Lens Guides

30-Minute Photoshoot with the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG DN Art Lens

If you’re a professional photographer, you’ve probably been there… traffic was awful, your client was late, you were late, and the light is rapidly fading. Golden Hour has become Golden Half Hour, and you need to bust out some amazing shots to save this photoshoot! How do you make the most of the dwindling sunlight and cram in as much variety as possible? Easy! Put the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG DN | Art lens on your camera, crank that bad boy wide open, and see how versatile one single prime lens can be. In fact, all this is exactly what photographer Jay Cassario did one evening just minutes after speaking at the SIGMA exhibit at the WPPI 2023 conference in Las Vegas.

With the sun fading fast, Jay pulled up to a picturesque roadside spot near the entrance of Red Rock Canyon. Kate McCarthy, a fellow pro photographer by trade, was on the other side of the camera, braving the chilly evening temperatures of the desert landscape. Now was the time to break out the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG DN | Art, which Jay mounted to a Leica SL2 mirrorless camera. Designed exclusively for mirrorless, the 50mm F1.4 DG DN | Art is tailor-made for this camera, as well as any other L-Mount or Sony E-mount mirrorless body.

Perfect for backlit photos in bright sunlight

Whether you want environmental portraits, basic headshots, or artsy close-ups, a 50mm prime lens is a great choice. In this situation, the goal was to take advantage of the incredible backdrop with some wider compositions, and get a few closer shots for branding and profile pics. First up, an old barbed wire fence for some beautifully backlit full-body portraits.

One of the most impressive things about the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG DN | Art is its flare and ghosting resistance. With the lens aimed directly into the sun, even without using the lens hood, this lens at F1.4 performed wonderfully.

“The sun was extremely bright, and I didn’t want to have any flare in these shots. The new 50mm does an excellent job of flare resistance.”

– Jay Cassario | @jaycassario

On to the next shot!! Further proving the versatility of a 50mm lens, Jay needed no time to change lenses or fiddle with settings… it was straight on to composition. Jay tucked himself behind a yucca plant, creating a similar shot with an added bit of creative foreground framing that is nicely blurred thanks to the wide open aperture. And with yuccas on the mind, Jay also worked one of those into the main composition, along with a dramatic backdrop of mountains.

A remarkably versatile focal length

With some wider portraits in the can, it was time to explore the versatility of the 50mm focal length. Without missing a beat, Jay moved to a nearby path to get a bit closer and fill more of the frame with his subject, and grab a few vertical shots, too. With the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG DN | Art, he was able to take advantage of the remaining light while keeping his ISO low, for cleaner baseline images.

“For me, there’s no better focal length than a 50mm, especially with a shoot like this. I can just take a few steps back to make it wider, I can get up close with no distortion… for this type of shoot, this SIGMA 50mm was exactly what I needed.”

– Jay Cassario | @jaycassario

Shoot in any environment

Like all recent Art lenses (starting with the 85mm DG HSM | Art in 2016), the 50mm F1.4 DG DN | Art is dust and splash-resistant, making it perfect for use in the desert, in the rainforest, and everywhere in between. Here in Red Rock Canyon, it was more than a bit dusty. But because Jay was using only one lens, and that lens is designed to withstand dust and moisture, there was nothing to worry about! Jay could work fast and shoot from any position without thinking about his gear.

“The conditions here are pretty dusty, and I like to get down low for creative angles. I knew this SIGMA Art lens could take a beating.”

– Jay Cassario | @jaycassario

Got 30 minutes? Bring the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG DN | Art!

For this mini-session, Jay and Kate were under a time crunch, freezing cold, committed to a single location, with the good light fading fast… but with the SIGMA 50mm F1.4 DG DN | Art, they made it work. Of course you could accomplish this with another lens – the reliable workhorse 24-70mm F2.8 comes to mind – but when in doubt, you just can’t go wrong with the natural angle of view, speed, and overall versatility of a fast 50!

Follow Jay Cassario @jaycassario
Follow Kate McCarthy @katemccarthy_photography

Comments (1)
  1. ???Are you sure these were shot at 1.4? the background was not what you would expect at F1.4, The lens on the subject is crisp on the subject. That is good…but the background looks like it was shot at f22 or close to it.
    I suspect the lens is better than the backgrounds suggest. I would like to see it shot on 1.4 and f22 to see the bokeh range.

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