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Sigma is saying.

01.25.2016

Imagine one of finest places in the world for photography, filled with a vast system of mountains, lakes, and hundreds of miles of wild and untamed rivers and streams. A home for brown bear, eagles, fox, and wolves. Thankfully Katmai is visited by only a small number of people each year. Maybe the fact that this place is not reachable by car has something to do with it, but about only twenty to thirty thousand people visit this area of over four million plus acres each year.

© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Tour participant on the lookout for fox with a glacier and fireweed blooming in the background. Sigma 150-600 Sports lens at 230mm and Nikon D810, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 64, EV + .3, Manual mode with Auto-ISO, UniqBall UBH 45 head and Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.

© 2015 Robert O’Toole | Tour participant on the lookout for fox with a glacier and fireweed blooming in the background. Sigma 150-600 Sports lens at 230mm and Nikon D810, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 64, EV + .3, Manual mode with Auto-ISO, UniqBall UBH 45 head and Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.

© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Crossfox checking out our group. Sigma 150-600 Sports lens at 320mm and Nikon D810, 1/500s, f/16, ISO 560, EV + .3, Manual mode with Auto-ISO, UniqBall UBH 45 head and Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.

© 2015 Robert O’Toole | Crossfox checking out our group. Sigma 150-600 Sports lens at 320mm and Nikon D810, 1/500s, f/16, ISO 560, EV + .3, Manual mode with Auto-ISO, UniqBall UBH 45 head and Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.

Out of all the locations here, the Pacific coast of Katmai is without doubt one of my favorite places on the planet. One of the best places to shoot on the coast is a bay, about 10 or 11 miles wide, surrounded by mountains and glaciers, and filled with miles of sandy beach and flat sedge meadows strewn with countless driftwood logs. In summer the cool sea breezes fill the warm green meadows where eagles and peregrine falcons soar, and mother brown bear use it as a safe place to eat sedge grass and nurse cubs. Its here that you find one of the most interesting characters you can photograph anywhere, the red fox.

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01.22.2016

I was invited to shoot the annual NAS Pensacola Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show couple of months ago. I normally specialize in Landscape and Wildlife photography; but Aviation has always been a fascination and the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of military and civilian Aircraft including the Blue Angels got my blood moving!

Vapor Trail captured by the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports at 1/2500 F6.3 ISO 160 at 600mm on a Nikon D750 DSLR.

Vapor Trail captured by the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports at 1/2500 F6.3 ISO 160 at 600mm on a Nikon D750 DSLR.

I have been a big fan of Sigma lenses since getting my first DSLR in 2012. I normally use my trusty Sigma 150-500 for my Wildlife, Sunsets and Aviation but knowing I would have some unique access to this show I got my hands on the new Sigma 150-600 Sport for this special occasion.

Before I left I got a chance to get acquainted with the lens and paired it with a Nikon D750 full frame. First things first: this is a serious lens and is built like a tank. This lens is built to be weather and dustproof and it looks the part. On the way home that night I stopped by a local duck pond to give it a run and noticed a Cooper’s hawk soaring well above the trees. Autofocus and was fast and locked on the bird with ease. The difference between 500 and 600mm doesn’t sound like much but it made a huge difference looking through the camera. Once I got home to look at the images another thing stood out. The originally uncropped image looked nice but I was shocked how sharp and detailed the cropped image was! I see a lot of parallels between wildlife and aviation so I knew I would have a blast shooting a world class air show with the Sigma 150-600 Sport.

A couple of other features also stood out. The lens hood is made of metal and has a stout locking mechanism to clamp it either extended or reversed for travel. The tripod collar is also stout and easily adjustable. I planned on testing the Optical Stabilizer but got caught up in the high-speed action and simply left it on the entire weekend. I didn’t notice any noise or lens adjustments with it on so I assume it works as advertised!

 

Fat Albert: 1/160 F13 ISO 100

Fat Albert: 1/160 F13 ISO 100

Upon arrival in Pensacola I headed right through airbase security and onto the Airfield. The typical weather for the panhandle in November is clear without the normal excessive heat and humidity usually associated with Florida. Unfortunately, the forecast was for low clouds, high humidity and record setting temperatures, not really ideal for getting sharp images at a distance.

I didn’t have to wait long for action as the Blue Angels were ready for practice. Knowing that this is their home base and final show weekend of the year, I knew they wouldn’t hold anything back. Since I was a guest of another air team, my shooting location was near their area near the hangars, about a mile from show center. This was not a problem as I was closest to where a lot of the performers would be taxiing out. The Blue Angels utilize a huge C -130 for support and logistics and starts every show with a demonstration of max-effort climb, simulating a hostile environment takeoff.

Fat Albert in flight: 1/22 F22 ISO 100

Fat Albert in flight: 1/22 F22 ISO 100

The main challenge with propeller powered aircraft is finding the balance between a sharp image while using a slow enough shutter to capture prop blur. The key is to get the shutter speed slow enough to get some decent prop blur but fast enough to keep the image itself on the sharp side.

1/200 F22 ISO 100

1/200 F22 ISO 100

After the Fat Albert demonstration it was time for the Blue Angels. Here my strategy was to get the shutter speed as fast as possible while panning to freeze the action. I relied mostly on either Aperture or Shutter priority when the planes were in formation. Since we had a low cloud deck over parts of the airfield with patches of blue sky I chose to use Auto ISO with an upper threshold of 500.

The Blue Angels take off. 1/3200 F5.6 ISO 320 at 300mm

The Blue Angels take off. 1/3200 F5.6 ISO 320 at 300mm

Low altitude fly by 1/3200 F6.3ISO 320 600mm

Low altitude fly by 1/3200 F6.3ISO 320 600mm

High G-Force Turn creating Vapor.  1/2500 F 6.3 ISO 160 600mm

High G-Force Turn creating Vapor. 1/2500 F 6.3 ISO 160 600mm

About halfway through the practice I was really getting used to the lens and honestly blown away by the ability to lock on and stay focused on jets moving at speeds up to 700 mph. This next series is an example. These three shots were taken within one second. You can clearly see the flaps moving down and the instant reaction of the plane. The lens was locked on target and stayed locked as long as I panned with the aircraft and held down the back button focus. I had very few shots that were tossed due to lost focus. I had several sequences where I filled the buffer and every single shot was focused.

Flaps Down Combo 1 1200

Flaps Down 1/640 F6.3 ISO 100 600mm

Flaps Down 1/640 F6.3 ISO 100 600mm

Flaps Down 1/640 F6.3 ISO 100 600mm

Flaps down combo 3 1200

Flaps Down 1/640 F6.3 ISO 100 600mm

1/3200 F6.3 ISO 320 600mm

1/3200 F6.3 ISO 320 600mm

untitled--13 1200

Formation flight 1/3200 F 6.3 ISO 320 600mm

untitled--12 1200

Formation flight 1/3200 F 6.3 ISO 320 600mm

Formation flight 1/3200 F 6.3 ISO 320 600mm

Formation flight 1/3200 F 6.3 ISO 320 600mm

On the second day, we ended up with much clearer skies, allowing the Blue Angels to do more High altitude flight. Normally this is a time to rest and wait for a closer opportunity but since I was able to still lock focus and see the aircraft clearly in my viewfinder I kept shooting. These were some of my favorite shots of the weekend and shots and I wouldn’t have bothered to take with a lesser lens.

Raining Blue Angels 1200

High altitude trails. 1/2000 ISO 160 wide-open aperture.

untitled-8318 1200

High altitude trails. 1/2000 ISO 160 wide-open aperture.

untitled-8320 1200

High altitude trails. 1/2000 ISO 160 wide-open aperture.

untitled-8353 1200

High altitude trails. 1/2000 ISO 160 wide-open aperture.

untitled-8356 1200

High altitude trails. 1/2000 ISO 160 wide-open aperture.

High altitude trails. 1/2000 ISO 160 wide-open aperture.

High altitude trails. 1/2000 ISO 160 wide-open aperture.

The final day started out with a very thick fog and the weather called for a front to move through with heavy rain by early afternoon. We ended up with a very small window to get the show in and the decision was made to move the show up several hours to make sure no one went home disappointed. The fog gradually burned off but we were still left with a fairly low overcast as the Blue Angels started up the engines once again. Not having a lot of experience shooting Air shows I wasn’t encouraged and expected to have a tough time getting sharp shots with the poor light. With the low cloud deck, the Blue Angels changed up the show and kept things much closer to ground and gave me the opportunity to get some close up high speed passes.

1/2000 F6.3 ISO 110 at 600mm.

1/2000 F6.3 ISO 110 at 600mm.

High G-Force Turn creating Vapor.  1/2500 F 6.3 ISO 160 600mm

High G-Force Turn creating Vapor. 1/2500 F 6.3 ISO 160 600mm

vapor 3 1200

1/1600 F6.3 ISO 500 at 600mm.

Lt. Matt Suyderhoud checking out the Sigma 150-600 Sport 1/2000 F6.3 ISO360 600mm

Lt. Matt Suyderhoud checking out the Sigma 150-600 Sport
1/2000 F6.3 ISO360 600mm

untitled-2044 1200

1/1600 F6.3 ISO 500

untitled-2494 1200

1/1600 F6.3 ISO 500

untitled-6490 1200

1/3200 F6.3 ISO 320

untitled-6538 1200

1/3200 F6.3 ISO 320 at 600mm.

In summary, I was thrilled with the performance of the Sigma 150-600 Sport. Everything from build quality, autofocus, and image quality exceeded my expectations. I have always been happy with my 150-500mm but after returning the 150-600mm Sport I realize they are really in different categories. The only downside that might be a problem for some would be the weight of the lens. I was able to hand hold it for three days straight for hours at a time but I definitely felt it at the end of the day. Perhaps since my style of photography needs the freedom to hand hold for long periods of time I should take a serious look at the lighter-weight 150-600mm Contemporary version and see if that is a better fit for me. Regardless, one of the two new amazing lenses will be added permanently to my kit shortly!

See more of Mike Busch’s work here!

And do you want to see just how tough Sigma’s new Ceramic Protector filters are? This video demonstrates the incredible impact resistance of these exclusive filters for DSLR camera lenses in thread sizes from 67mm up to 105mm. These are the new go-to protectors for photographers in the most demanding conditions!

Learn more about Sigma’s new WR Clear Glass Ceramic Protector Filters!

01.22.2016

Just how tough are Sigma’s new Ceramic Protector filters? This video demonstrates the incredible performance of these exclusive filters for DSLR camera lenses.

 

Bounccee

Learn more about Sigma’s WR Clear Glass Ceramic Protector Filters!

01.20.2016

If you only had 8 seconds to shoot the perfect shot, which lens would you choose? When I had the opportunity to shoot the Attica Rodeo in Attica, NY, I immediately reached for my Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 Sport lens. I knew the action would be fast, I didn’t know what the lighting would be and there would most certainly be dirt and dust flying. The lens could handle all of it, even if the lighting was less than optimal. Fortunately, it was a beautiful late summer day, so I didn’t have any lighting curve balls thrown at me. What I wasn’t counting on being thrown at me came from a bulls rear end.

A good friend of mine, Brody Wheeler, an excellent photographer himself has been involved with the Attica Rodeo for years, along with several generations of his family. He was able to get me inside access that I may not have had otherwise.  I wanted to shoot down low with the action coming toward me to stack the subjects. The best vantage point to do this was from the bull riding shoot for the events that didn’t involve the bulls such as the calf roping, barrel racing and team penning.

© 2015 Steve Chesler | Shooting from a low angle with a wide aperture with the Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 Sport lens with the action coming toward me made for some dramatic images.

© 2015 Steve Chesler | Shooting from a low angle with a wide aperture with the Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 Sport lens with the action coming toward me made for some dramatic images.

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01.15.2016

Guest post by Scott Bourne, founder of Photofocus.com

Cranes In The Fire Mist Photo Copyright Scott Bourne

Here’s the story of my image “Cranes in the Fire Mist” Photo © 2008 Scott Bourne. All rights reserved. 1/4000 F5.6 ISO 800, Sigma 300-800mm F5.6 EX DG HSM at 800mm on Nikon D3.

Around 20 years ago, I saw an image by a friend that contained a lake full of cranes and geese, backlit by a blazing, golden sun.

The image struck me to the point that I spent 12 years trying to re-create my own version of it.

In the image I pre-visualized, there would be one or two birds flying into the pond while the others waited to take off. It’s an almost impossible scenario because a number of factors have to converge in a perfect storm for it to work.

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01.14.2016

Guest post by John DiGiacomo

1/3200 F2.8 ISO 10,000 at 155mm paired with Nikon D4. Photo by John DiGiacomo.

1/3200 F2.8 ISO 10,000 at 155mm paired with Nikon D4. Photo by John DiGiacomo.

As a professional photographer who covers winter sports, I am continually subjecting my equipment to extreme elements and challenging lighting conditions. These images from the Viesmann Luge World Cup Event, held in Lake Placid, NY are a small example. The event started several hours after sunset, in wintry conditions.

LP_Luge_WC_(2_of_3)

1/4000 F2.8 ISO 12,800 at 155mm paired with Nikon D4. Photo by John DiGiacomo.

With competitors reaching speeds in excess of 70mph and the track lit by sodium vapor lights, what’s a photographer to do to produce useable images? Knowing I would need a minimum shutter speed of 1/2500th to produce a sharp image, I needed to push the ISO on my Nikon D4 to 12,800 and shoot wide open with my Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 lens. Also, I knew that I would have to shoot in RAW and not JPG, as I needed the flexibility of tweaking the white balance and reducing noise.

1/4000 F3.5 ISO 1250  at 180mm paired with Nikon D4. Photo by John DiGiacomo.

1/4000 F3.5 ISO 1250 at 180mm paired with Nikon D4. Photo by John DiGiacomo.

With all these variables to consider, as well as the pressure of ensuring that I had a sharp image of every competitor the last thing I want to concern myself with is how is my equipment going to hold up to the elements. By the time the race concluded my Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 lens had ice forming on it, but I was confident that this would not be a problem thanks to its rugged design.

 

Check out more of John DiGiacomo’s work on his website!

01.13.2016

Sigma offers a pair of hyper-telephoto zoom lenses for full-frame cameras, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports and 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary. With identical focal length and apertures, and advanced feature sets including Sigma’s exclusive lens customization, these two new zoom lenses share champion DNA. What is the difference between the Sports and Contemporary version of the Sigma 150-600mm zoom lenses?

Caption: The 150-600mm Sports (top) and Contemporary (lower) lenses offer Sigma’s Exclusive Features including lens performance customization with the USB Dock.

Caption: The 150-600mm Sports (top) and Contemporary (lower) lenses offer Sigma’s Exclusive Features including lens performance customization with the USB Dock.

The Sports is the bigger of the two. Weighing in at 6.3 pounds, it has an aluminum alloy barrel, and a more weatherized build. 24 elements, including two FLD and three SLD element, are in 16 groups with super multi-layer coatings. Front filter size is 105mm. Street: $1999 ($1,799 Special Instant Savings through 1/31/16!)

© 2015 Robert O'Toole | Crossfox looking good against out of focus fireweed and grass. Sigma 150-600 Sports lens at 600mm and Nikon D810, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 1000, EV + .3, Manual mode with Auto-ISO, UniqBall UBH 45 head and Jobu Algonquin Carbon Tripod.

150-600mm | S © Robert O’Toole

The Contemporary is more compact at 4.3 pounds, and built with Thermally Stable Composite. 20 elements, including one FLD and three SLD elements, are in 16 groups with super multi-layer coatings. The rear element is water/oil resistant with mount gasketing. Filter filter size is 95mm. Street: $1089  (Special $989 Instant Savings through 1/31/16!)

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01.05.2016

In the seventh episode of the Boudoir Photography Sessions, Sigma Pro Jen Rozenbaum explains how to bring out personality and emotion out of her clients. The Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM | Art is an incredibly versatile lens to use in a tight quartered space like a hotel room.

Check out the images after the jump!

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01.04.2016

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Sigma SuperFan Contest! As a company, it is incredible to see just how much Sigma lenses and cameras mean to so many photographers from all walks of life, from all corners of the globe. Young and older, longtime fans and recent converts, we truly appreciated hearing from all of you!

We had photographers tell us about positive their experiences dealing with the Sigma family on the phone, in person, at events and trade show, and on line. We had fans share great customer service stories, and about their interaction with our dedicated teams of tech reps and pros at giant trade shows and smaller, personalized events.

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01.04.2016

Aquariums present a number of challenges for photographers hoping to make keepsake photos of a visit to view undersea animals. Between the dim lighting conditions, highly reflective surfaces, and active subjects, it can be a recipe for disappointment. Here are some tips and tricks to up the odds of landing a winning shot of sharks and other aquatic animals the next time you visit the aquarium.

Eye contact with a shark at the Adventure Aquarium. Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | Art at 24mm. 1/80 F2 at ISO 1600. RAW photo worked up in Adobe Camera Raw. We'll go into the full workup later in this piece.

When it all comes together: Great Eye contact with a shark at the Adventure Aquarium from the Shark Tunnel.  Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | Art at 24mm. 1/80 F2 at ISO 1600. RAW photo worked up in Adobe Camera Raw. We’ll go into the full workup later in this piece.

Pack a fast-aperture wide angle lens

For my visit to the Adventure Aquarium, I chose the Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | Art lens as my go-to lens for almost all the photos in this piece. The wide-angle field of view and very fast F2 aperture allowed for fast shutter speeds in the ever-changing interior lighting conditions both inside and outside the giant tanks.

The Sigma 24-35mm F2 is the world's first F2 full-frame zoom lens.

The Sigma 24-35mm F2 is the world’s first F2 full-frame zoom lens.

Other great lens options include the full-frame 24mm F1.4 DG HSM | A, 24-70mm F2.8 EX, and the 17-70mm F2.8-4.0 DC OS HSM | C and the 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art lenses for APS-C cameras like the Canon Rebel Series, 7D, and DX-format Nikon DSLRs. If you don’t have a super-fast lens in your bag, make sure you are shooting with your kit zoom as wide open as it will go, usually F3.5, for the most light-gathering power.

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