SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art for Dark Sky Photography
SIGMA Ambassador Jack Fusco had the chance to be one of the first photographers in North America to test-drive the new SIGMA14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art lens. Its edge to edge performance and zoom versatility has earned it a place in his bag for dark sky photography.
Before heading out for a shoot, I open my bag to make sure I have everything I need and also remove anything I won’t be needing. I think it’s safe to say every photographer wants to be selective about what goes in to their camera bag. If I’m not going to use it, why carry the extra weight? Why not replace it with something I might actually use? This is an even more important process if I’ll be traveling.
Although lens selection can vary with astrophotography, there are almost zero circumstances that I won’t be needing a wide-angle lens. All these are just the starting reasons I was incredibly excited about the new SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art lens. It’s the perfect combination of focal length range and aperture for capturing a huge landscape while pulling detail from the Milky Way as it stretches across the sky above.
Speaking of the Milky Way, the 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art is arriving just in time for the return of the galactic core. While sections of the Milky Way are always visible, the core makes up the brighter and most often photographed section. At this time of the year, the galactic core is just making its way over the horizon in the early morning hours. It’s not a long window, but when I heard this lens was showing up, I had a feeling I’d be staying up all night.
Knowing I’d only have two nights before the Moon would be too bright, I planned out a few locations that I felt would really put this lens to the test. I brought it to Fonts Point in the Anza Borrego Desert, Garnet Peak Trail in Mount Laguna, and out to the dark skies of Joshua Tree National Park.
After firing off my first couple of images, I spent a few minutes reviewing things on the back of my camera. The images looked clean and sharp from edge to edge. From that moment, my mood switched from, “let’s see how this lens performs” to “I can’t wait to capture the night sky with this.” Edge to edge, it is bright, and super-sharp, exactly what you need in a night sky zoom lens. And while true, it is slower than both the 14mm F1.8 and 24mm F1.4 Art lenses, trading the rocket-fast maximum aperture for the still-speedy F2.8 in exchange for on-the-fly recomposing is oftentimes a worthwhile tradeoff.
Although I plan as much as possible and try to be prepared, there are only so many elements in a shoot that I can actually control. What I take with me when I head out, those key pieces of gear that don’t end up leaving my camera bag, is something I can definitely control. Those pieces of gear that become my “go-to’s” end up having a huge impact on the images I come home with. I’ve only spent a short time with it so far, and I can tell already that the 14-24 firmly lands in the “go-to lens” category.
Jack Fusco is a landscape astrophotographer based out of Pennsylvania. What began as a way purely to document his travels as a touring musician, photography has become his main form of creative expression. On his often sleepless journey, he strives to share the wonder of the night sky with as many people as possible. Whether chasing the Milky Way along coastlines or capturing the Northern lights in unforgiving remote locations, you're sure to find him coffee in hand, smiling up at the stars. Many of Jack's images are often planned days, weeks, or even months in advance while waiting for weather and celestial objects to align. The resulting work shows a true and complete dedication to his craft. His work has been featured by National Geographic, LA Times, NASA APOD, BBC, Forbes and many more.