting a wider angle with the 24-70mm, I was able to incorporate the background, use the leading line of the railing and still keep the subject dominant in the frame. The environment helped add visual interest through the color as well as through compositional elements including leading lines. This image was taken in Las Vegas and I balanced the ambient light of the restaurant with the artificial studio light on the model.
In photography (fashion and otherwise) you are able to increase interest in a frame by shooting at unusual angles. If you look at my portrait and fashion work, you can see that I often shoot at angle high above or below the subject. By shooting at a low angle below the subject I am able to make them appear taller or more slender. This often also helps to make the subject look more dominant in the frame. By shooting from above a subject I am able to get an unusual angle on the scene or shoot down onto a reclining subject (in the grass, in a chair, etc).
In this example I shot at a very low angle, lying on my stomach in the grass shooting upwards at the model. I wanted the tall grasses to add dimension to the photograph but wanted to simplify the background. By lying on the ground I was able to isolate the subject against the white sky, then creating a striking contrast of white against red. The 24-70mm lens allowed me to experiment with different focal length to achieve the right framing and compression within my photograph. This image was achieved 100% with natural light, simply by turning the model’s face so as to reduce shadows in the eyes.
This is another shot from the same editorial. I wanted to include the interesting architectural element along the waters of the Upper West Side in NYC in the background. Again I used a wider focal length to elongate the model. By shooting at a very long angle of view and using a wide focal length, the model looks tall and dominant in the frame. Also by shooting wider I was able to include more background details. (Side note: The interesting structure in the background has burned down since this image was taken.)
By utilizing the versatility of the 24-70mm 2.8, I was able to vary focal length to achieve the right effect when shooting at unusual angles.
The versatility of the lens is also important when shooting with time and space constraints. When shooting a professional job with little time for changing equipment and setups, I also need the flexibility of a zoom lens. In the shoot shown here, I was hired to shoot a jewelry look-book for an edgy/gritty jewelry company. We had already done the clean studio shots, and had a very short amount of time to shoot in a bar (wanted to help establish the mood and potential clientele of the jewelry). Every look had about 5 minutes of shoot time total. By using the 24-70mm I was able to get a wide shot establishing the scene at 24mm and then zoom in to 70mm to get a closer shot of the scene, model and jewelry. The scene was lit to create high contrast and dark shadows, as if created by harsh flash or stage lights.
Note: In general I avoid using the 24-70mm lens for tight closeups on the face. A loser mid-body shot is completely fine, but when I get really close on the face I prefer the compression of an 85mm or the 70-200mm (at 105-150mm). If you test the two lenses for compression, I am sure you will prefer the tight close-ups of a long lens as well.
I was hired by a NYC fashion magazine to do a photographic profile/editorial on an up and coming performer. The style was film noir inspired and photographed in a basement club in the meatpacking district of NYC. Again the versatility of the lens is apparent in its multiple uses within in the editorial. Some shots were more environmental where the wide angle was used to elongate the subject (shooting at a low angle of view). Other shots were to help capture the personality and appearance of the subject. Notice here the two drastically different angles of the shots of the same subject. By utilizing different focal lengths I could accentuate these angles. Furthermore, I was working in a very tight space. In the full length image my body was pressed up against a doorway while sitting on the ground. In this instance a wide angle lens would be essential to capture the entire subject in the frame. In the shot of the subject reclining. I was standing on top of a chair and adjusted my focal length to control which elements were in the frame. I did not have the luxury of moving my body or height to change what was in view of the camera.
Finally, whenever I am just wandering around with my camera, the 24-70mm lens is a fantastic lens for my explorations. It doesn’t weigh much, it allows me to get both wide and telephoto focal lengths, and it has a wide aperture. When sight-seeing or just exploring with my camera, this is my go-to lens.
For example, in this photograph I took a brief visit to the Garden of the Gods this September while at the Photographic Society of American Conference. I only had an hour and didn’t want to take a lot of equipment. I grabbed my Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 because I knew it was light and versatile. This image is one of the shots I grabbed on my walk around the formations. I exposed for the sunlit rock surface, putting the trees in the foreground into silhoutte. I used the trees to help mirror the shape of the rock on the right and to give a feeling of balance and symmetry to the image.
I’ve realized that while I love my prime lenses, having a really sharp and fast zoom lens like the 24-70mm can give me flexibility and versatility in my professional working environment.
|Lens Construction||14 Elements in 12 Groups|
|Angle of View||84.1-34.3 degrees|
|Number of Diaphragm Blades||9|
|Minimum Focusing Distance||38 cm / 15 in|
(Diameter x Length)
|Weight||790g / 27.9oz..|
|HSM – Hyper-Sonic Motor, IF- Inner Focus, DG- DG for digital, EX – EX Lens, DG – DG for Digital
* The appearance, specifications, and the like of the product are subject to change for improvement without notice.