My annual trip to Alaska in late July to early August usually means big skies and great light, schools of salmon in the rivers and creeks and coastal brown bears, lots of cubs, and almost unlimited photo opportunities. This year we were treated to two full weeks of sun and clouds without a single rain shower. These are some of my favorite moments of the trip with some technical notes and stories behind the images.
© 2014 Robert O’Toole | Perfect late evening light, Hallo Bay, Katmai NP Alaska. Lens: Sigma 300-800mm F5.6 EX lens | Focal length: 800mm | Nikon D700 | Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 800 | EV + 1 | Manual mode | Jobu MK3 gimbal head and Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.
This mother brought her tiny spring cub out in the evening to fish for salmon but the bear didn’t look much bigger than the fish they were after.
Using the 300-800mm lens for bears in good light you can just sit back and relax waiting for the right moment knowing that you have the right lens on your camera, not too long and not too short.
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Sigma Pros Jen Rozenbaum and Lindsay Adler both participated in CreativeLive’s recent Photo week, and explained which Sigma lenses are getting the most mileage in their photo shoots these days for fashion, boudoir, and portraiture work.
Jen Rozenbaum discusses the original 50mm F1.4 and the new 50mm F1.4 ART lens and explains why to choose each one.
And Lindsay talks about her 1-2 Punch combination of the 24-105mm F4 and the 70-200mm F2.8
Which Sigma lenses are you using the most these days?
©Judy Host 2014 Sigma 24-105mm F4.0 DG (OS) HSM I A | Aperture: f 4.0 | Shutter speed: 1/400sec | ISO 200 | Manual mode | Focal Length 31mm
For many natural light photographers, photographing in the “Sweet Light” is the highlight of what we do. This light happens around an hour before sunset and an hour around sunrise. It’s the most beautiful, sweet and natural light of all. Timing it can sometimes be difficult, but if you allow yourself to set up your subject and get ready for the sun to start it’s decline, you will be rewarded with the prettiest of all light. It only lasts for about 20 minutes and then turns into a different kind of light, twilight, which can also be beautiful to capture. In the following images, my beautiful subject Zoe is dancing in the sweet light in Ocean Beach, California. This session was timed to capture this gorgeous light as she moved to the music in her head. Photographing with Sigma’s 24-105mm F4.0 DG (OS) HSM | A lens, I was able to create these very sharp and beautiful images. I choose to photograph wide open, at f 4.0 and use a fast shutter speed, s 1/400 to keep my images sharp, as Zoe was consistently moving. My ISO was adjusted as the light changed.
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Sometimes a camera wants to see differently. That happens to me I get inspired to go wide… really wide. I’m talking fisheye wide. That’s when I put away the other primes and zooms and pickup the ultra compact, wide and fast Sigma 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens. The lens covers a full frame format camera providing a 180º angle of view. That’s half a circle!
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I’ve been on an extended test-drive with the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 this year, paired with my trusty Nikon D7100. The great thing about this match is since the D7100 has a cropped sensor with a 1.5x factor, the 500mm reach effectively becomes 750mm. Using the in-camera 1.3 crop for added photo burst rate I end up with nearly 900mm of reach at the long end! That really comes in handy with wildlife photography. I have had a ton of fun with the lens and have to say I will have a very hard time ever giving it back. Besides being light enough to carry all day, the lens performs extremely well for wildlife, action sports, and big-orb sunsets, both on land, and on board boats in the waters off Long Island. And more recently, it’s been my go-to lens for New York whale watching.
Having now made several whale watching voyages, I have had had no problem getting sharp shots from a moving boat. The harder part was getting the whales to cooperate by doing anything other than slowly swimming and surfacing briefly! This all changed when my friend Artie Raslich recently invited me on his 26 foot boat named Ship of Fools to follow a pod of whales that had been feeding actively close to shore within sight of New York City off Long Beach and East Rockaway New York. After passing through Deb’s inlet and breaking through a fog bank we found our first whale that we ended up following for several hours. One of my first shots was a fairly young Humpback gliding out of the fog. Artie knows his Whales and quickly identified this one as NYC0015. Apparently this one and his Mother have been in the area all year feeding on the abundant bunker in the area.
© 2014 Mike Busch
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The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A sets the new benchmark for fast standard prime lenses for full-frame DSLRs, and is offered at a very fair price for its total performance. And the Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, originally introduces in 2008, is still in production; and it remains an exceptional fast fifty designed for both the performance and build expectations of professional photographers at a price that puts it well within reach of enthusiasts looking for both fantastic optics, and a pro build quality. Choosing either one of these full-frame Sigma 50mm F1.4 stablemates over an OEM lens is a wise choice. Choosing which one is exactly right for your bag really is basically a matter of budget, plus weight and size considerations. But either way, adding one of these Sigma 50mm F1.4s to your kit is a great idea.
The original high-performance 50mm F1.4
To repeat, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM is still in production, and ships for a pretty fantastic street price, especially right now with $100 Instant Savings through October 31st. At 3.3” x 2.7” and weighing in at 17.8 ounces, this lens is heavy and stocky. Packing eight elements in six groups, it close focuses to 17.7 inches at 1:7.4 magnification. Nine rounded aperture blades and an aspherical element make for pleasing defocused and focused image elements, while a full-time manual-focus ring allows for on-the-fly adjustments.
The world-beating 50mm F1.4
The Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A was announced earlier this year and has been the talk of the photography world ever since. Pairing world-beating optics and imaging performance with a hypersonic motor for fast, quiet AF, along with four zone microtuning, wrist-flick Manual focus override and firmware updates via the USB Dock, this lens has already gained a number of prestigious awards, and earned tons of positive reviews from the most demanding photographers around the world. Physically, it is a very large standard lens, at 3.4” x 3.9 inches and weighing in at 28.7 ounces. Much of that weight comes form the 13 elements in 8 groups, so it is a more complex optical design. Super low dispersion glass and super multi-layer lens coatings, along with nine round aperture blades renders photographs with extraordinary image quality. Field distortion is virtually non-existent. Demand is incredibly high, and supplies are still very limited thanks to its very fair street price.
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The greatest thing about interchangeable camera lenses is the variety of optical designs, from ultrawide to supertelephoto and everything in between, that offer an incredible amount of variety for visual expression, creativity, and optical performance optimized for different photographic situations. And while it may be sometimes completely and totally obvious what types of photography a certain lens excels at—for example, everyone knows that Macros are designed to capture close-up details; telephoto lenses are great for long-reach wildlife and sports from the sidelines—many styles of camera lenses have lesser-known secret superpowers that can be called upon to make a photo. Let’s take a look!
Long lenses, like the Sigma 150-500mm F5.6.3, or 300-800 F5.6 to name two, are known to be great for making sports and wildlife images. Wide open, these lenses can isolate the subject from the background to really make the images pop. And of course, the wide apertures which give very shallow depth of field feel also yield the fastest shutter speeds, which are necessary to freeze a bird in flight, or an athlete on the move.
Everyone knows supertelephoto zoom lenses are great for long-reach photography at widest apertures for freezing active subjects, like wild birds, with fast shutter speeds. Here, the Sigma 150-500mm is trained on an American Anhinga, at 500mm, wide open at F6.3.
And Landscape, or should we say sky-scape, photographers also know that longer focal lengths also can make for huge suns and moons, the effect of which is amplified when the celestial orb is near earthbound features in the frame.
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If you want to photograph all kinds of subjects from long distances—from wildlife to athletes to fast-moving vehicles—then the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM telephoto zoom is for you.
Telephoto zooms allow photographers to locate moving subjects and then zoom in on them, making them great choices for photographing birds in flight, such as bald eagles swooping down for dinner near Homer, Alaska. Nikon D800E, Sigma 150-500mm at 350mm. Hand-held, from a boat. OS Mode 1. f/8, 1/4000 second, ISO 1600. Photo © 2014 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.
Among birders, the Sigma 150-500mm has become legendary. Birder photographers need at least 400mm of telephoto power; 500mm is better. So birders have adopted the 150-500mm, as well as its stable mate, the 50-500mm, as their go-to lens.
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Our new video quicktips series offers advice for photographers who are looking to understand more about the techniques and technologies that can help them make better pictures. Each episode is just a few minutes long and looks to explain and offer advice in an easy-to-grasp way. Check back on this posting all month long as we continue to add new episodes to this series.
Our First Episode demonstrates how to Hold a Big Camera Lens:
And here we explain How, When, and Why to Use Optical Stabilization:
Got a topic you’d like us to tackle? Leave a comment for consideration!
Whenever I spend time making photos with a Sigma camera, like the new dp2 Quattro, for example, it makes me slow down, think a little bit more about the overall composition, framing, and aesthetics of the image. In short, the nuances and quirks of the Sigma cameras helps me fine-tune my vision, and I strive to make each frame count. And the end result images are always a sight to behold, first on my monitor, and preferably, printed out in large format. It is a process that takes time; but the results are well worth it, thanks to the overall quality of the images.
I brought the Sigma dp2 Quattro along on a recent beach vacation to Cape May, NJ, a spot I’ve visited many times. I made a series of photos of many of my favorite spots in town with this compact camera, which has simply incredible image quality. Here is one of the lifeboats along the beach in the morning. 1/250 F5.6 ISO 100.
That same feeling of value, permanence, and overall material importance is likewise encapsulated in my personal images made with DSLRs and interchangeable lens compact cameras in general. I choose to capture almost all of my images of family adventures on dedicated cameras with bigger sensors because these are moments that matter to me. And for me, the long-term image quality matters significantly more than the instant-sharing capabilities of a smart-phone snap.
This landlocked Buoy sits on the beach entrance by Gurney Street in Cape May. There is such level of detail captured in this shot–you can read the tiniest of words imprinted on the top of the beacon. Sigma dp2 Quattro 1/125 F5.6 ISO 100.
And of course, with such a great variety of lenses available for DSLRs, there’s always a fresh perspective to be captured, from ultrawide, to supertelephoto, wide open for gorgeous background separation and bokeh, or stopped down for telephoto compression, or any of the many other at-capture effects and stylings possible with sharp lenses on big camera sensors.
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