The 2023 Cine Gear Expo on the Paramount Pictures lot provided a great opportunity for thousands of cinematographers to view the latest gear and connect with vendors, including SIGMA. During this event, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Luong, a young but very experienced automotive cinematographer. We instantly connected and I knew that I had to interview him and learn more about how he uses SIGMA Cine lenses to film automotive commercials all over the world.
First thing’s first… please introduce yourself!
How did you first learn about SIGMA?
I had known about SIGMA for a while, particularly their still lenses, but I don’t think it caught my eye until the Cine line came out. My first kit when I started out was a T2i with an adapted Nikon 50mm F1.4. Then I upgraded to a Sony A7s with Rokinon primes. But when I started working with Lucid, I needed to make sure I had some quality glass that could reflect our product in a good light. And I found SIGMA Cine when I was doing my research.
Why SIGMA for automotive cinematography?
I absolutely love the build quality. The metal housing makes me feel confident when I’m working with them, and the focus gears work excellently with all of my motors and follow focuses. I haven’t been in too many dark scenarios, but knowing that all the marks are glow-in-the-dark (Editor’s Note: this is an optional feature) is very useful. When I first got my lenses I told a DP friend of mine, and he said he heard those lenses were “too sharp”. “Too sharp?” I said. I get it depending on the look you’re going for. But for Lucid, with a product that has so many details, the sharpness is really excellent for us.
What are your go-to SIGMA Cine lenses?
We own the 14mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm High-Speed Cine Primes.
SIGMA Cine 14mm T2
I use the 14mm T2 almost exclusively for when we’re shooting interiors of the car. I really enjoy this lens because it can accurately represent how large of an interior the Lucid Air has. The distortion is very minimal and it has such a great build.
SIGMA Cine 35mm T1.5
The 35mm T1.5 is kind of my go-to. Whenever we’re filming people, or talent, it’s such a great focal length to work with. I love having a wider focal length that’s fast because then sometimes it almost feels like you’re working with a larger sensor. You get an incredibly smooth bokeh when you’re on the shallow end. And flares really pop in a natural way that works for our look. It’s an incredibly small lens so I can run it on my A7s III on the Ronin S2 for beautiful and quick gimbal shots.
SIGMA Cine 50mm T1.5
I like to use the 50mm T1.5 for details and those moments that I need just a bit more compression than the 35. I expect nothing less from a 50mm but this lens just performs so well with everything I throw at it.
SIGMA Cine 85mm T1.5
The 85mm is a beast! At T1.5, the 85mm is really great for those close-up moments as well as any longer lens shots. The bokeh is so creamy and for any portraiture moments, this lens is my go-to.
What do you use the SIGMA Cine High Speed Zooms for?
My first SIGMA lenses were the 18-35mm T2 and 50-100mm T2 kit. I was solo shooting a lot and needed to work run-and-gun while having a good range. 18-35 was extensively used for a lot of our content. The wider range also pushing to a medium focal length gave us our bread and butter when running around on gimbal. I was so surprised at how much depth of field you can get from this zoom lens at T2. You’re nearly getting a similar look to when shooting with a prime. The 50-100 is a great all-around telephoto to have. We do a lot of talking heads, so both of these zoom lenses together create an excellent kit to have for a 2-camera interview setup.
What makes SIGMA stand out to you?
I feel like SIGMA’s huge selection of cine primes, as well as their cine zooms, make them such a big contender in the cine lens space. Especially at their price point! I think there are a lot of other companies entering the market right now and SIGMA has secured their spot in the segment. All of the SIGMA lenses compete against even the highest-end and well-known cine lenses. I’m really excited to try out the Classic series primes.
Overall, the design and quality of SIGMA Cine lenses are top-notch and I’m really happy about the choice I made in my glass.
Recommendations for other automotive or luxury product cinematographers?
If you’re looking to get quality glass, SIGMA has some of the best-built and sharpest lenses that you wouldn’t find unless you started looking into the higher-end cine lens options. Their zoom lenses are available for numerous lens mounts, and they deliver an image that is best in class. They have such a wide prime selection.
What’s coming up on the horizon?
Follow Chris Luong and Lucid Motors for their latest:
Chris Luong: @chrisluong
Lucid Motors: @lucidmotors