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11.30.2011

Sigma Pro Photographer, Dave FitzSimmons shares his secrets to attaining the perfect photograph using Sigma accessories. It’s the small things that count! Accessories can offer new creative possibilities for a photographer, whether an accomplished pro or even a neophyte. They offer an inexpensive way to improve your photography.

1. DG Circular Polarizing Filter

Circular Polarizing  filters are multi-taskers! Polarizing filters are best known for their ability to eliminate reflections from subject such as glass and water, and also deepen the intensity of blue skies. It’s important to note that the designation “circular” with this filter describes more than its round shape….a “circular” polarizer is optical configured so as to not interfere with the correct operation of a modern camera’s metering and auto-focus system. (There are other filters on the market that are in fact “linear” polarizers and they will NOT function correctly with your camera.) This circular polarizing filter also benefits from a super multi-layer lens coating developed to counteract the highly reflective characteristics of digital image sensors reducing both flare and ghosting. These filters are sold in various diameters and simply thread into the front of your camera lens in just a few seconds.

Photo representing the difference between using a polarizing filter and one without.

Houston Pond, Cornell Plantations at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, USA.

How Dave got the shot: Taken with Sigma’s 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM and using Sigma 77mm Circular Polarizerfor one image and removed for other. Mounted on Bogen Proball head to a Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and using a cable release for maximum stability for the exposure. Dave’s next workshop at Cornell University is on April 30-May 1st (9am-6pm on Sat and 8am-5pm on Sunday) $395, titled “Wildflowers & Waterfalls: A Macro & Landscape Photography Workshop. For more information and registration, go to www.coe.cornell.edu.

Glare from Water: As we have seen in the previous image, polarizing filters easily remove glare from water, whether used for long distance scenic views or up close where the photographer wishes to show the rocks just beneath the water’s surface.   This works extremely well photographing coral or brightly colored fish in clear waters such as many Caribbean locations.

Wide view: Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park; Nevada; USA.

Using the Sigma 77mm Circular Polarizer on Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 DC HSM lens, mounted on Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and Bogen Proball head. Nikon cable release.

Telephoto of water and rocks: Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park, Nevada, USA.

Using the 77mm Circular Polarizer filter on the Sigma 120-400mm F4.5-5.6 lens. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod. Bogen Proball head. Nikon cable release.

Polarizing filters cut light transmission for blurring water: One of the most popular creative touches being used by photographers today is purposely taking long exposures so that running water (such as a waterfall) becomes beautifully blurred and evokes more of an idyllic sense to a scene than water which is “frozen” with a high shutter speed. However, in many situations where the ambient light is bright, it is impossible to close down the lens enough to allow the slow shutter speeds necessary for this effect. Because polarizing filters cut a substantial amount of light, they can be used for their neutral density effect and add at least a couple of stops slower shutter speeds. In the scene below, Dave used the polarizer to cut the overall light level, but enhanced the image even more with HDR processing in Photoshop.

Eagle Cliff Falls; Havana Glen Park; Havana; New York; USA.

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens; Gitzo GT1451EX Tripod; Nikon PZ filter. HDR image created in Photomatix Pro 3.2 (x64) from one exposure processed at 4 steps in ACR (-2; -1; 0; 1). Three layers  were combined into a single image processed in ACR; low Gamma HDR for rocks; Normal Gamma HDR for rest of picture.

2. DP2 with AML-1 Close-Up Lens

The imposing character shown below was photographed with Sigma’s compact DP2 camera using a dedicated close up lens.  Such high quality lenses are available to fit most SLR cameras as well.  The best available use two well corrected pieces of optical glass in order to minimize aberrations, and are often referred to as a “doublet” lens.  There are also very inexpensive single element lenses sold for close up photography, (often sold as a set) but their optical performance is not of the same quality.   High quality close-up lenses provide an inexpensive way for a photographer to do close-up photography without the expense or bulk of a true macro lens.  By attaching the Close-up Lens (AML-1) to the HA-21 hood adapter, you can approach the subject as close as 7-12 inches. The exclusive design delivers outstanding image quality from the center of the screen right to the edges.

Chinese mantis from Dave FitzSimmons’ Curious Critters series.

Chinese mantis; Tenodera sinensis. Ashland County; Ohio; USA. This species of insect was imported from China and are the largest praying mantis in North America.

How Dave got the shot:
Tech Specs: Sigma DP2 compact digital camerawith HA-21 Hood Adapter and AML-1 Close-up Lens. Two Paul C. Buff Monolights triggered with wireless hotshoe remote. Lastolite Cubelight light tent. Chinese mantis provided by Richard Stofer, Ph.D., biologist, Ashland University.

3. RS-31 Wireless Remote:

Wireless remote control (RS-31) allows the photographer to take self-portraits or get into group shots. Used in conjunction with the Mirror Lock-Up function, it can reduce the possibility of image-blurring camera shake, making it particularly useful for macro, telephoto or night shooting.

Dave quotes, “On a December trip to Florida, my brother and I rushed along the Sanibel coast to find a great sunset vista. We set up with only seconds to spare. Using the Sigma remote to maintain maximum image sharpness without camera shake, I waited for the sea gull to fly into the opening below the palm tree. The second gull under the lower, right front was a bonus.”

Sanibel Sunset: Sanibel Island Causeway, Lee County; Florida; USA. Sigma SD 14 camera; Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 lens; Gitzo G2228 Tripod; Manfrotto Ball Head; Sigma Wireless Remote.

4. 1.4x and 2.0x Teleconverters:

Teleconverters offer Greater Flexibility for your lenses: Teleconverters (also known as tele-extenders) are a very versatile and inexpensive way for the photographer to get “additional focal length” from their telephoto or telephoto zoom lenses.  They are very handy when trying to photograph distant subjects such as birds, other wildlife,  or sports action when you cannot get closer to the subject… (windsurfing for example!)  Also, since they are very compact and light weight they are easy additions to almost any photographers’ gadget bag.   But Sigma teleconverters have another use as well!  When attached to a macro lens such as the Sigma 150mm f 2.8 EX DG Macro, a converter allows this lens to photograph subjects at even greater than life-size (1:1) magnifications.  In the sequence of images below, Dave shows how attaching the 1.4x and 2 x teleconverters allow him to get extremely close to the structure of the flower he is photographing.

Original Flower

150mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Lens without a teleconverter

150mm Macro lens with the 1.4x teleconverter

150mm Macro Lens with the 2.0x teleconverter

Please note that teleconverters are not suitable for use with all kinds of lenses. (Please check our compatibility chart) Optically they do not perform well with wide angle lenses, so this is not a recommended application. Also, since teleconverters reduce the amount of light coming through a lens by either one or two stops, they can compromise the camera’s ability to autofocus. Most AF cameras have an effective cut off point of about F 5.6 for proper operation of their autofocus system, and if the combination of the lens and the teleconverter result in an effective aperture slower than that, the photographer may be forced to use manual focus only. This is often the case with many popular zoom lenses.

And as a historical note, the very first product manufactured by Sigma back in the early 1960s was a teleconverter.

5. Macro Flash (EM-140):

The EM-140 DG Macro Flashis ideal for photographing subjects in fine detail when the shadow-less mode is used, and is extremely effective for scientific and medical applications. Dual flash tubes can fire simultaneously or separately. Using only one flashtube creates modeling, which can give a three-dimensional feeling to the subject.

Tech Specs: 50mm F2.8 EX DG Macro lens, 5D Mark II with EM-140 DG Macro Flash

The 50mm F2.8 EX DG Macro lens and  EM-140 DG Macro Flash is a great combination for documenting flat objects such as stamps.

6. Flashgun (EF-610 DG ST and EF-610 DG Super):

The newest addition to the Sigma line of flashes is the most powerful one yet, now offering a Guide number of 61 which translates into 61/m (200/ft) and designed to work with the latest TTL auto exposure systems of all the most popular digital and film SLR cameras.

And be sure to check out our new Sigma Lenses Gift Guide as well, for great advice on what lens is right for the photographers on your list!

And head on over to Facebook before December 16th, 2011 to enter our “Dear Sigma” contest for a chance to win some amazing Sigma gear!

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5 comments so far

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  1. On this unit EF 610— Can you dial up less flash to prevent over exsposure?

  2. Hi James,
    There is a manual setting on the flash to control the output, so you can increase or decrease the power.

  3. Is the EF 610 common to all Canon and Nikon cameras? If i have a Nikon camera and bought an EF 610, can i use it also on my brother’s Canon camera?

  4. Hi Wilf,
    All of our products have dedicated mounts. This means that if you purchase the Nikon mount EF-610 DG flash, it will only fit Nikon cameras. If your brother is looking for a flash, he would need to purchase the EF-610 DG flash for the Canon mount.

    Sincerely,
    Sigma Corporation of America

  5. Hello,

    You mentioned you used wireless remote triggers for the flash in the Chinese mantis photo. Can you tell me which have you used? I have some sets og Yongnuo RF-603 but they don´t work.

    Would love to hear which ones were used on that photo.

    Thanks