The Blog: See what
Sigma is saying.

02.16.2018

With a little practice and some practical guidance, it is easy to make amazing food photographs of your own culinary creations. Whether you are a beginning food blogger, or an experienced chef who’s ready to move beyond the smartphone snap, making Insta—worthy shots has never been easier with a beginner’s DSLR and a sharp zoom lens. The ability to zoom in close for details and that amazing background blur will really set your photos apart in a sea of snack and cake shots.

Read More >>

02.14.2018

Introduction

Sigma Pro Judy Host is known for her incredibly touching, one-of-a-kind work as a portrait photographer. One of her most recent projects shied away from her typical portrait work, as she traveled through the Middle East, documenting several landscapes and the overwhelming history and emotions that they are filled with. Accompanied by Sigma’s SD Quattro H Mirrorless Camera, Judy captured breathtaking views, allowing us to feel like we were with her on her trip even from thousands of miles away.

Judy toured through several of her “bucket list locations” on this 12-day excursion, including Israel, Malta, and several Greek Islands. Knowing that she would be doing a lot of traveling in areas with warm sunny weather, Judy said bringing the SD Quattro was the perfect choice. “Given that I was shooting outside in areas with tons of light, I wasn’t concerned about having to use high ISOs. The SD Quattro H Mirrorless Camera is small, light, and easy to use and really a great camera for the conditions I was shooting in” Judy notes.

A main goal of Judy’s was to document her trip in a way in which she could share a bit of history about each of the areas she visited. She wanted people viewing her images to see what it was actually like to be there; the size of the buildings and the overall perspective. Though this was a huge challenge, using wide-angle lenses was extremely helpful and necessary for these significant shots.

Bits of History Captured by Judy

One particular scene Judy captured took place in Lindos, a city on the Island of Rhodes in Greece. Filled with tons of beautiful white buildings, the city was built at the base of a mountain. The mountain comes out of the modern city and on top of it lays ancient ruins. Most of the shooting Judy did took place on top of this mountain, known as the Acropolis of Lindos. Judy emphasizes the incredible history that is visible on this authentic site of remains. “Through different drawings they show you what it the Acropolis of Lindos looked like years and years ago, compared to what it looks like now” Judy says. Of course over the past 2000 years parts of the land was greatly destroyed through wars, so you are able to see a genuine transformation from the “then drawings” to Judy’s current shots.

© Judy Host | 2017

Though much of the Acropolis of Lindos is now dirt and rock, the land yields an extremely informative part of Greek history. The images captured here were some of Judy’s favorites. She says, “The light was perfect and with the Sigma camera, the colors were so vibrant. The sky looked so blue against the ancient white stones.”

© Judy Host | 2017

© Judy Host | 2017

© Judy Host | 2017

She had a similar, touching experience at one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes. Located on the Island of Rhodes, a great statue of the Greek God Helios once stood. It had been constructed to celebrate Rhodes’ victory in a war almost 2000 years ago, but experienced destruction by natural causes years later. Now, all that remains are pieces of the pillars that once held this statue up. “There wasn’t anything left to photograph, but hearing the history behind it creates an even bigger connection to the island,” Judy says.

Another one of Judy’s favorite scenes took place in Mykonos, Greece. The SD Quattro excelled in Mykonos specifically, as the white buildings and blue roofs popped in each photo. She recalls walking around the city, looking for the perfect shot. Given that she visited at the end of their main touring season, it was easy to take photos without having tons of people to edit out in the background. “There was one building that I captured that was really special because of how beautiful it was. It was very quiet- just me – and such perfect lighting. The memory of the whole experience was incredible.” Judy notes that this building is likely just an average home to many, but the connection she made in this spot was unforgettable.

© Judy Host | 2017

© Judy Host | 2017

Another major highlight of Judy’s trip included a Game of Thrones tour in Malta, a city packed with magnificent buildings where the first season of the show was shot. Judy recalls entering a famous landmark in the show; The Red Keep located within King’s Landing. Visiting at a rather quiet time, Judy says the scene was simply amazing.

© Judy Host | 2017

Conclusion

Judy’s recent excursion highlighted the essence of traveling and exploring new places. With a great deal of authenticity, history and emotions, her shots truly allow us to feel like we traveled with her. Judy’s immense talent and unique style combined with the high quality equipment that she used, enabled her to beautifully capture the trip of a lifetime.

01.31.2018

The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary lens has quickly founds its way into the hearts—and camera bags—of photographers everywhere. The combination of long telephoto reach, and zoom versatility in a truly portable, hand-holdable lens is a winning combination. Add in Sigma’s exclusive lens customization with the USB Dock to tune the lens’s autofocus performance, and to set custom focus limiters, and it is simply a whole lot of lens in a two and half pound, foot-long economical package. Here’s a rundown of  what our team of bloggers have to say about this outstanding super telephoto zoom lens.

Aviation and Air Show Photography with the Sigma 100-400mm

Two of the Navy Blue Angels perform a breakaway before the crowd at the Duluth Air Show. Sigma 100-400 Contemporary lens on a Canon 1DX. IO 500; f6.3 @ 1/2500th second. © Jim Koepnick | 2017

The light weight, reach, range, and optical stabilizer, along with the economical cost, make the 100-400mm F5-6.3 a great choice for air show photography.

The Sigma 100-400mm is a great Hiking and Backpacking Lens

Shot at 400 to keep a big working distance between us. 1/1600 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1000. Hand held using the Optical Stabilizer on the lens. © Liam Doran | 2017

At just two and a half pounds, and just about 12 inches long in the camera pack, it pairs reach, range, in a light package, perfect for traveling light, while also keeping your distance from large wildlife!

Read More >>

01.26.2018

©Judy Host 2017 Carter Center, Atlanta, GA. This image was created with Sigma’s sd Quattro H mirror less camera and a Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art Lens. This camera has a cropped sensor, so the actual focal length of the lens is about 66mm. Settings for this image are F. 7.1 s 1/100 ISO 200. Tiffen filter #87. Processed in Photoshop and enhanced with NIK filters.

Until recently in order to get an infrared effect from your digital camera you would either need to have your digital camera converted to infrared or process your image in Photoshop or some kind of software to convert your file to give it an Infrared look.

With Sigma’s sd Quattro H mirrorless camera you can easily remove the IR cut filter inside the camera located behind the lenses, set the camera to monochrome mode and photograph with a Sigma lens and use an infrared filter to block the visible light. The beauty of this process is when you’re done creating the infrared images, you can easily snap the IR cut filter back into the camera, change the mode back to color and start creating color images again.

It’s been many years since I’ve created an infrared image and my memories of it were how difficult it was to see anything through the lens. Being able to see the image and its exposure in the Sigma camera makes this process so much easier. Bracketing is always recommended, but nothing is better than being able to see your image while you are creating it and making the necessary corrections for the near perfect exposure.

I suggest setting your camera to RAW when creating these IR images, as you will need to do some processing in Photoshop/Lightroom to get the desired effect. The RAW files will give you more latitude.

Sigma sd Quattro H mirror less camera with the IR cut filter removed

Below are some suggestions on how to create infrared Images

What to look for:

When searching for the kind of scenery best suited for an infrared look it’s important to understand that anything that is alive such as leaves, grass, foliage reflect the most amount of infrared light. They will appear almost white in your image.   Other elements like concrete, water and the sky absorb the infrared light and will look darker. If you are fortunate enough to photograph a sky with white puffy clouds, you will notice the sky appears almost black. This effect will create a beautiful contrast in your image. As you can see in this image, the leaves on the trees appear white while the bark of the trees remains the same and the sky has gone black.

©Judy Host 2017, Atlanta, GA. This image was created with Sigma’s sd Quattro H mirror less camera and a Sigma 50mm 1.4Art Lens. This camera has a cropped sensor, so the actual focal of the lens is about 66mm. F. 3.5 s 1/250 ISO 200. Tiffen filter #87. Processed in Photoshop and enhanced with NIK filters.

What settings to use:

In most cases the best settings to use for creating an infrared effect are low ISO for less grain, very slow shutter to compensate for the very high aperture. A tripod is recommended and I always bracket to get the best exposure. Bright sunny days are also the best. The lower the ISO the better quality image over all. Also if possible try to photograph with the light coming through the leaves or trees. It helps to create a much more dramatic look.

©Judy Host 2017, Atlanta, GA. This image was created with Sigma’s sd Quattro H mirror less camera and a Sigma 50mm 1. Art Lens. This camera has a cropped sensor, so the actual focal of the lens is about 66mm. F. 11.0 s 1/4 ISO 100 Tiffen filter #87. Processed in Photoshop and enhanced with NIK filters.

What elements make for a great infrared image?

To create a more compelling image, try to include a lot of contrast in your image. Look for elements of light and dark against each other. This image of the water and the water lilies is an example of that. The lily and the leaves have turned white while the water has gone almost completely black with just enough light to see the reflection of the trees in the water.

Your composition should lead the viewer into the image. Leading lines and s curves are used in this image to draw your attention to the flower. As light as the leaves are, the flower still captures your eye that is where the story is. The reflective aspect of the water compliments the contrast between the two making for a dramatic effect.

I thought it might be helpful to see what the different effects actually look like. Comparing these three images should give you a good idea of the differences between infrared black & white, regular black & white with a color image to represent what the actual scene looked like.

The first image is infrared using the sd Quattro H mirror less camera set to monochrome, removing the IR filter and photographing with the 50mm 1.4 Art lens with a tiffen filter #87. Without moving the camera or changing the settings, I snapped the IR cut filter back inside the camera, and left the mode on monochrome. This created a straight black and white image with a completely different look. Next, I changed the mode to color and again without changing the camera position and using the same settings I created the same image only in color.

01.18.2018

Sigma 24-105mm F4 | 1/800 sec, F7.1, ISO 1600 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Intro

John DiGiacomo battles frigid temperatures for hours at a time in order to nail winter sports photo-shoots. After moving to Lake Placid, a premier sports venue in the United States, years ago, John’s interest in photography quickly transformed from a hobby to a career.

Background

Though John’s captivating photos make it seem like he has been working as a photographer forever, his career started a bit later than most. He pursued a degree in Finance, which led him to work in the corporate world for several years. Once this ended, John turned back to photography.

Back to Photography

John picked up landscape photography as a hobby and soon after began working as a self taught, freelance photographer. After moving to Lake Placid, he naturally got involved with winter sports photography, and shot several local events. After having the Associated Press look at his photos, John got involved with more freelance work. His recalls covering free style aerials and moguls for the Associated Press as his first major winter photography gig.

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 | 1/4000 sec, F3.5, ISO 640 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 | 1/800 sec, F2.8, ISO 3200 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Since then, John has worked with the Toronto Star, ECAC Men’s Ice Hockey, the Olympic Regional Development Authority and several other organizations, shooting their events. His work can also be seen featured in publications like the Adirondack Explorer and Adirondack Life. His photos truly capture the beauty and adventure in winter sports. From luge, to ski moguls, to bobsledding to ice hockey, John’s portfolio is extremely widespread and diverse.

Challenges

Of course, photographing winter sports comes with a slew of challenges. John notes that with “sports and nature photography being based in the Adirondacks, weather is a huge factor.” Unpredictable weather patterns coupled with frequent harsh conditions require an immense level of flexibility from John and his equipment. He recalls shooting the world cup luge event at 15 below 0, and he continuously shoots ski aerials at 7 or 8 below 0. John notes that preparation is key in these bitterly cold temperatures. “With sports, you’re out in the cold for a full day. You need to dress appropriately and gear needs to be protected. This includes having cards and extra batteries either in your base layer or close by. You also need to be ready for sudden snow.”

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 Sport | 1/3200 sec, F7.1, ISO 800 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 | 1/800 sec, F5.6, ISO 640 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Equipment

When looking for equipment, John prioritizes camera bodies and lenses that are built to stand up against the harsh elements of the outdoors. “You can’t get a piece that’s going to have issues in heavy snow or rain. You also need to make sure that your gear is weather protected and that seals and auto focus will hold up even in the freezing cold. Finally, John looks for equipment that is “able to take a bit of a beating.” During many of his shoots, he is skiing his gear onto the course, lugging it up a mountain, or transporting it in a canoe. He needs to be confidant that his equipment will be able to weather these situations.

Over the years John has used several Sigma lenses and has been extremely pleased with their performance. “I’ve used both the 70-200mm and the 120-300mm in pretty harsh conditions. They’ve held up really well. I’ve also tested the 24-70mm and the 24-105mm and can assure that these too can handle the conditions that exist on the mountain. “ John has used 150-600mm Sport lens in the snow and to shoot loons from a canoe. This lens too has proved itself to be strong and sturdy in harsh conditions. In reference to the 150-600mm, John says that he uses Sports models when possible to ensure better weather sealing.

John typically brings a wide array of focal lengths to an event and chooses which to use based on specific circumstances. He stresses that it is important to know what you’re shooting and what specific type of shot you’re looking for before deciding which lens to use.

When it comes to shooting a ski race, John relies on lenses with longer focal length for safety reasons. Due to the fact that you cannot be so close to the skier itself, the 120-300mm and 150-600mm lenses are most effective.

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 | 1/2500 sec, F3.2, ISO 160 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 | 1/2000 sec, F3.2, ISO 500 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 | 1/6400 sec, F4.5, ISO 2000 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

On the contrary, for shoots capturing the action close up, John uses the Sigma 24-70 or 70-200mm. He also uses these lenses during flower and medal ceremonies, and for post event celebrations as they successfully capture facial expressions and other small details.

Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 | 1/5000 sec, F4, ISO 1250 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 | 1/2000 sec, F4.5, ISO 800 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Typically for bobsled, skeleton and luge, John once again uses longer lenses. When he is looking for a more creative shot, he may take out a winder angle lens or a 15mm fisheye lens.

Sigma 15mm F2.8 | 1/4000 sec, F8, ISO 2500 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Advice for New/Aspiring Winter Photographers

It’s no question that working as a winter sports photographer requires a great deal of flexibility and tolerance in uncomfortable environments. John gives the following tips to those that are new to winter photography.

  • Clothing- Make sure to dress in layers. If conditions warm up you can strip down. John always has a down jacket with him for warmth and a shell to protect him form the wind. He also uses Dermatone on his face, which protects his skin from chapping, wind, and frostbite. He makes sure to bring an extra can of Dermatone as well as extra hand and toe warmers.
    • Gloves- Though John hasn’t found the perfect solution for gloves, he has found a good compromise. He uses a glove liner that is touchscreen compatible enabling him to use his phone while keeping his hands covered. On top of that he wears mittens with a retractable top and holds.
  • Preventing Ice on Camera- John says it’s important to make sure that you do not breathe close to the LCD or the viewfinder. Since your breath is warm, this would cause a layer of ice to form on the camera.
    • It is also important to utilize cold rooms when you are photographing cold weather events. By keeping your equipment in a cold room, you are avoiding a dramatic change in temperature, ultimately preventing the formation of condensation on your lens.
    • When the event is over, make sure to put cards in your pocket if you want to download them immediately. Put the rest of your equipment back in their bags and tie them in a plastic bag.  This allows the equipment to slowly adjust to the warmer conditions and minimizes condensation build up.
  • When Shooting- Keep the camera pointed down or at a downward angle to avoid water or snow droplets. John holds extra lens cleaners on him to wipe off unwanted droplets. “There’s nothing worse than going to edit your photos and finding water that you didn’t see when you were shooting.”

Sigma 24-105mm F4 | 1/1000 sec, F7.1, ISO 1600 | © John DiGiacomo 2018

Conclusion

John stresses the importance of a combination of preparedness, flexibility and stable equipment when photographing in harsh conditions. Because of John’s experience combating these challenges, he is able to capture stunning photos with an indescribable energy.

 

 

 

01.10.2018

Intro

Like a refined sports car, the new Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM art lens is all about high performance. Great for portrait, wedding, travel, nature, and event photography, the new Art optic is set to win your heart and turn lots of heads.

Built like a tank but luxurious to operate, the 135mm Art lens is must-have glass for those whose photographic style embraces fine bokeh, fast glass, and a narrow field of view.

 

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG Art lens produces spectacular portraits. With its super-wide f/1.8 aperture, it focuses fast in low light. Here, the 135mm captures the spritely Annabelle, Wildflower Queen. Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. To see the amazing detail this lens resolves, click on the image below to see a 200% crop of this image. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/5.6, 1/125 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Annabelle, Mount Jeez, Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/5.6, 1/125 second, ISO 800. Hand-held.

As the Wildflower Queen spun through the meadows, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens quickly captured her expressions of joy. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/5.6, 1/125 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Sure, small apertures are fine for traveling light, but, if you’re ready to take your photography to another level, add this beauty to your favorite camera body and buckle up. You’re in for a super-fast tele joy ride!

Design & Features

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM is one of the newest offerings in the lineup of Sigma Global Vision (SGV) optics. The 135mm finds its stable mates in the Art series of lenses. Sigma’s Art (“A”) lenses are known world-wide for their innovative optical designs and professional-level construction. Sigma’s Art lenses have set the bar for quality construction, sharp optics, and ground-breaking designs.

The 135mm F1.8 features 13 lens elements arranged in 10 groups. Two lenses are made of Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass, and two are made of “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) glass. FLD has performance equal to fluorite glass. The lenses of the 135mm are treated with Super Multi-Layer Coatings to improve image quality and minimize flare.

Sharp and contrasty, the Sigma 135mm excels at landscape and architectural photography, such as this sunset skyline scene of Columbus, Ohio, from Confluence Park. Click on the picture below to see a 100% crop of this image. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

A crop of just 2.66% of the image above shows the details the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens can resolve. Notice the individual limestone blocks and carvings on the top of the LeVeque Tower. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is designed for use on full-frame cameras. For APS-C shooters, it becomes equivalent to a 200mm f/1.8 lens.

Measuring 3.6” in diameter and 4.5” long, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is medium-size lens. A plastic lens hood (included) adds another 2” to the overall length. Total weight is 40.9 ounces.

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is built from metal and Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material. TSC reduces weight and resists expansion with changes in temperature. The mount is made of brass, and a rubber ring seals the lens against the camera body.

The Sigma 135mm isn’t just a portrait, wedding, and event lens. With it’s tack-sharp optics and super-fast aperture, this medium-telephoto Art lens is a great travel lens, here capturing the moon jellies moving throughout a cylindrical aquarium illuminated by green LED lights at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/1.8, 1/320 second, ISO 3200. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The aperture of the Sigma 135mm is made from 9 blades. The rounded construction of the diaphragm blades helps to create pleasing out of focus highlights.

Narrow depth-of-field, bringing attention to the subject’s eyes, and smooth bokeh, rendering background elements pleasingly out-of-focus, make the Sigma 135mm an exquisite portrait lens, here capturing Sarah pensively posing at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium. Toledo, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/1.8, 1/160 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The left side of the lens barrel sports two switches. The top one allows photographers to select Autofocus (AF) or Manual Focus (MF).

The bottom switch controls three autofocus-distance modes:

  • Full, i.e., 34 inches to infinity
  • 5 feet to infinity
  • 34 inches to 5 feet.

The minimum focusing distance for the Sigma 135mm F1.8 Art lens is 34.4 inches. While the 1:4.3 magnification ratio does not provide true macro focusing, the lens does proved for good close-up photography of moderately small subjects, from wedding couple’s hands with rings to roses blossoms and butterflies.

At its closest focusing distance, the Sigma 135mm is useful for depicting moderately small subjects, such as this Owl Butterfly, photographed at Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland, Ohio. Shooting multiple images at f/1.8 and stacking them in Helicon Focus allowed the lepidopteron to be rendered incredibly sharp while the background remains softly out-of-focus. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens, f/1.8, 1/30 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

In AF mode, the Sigma 135mm utilizes Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for quick and quiet autofocus. Photographers can override AF by turning the generous 1 5/8 inch rubber ribbed ring while framing.

In MF mode, the 135mm focus is adjusted by turning the rubber ring through 150° of rotation from 34.4 inches to infinity. Manual focus is smooth and well-damped.

Phoebe sports a crown of Queen Anne’s lace, clover, and small sunflower blossoms at sunset on Mount Jeez, Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2.8, 1/125 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 135mm DG HSM Art lens comes with a front cap, an end cap, a hood, and a padded lens case. As with all the Sigma Global Vision lenses, the 135mm can be mounted in the Sigma USB dock to change lens characteristics and update firmware.

All Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lenses are hand-crafted in Sigma’s single factory in Aizu, Japan. The 135mm DG HSM Art lens is covered by a four-year manufacturer’s warranty.

What?! This doesn’t look like a 135mm shot? You’re right…sort of. The superlative sharpness of the 135mm Art lens lends itself well to high resolution panoramas. Five portrait-orientation shots, stitched together in Photoshop, comprise this view Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Ohio River, as seen from Devou Park in Covington, Kentucky. For an example of the amazing detail this lens resolves, click on the image below to see a 100% crop showing 1% of this cityscape. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/4, 2 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

This 100% crop, just 1%, of the panorama above shows the bar-setting details this lens can capture. The full-size image (above) is comprised of five portrait-orientation shots stitched together. Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Ohio River viewed from Devou Park, Covington, Kentucky. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/4, 2 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Handling in the Field

Shooting with the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is akin to driving a fine sports car. Every operation is finely tuned, and taking it for a spin is pure pleasure.

Even better is what you are left with afterward: supreme satisfaction. In the case of the Sigma 135mm, that supreme satisfaction comes from stellar images.

The moderately compressed perspective of the 135mm allows photographers to limit their angle of view, here tightly framing Annabelle against a coral reef exhibit at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. The focal length helps make the redtail butterflyfish (top) and lined surgeonfish (bottom) appear quite close to Annabelle. Toledo, Ohio. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/1.8, 1/160 second, ISO 3200. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Looking through the bright f/1.8 viewfinder is the first reward of shooting with this Sigma Art lens. Bucking the recent industry trend of producing smaller and smaller maximum apertures, Sigma has shown its mastery in producing sharp, large-aperture optics that set the standard for sharpness.

The super-fast 135mm follows other Art lens gems, such as the 20mm F1.4 DG HSM, 24mm F1.4 DG HSM, 35mm F1.4, 50mm F1.4 DG HSM, and the 85mm F1.4 DG HSM, as well as zooms such as the 24-70mm F2.8 ODG OS HSM, 24-35mm F2 DG HSM, 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM, and the 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM.

Wide aperture lenses work well for images of moving subjects, such as this cownose ray swimming by in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/1.8, 1/250 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Rugged construction provides confidence while shooting with the Sigma 135mm. It is a significant but not-too-large optic, a lens that makes you feel like a professional shooter. The results confirm this feel.

The sense of quality construction comes from metal and TCM construction, as well as the nicely knurled, smooth-turning focus ring. Mounted to a body, such as my D800E, the weight distribution is well-balanced. Hand-holding is quite easy.

Sure, cameras now offer nicely reduced noise levels at high ISO settings, but shooting at your baseline ISO is always best. Having a telephoto option with f/1.8 instills confidence when heading out to shoot a portrait session, wedding event, or other photo opps. Shooting at ISO 100 is possible even at the ends of the day or for indoor events.

Autofocus is quick, even in low light. Testing the 135mm in the dark recesses of my studio, I was able to focus to EV -1.33. That’s an exposure of 8 seconds at f/1.8 and ISO 100. Even with the bright f/1.8 aperture, there’s no way I could manually focusing in such low light.

On August 21, 2017, people across much of the North America enjoyed viewing a partial to complete solar eclipse. Here, the author’s father, Mick FitzSimmons, enjoys the spectacle through specialized, eye-protecting glasses. Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Portraits

While the Sigma 85mm 1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a great choice for portraiture (I’ve written about it here) [https://blog.sigmaphoto.com/2017/lens-exploration-sigma-85mm-f1-4-dg-hsm-art/], the Sigma 135mm F1.8 offers similar exquisite performance just with a narrower field of view, which is nice when you have distracting backgrounds.

The Sigma 135mm has a moderately narrow field of view, allowing portrait photographers to include some but not too much of a background, such as this busy but beautiful foliage behind high school senior Jackson. Shooting nearly wide open takes advantage of shallow depth-of-field and the 135mm’s nice bokeh. Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2, 1/200 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

This fall I did a senior portrait session at Malabar Farm State Park. We shot at the peak of fall foliage. My goal was to include the beautiful yellows and oranges in the background but not to allow them to become distracting from my subject, Jackson. In the shot above, I opened up the 135mm to f/2, allowing the lens’s fine bokeh to throw the tree trunks and leaves nicely out of focus. At the same time, Jackson is tack sharp.

The Sigma 135mm set at f/2 keeps Jackson’s eyes in focus but, only inches behind, the sandstone wall falls nicely out-of-focus. Pugh Cabin, Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2, 1/125 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

For another pose, Jackson leaned back against a sandstone wall. Here, I shot at f/2, allowing the rock column to fall out of focus. The 135mm’s narrow depth-of-field at super-wide apertures helps direct the viewer’s attention to the subject’s face, especially the eyes.

In tighter for a head-and-shoulders shot, the Sigma 135mm set at f/2.8 renders Jackson’s face sharp, but the stone behind him drops nicely out of focus. Pugh Cabin, Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2.8, 1/125 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Moving in closer for a head-and-shoulders shot, I opted for down one more stop, choosing f/2.8 in order to provide just a bit more depth-of-field. This kept his eyes and face nicely in focus, yet, from only a few feet away, the wide aperture allowed the sandstone to drop nicely out of focus.

Later in the shoot, we lightened things up. Jackson changed into his football jersey, and we shot at his high school field. We worked on creating a fun image of him tossing a football into the air. I cranked up the ISO to 800 and went fully open at f/1.8. This allowed a motion-freezing shutter speed of 1/8000 second. Of course, the narrow depth-of-field meant that Jackson had to be careful to toss the ball up within the plane he occupied.

In the end, it all came together. The quick exposure froze the movement of the ball. The super-wide aperture threw everything in front of and, especially, behind Jackson beautifully out-of-focus. Our efforts resulted in a playful yet meaningful shot, emphasizing the Jackson and his interest in sports.

The concept: Jackson having fun tossing the football in the air. To accomplish this, I shot wide open at a fast shutter speed, making sure that Jackson tossed the ball upward within the plane he occupied parallel to the camera. The limited depth-of-field keeps the viewer’s attention focused on Jackson and the ball. Bob Wine Field, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/1.8, 1/8000 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

For one more football image, Jackson leaned against the home-team goal post. Stopping down to only f/2.8 allowed the field and surrounding trees to go out of focus while Jackson and the lettered pad appear tack sharp.

As these examples show, successful portraits more often than not depend upon a shallow depth-of-field. Nicely blurred backgrounds help directs viewers’ eyes to your in-focus subject.

The quality of the blur that a lens produces is described in terms of bokeh. The bokeh of the 135mm is quite nice. This is in part due to the design of the lens elements and in part due to the nine, thoughtfully curved diaphragm blades. Shooting with the 135mm allows for full artistic expression utilizing blur as a primary image component.

Stopped down to f/2.8, the Sigma 135mm keeps Jackson and the goal post pad in focus, nicely set off against the beautifully blurred field and surrounding trees. Bob Wine Field, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2.8, 1/200 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

 Travel

The Sigma 135mm makes a fine travel lens. Being able to shoot at high shutter speeds and narrowing the field of view makes it great for locations from city streets to tourist attractions.

Peacock bass swimming in the Flooded Forest Amazon exhibit at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/1.8, 1/200 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

On a recent trip to my favorite zoo, the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, I photographed a number of aquatic animals with the 135mm F1.8. Despite low-light conditions in many of the exhibits, I got stellar results, frequently shooting wide open.

One particular exhibit features freshwater fish from South America. I spotted a colorful peacock bass swimming by. With the ISO on my D800E at a reasonable 1600, I was able to shoot at 1/200 second at f/1.8. The resulting close-up image of the painterly fish is sharp from its lips and forehead to its eyes and cheeks.

Similarly, I was able to capture shots of a graceful cownose ray, moon jellies illuminated by green LEDs, and a descending sea nettle. In all, having a superfast tele was just the ticket for the aquarium shots.

Pacific Sea Nettle photographed in the Sea Nettle exhibit at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2.2, 1/100 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

For something completely different, on a recent trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, I visited the Taft Museum of Art, which, though small in size, is chock full of amazing art by some of the world’s top painters, including James Abbott McNeill Whistler. His pensive “At the Piano” is full of texture and subtle color variations. In my capture of this painting, the Sigma 135mm preserves incredible details, from brush strokes to cracks in the paint. The reproduction is bursting with color and contrast.

The Sigma 135mm captures the subtle details of “At the Piano” (1858–59) by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903). Oil on canvas. The Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Nature

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM is a great tool for nature photography, too. From isolating elements of the landscape to shots of wildlife, the sharpness of this prime and its fast glass are great benefits.

During a visit to the Cleveland Botanical Garden in late summer, I spotted a red-eared slider basking in the sun along the edge of a small pond. Getting down low and hand-holding, I turned the ISO up a bit and produced a frog’s-eye view of this brightly painted terrapin.

Red-Eared Slider, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/5.6, 1/2000 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Sometimes when I travel, I like to keep a telephoto lens mounted to a camera body, and riding shotgun. I keep the camera in auto mode, allowing me to grab it and start shooting at a moment’s notice, should I spot a bear, moose, or other nearby wildlife. The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens makes a great optic to keep on-the-ready, especially in low-light situations.

What better way to use the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens than to record a once-in-a-lifetime event, such as the first day of school? The narrow field-of-view of the 135mm captures Annabelle’s mixed expression of excitement and nervousness as she heads toward the welcoming doors of the academy. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/7.1, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Conclusion

Like a great sports car, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is a top-level performer, whether shooting portrait sessions, weddings, travel images, or low-light events. Built with quality in mind from the ground up, it’s a sharp, fast, and durable optic.

12.28.2017

Whether it is taking one of the first US samples of the 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art above 13,000 feet in the Andes, or hiking up the Rockies with the 100-400mm to stalk Mountain Goats, not only knowing what lenses to pack for the assignment, but also knowing that the gear is going to be up to the task is a critical part of my decision-making process. In my outdoor world, conditions are often extreme, and editors demand photos, not excuses. I’ve proudly used Sigma lenses for years and even in the harshest conditions, these lenses always deliver the results I, my editors and the publication readership demands. Here’s the sort of situations I regularly find myself and my Sigma gear facing.

When it’s snowing 2+ inches per hour its hard to get anything done. The Sigma 12-24 f4 A powered through and delivered the goods. This landed as a two page spread in Backcountry Magazines Photo Annual. Sigma 12-24 f4 A 1/1250 sec f/8 ISO 800 on Canon 1DX Skier: Sven Brunso © Liam Doran | 2017

Its Feb 28th of last year and I find myself sitting in my truck atop Coal Bank Pass in southwest Colorado. It is snowing so hard that the snowplows that keep the road open are having a hard time keeping up. I have a four-wheel drive truck with snow tires so I am well prepared for the worst driving conditions possible.

On days like this choosing the proper gear is critical and my photo gear, like my truck, must be able to handle these severe conditions. I was working with two professional skiers and we were there to make high level professional photos that would be strong enough to for publication in today’s top ski magazines.  These days “strong enough” is an incredibly high bar. Consider that today’s top 3 magazines have about 40-50 photo placements per year including cover, table of contents, gallery and assigned stories. That makes as few as 120 potential published photos out of tens of thousands submitted.

Ultra deep powder and blue skies. This is what skiers dream of.
Sigma 70-200 f2.8 1/1600 sec. f/9 ISO 400 on Canon 1DX Skier TJ David © Liam Doran | 2017

Three thousand feet above the highway we wait for sunset and drop in . Sigma 12-24 f4A 1/1250 sec f/8 ISO 400 Skier: TJ David © Liam Doran | 2017

Shooting beneath massive overhanging cornices like the one pictured above can be very dangerous. When you are taking risks to get shots you better be confident that your gear will deliver. This shot also landed as a two page spread in Backcountry Magazines Photo Annual. Sigma 70-200 f2.8 1/1600 sec. f/8 ISO 400 on Canon 1DX. Skier TJ David  © Liam Doran | 2017

For the moment, I will ignore the artistic and storytelling components necessary in a good shot and tell you that every shot must be tack sharp. And in conditions like the day on Coal Bank that is no easy task. So, which lenses were up to the task?  That day I had the Sigma 12-24 f4A, 24-105 F4 A and 70-200 f2.8 lenses coupled with the Canon 1DX. The result? Three images made the cut and made it into print.

My shooting days are not always this severe, but even then, it’s still cold and wet or hot and dusty most of the time. My cameras and lenses are constantly going in and out of the pack and I change lenses in the field often. On calm days, I will change lenses in typical fashion but when its nasty out I try to do it within the confines of my photo pack. I also backpack with my photo gear. I have lens and body wraps from Clik Elite that I protect my gear with when everything in inside my backpacking pack, but regardless this can be tough on gear.  Bottom line here is that my lens kit must stand up to some very serious use and abuse.  The incredible build quality of my Sigma lens kit has never let me down.

Shooting amazing places in the backcountry in is far more rewarding for me than shooting iconic locations just a few feet from the road. Sigma 24-105 f4 A 1/80 sec. f/10 ISO 800 on Canon 5DMKIII © Liam Doran | 2017

Jamming your gear into a backpacking pack and working in wet sandy conditions can wreak havoc on your lenses. But off the beaten path is where I like to shoot and this is where my Sigma glass excels. Self portrait. Sigma 24-105 f4 1/80 sec. f/9 ISO 400 on Canon 5DMKIII © Liam Doran | 2017

This summer I brought Sigma’s new 24-70 f2.8 A lens with me on a shoot in Chile and it performed very well. I am looking forward to having that lens in my pack for a variety of shoots. I also foresee bringing the 100-400 C lens with more this winter. There are a few shots I want to get that have me shooting skiers on distant ridges. The 100-400 combined with a crops sensor lens will really bring the action into reach. The 120-300 f2.8 S lens might be the sharpest lens I have ever shot with. Its not practical to bring this with me on a big day in the backcountry but whenever possible I’ll get this lens in the snow too.

The 24-70 f2.8 A lens performed well in Chile and I look forward to really putting it through the paces this winter. 1/1250 sec. f/8 ISO 200 on Canon 7DMKII Skier: Amie Engerbretson © Liam Doran | 2017

When it comes to gear I am not overly technical. I can’t tell you how many aperture blades a lens has or what kind of coatings are on the glass. What I know is what works and what does not. If a lens is not nailing focus time after time it will not be in my pack. I can’t afford to miss the shot, especially when the athletes and I often find ourselves in harm’s way.

What are the lenses Liam look to for big days outside?

12-24 f4A. Great for unique perspectives.

24-70 f2.8A Workhorse lens for all situations

24-105 f4 A another workhorse that I often use as a one lens solution.

70-200 F2.8 A must have lens for every ski and outdoor shooter.

100-400 4.5-5.6 C. Great when you need a compact powerful zoom.

For ski shooting Liam also includes, climbing skins, avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, extra layer, food, water, and more. All of this is packed into a Clik Elite Contrejour 40 2.0 pack.

Professional lenses are critical when shooting athletes at the edges of light. Here, I am shooting the 70-200 handheld wide open at f2.8 using the lenses OS in setting 2. 1/60 sec. f/2.8 ISO 800 on Canon 1DX Rider: Nate Hills © Liam Doran | 2017

I’m always happy to bring a tele-zoom no matter how far in the backcountry I find myself. Sigma 70-200 f2.8 1/1250 sec. f/6.3 ISO 800 on Canon 1DX Rider: Nate Hills © Liam Doran | 2017

Getting good shots can sometimes mean getiing down low in the dust and the dirt. My Sigma lenses always able to handle the elements and get the job done. Sigma 24-105 f4 A 1/1000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 800 on Canon 1DX Rider: Nate Hills © Liam Doran | 2017

My Sigma kit has served me incredibly well in some heinous conditions. I rely on it for every shoot I go on because the autofocus is spot on and the build quality is excellent. For outdoor photographers on the go the combination of quality and price makes choosing Sigma a no-brainer. Pick one up today and never look back.

 

12.23.2017

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 330mm and f/22 for 1/250th of a sec. and ISO 250 with the Sigma EM- 140 Macro flash at plus 3 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

I have been using the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary all summer long for macro and close-up work and I would like to share with you my findings.  First impression is that it is light, which means I can handhold the lens out in the field.  At 2.5 pounds, it is the same weight as my Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro lens but gives me the extra reach I often need to fill the frame with my flower images especially when working the water lily pools at either Longwood Gardens or the NY Botanical Gardens.  In the images above and below, I was about 20 feet away from the water lilies with the lens mounted on my Canon 7Dv2 camera body.  This gave me over 7 inches of depth of field at f/22. For close-up work, I almost never go below that, as I want edge-to-edge sharpness and maximum depth of field.  All images, except for last one of penny were hand held.

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 361mm and f/22 for 1/400th of a sec. and ISO 400 with speedlight flash at plus 2 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 361mm and f/22 for 1/250th of a sec. and ISO 100 with the Sigma EM- 140 Macro flash at plus 1 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

In all of these images, I am using some sort of external flash.  Most of the time it is my Sigma EM-140 DG Macro Flash but I do occasionally use the pop up flash or a larger flash when working distances are over 15 feet.  In bright overcast conditions, I power the flash down to minus 1&2/3 or more in ETTL (through the lens).  Manual mode, 1/16 or less works the same.  This allows me to use slower shutter speeds with the flash freezing my motion as well as that of the subject.  Make sure you keep you ISO at 800 or higher as this will reduce the duration of the flash output ensuring it freezes all motion by allowing more natural light on the subject.  Dropping your ISO below 400 in these conditions will probably give you ghosting from motion even with rear curtain sync enabled on the camera.

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 315mm and f/22 for 1/250th of a sec. and ISO 500 with the Sigma EM- 140 Macro flash at minus 2 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 291mm and f/22 for 1/160th of a sec. and ISO 800 with the Sigma EM- 140 Macro flash at minus 3 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

Conversely, when the sun is out, I drop my ISO to 250 or even down to 50, raise my shutter speed to 1/200 – 250th of a second (this is where most flashes will sync) and power the flash up!  In ETTL mode, this effectively makes my flash the main light source and the sun just becomes fill even on whites!

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 400mm and f/22 for 1/250th of a sec. and ISO 100 with the Sigma EM- 140 Macro flash at plus 2 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 330mm and f/22 for 1/250th of a sec. and ISO 250 with the Sigma EM- 140 Macro flash at plus 3 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 330mm and f/22 for 1/250th of a sec. and ISO 100 with the Sigma EM- 140 Macro flash at plus 2 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

Combining the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary with the EM-140 DG Macro Flash mounted on the front allows me to work in even backlit conditions.  I simply power the flash up or down, mostly depending on the color of the bloom, giving just a hint of light to the blooms and keeping distant backgrounds nice and dark all while handholding.

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 400mm and f/22 for 1/200th of a sec. and ISO 500 with the Sigma EM- 140 Macro flash at minus 2 © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

This lens also has a great minimum focusing distance of only 63 inches but beware, getting closer is not your friend for your depth of field.  At that MFD, I have less than ½ and inch of DOF.  I find this online depth of field calculator great for determining just how much DOF you have with your lens and camera combination.  As usual, I wanted to see just how far I could push the close-up capabilities of this lens.  Why?  It has become a permanent fixture in my landscape kit so I can isolate subjects and its great close-up capabilities.

I often go to locations where my bag is just too heavy to add my Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro and EM-140 DG Macro Flash so pushing the limits of the lens to see just how small of an object I could photograph would be useful when wildflowers are blooming in the desert southwest or I want to photograph insects here at home or in Costa Rica.  I pulled out all the stops.  First I attached the Sigma TC-1401 teleconverter.  Next I attached 56mm’s of extension tubes.  I combined all that with a speedlight powered down to 1/32 power in manual and mounted it on a tripod.  Below is the full frame image of that combination.

Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary at 400mm and TC-1401 teleconverter with 56mm’s of extension tubes and f/25 for 1/125th of a sec. and ISO 800 with speedlight flash in manual at 1/32 power © Roman Kurywczak | 2017

Do realize that at that magnification and working distance of around 48 inches, I only had about a ¼ inch of depth of field and it would be nearly impossible to handhold, but I find that truly remarkable!  The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary has made a believer out of me and will now be used more often for macro/close-up work when out in the field.

 

12.22.2017

Intro

Sigma has set the bar even higher, this time upping the wide angle ante with the world’s first 14mm f/1.8 prime lens. Rugged, fast, and sharp, the new Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens exudes pro quality.

With its super-wide field of view—a whopping 114 degrees diagonally— the Sigma 14mm F1.8 is for shooters who need to capture wide open spaces, from interiors of buildings to pictures of the heavens.

Important to know is that the 14mm’s class-leading f/1.8 aperture is not just an optical  engineer’s parlor trick. This innovative lens creates stunning images, sharp, contrasty, and color-accurate.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens excels in wide-open spaces. Highlighting in the foreground the famous 1866 John A Roebling Bridge (the designer’s predecessor to the Brooklyn Bridge), the super-wide, super-fast Sigma 14mm captures a pusher tug and barges in action, headed upriver past Cincinnati, Ohio. To see the amazing detail this lens resolves, click on the image below to see a crop of the left edge this image. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

How sharp is the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens? Here’s a 100% crop from the top, left of the picture above. Check out the resolution, how you can see individual rivets! John A. Roebling Bridge between Covington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

In a time when small-aperture lenses predominate the market, it is refreshing to pick up a lens that not only provides a bright view but also allows shooters to under low light conditions at reasonable shutter speeds and at relatively low ISOs.

Whether you shoot architecture, landscapes, events, or other subjects requiring super-wide coverage and fast glass, the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art would make a great addition to your bag.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is perfect for photographing architecture, especially interior spaces, such as the fabulous Baroque Gallery at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. To see the detail this lens resolves, click on the image below for a 100% crop from this image. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 4 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Is the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens sharp? You bet! Click on this picture to see a 100% crop of the image full image above. Baroque Gallery, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 4 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Design & Features

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is one of the most recent additions to the lineup of Sigma Global Vision (SGV) optics. The 14mm fits in well with the already-legendary Art series of lenses. Sigma’s Art (“A”) lenses are known world-wide for their innovative optical formulas and pro-grade construction. They have set the bar for durable construction, incredible sharpness, and thoughtful designs.

The 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is built around 16 lens elements arranged in 11 groups. It is comprised of four Special Low Dispersion (SLD) lenses three “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) lenses. FLD optics have performance equal to those made from fluorite glass. The SLD and FLD lenses help control chromatic aberration and flare. The 14mm glass is treated with Super Multi-Layer Coatings.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is great for close-up subjects, here capturing a school of Banggai Cardinalfish at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/5.6, 1/80 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is designed for use on full-frame cameras. For APS-C shooters, it becomes equivalent to a 21mm f/1.8 lens.

Measuring 3.8” in diameter and 5” long, the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is medium-size lens. A petal-shaped hood is built into the lens, helping protect the bulbous front lens element. Total weight is 49.5 ounces.

Construction of the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens includes metal and Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) materials. TSC reduces weight and resists expansion with changes in temperature. The back sports a brass mount and a rubber ring that seals the lens against the camera body.

Photographic challenge: how to depict the immersive installation of “All the Flowers Are for Me (Red),”, a laser-cut 5’ x 5’ x5’ cube projecting patterns across a large art gallery room. The answer? Go wide! The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens has plenty of reach to capture the cube plus patterns across the floor, walls, and ceiling. “All the Flowers Are for Me (Red),” (2016), Anila Quayyum Agha. Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/5.6, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The diaphragm of the Sigma 14mm consists of 9 blades. Rounded blades help to create pleasing out of focus highlights. The left side of the lens barrel sports one switch, which allows photographers to select Autofocus (AF) or Manual Focus (MF).

The minimum focusing distance for the Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art lens is 10.6 inches. This produces a maximum magnification ratio of 1:9.8.

Within suburban Dublin (Columbus), Ohio, lies the somewhat ironically named “Field of Corn” installation. What was once a corn field now contains 109 concrete ears of corn, each 8’ tall. The park is a tribute to Sam Frantz, who developed several hybrid corn species. “Field of Corn,” 1994, Malcolm Cochran. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

In AF mode, the Sigma 14mm utilizes Sigma’s updated Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for accurate autofocus. In MF mode, focus is adjusted by turning the ¾” rubber ring through 150° of rotation. Manual focus is smooth and well-damped.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is great for capturing city spaces, such as the Scioto Mile. The broad view of the Sigma 14mm captures the winding bike path, wide open lawns, and the skyline of Columbus, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/125 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

All Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lenses are hand-crafted in Sigma’s single factory in Aizu, Japan. Each one is individually inspected before shipping. The 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is covered by a four-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Handling in the Field

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is a pleasure to use, both when shooting and as you review your results. It’s quite ergonomic and darn sharp!

One of the issues with many wide angle lenses is small apertures and dim views. That’s certainly not the case with the Sigma 14mm F1.8. With its amazingly wide maximum aperture, the 14mm provides for bright framing, even in low light situations. This makes line up shots and focusing a piece of cake.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens captures incredible details in its wide field of view, making it a great tool for interiors, such as the inside of the lush greenhouse at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland, Ohio. For a sense of scale, look for Sarah on the overlook high above the tropical pool below. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, ISO 400. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Keep in mind that this is not Sigma’s first foray into ground-breaking super-fast primes and zooms. The 14mm finds joins an impressive team of other Art lens gems, such as the 20mm F1.4 DG HSM, 24mm F1.4 DG HSM, 35mm F1.4, 50mm F1.4 DG HSM, the 85mm F1.4 DG HSM, the 135mm F1.8 DG HSM, as well as zooms such as the 12-24mm F4 DG HSM, 24-70mm F2.8 ODG OS HSM, 24-35mm F2 DG HSM, 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM, and the 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM.

The 14mm F1.8 finds its closest sibling in the Sigma 12-24mm Art, with both of them sharing the same large aspherical element, an innovative piece of glass that controls distortion.

When you first pick up the 14mm F1.8, you’ll notice its rugged construction. The metal and TSC construction creates a lens that itself is enjoyable to hold and beautiful to behold. The ample petal-shaped hood is robust, inspiring confidence in protecting the crystal ball-like front lens element. A full front lens cap slides on smoothly and snugly over the petal-shaped hood, providing protection to the gorgeous front optic.

Incredible paintings adorn the dining room and nearly every other space in the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio. The 14mm Sigma is up to the task, showing the magnificent home of President William Howard Taft and its treasures. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Mounted to a full-frame body, the weight distribution is well-balanced. Hand-holding is quite easy.

Autofocus is quick, even in low light. Pointing the 14mm into a dark closet in my studio, I was able to focus to EV 0.33. That’s an exposure of 2.5 seconds at f/1.8 and ISO 100. Even with the bright f/1.8 aperture, there’s no way I could manually focusing in such low light.

Some skyline shots require a super-wide field-of-view. Columbus, Ohio, skyline, the Scioto Mile park, and the Scioto River are all depicted in this shot from the Broad Street Bridge. Too see how much detail this lens can resolve, click on the next image to see a 100% crop. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/400 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

100% crop of the above image of Columbus, Ohio. Note the detail in the windows, trees, and park lawn. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/400 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Architecture

While I wrote elsewhere of the benefits of using the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art for architecture (I’ve written about it here), the Sigma 14mm F1.8 expands your view another 20 degrees. For tight interior spaces or wide city views, this can be a real boon.

A rectilinear shot of paintings and pottery in the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

During a recent trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, I visited the Taft Museum of Art. The former home of President William Howard Taft, the museum now preserves the estate and displays a wide array of world-class artwork. The rooms of the mansion are packed with art, and the 14mm F1.8 provided plenty of coverage to show how extensive and beautiful the Taft collection is.

A room just off the foyer displays paintings and ceramics, from European landscapes to Chinese urns. Aligning the camera level left-to-right and up-and-down to keep vertical lines parallel, I was able to capture paintings, pottery, furniture, and fireplace, giving a sense of both home and museum.

Decorating the foyer and the main first floor hallways are incredible murals painted by Robert Duncanson, the first African American artist to achieve international fame. The eight beautiful murals, painted in the Hudson River School style, are framed by trompe loeil (“fool the eye”) painted frames. To capture the full extent of these grand works, I employed one of the great uses of a super-wide lens: panoramas.

To photograph the Duncanson Murals, I positioned the camera in the portrait position and then rotated the camera over 180 degrees, capturing nine shots, which I stitched together in Photoshop. The result is the view as seen when entering the front door of the mansion.

N.B. Every panorama stitching technique creates one kind of distortion or another. For the Duncanson Murals panorama, the cylindrique method was used. The cylindrique method maximizes height but causes the walls, which are, in fact, flat, to look curved.

Duncanson Murals adorn the halls of the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio. While the walls, indeed, are flat, the cylindrique stitching method, adopted here, allows for more image height when stitching nine images into a panorama. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 4 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

After photographing the Taft Museum of Art, I put the 14mm through its paces at the Cincinnati Art Museum. A good test for both the wide view and the fast aperture was the dynamic installation “More Sweetly Play the Dance” (2015) by William Kentridge. This work consists of seven large panels onto which moving images are projected. The result is a photographic challenge: having a lens wide enough to show the extent of the artwork and one fast enough to freeze the moving projections.

Wanting to keep the noise levels nicely low, I set the ISO to 800 and shot wide open at 1/15 of a second for Kentridge’s piece. The result is a wide, sharp an image (below).

The expansive installation “More Sweetly Play the Dance” (2015) by William Kentridge required a fast, super-wide lens. The f/1.8 aperture helped freeze the moving projections of this dynamic artwork. Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm 1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/1.8, 1/15 second, ISO 800. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

If you are a photographer, you probably have a soft spot for glass and, of course, magical light. That means an exhibit of Tiffany lamps is just up your alley, as it was mine. “Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light” exhibit, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm 1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Travel

Many times travel photography involves capturing wide vistas, from skyline views of cities to landscapes of coasts or mountains. For these shots I prefer to have a super-wide lens ready-at-hand. The Sigma 14mm F1.8 provides me with this great travel tool.

While everybody loves depicting the Golden Gate Bridge, my personal favorite is the John A. Roebling Bridge, which stretches from Covington, Kentucky, to Cincinnati, Ohio. When it opened in December of 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The Covington-to-Cincinnati span helped Roebling design the even longer Brooklyn Bridge, which was completed in 17 years later 1883.

Are you into bridge photography? You need the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens, whose speed will help you get a quick shot between cars on a relatively quiet Sunday. Southern entrance to the famous Roebling Bridge. Covington, Kentucky. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Given the history of the Roebling Bridge and its designer, I always enjoy walking around and across the 1,057 foot-long span, depicting its steel and stone from many different angles. For such photography, wide angles are best. Whether standing in the middle of the bridge on a quiet Sunday morning or shooting from its sidewalk railings at rush hour, the 14mm can capture the magnificence of this antique.

From the center of the bridge, looking north toward Cincinnati, the metal grid of the bridge and the blue steel structure make for cool contrasting textures. Roebling Bridge, Covington, Kentucky. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 1/500 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Below the north end of the Roebling Bridge is Cincinnati’s Smale Riverfront Park. One of my family’s favorite parts of the park is the giant, moveable stainless steel flying pig. Part sculpture, part playground, the “Oinkithopter,” as it is officially called, allows kids to have fun climbing (and flapping) while they learn about “Porkopolis,” a nickname that points to the agricultural and industrial roots of Cincinnati.

Two of our kids perched aboard the pig while I used the 14mm to show the picturesque porker, its smiling inhabitants, and the park surrounding it. Imagine the scene: A cold November day, me telling the kids, “Just one more shot,” and, of course, my wife, Olivia, rolling her eyes and saying, “Yeah! Just ONE more shot…when pigs fly.”

Happy riders Annabelle and Sarah rock aboard the Oinkithopter, Smale Riverfront Park, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

When traveling, I often find interesting interior spaces to photograph. Perhaps some of the most unique historical ones are the many-floored contraption-filled spaces called grist mills. With conveyors, grinding stones, hoppers, belts, stairs, and all kinds of jury-rigged gizmos, I find these harbingers of the dawning industrial revolution fascinating.

During a summer stop at Mingus Mill in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I used the 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens to depict the main floor of the mill. One of my favorite techniques with wide angle lenses is to highlight a foreground element positioned close to the lens while showing the larger scene behind.

Put differently, all lenses distort reality one way or another. Wide angle lenses tend to make objects nearer to them look quite a bit larger relative to what is behind them. Using the distortions of a lens to your advantage is one of the keys to good photography.

N.B. The near-object distortion of wide angle lenses is merely a product of viewing distance. Try taking an image taken with a super-wide and view it right in front of your nose. The distortion disappears. To this end, placing a “distorted” wide angle photo in a tight space, such as a hallway, reduces or eliminates the effect.

For the Mingus Mill interior shot, I positioned the 14mm near to a grindstone and control steel wheel. The rising walls, ceiling, and hopper, and window contextualize the massive circular stone.

When shooting with super-wide lenses, close-at-hand subjects tend to look larger than those behind, highlighting them in your image. Here, a grindstone and a control wheel stand out against the rest of Mingus Mill, Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee. To see a 100% crop of this image, click on the next shot (below). Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/16, ISO 400. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Wondering how sharp the 14mm F1.8 is in the corners? Check out this 100% corner crop of the image above. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/16, ISO 400. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Nature

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM is a great tool for nature photography, too. While many nature scenes call for a medium-length lens (distant mountains or flower macros, for example) or require a long tele (wildlife photography more often than not), views of spectacular skies and wide-open landscapes beg for super-wide imaging.

For sunrises, sunsets, weather phenomena, and nighttime shots, the 14mm F1.8 is a great choice. It is sharp, fast, and covers a lot of territory.

During my annual Lakeside Chautauqua Photo Workshop on the southern shore of Lake Erie, we often photograph sunset from a long, concrete fishing pier. This year, shortly after the sun had dipped below the horizon, one of my favorite meteorological phenomena occurred: crepuscular rays.

Crepuscular rays form when the sun’s light is blocked by some clouds and shines past other clouds, forming distinct shadow beams. Sunrises and sunsets mix these shadowy rays with late-day color, making for spectacular sky-wide photo opps. The 14mm from the end of the pier captured the water, the colorful sky, and the wide-reaching beams.

Crepuscular rays adorn the sky at sunset during our annual Lakeside Chautauqua Photo Workshop, Lakeside, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The next morning at the Lakeside Chautauqua Photo Workshop, our group headed to Marblehead Lighthouse for sunrise. After shooting the lighthouse itself, we walked along the rocky shore, capturing pictures of the rocks, water, and clouds in early morning light. Position looking east, perched on a rock edge, I photographed a variety of textures and tones in the vertical/portrait scene. The result is a high key sunrise in black-and-white. The super-wide view of the 14mm contrast textures throughout the scene, conveying a nearly barren, wide-open lakeshore.

Sunrise at below Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio. A super-wide angle lens, such as the Sigma 14mm F1.8, can allow you to play with texture and space, as I have in this high key lakeshore shot. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/16, 2 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Another place to capture cool nature shots, although not so wild, is your local zoo or aquarium. I often photograph at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. In the aquarium section, fish often swim right next to the exhibit glass. I turned my 14mm waterside, showing the close-at-hand fish in great detail while the rocks, reef, and plants create an aquatic backdrop. The wide aperture of the 14mm is highly useful in such moderately lit exhibits.

In one shot, a longnose gar swam by. The intriguing fish has a narrow form, long snout, and speckled tail, making for interesting image-making. Using the 14mm almost wide open allowed me to freeze its motion and helped blur the background.

A longnose gar swims past the glass at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/2.5, 1/30 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Conclusion

Having shot for a few months with the new Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens, I can tell you this: It is refreshing to pick up a lens that provides both a bright view and allows you to shoot under low light conditions with a reasonable shutter speed and ISO; to impress me, however, that’s not enough. Such a lens also has to produce sharp, contrasty, color accurate shots, which the Sigma 14mm F1.8 does with aplomb.

If you shoot architecture, travel, nature, or other subjects requiring super-wide coverage and fast glass, then you owe it to yourself to take the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art out for a spin. With its speed and image quality, I think you’ll be hooked.

12.21.2017

Leslie Owen is the photographer behind one of the most heartwarming holiday photos we’ve seen yet. As a self taught photographer, originally from Atlanta, the majority of Leslies work lies within kids and family photography. Though she has been photographing families for a few years, her most recent holiday photoshoot with the Smith family, was her first time doing anything of this sort.

Leslie has been photographing the Smith family for several years and when Andrea Smith wanted to include her currently deployed husband Andrew in their holiday card, together Leslie and Andrea created a vision of something different.

Leslie, Andrea and Andrea’s daughter Charlotte did the shoot in Target, and recreated a classic mother daughter holiday shopping scene. Andrea played off the “classic shopping Starbucks mom stereotype” while her Charlotte stood on the shopping cart, reaching for toys on a high up shelf. To include Andrew, and create the uplifting and interactive shot, Leslie made it look like he was standing in front of Charlotte, ready to catch her. Leslie says “I thought there would be a bit of negative backlash if Charlotte was standing on the cart, so having Andrew look like he was catching her was the perfect way to go against that.” During the shoot, Andrea held Charlotte as she stood on the cart, but Leslie was able to cut out her hands in Photoshop. Check out the final shot!

Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art: ISO 640, f/2.5, 1/160 sec © Leslie Owen | 2017

Leslie was unsure of which lens to use during the shoot and started off taking test shots using a 50mm lens. The shots were not coming out as she wanted, so she switched to the Sigma 24mm Art Lens. “Since the 24mm is a wide angle lens, I was able to include everything I wanted in the picture, from top to bottom. The focus is also awesome; the sharpness of the lens was a huge factor.”

The 24mm is Leslies first Sigma lens, but says she has many more on her Christmas list!

Here is some of Leslie’s recent work, to view more visit her Instagram page.

Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art: ISO:250, f/1.8, 1/1250 sec © Leslie Owen | 2017

Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art: ISO 100, f/3.2, 1/1250 sec, © Leslie Owen | 2017