On a recent trip to Alaska I brought along a lens on loan from Sigma, the 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS MACRO HSM lens. Apparently this lens a very popular lens in the super zoom multi-purpose category but the question is, how would do on a wildlife shoot? When I was packing for my trip I remember thinking that I didn’t know how the lens would perform but at least the lens is so tiny it wouldn’t take up a lot of room in my bag.
Honestly it was my first time using this lens, or any type of super zoom lens, so I didn’t have a clue of what to expect but as the first series of images popped on the screen I was pleasantly surprised but when I zoomed in to see the sharpness at 100% the feeling changed to one of mild shock!
Lens: Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS MACRO HSM | Focal length: 155mm | Nikon D800E in DX mode | Exposure mode: manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/1250th sec | Aperture: f/8 | ISO 400 | handheld OS on.
One of the most common questions I get about a new lens is autofocus. So how does the autofocus on this lens perform? It was not the fastest that I have ever used but it was perfectly usable for eagles in flight. Take a look at the images in this post. These are not huge crops, I only removed a small horizontal strip to crop to a 16:10 ratio or to level the image.
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Click the photo to enter the contest!
Sigma is co-sponsoring this great contest with our friends at Datacolor and photo photographer David Cardinal to make photos of incredible Alaskan wildlife with a great prize package including the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 zoom lens, a Datacolor SpyderCapture Pro and more!
Click here to pop over to Datacolor’s site to enter before May 26th!
Official rules here in PDF Format.
Read an interview with David Cardinal about Safari Photography!
Here at Sigma, we love seeing lens reviews from photographers and bloggers from all over the world who are rediscovering many of the incredible lenses in the Sigma lineup. For example, we just came across this fantastic hands-on account of a test-shoot of the new 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | A from Marc Lebryk, based in East Indianapolis, Indiana.
Photo © Marc Lebryk. Used with permission. (Canon 5D Mark II, 100ISO, Sigma 50mm F1.4 HSM Art Lens. 1/5000th@F1.4)
After testing the 50mm F1.4 he reports that:
“Everything I’ve touched or seen out of Sigma in the last 2 years has not only met but far surpassed my expectations from not just the Sigma name, but the Nikon or Canon name as well. If you don’t own a 50mm lens (and I am a firm believer that everyone should have a 50mm prime of some kind in their bag) then the Sigma is more than just an option; This time it’s the cream of the crop.”
Read the full review on his blog.
As a photographer, I am definitely a problem solver. I must solve endless problems including lighting, posing, and flattering my subject. One way to become a better problem solver is to understand the tools available to us, most importantly, our cameras.
When photographing people and portraits, it is important to understand how your camera and lenses see. When looking through the lens, how does your camera interpret the environment and your subject different than what you perceive with the naked eye? Whether posing and shooting fashion, family portraits or head shots, understanding this makes a profound impact on the final results.
Let’s start by exploring one very important element of how your camera sees. Remember this saying and use it to better control your images.
“Whatever is closest to the camera appears larger. What is further from the camera appears smaller.”
Most of us know this to be true for more obvious examples, but then we forget this fact in the nuances of posing. Here is an example that we all understand and can relate to. If a subject places their hand next to their face, it appears proportional. Yet when they put their hand outward toward the camera, it appears much larger and disproportional at this point.
©2014 Lindsay Adler | Hand close to the face look proportional and correct size. | Sigma 24-70mm lens at 60mm, Canon 5D Mark III
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The Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM | C is a fantastic everyday zoom lens for photographers looking for a compact, high-zoom ratio lens for their small DSLRs without sacrificing image quality or build quality. This 11.1x zoom is just slightly larger than the typically bundled 18-55mm kit lens paired with a Canon EOS Rebel or Nikon DSLR, but offers much greater versatility in terms of creative composition including macro capture; and a noticeably higher build quality feel than the usual starter camera lens.
The Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM | C lens is a versatile, compact all-in-one zoom lens that covers wide angle to telephoto and macro close-up photography. It is available for the most popular DSLRs. Here, for example, is a purple rose as seen through this lens on a Canon EOS Rebel T3i. 1/60 F6.3 ISO 400 at 200mm.
For DSLR photographers looking for a very compact one-lens solution, the new Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 very well may be the answer. On APS-C DSLRs, such as the Canon EOS Rebel series and the Nikon D3200 or D5200, the Sigma 18-200mm equates to about a 28-300mm zoom lens, covering wide-angle to telephoto, with a close-focusing setting at 200mm offering 1:3 macro magnification. And yet it weighs less than a pound is is just 2.8 x 3.4 inches in size. Optical Stabilizer, which counteracts camera and lens movements at slower shutter speeds, adds to the on-the-go abilities of the lens, by helping to keep shots sharp at slower shutter speeds without a tripod. (Learn much more about OS here.)
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When all the elements fall info place during a photo session you can find yourself a lot more than just a couple of high quality single images but instead can find that you have captured a series of images that illustrates some really interesting action. Combining multiple images into a single action sequence image can give you a creative eye opening image that can really surprise viewers.
©2014 Robert O’Toole | Lens: 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | S | Focal Length: 250mm | Camera: Nikon D4 | Exposure Mode: manual mode | Shutter speed: 1/4000 sec | Aperture: f/4 | ISO 400 | handheld at water level.
If you would like to try one of these images on your own, here are some tips to get you started.
Action that takes place parallel or slightly angled to the camera sensor are easiest to combine. A sequence coming directly at the camera can be difficult to combine due to problems with depth of field banding.
Manual mode is best since the exposure is more even frame to frame results will be a lot easier to work with.
Always use the very best technique, the proper shutter speed and aperture are essential. For the image above I used the 120-300mm F2.8 D G OS HSM at 1/4000th of a second and one stop down from maximum. The image below is a 100% actual pixel crop of the sequence to give you an idea of the quality.
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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.
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.
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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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
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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.
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
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