This article was written by Michael Cassara and published by SIGMA.
I’m a prime guy. I went to film school where my professors always preached about using prime lenses, both for their speed and for their performance. So when I switched over to still photography full time, using prime lenses were simply second nature to me. Every lens in my bag (with the exception of one) is a prime lens. I just love the look of shallow depth of field, along with tact sharp focusing. Nothing beats a good prime lens.
When SIGMA sent me a few of their prime “Art” lenses for testing, I couldn’t believe the quality of these lenses. Their weight, the build, even the focus rings were all top quality. I already had a SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art that I loved. The bokeh it produces is top of its class. However, it was the only SIGMA lens that I had shot on. I was curious on how the other art lenses would stack up to the 50mm. Safe to say they exceeded all of my expectations.
I received SIGMA’s 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, SIGMA’s 24mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, and SIGMA’s 20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art for use on an upcoming wedding in upstate New York. I’m a Long Island based wedding photographer, so it was great to be able to travel upstate and photograph a wedding on a backdrop I don’t see too often. I hadn’t had time to test the lenses beforehand, but I knew that they had to be top notch, especially after seeing all the glowing reviews that they had.
When we arrived at the bride’s location, I pulled out the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art for some photos of her getting ready. As soon as I clicked the shutter I knew that this lens was going to be my favorite for the day. In my opinion 35mm is the perfect focal length for weddings, it allows you to be wide (while not being too wide) and to also move in for some quality close ups of details.
The SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art didn’t come off the camera for a good 2 hours. It is just a beast of a lens, constantly sharp and incredibly fast. I felt like I was hitting all of my shots quicker than I did with my Canon 35mm.
Once Meagan was ready, we moved outside for some quick portraits. Again, the 35mm was my go to lens. Tact sharp in medium close ups, and even better when we went wide.
The Right Lens for the Job
I gave the 35mm a break for a bit and did some more details with my SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art. Had to show the workhorse some love as well.
After finishing up with Meagan, I moved on to photograph Chris who was already at the wedding location. We only had a few minutes before a torrential storm was about to hit the area, so we quickly grabbed some shots of Chris and his groomsmen. Knowing that I may not be able to switch lenses, I went back to the 35mm for its versatility.
As soon as we wrapped up with Chris, we moved into the ceremony area. The reception area was packed, and everyone had to stand because of the torrential rain that hit the area. I switched between the 35mm and 24mm for the wide shots of the ceremony.
After the ceremony it was bridal portrait time. The weather had cleared enough but left some awesome lingering clouds (a portrait photographer’s best friend).
Behind the reception area was a large deck with a beautiful panoramic view of the mountain. I thought this would be the perfect place to get bridal party portraits done. However, I soon realized that between the size of the bridal party and the limited space that we had, it would be tough to get everyone in the frame with a 24mm. Thankfully, I had the 20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, and needless to say it was more than capable.
After finishing up with the whole bridal party, I switched back to the 24mm to finish photographing the bridesmaids.
Then it was on to the bride and groom. Their location was at the beautiful Stone Tavern Farm, which is a gorgeous ranch up in the Catskill mountains. We were grabbed a few snaps with the mountain backdrop before moving over to the ranch to capture some photos with the horses.
Capturing Every Detail
After finishing up at the ranch, we moved to the reception room where all the details were set. I love seeing a bride and groom see their reception room empty, with all of their details in place. It is months of effort put into place, and it is so satisfying to seeing the results. I always try to get a room shot of the bride and groom. For this, I locked my camera onto my tripod and had my assistant (my lovely wife, Sarah) hold the Lowel GL-1 continuous light to illuminate the couple. From there it was a slight shutter drag to bring the highlights into play.
After that shot, I relived the bride and groom of their picture taking duties and had them go off to enjoy their guests at cocktail hour. From that point on it was all about the details of the room. I switched off between the 24mm, 20mm, and 35mm to capture all the details that Chris and Meagan had laid out.
Once the guests started pouring into from cocktail, I knew it was going to be a great party. The couple and their guests partied the night away under the old barn roof. Capturing dancing at the reception is always one of my favorite things to do. Chris and Meagan’s wedding did not disappoint, and there was so many high quality dance captures throughout the night. The SIGMA 20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art came into play a lot. I think it is the perfect lens for a crowded dance floor. It enables you to be wide enough to capture all the action, and is super-fast in low light. I captured the below shot with the SIGMA 20mm at F2.8.
Chris & Meagan’s night concluded with an awesome firework display. The 24mm came in handy in this situation. I didn’t have time to grab my tripod, but thankfully the lens performed beautifully and I was able to get the shot that I wanted.
If you are a wedding photographer and looking towards the SIGMA Art lenses, you will not be disappointed with your investment. These lenses outperformed my expectations, and I am sure they will outperform yours as well.