Lens Guides

A Month in Tokyo with the SIGMA F1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lenses

Tokyo is truly a city that never sleeps. The vibrant energy of this bustling metropolis is noticeable from the moment you arrive. With its neon lights and crowded streets, Tokyo is a sensory overload in the best way possible. I recently had the opportunity to spend a month in this incredible city, capturing content and exploring… it was an experience I would never forget.

And what would a month-long trip be without capturing those timeless memories?

SIGMA F1.4 DC DN lenses – the perfect gear for an unforgettable trip

For camera gear, I wanted to pack light but also have a decent range of focal lengths for any situation that presented itself. I opted for a smaller APS-C (crop sensor) setup, which made the perfect travel companion. Everything was shot on my Sony A6500 + SIGMA F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary lenses. I was especially excited to test out the new 23mm F1.4 that SIGMA was kind of enough to send over before its release!

SIGMA’s F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary selection consists of 4 prime lenses with an aperture of F1.4 – 16mm, 23mm, 30mm, and 56mm. This was perfect for all the nighttime shooting I’d be doing, and also for that beautifully blurred background that we all love. Compact, sharp, and light, everything I could ask for, fitting snugly into my carry-on bag.

My journey began at Narita International Airport after a long travel day from Los Angeles. At first impression, I was pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the Japanese transportation system. I purchased a Pasmo card, which allowed me to easily hop on and off trains and buses throughout the city. Tokyo is known for its extensive public transportation system, and it did not disappoint. Getting around the city was a breeze, and I could explore all corners of Tokyo without any trouble.

I noticed my lenses of choice when shooting around the city were the 23mm and 56mm. They rarely came off my camera, and here’s why: they’re both small and light, great for carrying all day without weighing me down. But aside from that, they’re INCREDIBLY sharp and versatile, perfect for street photography. I was able to snap photos without anybody noticing with this ultra-compact setup!

Pretty quickly, I fell in love with Tokyo’s unique and vibrant culture. It was a fascinating blend of traditional Japanese with modern Western influences. Not to mention it’s without a doubt the most clean city I’ve ever visited. This is even more impressive after realizing how hard it is to find a trash can while out and about. The citizens take great pride in keeping their streets and public spaces spotless – something we should probably adopt over here in the states.

Capturing the action with SIGMA F1.4 DC DN primes

As a professional BMX athlete, I wanted to make sure I captured my fair share of riding content before I got into full tourist mode. The first two weeks were dedicated to pedaling around the city’s vast metropolitan area, and finding its most unique features to ride my bike. The 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary really gives a great perspective when it comes to these types of action shots, and the 56mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary does an amazing job of isolating the subject from the surroundings, and both lenses are razor sharp. You can see more of this content on my Instagram page @JarrenBarboza.

Going “full tourist mode” with my SIGMA lenses

Once my BMX work was done, it was time to explore the city. In true tourist fashion, one of my first stops was the famous Shibuya Crossing. This intersection, located in the Shibuya district, is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. It was incredible to stand in the middle of the chaos and watch as thousands of people crossed the street in every direction. I quickly learned that this is a city that moves fast, and I was excited to keep up with the pace.

Just above the Crossing is Shibuya Sky, a must-visit as long as you’re not afraid of heights. 46 stories up, it has one of the coolest views of the city with its 360-degree observation deck. I spent quite a few hours here gazing into the never-ending skyline. I was able to get a few shots with my 56mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary, which gave me some really cool compression with the layered buildings on the horizon. On the way down, the 45th floor has a nice café where you can sit and enjoy a quick bite.

One of the best parts of my trip was discovering the incredible food scene in Tokyo. From Michelin-starred restaurants to tiny street vendors, Tokyo has something for every foodie. I personally indulged in piping hot ramen more often than I’d like to admit – but everybody has their thing right? Every meal was an adventure, and I was constantly surprised by the creativity of Japanese cuisine.

Visiting Mount Fuji was also high on my to-do list. I woke up with the sunrise and headed to Shibuya Station to catch the express bus to Kawaguchiko. The bus ride was comfortable and scenic, with glimpses of the mountain in the distance. As we arrived at the fifth station, I was struck by the sheer size and beauty of Mount Fuji. In search of the best vantage point, I found myself at Arakurayama Sengen Park. The peaceful, yet painful trek up 400 stairs led to the Chureito Pagodato, a vivid red monument with sweeping views of Fuji. Thankfully, I came on a day with good weather. Some locals mentioned the volcano is often hidden by clouds and grey skies, but on this day, I had a perfect view.

I also had an opportunity to meet some friends that were competing at X-Games close by in Chiba. After getting my hands on a few tickets, I thought it would be cool to check out the event. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans; and she made that abundantly clear after some heavy showers. With the event being postponed, I took the time to catch up with friends and appreciate our time on the other side of the globe before returning to the city.

Wrapping up an amazing trip, all captured with SIGMA F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary lenses

They say all good things must come to an end, and I suppose that meant this trip would, too. Tokyo is truly a beautiful city that I left with a newfound love and gratitude for. Not to mention the 200GB of content I captured as well!

Special thanks to SIGMA for allowing me to share some of these moments and memories with you all. Looking back on these photos in 10 years will remind me of how special this trip was to me. I can’t wait to capture the next adventure on my SIGMA F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary lenses!

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