Lens Guides

Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM: First Impressions with Walter Arnold

Pro Photographer Walter Arnold has been shooting new ad campaign shots with the new Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM on the sly for the past few weeks. We spent a few minutes talking with him about his experiences with this amazing new superzoom. For full press release and technical specifications click here.

For this shot I borrowed some brushes from local Water Color artist Sterling Edwards, who also works in acrylics. He lent me some of his brushes as well as a painter's pallet to photograph for this shoot. I laid a few of the brushes on the pallet next to a colorful dollop of ink. After spending a good deal of time lighting the brushes with traditional lighting techniques, I broke out my trusty mag lite flashlight and used it to provide a very focused light from the side which made for a dramatic and textured image. F22 0.4s ISO100 250mm Manual. ©2012 Walter Arnold.

Sigma: Walter, you’ve now shot ad campaigns for Sigma with both the old and the brand-new, smaller 18-250mm F3.5-6.3, which adds 1:2.9 macro magnification to its overall package. Can you tell us your thoughts on this new superzoom?

Walter: I really loved shooting this new lens and it was really exciting to be one of the first photographers anywhere in the world to get to play with it! Somehow Sigma has managed to reduce the size and weight from the original version and increase the optical quality and overall performance at the same time!  I am very pleased with the end result–both the feel of the lens itself and the images it makes–and I think this lens will find it’s way into many a photographer’s bag as a versatile “Ready-for-anything” lens that also now ready for even more as a great macro lens to have with you at all times.

When I am lugging around pounds of camera gear in my backpack for hours on end, every ounce and every inch counts which really makes me appreciate the total size and weight reduction.

With the versatility and performance of this 18-250mm though, it’s really a no brainer to always keep this one in the bag.  I mean, why would I not want to bring along an all-purpose-cover-everything-lens especially one that now does awesome macro images WITH Optical Stabilization?

For this image I found a left from a tree in my backyard and pressed it flat between the pages of a think book, the next day I laid it out on our glass coffee table. I then used a strobe (flash) and placed it under the table to backlight the leaf, bringing out the detail of the veins and stem of the leaf. It was amazing the amount of detail and clarity I was able to capture from a seemingly ordinary leaf. F22 1/80s ISO100 250mm Manual. ©2012 Walter Arnold.

Sigma: Let’s talk a bit more about the OS and Macro combo: looking at your shots, it seems you were moving around quite a bit to get different angles.  Does the overall lightness and OS help in making these types of macro shots easier?

Walter: The OS+Macro capabilities are great. The best rule of thumb of course is ‘shoot everything on a tripod’ which is great in theory but not always practical or possible. For example,  shooting the little insect for the ad campaign I would go from shooting on a tripod while it was stationary then having to shoot handheld as he moved about the flower. Having the Optical Stabilizer built into the lens definitely helped. And you would be surprised how much a small breeze blowing a delicate flower with a tiny insect can alter the focus and sharpness of an image!

Sigma:You shot this campaign with the Sigma SD15 and the combination of macro focus in the lens and the superfine detail this sensor captures makes these images come to life–of course, the subject and lighting goes a long way here, too. What advice do you have for making the most of the existing light or adding portable light for these types of shots, because the quality of light in this group of photos is outstanding! 

This little creature was found in a moment of serendipity as I was bringing in groceries from my car to my house. I looked down at the tiger lilly flowers we had blooming in our front yard, and spotted him there. His strikingly green color set him off against the bright orange of the flower he was in. I don't know a lot about bugs (except for the fact that they usually creep me out!) but it looked like he was getting nectar from the plant. After inspecting a few other tiger lilies I found that the same species of bug was also exploring the other flowers that were blooming in our yard. I put down my bags of groceries and shot the little guys for over 4 hours. The image of the insect on the tip of the bud was one of the last shots I took that evening. A testament to patience paying off in the long run. F6.3 1/80s ISO100 250mm Manual. ©2012 Walter Arnold.

Walter: The detail I was able to capture with the combination of the SD15 and new 18-250mm Macro was amazing! It was incredible to look at the images on the computer after shooting them and see all the minute details that were already there but not able to be perceived by the human eye without the help of the macro lens!

And light always is key. With the image of the insect on the tip of the flower bud, having the sun low in the sky allowed for a nice side/back lighting of the insect which would not have been possible other than early in the morning or late in the evening hours of the day. Additionally when shooting a macro lens the depth of field is so pronounced when moving in very close to your subjects, so shooting at lower F-Stops causes an ultra shallow plane of focus, forcing you use smaller apertures (which lets in less light) in order to get enough of your image in the focus zone to make it interesting–and here’s where the Optical Stabilizer can really help to keep shots sharp, because smaller apertures for more depth of field means slower shutter speeds. So making sure to not only to have enough light, but also light that is directionally interesting is key when shooting images such as these.

This shot was one of my favorites from the insect shoot. The stark contrast of the green bug and the orange petal made for a great contrast. I love how smooth the background is in this shot. It really sets the petals of the flower apart from the background. F6.3 1/100s ISO100 72mm Manual. ©2012 Walter Arnold.

Be sure to check out this blog posting full of more photo tips from Walter Arnold, too!

Comments (4)
  1. Andre says:

    Spectacular pictures – looks like yet another fantastic lens! Bravo, Sigma!

  2. john benedict herber says:

    this pictures are cool. i just bought a sigma 150-500mm and it takes really good pictures. is there a group here in Northern California where i can join.

  3. Sherry Schmidt says:

    Fabulous Arnold. We are so proud of you here at Four Seasons!!!

  4. David Chin says:

    These photos are truly spectacular!

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