When shooting action sports I usually aim for ultra sharp images that capture the most fleeting of moments. After a long day or even multiple days in the field images captured at 1/1000 to 1/2000 of a second start to look the same. To mix it up a bit I like to slow down the shutter speed and either pan or lock off shots for a distinct, creative look.
Ansel Adams is attributed with saying “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” While it is true that the photographer is fundamental to making great images, few of us would deny that four inches of wise glass up front can contribute a lot, too. Enter the Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM zoom. Adding this sharp, fast, and unbelievably rugged Art lens to your rig goes a long way toward making stunning images.
Sigma released a 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | Art wide angle zoom lens that I acquired from Sigma to use in everyday photojournalism. I decided to cover traditional Louisiana Mardi Gras in the town of Mamou, LA. This is a small town of some 3500 Cajuns in southwest Louisiana with a strong and rich history of Mardi Gras tradition.
Cubs were the big highlight this year for sure. The number of yearling cubs (a bear that is a year old, or in its second year) around was just fantastic. There were not many spring cubs seen early this summer but the yearlings kept the photographers really busy. At Hallo bay we had at least five mothers with cubs while at Kukak we counted 12 bears around one morning.
Whenever I photograph yearlings it seems that they are either about to play, are in the middle of playing, or have just finished playing. The one, not so cool, thing about yearlings is that they really seem to enjoy challenging photographers by walking right up to just a few steps away. Then they will go for anything left on the ground or just to see what the leader or guide will do, all while under the watchful eye of a 500 pound mother bear. So I always recommend hiring a guide or tour leader for a bear photo trip.
The weekend of April 30th, 2016 christened the first annual “Laker Rail” Multi-media Railroad Program. Anchored in St Paul Minnesota and hosted by friend and author Steve Glischinski, the event was held in conjunction with “Union Depot Train Days.” It featured thirteen of the country’s “Foremost Railfans”, showcasing their work in a Multi-Media bonanza. So a group of us made plans to attend over a long weekend. I brought along some of my favorite Sigma lenses to capture some amazing shots of unique trains.
As the weekend drew near, we started thinking of ways to make the weekend extra special. The idea was thrown around to incorporate the Minnesota Commercial Railroad (MNNR), which has an extremely eclectic collection of motive power, and their totally cool roundhouse, for a night shoot. After deliberation, and credit to friend Craig Willett and Minnesota Commercial President John Gohmann, the MNNR was agreed to a small group of fans taking over their roundhouse for a staged night photo session.
We arrived before dark and you couldn’t imagine our excitement when we found the 316 (an extremely rare and ancient Alco RS27) front and center on the turntable. It had five clean commercial GE’s and another Alco, which was strategically placed for maximum effect. No time was wasted, after filling out releases and donning our PPE, we set out photographing the lineup in natural light. Bonus!
Sigma controls its own mass production facilities at its Aizu factory and is clearly in a position to produce high quality lenses in volume – something that smaller bespoke makers cannot hope to compete with. I expect its pricing to be extremely competitive, just as it is for their photo lenses. I also suspect that these are just the first in a wide range of Sigma cine lenses and I for one are glad that the Japanese lens giant is getting into the cine game.
Sigma reinvented itself in 2012 with a terrific new lens design (I was initially skeptical about the branding) at relatively inexpensive prices, which really seemed to usher in a new competitive era in third-party lenses. Now it’s taking it all a step further by getting into the cinema-lens business, hopefully bringing with it the same low prices and quality optics. It enters the market with a full set of key lenses, too, rather than just floating a trial balloon of a single lens.
Less than five years ago, Sigma upset the photo world apple cart by changing the game and releasing incredible top-tier optics at a reasonable price point. Continuing on that “game changer” mentality, they have announced the impending release of eight super high-end cinema lenses for Canon EF and Sony E mount (with PL to come shortly after) starting in the next year.
When Sigma set their mind to something, they really seem to go all-in lately. That’s what they’ve done today, by announcing EIGHT new Cinema lenses at the same time. The new collection of lenses comprises five T1.5 primes and three zoom lenses. Well, it’s certainly a nice collection to kick off their entry in the world of cinema lenses.
It makes sense that Sigma are expanding their range into other markets. Their quality control has gone way up in recent years. Many of their photography lenses now keep up well with Nikon, Canon and other 3rd party counterparts. With the move toward video for many photographers, this is a smart move. And if Sigma’s photography lenses are anything to go by, they’ll be extremely competitive.
The rumors are confirmed. The big booth at IBC makes sense: Sigma is jumping into the cinema industry with a new line of CINE LENSES. The big news is that most of them are Full Frame, High Speed, ridiculously small and incredibly light. Image quality is outstanding. These are not rehoused lenses. They come from the same factory where the superb Sigma Art DSLR lenses come from—the northern region of Japan—Aizu.
I discovered the Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye lens a few years ago when I was teaching a class in California. I had challenged myself to try something new and I was always curious about Sigma’s Fisheye lens and its effects. I wasn’t quite sure how I could incorporate it into a portrait session, and was pleasantly surprised when I actually photographed with it and loved the illusion of extreme depth. This amazing lens creates a strong visual distortion and a wide panoramic or hemispherical effect. The trick here is understanding straight lines anywhere but dead center in the image appear to be curved. The farther they are from the center, the greater the curved distortion. This first image of Charlie was photographed in the middle of the day in open shade. I asked her to run past me while holding the balloons up in the air. When she reached the lens perspective that I wanted, which put her in the middle of my frame, I could see the building was distorted, but she was not. This was the exact effect I wanted to accomplish. If you look closely at the image, Charlie has no distortion. I set my shutter speed to 1/640 to stop the action and create a sharp image while still capturing the movement in her hair. The building became curved as it was further from the center of my lens.
My trip begins in Duluth, Minnesota where my plane lands and I begin my drive 2 hours North to a place called Orr. On the way, I pass an area called the Sax Zim Bog, home to over 240 species of migrant breeding birds on 23,000 acres of land. However, a quick drive through this oasis reveals nothing special and I continue on until I end up in Orr, Minnesota. This is where I meet my guide and I get a brief lesson on bear safety and how to handle myself while out in bear country alone. The next morning we are off to look for black bears with spring cubs.
I was not sure what to expect despite working with grizzly bears in Alaska and Yellowstone. Black bears have been much more elusive for me during my travels. However, on the way to our main destination we encountered our first black bear. Special for this trip, I traveled with an incredible lens made by Sigma, the 300-800mm F5.6 EX DG lens. This lens is a very durable, and a beautifully designed professional grade tool with amazing sharpness throughout its focal length. When dealing with wildlife, it is always best to give the animals a lot of space and observe their natural behaviors from a distance. This Sigma lens allows the photographer to do just that, and with the capability of getting extreme close ups as well as wider environmental images from the same vantage point. With out movement by the photographer there are fewer distractions that can inhibit the bears movements and habits. Sigma has built a super focal length glass with the ability of doing just that. The Sigma 300-800mm F5.6 is the perfect tool for all jobs when photographing wildlife because of its incredible zoom capability.
When using a tripod to mount the Sigma 300-800mm Lens with a Gimbal type head, the ability to pan is fluent and effortless. Zooming in and out while locking auto–focus is one of this lens’s best abilities and a true Sigma achievement. Wildlife and sports photographers will find this function useful for capturing birds in flight and wildlife on the run as well as athletes in motion.
The Sigma 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Macro | Contemporary lens is best described as versatile . At just four inches long in the camera bag, and weighing just over a pound, this small lens covers wide angle to supertele, plus macro. It’s the photographic equivalent of a chameleon, the pocket multi-tool, or a superhero’s quick-changing boat/car/plane combo-vehicle. As an athlete, it would compete in the decathlon, ready to adeptly pivot from one specialty to the next.
Our team of bloggers has taken this lens everywhere from open-air biplanes, to skiing in the Alps, to bear-spotting in Alaska, backpacking the Pacific Northwest, and on family vacations to showcase the wide compositional range and total image quality this superzoom superstar delivers day in and day out in pretty much any situation you can imagine! Here’s a sampling of situations where the Sigma team has taken this amazing all-in-one lens. Where would you take it next?
Click each red headline link to read the full report!
Traveling on a small planes with serious weight restrictions, Sigma Pro Robert O’Toole packed the 18-300mm lens for maximum versatility in a compact package and made some amazing shots of the beautiful bears.
“I use this lens for one reason, it’s the best, period. And it has a great working distance, which allows me to be outside of the flower beds. I’m shooting wide open at F2.8 or F4 for razor-thin depth of field for artistry. I’m using on-camera strobe at three stops under for catchlight, usually between 5 and 7:30 under open sky. ”