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10.04.2016

Michael Cassara

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 1.4 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 1.4 Art , Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art, and Sigma 20mm 1.4 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 Sigma’s 35mm 1.4 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.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

The Sigma 35mm 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 35 was my go to lens. Tact sharp in medium close ups, and even better when we went wide.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

I gave the 35 a break for a bit and did some more details with my Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art. Had to show the workhorse some love as well.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art

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.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

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.

© Michael Cassaro 2016

© Michael Cassara 2016 | Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016

© Michael Cassara 2016 | Shot with Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art

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 brand new 20mm F1.4 Art, and needless to say it was more than capable.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 20mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 20mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 20mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 20mm F1.4 Art

After finishing up with the whole bridal party, I switched back to the 24mm to finish photographing the bridesmaids.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art

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.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016

© Michael Cassaro 2016|

© Michael Cassara 2016

© Michael Cassaro 2016|

© Michael Cassara 2016

M&C-BG-9205

© Michael Cassara 2016

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Favorite shot of the day. Sigma 35mm at F1.8

© Michael Cassara 2016| Favorite shot of the day. Sigma 35mm at F1.8

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.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Sigma 35mm at F1.8

© Michael Cassara 2016| Sigma 35mm at F1.8. Exposure 1/6th sec.

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.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 20mm Art

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art

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 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.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with 20mm Art at F2.8

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with 20mm Art 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.

© Michael Cassaro 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm Art

© Michael Cassara 2016| Shot with Sigma 24mm Art

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.

5 comments so far

Add Your Comment
  1. any thoughts on the 24-35?

  2. Hey Michael, great shots!
    I just got a Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens as well but my shots have been coming up blurry. I’ll be shooting my first wedding (indoors) in 2 weeks and want to make sure i get it right. Do you have any advice with the settings? Should I be using a speedlight with it?

  3. Hi Michael, really useful review and amazing shots! I’ve been contemplating whether to go with the 35mm or 50mm and the examples you’ve shown are extremely helpful. Thanks 🙂

  4. Hi All,

    Just saw these comments now! Sorry for the delay! @Melanie, I use the Sigma USB dock to calibrate my lenses every so often. It definitely helps calibrating your cameras before hand. You can definitely use a speedlight with the 35 Art. If you are still having issues, you can always send your lenses to Sigma to calibrate.

    @Sophia – Thank you! I love both lenses equally so it’s pretty hard to choose. But I find myself going to the 50 Art a bit more as that is the focal length that seems to best suit my style. Although I love the 35Art, the 50 definitely gets more love lately. However, the 85 Art may be the next lens that I switch to, as it has been a game changer using it over the last few shoots. Feel free to email me at info@michaelcassara.me and I can show you some examples of the 50mm.

  5. Hello Michael,
    Great review. very helpful and stunning shots !
    Is it possible to add in each photo the f.stop you used in every photo?
    That would be VERY helpful to understand how the lens react in a variety of situations.
    thank you very much !