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Sigma is saying.

01.10.2018

Intro

Like a refined sports car, the new Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM art lens is all about high performance. Great for portrait, wedding, travel, nature, and event photography, the new Art optic is set to win your heart and turn lots of heads.

Built like a tank but luxurious to operate, the 135mm Art lens is must-have glass for those whose photographic style embraces fine bokeh, fast glass, and a narrow field of view.

 

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG Art lens produces spectacular portraits. With its super-wide f/1.8 aperture, it focuses fast in low light. Here, the 135mm captures the spritely Annabelle, Wildflower Queen. Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. To see the amazing detail this lens resolves, click on the image below to see a 200% crop of this image. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/5.6, 1/125 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Annabelle, Mount Jeez, Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/5.6, 1/125 second, ISO 800. Hand-held.

As the Wildflower Queen spun through the meadows, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens quickly captured her expressions of joy. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/5.6, 1/125 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Sure, small apertures are fine for traveling light, but, if you’re ready to take your photography to another level, add this beauty to your favorite camera body and buckle up. You’re in for a super-fast tele joy ride!

Design & Features

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM is one of the newest offerings in the lineup of Sigma Global Vision (SGV) optics. The 135mm finds its stable mates in the Art series of lenses. Sigma’s Art (“A”) lenses are known world-wide for their innovative optical designs and professional-level construction. Sigma’s Art lenses have set the bar for quality construction, sharp optics, and ground-breaking designs.

The 135mm F1.8 features 13 lens elements arranged in 10 groups. Two lenses are made of Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass, and two are made of “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) glass. FLD has performance equal to fluorite glass. The lenses of the 135mm are treated with Super Multi-Layer Coatings to improve image quality and minimize flare.

Sharp and contrasty, the Sigma 135mm excels at landscape and architectural photography, such as this sunset skyline scene of Columbus, Ohio, from Confluence Park. Click on the picture below to see a 100% crop of this image. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

A crop of just 2.66% of the image above shows the details the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens can resolve. Notice the individual limestone blocks and carvings on the top of the LeVeque Tower. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is designed for use on full-frame cameras. For APS-C shooters, it becomes equivalent to a 200mm f/1.8 lens.

Measuring 3.6” in diameter and 4.5” long, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is medium-size lens. A plastic lens hood (included) adds another 2” to the overall length. Total weight is 40.9 ounces.

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is built from metal and Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material. TSC reduces weight and resists expansion with changes in temperature. The mount is made of brass, and a rubber ring seals the lens against the camera body.

The Sigma 135mm isn’t just a portrait, wedding, and event lens. With it’s tack-sharp optics and super-fast aperture, this medium-telephoto Art lens is a great travel lens, here capturing the moon jellies moving throughout a cylindrical aquarium illuminated by green LED lights at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/1.8, 1/320 second, ISO 3200. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The aperture of the Sigma 135mm is made from 9 blades. The rounded construction of the diaphragm blades helps to create pleasing out of focus highlights.

Narrow depth-of-field, bringing attention to the subject’s eyes, and smooth bokeh, rendering background elements pleasingly out-of-focus, make the Sigma 135mm an exquisite portrait lens, here capturing Sarah pensively posing at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium. Toledo, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/1.8, 1/160 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The left side of the lens barrel sports two switches. The top one allows photographers to select Autofocus (AF) or Manual Focus (MF).

The bottom switch controls three autofocus-distance modes:

  • Full, i.e., 34 inches to infinity
  • 5 feet to infinity
  • 34 inches to 5 feet.

The minimum focusing distance for the Sigma 135mm F1.8 Art lens is 34.4 inches. While the 1:4.3 magnification ratio does not provide true macro focusing, the lens does proved for good close-up photography of moderately small subjects, from wedding couple’s hands with rings to roses blossoms and butterflies.

At its closest focusing distance, the Sigma 135mm is useful for depicting moderately small subjects, such as this Owl Butterfly, photographed at Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland, Ohio. Shooting multiple images at f/1.8 and stacking them in Helicon Focus allowed the lepidopteron to be rendered incredibly sharp while the background remains softly out-of-focus. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens, f/1.8, 1/30 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

In AF mode, the Sigma 135mm utilizes Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for quick and quiet autofocus. Photographers can override AF by turning the generous 1 5/8 inch rubber ribbed ring while framing.

In MF mode, the 135mm focus is adjusted by turning the rubber ring through 150° of rotation from 34.4 inches to infinity. Manual focus is smooth and well-damped.

Phoebe sports a crown of Queen Anne’s lace, clover, and small sunflower blossoms at sunset on Mount Jeez, Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2.8, 1/125 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 135mm DG HSM Art lens comes with a front cap, an end cap, a hood, and a padded lens case. As with all the Sigma Global Vision lenses, the 135mm can be mounted in the Sigma USB dock to change lens characteristics and update firmware.

All Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lenses are hand-crafted in Sigma’s single factory in Aizu, Japan. The 135mm DG HSM Art lens is covered by a four-year manufacturer’s warranty.

What?! This doesn’t look like a 135mm shot? You’re right…sort of. The superlative sharpness of the 135mm Art lens lends itself well to high resolution panoramas. Five portrait-orientation shots, stitched together in Photoshop, comprise this view Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Ohio River, as seen from Devou Park in Covington, Kentucky. For an example of the amazing detail this lens resolves, click on the image below to see a 100% crop showing 1% of this cityscape. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/4, 2 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

This 100% crop, just 1%, of the panorama above shows the bar-setting details this lens can capture. The full-size image (above) is comprised of five portrait-orientation shots stitched together. Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Ohio River viewed from Devou Park, Covington, Kentucky. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/4, 2 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Handling in the Field

Shooting with the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is akin to driving a fine sports car. Every operation is finely tuned, and taking it for a spin is pure pleasure.

Even better is what you are left with afterward: supreme satisfaction. In the case of the Sigma 135mm, that supreme satisfaction comes from stellar images.

The moderately compressed perspective of the 135mm allows photographers to limit their angle of view, here tightly framing Annabelle against a coral reef exhibit at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. The focal length helps make the redtail butterflyfish (top) and lined surgeonfish (bottom) appear quite close to Annabelle. Toledo, Ohio. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/1.8, 1/160 second, ISO 3200. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Looking through the bright f/1.8 viewfinder is the first reward of shooting with this Sigma Art lens. Bucking the recent industry trend of producing smaller and smaller maximum apertures, Sigma has shown its mastery in producing sharp, large-aperture optics that set the standard for sharpness.

The super-fast 135mm follows other Art lens gems, such as the 20mm F1.4 DG HSM, 24mm F1.4 DG HSM, 35mm F1.4, 50mm F1.4 DG HSM, and the 85mm F1.4 DG HSM, as well as zooms such as the 24-70mm F2.8 ODG OS HSM, 24-35mm F2 DG HSM, 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM, and the 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM.

Wide aperture lenses work well for images of moving subjects, such as this cownose ray swimming by in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/1.8, 1/250 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Rugged construction provides confidence while shooting with the Sigma 135mm. It is a significant but not-too-large optic, a lens that makes you feel like a professional shooter. The results confirm this feel.

The sense of quality construction comes from metal and TCM construction, as well as the nicely knurled, smooth-turning focus ring. Mounted to a body, such as my D800E, the weight distribution is well-balanced. Hand-holding is quite easy.

Sure, cameras now offer nicely reduced noise levels at high ISO settings, but shooting at your baseline ISO is always best. Having a telephoto option with f/1.8 instills confidence when heading out to shoot a portrait session, wedding event, or other photo opps. Shooting at ISO 100 is possible even at the ends of the day or for indoor events.

Autofocus is quick, even in low light. Testing the 135mm in the dark recesses of my studio, I was able to focus to EV -1.33. That’s an exposure of 8 seconds at f/1.8 and ISO 100. Even with the bright f/1.8 aperture, there’s no way I could manually focusing in such low light.

On August 21, 2017, people across much of the North America enjoyed viewing a partial to complete solar eclipse. Here, the author’s father, Mick FitzSimmons, enjoys the spectacle through specialized, eye-protecting glasses. Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Portraits

While the Sigma 85mm 1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a great choice for portraiture (I’ve written about it here) [https://blog.sigmaphoto.com/2017/lens-exploration-sigma-85mm-f1-4-dg-hsm-art/], the Sigma 135mm F1.8 offers similar exquisite performance just with a narrower field of view, which is nice when you have distracting backgrounds.

The Sigma 135mm has a moderately narrow field of view, allowing portrait photographers to include some but not too much of a background, such as this busy but beautiful foliage behind high school senior Jackson. Shooting nearly wide open takes advantage of shallow depth-of-field and the 135mm’s nice bokeh. Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2, 1/200 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

This fall I did a senior portrait session at Malabar Farm State Park. We shot at the peak of fall foliage. My goal was to include the beautiful yellows and oranges in the background but not to allow them to become distracting from my subject, Jackson. In the shot above, I opened up the 135mm to f/2, allowing the lens’s fine bokeh to throw the tree trunks and leaves nicely out of focus. At the same time, Jackson is tack sharp.

The Sigma 135mm set at f/2 keeps Jackson’s eyes in focus but, only inches behind, the sandstone wall falls nicely out-of-focus. Pugh Cabin, Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2, 1/125 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

For another pose, Jackson leaned back against a sandstone wall. Here, I shot at f/2, allowing the rock column to fall out of focus. The 135mm’s narrow depth-of-field at super-wide apertures helps direct the viewer’s attention to the subject’s face, especially the eyes.

In tighter for a head-and-shoulders shot, the Sigma 135mm set at f/2.8 renders Jackson’s face sharp, but the stone behind him drops nicely out of focus. Pugh Cabin, Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2.8, 1/125 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Moving in closer for a head-and-shoulders shot, I opted for down one more stop, choosing f/2.8 in order to provide just a bit more depth-of-field. This kept his eyes and face nicely in focus, yet, from only a few feet away, the wide aperture allowed the sandstone to drop nicely out of focus.

Later in the shoot, we lightened things up. Jackson changed into his football jersey, and we shot at his high school field. We worked on creating a fun image of him tossing a football into the air. I cranked up the ISO to 800 and went fully open at f/1.8. This allowed a motion-freezing shutter speed of 1/8000 second. Of course, the narrow depth-of-field meant that Jackson had to be careful to toss the ball up within the plane he occupied.

In the end, it all came together. The quick exposure froze the movement of the ball. The super-wide aperture threw everything in front of and, especially, behind Jackson beautifully out-of-focus. Our efforts resulted in a playful yet meaningful shot, emphasizing the Jackson and his interest in sports.

The concept: Jackson having fun tossing the football in the air. To accomplish this, I shot wide open at a fast shutter speed, making sure that Jackson tossed the ball upward within the plane he occupied parallel to the camera. The limited depth-of-field keeps the viewer’s attention focused on Jackson and the ball. Bob Wine Field, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/1.8, 1/8000 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

For one more football image, Jackson leaned against the home-team goal post. Stopping down to only f/2.8 allowed the field and surrounding trees to go out of focus while Jackson and the lettered pad appear tack sharp.

As these examples show, successful portraits more often than not depend upon a shallow depth-of-field. Nicely blurred backgrounds help directs viewers’ eyes to your in-focus subject.

The quality of the blur that a lens produces is described in terms of bokeh. The bokeh of the 135mm is quite nice. This is in part due to the design of the lens elements and in part due to the nine, thoughtfully curved diaphragm blades. Shooting with the 135mm allows for full artistic expression utilizing blur as a primary image component.

Stopped down to f/2.8, the Sigma 135mm keeps Jackson and the goal post pad in focus, nicely set off against the beautifully blurred field and surrounding trees. Bob Wine Field, Lucas, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2.8, 1/200 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

 Travel

The Sigma 135mm makes a fine travel lens. Being able to shoot at high shutter speeds and narrowing the field of view makes it great for locations from city streets to tourist attractions.

Peacock bass swimming in the Flooded Forest Amazon exhibit at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/1.8, 1/200 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

On a recent trip to my favorite zoo, the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, I photographed a number of aquatic animals with the 135mm F1.8. Despite low-light conditions in many of the exhibits, I got stellar results, frequently shooting wide open.

One particular exhibit features freshwater fish from South America. I spotted a colorful peacock bass swimming by. With the ISO on my D800E at a reasonable 1600, I was able to shoot at 1/200 second at f/1.8. The resulting close-up image of the painterly fish is sharp from its lips and forehead to its eyes and cheeks.

Similarly, I was able to capture shots of a graceful cownose ray, moon jellies illuminated by green LEDs, and a descending sea nettle. In all, having a superfast tele was just the ticket for the aquarium shots.

Pacific Sea Nettle photographed in the Sea Nettle exhibit at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/2.2, 1/100 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

For something completely different, on a recent trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, I visited the Taft Museum of Art, which, though small in size, is chock full of amazing art by some of the world’s top painters, including James Abbott McNeill Whistler. His pensive “At the Piano” is full of texture and subtle color variations. In my capture of this painting, the Sigma 135mm preserves incredible details, from brush strokes to cracks in the paint. The reproduction is bursting with color and contrast.

The Sigma 135mm captures the subtle details of “At the Piano” (1858–59) by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903). Oil on canvas. The Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Nature

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM is a great tool for nature photography, too. From isolating elements of the landscape to shots of wildlife, the sharpness of this prime and its fast glass are great benefits.

During a visit to the Cleveland Botanical Garden in late summer, I spotted a red-eared slider basking in the sun along the edge of a small pond. Getting down low and hand-holding, I turned the ISO up a bit and produced a frog’s-eye view of this brightly painted terrapin.

Red-Eared Slider, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/5.6, 1/2000 second, ISO 800. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Sometimes when I travel, I like to keep a telephoto lens mounted to a camera body, and riding shotgun. I keep the camera in auto mode, allowing me to grab it and start shooting at a moment’s notice, should I spot a bear, moose, or other nearby wildlife. The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens makes a great optic to keep on-the-ready, especially in low-light situations.

What better way to use the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens than to record a once-in-a-lifetime event, such as the first day of school? The narrow field-of-view of the 135mm captures Annabelle’s mixed expression of excitement and nervousness as she heads toward the welcoming doors of the academy. Nikon D800E, Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/7.1, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Conclusion

Like a great sports car, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is a top-level performer, whether shooting portrait sessions, weddings, travel images, or low-light events. Built with quality in mind from the ground up, it’s a sharp, fast, and durable optic.

12.22.2017

Intro

Sigma has set the bar even higher, this time upping the wide angle ante with the world’s first 14mm f/1.8 prime lens. Rugged, fast, and sharp, the new Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens exudes pro quality.

With its super-wide field of view—a whopping 114 degrees diagonally— the Sigma 14mm F1.8 is for shooters who need to capture wide open spaces, from interiors of buildings to pictures of the heavens.

Important to know is that the 14mm’s class-leading f/1.8 aperture is not just an optical  engineer’s parlor trick. This innovative lens creates stunning images, sharp, contrasty, and color-accurate.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens excels in wide-open spaces. Highlighting in the foreground the famous 1866 John A Roebling Bridge (the designer’s predecessor to the Brooklyn Bridge), the super-wide, super-fast Sigma 14mm captures a pusher tug and barges in action, headed upriver past Cincinnati, Ohio. To see the amazing detail this lens resolves, click on the image below to see a crop of the left edge this image. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

How sharp is the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens? Here’s a 100% crop from the top, left of the picture above. Check out the resolution, how you can see individual rivets! John A. Roebling Bridge between Covington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

In a time when small-aperture lenses predominate the market, it is refreshing to pick up a lens that not only provides a bright view but also allows shooters to under low light conditions at reasonable shutter speeds and at relatively low ISOs.

Whether you shoot architecture, landscapes, events, or other subjects requiring super-wide coverage and fast glass, the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art would make a great addition to your bag.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is perfect for photographing architecture, especially interior spaces, such as the fabulous Baroque Gallery at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. To see the detail this lens resolves, click on the image below for a 100% crop from this image. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 4 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Is the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens sharp? You bet! Click on this picture to see a 100% crop of the image full image above. Baroque Gallery, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 4 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Design & Features

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is one of the most recent additions to the lineup of Sigma Global Vision (SGV) optics. The 14mm fits in well with the already-legendary Art series of lenses. Sigma’s Art (“A”) lenses are known world-wide for their innovative optical formulas and pro-grade construction. They have set the bar for durable construction, incredible sharpness, and thoughtful designs.

The 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is built around 16 lens elements arranged in 11 groups. It is comprised of four Special Low Dispersion (SLD) lenses three “F” Low Dispersion (FLD) lenses. FLD optics have performance equal to those made from fluorite glass. The SLD and FLD lenses help control chromatic aberration and flare. The 14mm glass is treated with Super Multi-Layer Coatings.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is great for close-up subjects, here capturing a school of Banggai Cardinalfish at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/5.6, 1/80 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is designed for use on full-frame cameras. For APS-C shooters, it becomes equivalent to a 21mm f/1.8 lens.

Measuring 3.8” in diameter and 5” long, the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is medium-size lens. A petal-shaped hood is built into the lens, helping protect the bulbous front lens element. Total weight is 49.5 ounces.

Construction of the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens includes metal and Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) materials. TSC reduces weight and resists expansion with changes in temperature. The back sports a brass mount and a rubber ring that seals the lens against the camera body.

Photographic challenge: how to depict the immersive installation of “All the Flowers Are for Me (Red),”, a laser-cut 5’ x 5’ x5’ cube projecting patterns across a large art gallery room. The answer? Go wide! The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens has plenty of reach to capture the cube plus patterns across the floor, walls, and ceiling. “All the Flowers Are for Me (Red),” (2016), Anila Quayyum Agha. Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/5.6, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The diaphragm of the Sigma 14mm consists of 9 blades. Rounded blades help to create pleasing out of focus highlights. The left side of the lens barrel sports one switch, which allows photographers to select Autofocus (AF) or Manual Focus (MF).

The minimum focusing distance for the Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art lens is 10.6 inches. This produces a maximum magnification ratio of 1:9.8.

Within suburban Dublin (Columbus), Ohio, lies the somewhat ironically named “Field of Corn” installation. What was once a corn field now contains 109 concrete ears of corn, each 8’ tall. The park is a tribute to Sam Frantz, who developed several hybrid corn species. “Field of Corn,” 1994, Malcolm Cochran. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

In AF mode, the Sigma 14mm utilizes Sigma’s updated Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for accurate autofocus. In MF mode, focus is adjusted by turning the ¾” rubber ring through 150° of rotation. Manual focus is smooth and well-damped.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is great for capturing city spaces, such as the Scioto Mile. The broad view of the Sigma 14mm captures the winding bike path, wide open lawns, and the skyline of Columbus, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/125 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

All Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lenses are hand-crafted in Sigma’s single factory in Aizu, Japan. Each one is individually inspected before shipping. The 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is covered by a four-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Handling in the Field

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens is a pleasure to use, both when shooting and as you review your results. It’s quite ergonomic and darn sharp!

One of the issues with many wide angle lenses is small apertures and dim views. That’s certainly not the case with the Sigma 14mm F1.8. With its amazingly wide maximum aperture, the 14mm provides for bright framing, even in low light situations. This makes line up shots and focusing a piece of cake.

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens captures incredible details in its wide field of view, making it a great tool for interiors, such as the inside of the lush greenhouse at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland, Ohio. For a sense of scale, look for Sarah on the overlook high above the tropical pool below. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, ISO 400. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Keep in mind that this is not Sigma’s first foray into ground-breaking super-fast primes and zooms. The 14mm finds joins an impressive team of other Art lens gems, such as the 20mm F1.4 DG HSM, 24mm F1.4 DG HSM, 35mm F1.4, 50mm F1.4 DG HSM, the 85mm F1.4 DG HSM, the 135mm F1.8 DG HSM, as well as zooms such as the 12-24mm F4 DG HSM, 24-70mm F2.8 ODG OS HSM, 24-35mm F2 DG HSM, 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM, and the 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM.

The 14mm F1.8 finds its closest sibling in the Sigma 12-24mm Art, with both of them sharing the same large aspherical element, an innovative piece of glass that controls distortion.

When you first pick up the 14mm F1.8, you’ll notice its rugged construction. The metal and TSC construction creates a lens that itself is enjoyable to hold and beautiful to behold. The ample petal-shaped hood is robust, inspiring confidence in protecting the crystal ball-like front lens element. A full front lens cap slides on smoothly and snugly over the petal-shaped hood, providing protection to the gorgeous front optic.

Incredible paintings adorn the dining room and nearly every other space in the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio. The 14mm Sigma is up to the task, showing the magnificent home of President William Howard Taft and its treasures. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Mounted to a full-frame body, the weight distribution is well-balanced. Hand-holding is quite easy.

Autofocus is quick, even in low light. Pointing the 14mm into a dark closet in my studio, I was able to focus to EV 0.33. That’s an exposure of 2.5 seconds at f/1.8 and ISO 100. Even with the bright f/1.8 aperture, there’s no way I could manually focusing in such low light.

Some skyline shots require a super-wide field-of-view. Columbus, Ohio, skyline, the Scioto Mile park, and the Scioto River are all depicted in this shot from the Broad Street Bridge. Too see how much detail this lens can resolve, click on the next image to see a 100% crop. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/400 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

100% crop of the above image of Columbus, Ohio. Note the detail in the windows, trees, and park lawn. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1/400 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Architecture

While I wrote elsewhere of the benefits of using the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art for architecture (I’ve written about it here), the Sigma 14mm F1.8 expands your view another 20 degrees. For tight interior spaces or wide city views, this can be a real boon.

A rectilinear shot of paintings and pottery in the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

During a recent trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, I visited the Taft Museum of Art. The former home of President William Howard Taft, the museum now preserves the estate and displays a wide array of world-class artwork. The rooms of the mansion are packed with art, and the 14mm F1.8 provided plenty of coverage to show how extensive and beautiful the Taft collection is.

A room just off the foyer displays paintings and ceramics, from European landscapes to Chinese urns. Aligning the camera level left-to-right and up-and-down to keep vertical lines parallel, I was able to capture paintings, pottery, furniture, and fireplace, giving a sense of both home and museum.

Decorating the foyer and the main first floor hallways are incredible murals painted by Robert Duncanson, the first African American artist to achieve international fame. The eight beautiful murals, painted in the Hudson River School style, are framed by trompe loeil (“fool the eye”) painted frames. To capture the full extent of these grand works, I employed one of the great uses of a super-wide lens: panoramas.

To photograph the Duncanson Murals, I positioned the camera in the portrait position and then rotated the camera over 180 degrees, capturing nine shots, which I stitched together in Photoshop. The result is the view as seen when entering the front door of the mansion.

N.B. Every panorama stitching technique creates one kind of distortion or another. For the Duncanson Murals panorama, the cylindrique method was used. The cylindrique method maximizes height but causes the walls, which are, in fact, flat, to look curved.

Duncanson Murals adorn the halls of the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio. While the walls, indeed, are flat, the cylindrique stitching method, adopted here, allows for more image height when stitching nine images into a panorama. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 4 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

After photographing the Taft Museum of Art, I put the 14mm through its paces at the Cincinnati Art Museum. A good test for both the wide view and the fast aperture was the dynamic installation “More Sweetly Play the Dance” (2015) by William Kentridge. This work consists of seven large panels onto which moving images are projected. The result is a photographic challenge: having a lens wide enough to show the extent of the artwork and one fast enough to freeze the moving projections.

Wanting to keep the noise levels nicely low, I set the ISO to 800 and shot wide open at 1/15 of a second for Kentridge’s piece. The result is a wide, sharp an image (below).

The expansive installation “More Sweetly Play the Dance” (2015) by William Kentridge required a fast, super-wide lens. The f/1.8 aperture helped freeze the moving projections of this dynamic artwork. Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm 1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/1.8, 1/15 second, ISO 800. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

If you are a photographer, you probably have a soft spot for glass and, of course, magical light. That means an exhibit of Tiffany lamps is just up your alley, as it was mine. “Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light” exhibit, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm 1.8 DG HSM Art lens. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Travel

Many times travel photography involves capturing wide vistas, from skyline views of cities to landscapes of coasts or mountains. For these shots I prefer to have a super-wide lens ready-at-hand. The Sigma 14mm F1.8 provides me with this great travel tool.

While everybody loves depicting the Golden Gate Bridge, my personal favorite is the John A. Roebling Bridge, which stretches from Covington, Kentucky, to Cincinnati, Ohio. When it opened in December of 1866, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The Covington-to-Cincinnati span helped Roebling design the even longer Brooklyn Bridge, which was completed in 17 years later 1883.

Are you into bridge photography? You need the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens, whose speed will help you get a quick shot between cars on a relatively quiet Sunday. Southern entrance to the famous Roebling Bridge. Covington, Kentucky. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Given the history of the Roebling Bridge and its designer, I always enjoy walking around and across the 1,057 foot-long span, depicting its steel and stone from many different angles. For such photography, wide angles are best. Whether standing in the middle of the bridge on a quiet Sunday morning or shooting from its sidewalk railings at rush hour, the 14mm can capture the magnificence of this antique.

From the center of the bridge, looking north toward Cincinnati, the metal grid of the bridge and the blue steel structure make for cool contrasting textures. Roebling Bridge, Covington, Kentucky. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 1/500 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Below the north end of the Roebling Bridge is Cincinnati’s Smale Riverfront Park. One of my family’s favorite parts of the park is the giant, moveable stainless steel flying pig. Part sculpture, part playground, the “Oinkithopter,” as it is officially called, allows kids to have fun climbing (and flapping) while they learn about “Porkopolis,” a nickname that points to the agricultural and industrial roots of Cincinnati.

Two of our kids perched aboard the pig while I used the 14mm to show the picturesque porker, its smiling inhabitants, and the park surrounding it. Imagine the scene: A cold November day, me telling the kids, “Just one more shot,” and, of course, my wife, Olivia, rolling her eyes and saying, “Yeah! Just ONE more shot…when pigs fly.”

Happy riders Annabelle and Sarah rock aboard the Oinkithopter, Smale Riverfront Park, Cincinnati, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/11, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

When traveling, I often find interesting interior spaces to photograph. Perhaps some of the most unique historical ones are the many-floored contraption-filled spaces called grist mills. With conveyors, grinding stones, hoppers, belts, stairs, and all kinds of jury-rigged gizmos, I find these harbingers of the dawning industrial revolution fascinating.

During a summer stop at Mingus Mill in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I used the 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens to depict the main floor of the mill. One of my favorite techniques with wide angle lenses is to highlight a foreground element positioned close to the lens while showing the larger scene behind.

Put differently, all lenses distort reality one way or another. Wide angle lenses tend to make objects nearer to them look quite a bit larger relative to what is behind them. Using the distortions of a lens to your advantage is one of the keys to good photography.

N.B. The near-object distortion of wide angle lenses is merely a product of viewing distance. Try taking an image taken with a super-wide and view it right in front of your nose. The distortion disappears. To this end, placing a “distorted” wide angle photo in a tight space, such as a hallway, reduces or eliminates the effect.

For the Mingus Mill interior shot, I positioned the 14mm near to a grindstone and control steel wheel. The rising walls, ceiling, and hopper, and window contextualize the massive circular stone.

When shooting with super-wide lenses, close-at-hand subjects tend to look larger than those behind, highlighting them in your image. Here, a grindstone and a control wheel stand out against the rest of Mingus Mill, Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee. To see a 100% crop of this image, click on the next shot (below). Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/16, ISO 400. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Wondering how sharp the 14mm F1.8 is in the corners? Check out this 100% corner crop of the image above. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/16, ISO 400. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Nature

The Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM is a great tool for nature photography, too. While many nature scenes call for a medium-length lens (distant mountains or flower macros, for example) or require a long tele (wildlife photography more often than not), views of spectacular skies and wide-open landscapes beg for super-wide imaging.

For sunrises, sunsets, weather phenomena, and nighttime shots, the 14mm F1.8 is a great choice. It is sharp, fast, and covers a lot of territory.

During my annual Lakeside Chautauqua Photo Workshop on the southern shore of Lake Erie, we often photograph sunset from a long, concrete fishing pier. This year, shortly after the sun had dipped below the horizon, one of my favorite meteorological phenomena occurred: crepuscular rays.

Crepuscular rays form when the sun’s light is blocked by some clouds and shines past other clouds, forming distinct shadow beams. Sunrises and sunsets mix these shadowy rays with late-day color, making for spectacular sky-wide photo opps. The 14mm from the end of the pier captured the water, the colorful sky, and the wide-reaching beams.

Crepuscular rays adorn the sky at sunset during our annual Lakeside Chautauqua Photo Workshop, Lakeside, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/8, 1 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The next morning at the Lakeside Chautauqua Photo Workshop, our group headed to Marblehead Lighthouse for sunrise. After shooting the lighthouse itself, we walked along the rocky shore, capturing pictures of the rocks, water, and clouds in early morning light. Position looking east, perched on a rock edge, I photographed a variety of textures and tones in the vertical/portrait scene. The result is a high key sunrise in black-and-white. The super-wide view of the 14mm contrast textures throughout the scene, conveying a nearly barren, wide-open lakeshore.

Sunrise at below Marblehead Lighthouse, Marblehead, Ohio. A super-wide angle lens, such as the Sigma 14mm F1.8, can allow you to play with texture and space, as I have in this high key lakeshore shot. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/16, 2 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX Tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Another place to capture cool nature shots, although not so wild, is your local zoo or aquarium. I often photograph at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. In the aquarium section, fish often swim right next to the exhibit glass. I turned my 14mm waterside, showing the close-at-hand fish in great detail while the rocks, reef, and plants create an aquatic backdrop. The wide aperture of the 14mm is highly useful in such moderately lit exhibits.

In one shot, a longnose gar swam by. The intriguing fish has a narrow form, long snout, and speckled tail, making for interesting image-making. Using the 14mm almost wide open allowed me to freeze its motion and helped blur the background.

A longnose gar swims past the glass at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art. f/2.5, 1/30 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Conclusion

Having shot for a few months with the new Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens, I can tell you this: It is refreshing to pick up a lens that provides both a bright view and allows you to shoot under low light conditions with a reasonable shutter speed and ISO; to impress me, however, that’s not enough. Such a lens also has to produce sharp, contrasty, color accurate shots, which the Sigma 14mm F1.8 does with aplomb.

If you shoot architecture, travel, nature, or other subjects requiring super-wide coverage and fast glass, then you owe it to yourself to take the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art out for a spin. With its speed and image quality, I think you’ll be hooked.

11.17.2017

Intro

For decades, perhaps no lens has proven more of a workhorse for professional photographers than the wide-aperture, wide-to-telephoto 24-70mm F2.8 zoom. It’s no wonder. Versatile, fast, and relatively compact, this optical formula covers focal-length sweet spots for almost all types of photography, from wedding and portraiture to nature and architecture.

Sigma’s new version of this classic, the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM OS Art, brings optical stabilization (OS), quick AF, and sharp and contrasty images in a built-like-a-tank package.

Photographers shooting anything from portraiture and weddings to landscapes and architecture will appreciate the Sigma 24-70mm zoom’s fast glass and sharp, contrasty images. Scioto Mile Greenway, Columbus, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/11, 1/200 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2541 EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

How sharp is the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM OS Art lens? Here’s a 100% crop of the image above, taken from the top, left portion of the image. Check out the detailed sandstone carvings on the US District Court building (left) and the window details in the LeVeque Tower (center right) and Huntington Center (right). Columbus, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/11, 1/200 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2541 EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

One reason pros shoot with 24-70mm F2.8 lenses so often is the fast aperture. The f/2.8 wide aperture is constant throughout the range, allowing shooting in low-light situations. Such fast glass is important for weddings and event photography, among many other situations. In addition, having f/2.8 available on the long end allows portrait photographers to shoot wide open, blurring backgrounds.

Shooting with an f/2.8 zoom also allows for easier viewing when composing shots. Framing shots in a bright viewfinder allows photographers to see more details, which helps to assure that everything is included in final shot.

The Sigma 24-70mm offers great focal lengths for capturing stunning landscapes, such as this luscious scene from the Woodland Garden at Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/7.1, 1/8 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

In addition to the fast glass, the new Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens offers optical stabilization. This allows photographers shooting in churches, concert halls, or other dark venues to shoot at even slower shutter speeds than normal and not on a tripod.

Whether you shoot family portraits, sports teams, commercial assignments, travel images, architecture, or landscapes, you will find this lens useful. It’s wide range, quality optics, and durable build make it a welcome addition to any camera bag.

There’s nothing like the long, gentle tongue of a Masai giraffe! A fast-working lens f/2.8 lens allows photographers to catch the family-oriented action at the Tower Ridge Giraffe Experience at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/14, 1/1250 second, ISO 400. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Design & Features

The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM is an Art lens offering among the Sigma Global Vision optics. Sigma’s “A” lenses are known world-wide for their innovative optical designs and professional-level construction. Sigma’s Art lenses have set the bar for quality construction, sharp optics, and ground-breaking designs.

The 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens features 19 lens elements arranged in 14 groups. The design includes four aspherical elements. Three of the lenses are made of Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass. Besides multi-coatings to minimize flare, the front element is treated with a water- and oil-repellent coating.

The aperture is made from 9 blades to create pleasing out of focus highlights. The barrel is made of rugged metal. All 24-70mm lenses are hand-crafted in Sigma’s single factory in Aizu, Japan.

With animals, such as this polar bear, close-at-hand at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, the Sigma 24-70 is a great, fast, and relatively compact optic to carry around. Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 70mm. f/2.8, 1/500 second, ISO 400. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens is designed for use on full-frame cameras. For APS-C shooters, it becomes equivalent to a 35-105mm F2.8 lens. It measures 3.5” in diameter and 4.2” long. The included lens hood adds another 1.2”. Total weight is 34.9 ounces.

Mmmm! Heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella getting ready for a late-summer salad. Richland County, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 70mm. f/16, 1/200 second, ISO 200. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Optical Stabilization (OS) is controlled with a two-way switch. When “On,” the lens stabilizes its optics, allowing users to shoot at slower shutter speeds. The “Off” setting should be used when shooting from a tripod.

While you might not think of the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 as a wildlife lens, some animals, especially habituated birds, will allow you to get pretty close. Shooting at 70mm and with OS on, I moved in on this ring-billed gull hanging out near the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. Voinovich Park, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 70mm. f/4, 1/1000 second, ISO 100. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art is built from metal and a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material, which reduces weight and resists expansion with changes in temperature. The lens mount is made of brass for durability. A rubber ring seals the lens against the camera body.

The Sigma 24-70mm is a great lens for landscape photography, here of Mingus Mill, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/11, 1 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

How sharp is the Sigma 24-70mm at it’s widest field of view? Here is a 100 percent crop of the image above taken at 24mm. Check out the wood grain details on the cross-brace along the mill race leading to Mingus Mill, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens. f/11, 1 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Zooming from 24 to 70mm can is accomplished by turning the .8” front rubber ribbed ring through 65° of rotation. This extends the length of the lens about 1.25”. Rotation of the zoom ring is well-damped such that there is no lens creep with the lens pointed straight up or down.

The Sigma 24-70mm features three focusing modes, which are selectable via a switch on the left side of the lens barrel. The AF setting allows the Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) to focus quickly according to the AF mode set on the camera.

If a user wants to manually focus, there are two choices. If using a continuous or AI servo focus mode, the middle setting, Manual Override (MO), allows for tweaking after the camera performs regular autofocus. In the Manual (M) mode, operation is fully manual.

In MO and M modes, the 24-70mm focus is adjusted by turning the .3/8” rubber ribbed ring toward the back of the lens. Focusing from infinity to the minimum focus distance completes 90° of rotation. Manual focus is smooth and nicely damped.

While the Sigma 24-70mm is does not have true macro performance, it can be focused down to 15”. At this distance and with the lens set at 70mm, magnification is a respectable 1:4.3.

While the Sigma 24-70mm can be used to focus on close-at-hand subjects, too, providing near macro range at a maximum magnification of 1:4.3. Sea Nettle, Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio. USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 30mm. f/4; 1/40 second; ISO 800. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Included with the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens is a front cap, an end cap, and a petal-shaped hood. This zoom, as with all the Sigma Global Vision lenses, can be mounted in the Sigma USB dock to change lens characteristics and update firmware. The 24-70mm is covered by a four-year manufacturer’s warranty.

While helping lead a safari at The Wilds, participants and I photographed this Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus) grazing among goldenrod. The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 70mm. f/8, 1/500 second, ISO 400. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. Hand-held. OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Handling in the Field

The Sigma 24-70mm is a joy to use in the field. It’s rugged construction provides confidence during all types of shooting, and the continuous f/2.8 aperture throughout its range allows for easy framing of subjects.

The first thing you notice when you pick up the 24-70mm is its quality construction. The metal barrel and nicely knurled focus and zoom rings give the optic a high-end feel. Zooming, is smooth and well-damped. And weight distribution when mounted is nice. The Art lens’s good balance makes hand-holding quite easy.

Despite the 24-70mm’s f/2.8 aperture, the lens doesn’t feel gigantic. You get the feel that you have a top-level optic in a svelte package.

During the 3rd annual Lakeside Chautauqua Photo Workshop, we photographed Marblehead Lighthouse painted with my high CRI Zebralight flashlight just before the sun rose. Marblehead, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 41mm. f/5.6, 15 seconds, ISO 100. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

While today’s cameras offer greatly reduced noise levels at high ISO settings, there is nothing like shooting at your camera’s base ISO to provide nearly noise-free shooting. With the continuous f/2.8 aperture, shooting even at the ends of the day or indoors can be done at ISO 100.

Autofocus is quick, even in low light. How low? I was able to focus in my dimly lit basement down to -1.33 EV. That’s an exposure of 20 seconds at f/2.8 and ISO 100. Even with the bright f/2.8 aperture, there’s no way I could manually focusing in such a low-light condition.

Late-day shooting is enjoyable with fast lenses, such as the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 zoom. Columbus Skyline at Sunset from Confluence Park, Columbus, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 67mm. f/5.6, 1/500 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and Gitzo head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Portraits

While you might gravitate toward the Sigma 85mm 1.4 DG HSM Art lens or the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens, both great choices, taking along the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 for full-length and environmental portraits is a good idea, too.

The longer end of the 24-70mm zoom range allows photographers to depict not just the subject’s head-and-shoulders but also full-length poses. During a recent portrait session, shooting senior pictures in a local state park, I shot some of my images with the Sigma 135mm F1.8. But, when I wanted full-length poses along a rustic wooden fence, the 24-70mm at 70mm picked up the leading lines of the fence while moderately compressing the colorful fall trees behind the subject, Jackson Winters. Shot wide open, the subject stands out against the distracting tree trunks and fall leaves.

Setting the Sigma 24-70mm at 70mm compresses the scene a bit, allowing the fence rails to lead viewers’ eyes to Jackson’s relaxed full-length pose. The wide aperture, f/4, helps to blur the background a bit. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens. f/4, 1/50 second, ISO 100. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

For another pose, Jackson sat under a porch roof and on a sandstone wall. Shooting wide open at f/2.8 helped him stand out from the architecture behind him. Not the brightest location, the wide aperture allowed shooting at a reasonable shutter speed even at ISO 100. To boot, the 24-70mm’s optical stabilization (OS) can help make sure shots are sharp.

When shooting against busy backgrounds, shooting with a wide-aperture lens is a must: the wide f/2.8 setting helps subjects stand out against distracting lines, textures, shapes, and colors. In addition, when shooting in low light, such as under a roof or canopy, the fast aperture allows for reasonably fast shutter speeds, bolstered even more with the available optical stabilization (OS). Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 70mm. f/2.8, 1/60 second, ISO 100. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

During this same portrait session, Jackson wished to pose in his football jersey on the school’s playing field. The wider end of the zoom allowed the running back to featured against the backdrop of the goal posts, home-team bleachers, and scoreboard. Placing a subject near the camera at with the lens set to a wide field-of-view emphasizes the foreground subject while showing the setting.

With the Sigma 24-70mm zoomed only to 29mm, Jackson is emphasized in the foreground while the field, goal posts, bleachers, and scoreboard help establish the setting. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens. f/11, 1/50 second, ISO 100. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Then zooming back out to 70mm, I was able to capture a relaxed, full-length pose next to the goal posts. While shooting nearly wide open at f/4 in the fence/woodland scene (above) allowed the background to go out-of-focus, for the goal post pose stopping down to f/11 allowed viewers to read the “Lucas Stadium” sign in the background.

Jackson poses on the field next to the goal post. The 70mm focal length helped make the background scoreboard prominent, and the relatively small aperture of f/11 helped make its wording legible. Canon Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 70mm. f/11, 1/50 second, ISO 100. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Travel

The Sigma 24-70mm makes a great travel lens. It’s versatile range makes it good for anything from landscapes and seascapes to waterfalls and fall foliage. At the wider settings, you can shoot grand vistas, capture those prize-winning postcard shots. At the longer end, frame out unwanted elements and compress textured scenics with graphic, geometrical elements.

For a quintessentially Cleveland shot, Sarah posed inside the “C” of script “Cleveland” with the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame right behind. With the sun out, I added an 82mm Sigma polarizer filter to increase the contrast and blue-up the sky.

What could be more postcardish than the script “Cleveland” sign just north of the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. The Sigma 24-70mm at 28mm captures this iconic scene with Sarah lounging inside the “C.” Voinovich Park, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens @ 28mm. f/11, 1/80 second, ISO 100. Hand-held, OS on. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. GT2541EX tripod and Gitzo head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

This scene form Lakeside Chautauqua along Lake Erie’s south shore invites viewers to travel under the archway to the pier and beach. Lakeside, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/6.3, 1/125 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2541 EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Architecture

The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens is a fine choice for shooting buildings and other structures. The wide end allows for shots in tight spaces, from within cities to the inside of houses and commercial structures, and the longer end allows for compressing architectural elements from a distance.

The Sigma 24-70mm is a great optic for shooting cityscapes, such as the late-day image of the Supreme Court of Ohio building (left) towering over the new Scioto Mile Greenway in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 33mm. f/8, 1/400 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2541 EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

How sharp is the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8? Here is a 100 percent crop of the image above. Check out the detail in the windows of the Supreme Court of Ohio building. Columbus, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 33mm. f/8, 1/400 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2541 EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

On the wide end, the focal lengths of 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm allow photographers to

depict buildings large in size from fairly close at hand. Seeing a high move in and spectacular blue skies with it, I took a trip to Columbus, Ohio, to shoot cityscapes. Choosing spots along the new Scioto Mile greenspace, I shot images of the bikeways, newly restored Scioto River, and the US District Courthouse.

The fitness-centered Scioto Mile Greenway is captured in late-day splendor by the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 zoom. Columbus, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/7.1, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2541 EX Tripod and Gitzo ball. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

To keep the vertical lines from converging, I kept my camera level front to back and left to right. That often requires cropping out part of the image, but the files produced from the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 are sharp enough that, on a reasonably large sensor camera, you can afford to cut out 40% or 50% of your image and still have lots of detail.

Shooting at 28mm with the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 zoom helps both emphasize the griffin in the foreground and capture much of the United States District Court building behind, bathed in late day glow. Scioto Mile Greenway, Columbus, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens. f/8, 1/250 second, ISO 100. Sigma 82mm Polarizer Filter. Gitzo GT2541 EX Tripod and Gitzo ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Nature

The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 is a great tool for nature photographers. From scenics to close-at-had wildlife, this fast zoom will allow you to compose and shoot quickly.

The fast f/2.8 constant aperture of the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens makes shooting at the ends of the day a piece of cake. A bright viewfinder allows for quick framing of sunrise shots like this one from Marblehead Lighthouse State Park, Marblehead, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 33mm. f/14, 1/30 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

During the third annual Lakeside Chautauqua Photo Workshop along Lake Erie, our group rose early to photograph sunrise at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. The limestone rock shelves along the shore provide a great location for early morning shots. The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 provided just the right focal length to capture sunrise colors, silhouettes of trees, and a passing boat.

While helping to lead a photo safari at The Wilds, a research and conservation facility in southeastern Ohio, our bus pulled up alongside a mother Indian rhinoceros and her baby. The vast rolling hills are a savannah-like home to these and other protected exotic species. The Sigma 24-70mm zoom, with a Sigma polarizer attached and the OS turned on, preserved amazing detail in the grazing rhinos.

Indian rhinoceroses are among the many wildlife attractions at The Wilds. Shooting hand-held from a bus makes you happy the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 has optical stabilization. The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/5.6, 1/1000 second, ISO 800. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Zooming in on the shot above, look at the incredible detail preserved in the wrinkled skin of the Indian rhinoceroses. The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm. f/5.6, 1/1000 second, ISO 800. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Do you want an ostrich in your grill…literally?! A handful of these giant birds frequently come right up the buses passing through The Wilds. Here a particularly studios ostrich is about to kick the tires with a new Sigma lens! The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 65mm. f/5.6, 1/3200 second, ISO 800. Sigma 82mm PZ filter. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

I also carried the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens with me as our family enjoyed the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. With animals all around, it’s hard to know what to shoot next. One of the best places to get oh-so-cute in-your-face shots is at the Tower Ridge Giraffe Experience, where Masai giraffes will eat right out of your hand. The 24-70mm F2.8 allowed me to work fast, capturing this eager mammal, tongue out.

What does a Masai giraffe look like when he’s eager to eat? The Tower Ridge Giraffe Experience at the Toledo Zoo lets you find out. Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio, USA. Canon 5D Mark II, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens at 33mm. f/8, 1/1600 second, ISO 400. Sigma 82mm Circular Polarizer Filter. Hand-held, OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Conclusion

Sigma’s latest iteration of the professional workhorse standard zoom, the 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens, is handy, quick, and well-built. Its ergonomics will have you shooting freely. It’s fast f/2.8 aperture will let you shoot in all kinds of situations. And its robust build will guarantee to keep you shooting for many, many years.

If you are looking for a professional zoom to cover the most used focal lengths–24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 70mm—check out Sigma’s professional and affordable 24-70mm zoom.

10.02.2017

Intro

At first glance, you might think the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary  lens is just another compact, telephoto zoom. Not even close! With it’s superb sharpness throughout its entire range, fine compact ergonomics, and attractive bokeh, the 100-400mm is a lightweight optic that will make any photographer a heavy hitter.

Sigma’s newest telephoto zoom is small enough to fit into most any camera bag, yet it’s priced to fit into most budgets. The 100-400mm is so sharp that it can hold its own against lenses costing three, four, five as much. In short, it’s another Sigma wonder that has earned a permanent spot in my field bag.

Sharp optics, fine bokeh, and versatile range make the Sigma 100-400mm a great lens for on-the-go portraiture, such as this shot of Annabelle studying elephants at the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 400mm. f/6.3, 1/160 second, ISO 1600. Handheld with Optical Stabilization (OS) on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

How sharp is the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary lens? Here’s a 100% crop of the image above. This is shot was taken wide open at the 400mm. Look at the fine detail resolved in Annabelle’s eyelashes! Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 400mm. f/6.3, 1/160 second, ISO 1600. Handheld with Optical Stabilization (OS) on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

If the versatile range and diminutive size of the Sigma 100-400mm Contemporary lens isn’t enough to impress you, consider that it provides macro down to 1:3.8 at the long end, perfect for isolating subjects such as flowers and ideal for photographing insects and other small wildlife at comfortable distances.

The 100-400mm beautifully captures the Columbus skyline at sunset from Confluence Park, Columbus, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm 5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 100mm. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 250. Gitzo tripod and head. © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Again, how sharp is the Sigma 100-400mm? Here’s a 100% crop of the skyline above, this time inspecting the short end (100mm) of the zoom. You can see window frames and individual limestone blocks in the LeVeque Tower (upper right), which stands over nearly one mile away from the shooting location. Nice detail, contrast, and color! Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 100mm. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 250. Gitzo tripod and head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Whether you shoot family photos, travel images, architecture, wildlife, macro, weddings, senior pictures, or just about any other type of subject matter, you will find this lens useful. It’s wide range, professional quality optics, and reasonable cost make it a real sleeper.

The Sigma 100-400mm excels at macro photography. The 1:38 macro at the long end narrows the field of view, reducing distracting elements. In addition, at 1:38, the focusing distance is just over 5 feet, allowing photographers to get close-up shots of insects and other small animals from a distance, helping to not scare the critters away. Marigold and Large Milkweed Bug, Kingwood Center Gardens, Mansfield, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens. f/16, 1/60 second, ISO 100. Gitzo tripod and head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Design & Features

The Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS lens is one of the Sigma Global Vision Contemporary lenses. Sigma’s “C” lenses are built to be versatile and compact with high quality optics. Sigma lenses are known for their innovative designs.

The small-but-sharp design of the 100-400mm is made possible through the use of 21 elements, four of which are SLD glass. The optic’s pleasing bokeh is a partial result of the lens’s nine-blade diaphragm. Apertures range from f/5 (at 100mm) to f/22. The front filter size is 67mm.

The 100-400mm is built for use on full-frame cameras. For APS-C shooters, the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 becomes equivalent to a 150-600mm F5-6.3. The lens features a matte black finish. It measures 3.4” in diameter and 7.2” long. The included lens hood adds another 2.5”. Total weight is 40.9 ounces.

Compatible teleconverters include the Sigma TC-1401 (1.4x teleconverter) and the Sigma TC-2001 (2.0x teleconverter). Adding the TC-1401 results in a 140-560mm F7-9 zoom. Adding the TC-2001 results in a 200-800mm F10-12.6 zoom. On APS-C bodies, these teleconverters effectively produce 210-840mm F7-9 and 300-1200 f/10-12.6 optics, respectively.

Optical Stabilization (OS) is controlled with a three-way switch. Setting 1, which stabilizes the lens along all axes, can provide four to five additional stops of shooting over non-OS lenses. (More on this later.) Setting 2 is designed for stabilization during panning. The switch should be set at Off for tripod shooting.

The 100-400mm F5-6.3 is built from Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material, which reduces weight and resists expansion with changes in temperature. The lens mount is made of brass for durability. A rubber ring seals the lens against the camera body.

Zooming and focusing are fast on the Sigma 100-400mm, catching this little butterfly mid-air while hay bale jumping at Malabar Farm State Park, Richland County, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 200mm. f/8, 1/640 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Zooming from 100mm to 400mm can be accomplished two ways. First, you may turn the 1.75” front rubber ribbed ring through 75° of rotation. Secondly, you may grasp the ample indented back rim of the lens hood and push/pull. The latter facilitates quick zooming for moving subjects. Going from 100mm to 400mm extends the length of the lens about 2.5”.

Focusing for the 100-400mm is fast thanks to an newly designed Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM). The zoom can be manually focused by turning the .75” rubber ribbed back ring. Focusing from infinity to the minimum distance of 63” completes 115° of rotation.

Manual focus is smooth and nicely damped. At the closest focusing distance, 63”, magnification is 1:3.8. A focus-limiter switch with three settings is on the left side of the barrel toward the back, just above the OS switch.

Below the OS switch is a Custom Settings switch, which allows users to configure lens two different lens characteristics. These are set by attaching the lens to the optional Sigma USB dock. The 100-400mm C lens offers the same robust customization including Focus Speed tuning, custom focus limiters, OS preview adjustments as the pair of 150-600mm zooms and the 120-300mm F2.8. (allie, add PDP links)

Included with the Sigma 100-400mm 5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary lens is a front cap, an end cap, and a robust hood. This telephoto zoom, as with all the Sigma Global Vision lenses, can be mounted in the Sigma USB dock to change lens characteristics and update firmware.

All Sigma lenses are covered by a four-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Adding the Sigma TC-2001 behind the Sigma 100-400mm zoom on a full-frame body produces a 200-800mm F10-12.6 zoom. Here, to get a super-telephoto shot of the full moon, I attached the 100-400mm and TC-2001 between the 100-400mm and an APS-C body, producing effectively a 300-1200mm lens. Loss of resolution is often a concern adding a teleconverter, but look-y here…amazing details of crater after crater. What an incredibly sharp lens! Nikon D3300, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens with Sigma TC-2001 teleconverter attached. f/16, 1/8 second, ISO 100. Gitzo tripod and head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Handling in the Field

The Sigma 100-400mm provides photographers with an enjoyable, care-free experience. Gone are the days of having to lug big, heavy, and expensive long lenses into the field to produce prize-winning wildlife images, tightly cropped landscape shots, or other long focal length pictures. Instead, today’s cameras allow photographers to turn the ISO up a bit and shoot with the smaller, fast-focusing, and equally sharp telephoto zooms, of which the Sigma 100-400mm is a class-leading example.

On a full-frame camera, the Sigma 100-400mm zoom feels well-balanced. Whether following flying birds or zooming in on your kids or grandkids playing soccer, the 100-400mm is a pleasure to use. Its good balance makes hand-holding quite easy.

Autofocus is quick, even in low light. How low? I was able to focus in my dimly lit basement down to 1 EV. That’s an exposure of 15 seconds at f/5.6 and ISO 100. There’s no way I could manually focusing in such low-light conditions.

The 100-400mm is great for portraits. Annabelle posing along Lake Erie. Old Woman Creek Estuary, Huron, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 200mm. f/6.3, 1/100 second, ISO 400. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Portraits

While you might initially think of the 100-400mm Contemporary lens as a wildlife lens, that defines this optic too narrowly. Much of the shorter end of this zoom is great for portraiture. Shot wide open, the lens is tack sharp.

Consider the high key image above of Annabelle (above). While the details in her face and hat are nicely in focus, what makes this image work so well is the beautiful blurring of the background—the fine bokeh—which transitions from the blues of the water to the whites of the sky. It’s a cool-toned picture with the warm face popping out from under the stylish hat.

Two heads are better than one, and here in black and white, as sisters Annabelle and Sarah enjoy times along the bank of the Black River, Lorain County, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 340mm. f/6, 1/800 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held with OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The nice thing with this telephoto zoom is how consistently sharp the lens is across its zoom range and its various apertures. While many similar zooms are sharp on the short and mid-range focal lengths, they often fall off in resolution near the end. At 400mm and wide open, this lens is sharp. Many zooms that cost much, much more can not claim such stellar performance. This sharp-at-all-focal-lengths quality instills confidence while shooting.

Not all portraits have to be tightly framed. The combined fast shooting and sharpness wide open allowed me to capture Phoebe jumping in the air riverside. Black River, Lorain County, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 250mm. f/6, 1/1000 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held with OS on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

What’s nice about shooting portraits with the Sigma 100-400mm is that you can carry it with you anywhere. It’s compact and lightweight, so you won’t leave it behind. For example, you are ready when your teenage daughter willingly dons Sigma’s trade show shades and poses with a cool leaf she found at one of your favorite nature preserves (below).

Sarah, bedecked in Sigma trade show swag shades, holds a lace-like American Basswood leaf found at Old Woman Creek Estuary, Huron, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 175mm. f/6.3, 1/60 second, ISO 1600. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Travel

For family travels, the convenient size and weight of the 100-400mm makes it ideal. You can hand-carry it, put it in a small shoulder bag, or easily add it to the stable of lenses in your burly backpack.

Mid-summer we headed to Nickel Plate Beach near Huron, Ohio, on the south shore of Lake Erie. On that beautiful blue-sky day, I suited up my 100-400mm with a Sigma polarizer filter and photographed my kids playing at the beach.

The Sigma 100-400mm is a great family travel lens. Annabelle playing in the surf, Nickel Plate Beach, Huron, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary lens at 160mm. f/8, 1/800 second, ISO 800. Sigma 67mm Circular Polarizer Filter. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

As small waves lapped the shore, Annabelle frolicked in the wet sand (above). The Sigma 100-400mm focused quickly and produced a color-rich, contrasty, and sharp images. Turning toward the water (below), I captured Phoebe bursting from the water like a flying fish. The 100-400mm proved to be handy, quick, and enjoyable to use with the at the beach.

Phoebe leaping like a dolphin at Nickel Plate Beach, Huron, Ohio. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 185mm. f/8, 1/500 second, ISO 400. Sigma 67mm Circular Polarizer Filter. Hand-held. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

My newly favorite tele-zoom also accompanied me to the Toledo Zoo. Shooting wide open or one stop down from wide helped blur backgrounds, highlighting the zoo’s animals. Shooting with the 100-400mm with its great ergonomics and optical stabilization was as-easy-as-pie, and the resulting images are sharp and contrasty (below).

Snow Leopard, Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens. f/8, 1/160 second, ISO 800. Sigma 67mm Circular Polarizer Filter. Handheld with Optical Stabilization (OS) on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Dalmatian Pelican, Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 400mm. f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO 400. Handheld with Optical Stabilization (OS) on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Meerkat, Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, Toledo, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary lens. at 400mm. f/8, 1/250 second, ISO 800. Sigma 67mm Circular Polarizer Filter. Handheld with Optical Stabilization (OS) on. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Nature

If you are headed into the wilds, the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary lens is a great lens to take with you. Unlike days of yore, the 100-400mm does not break your back or the bank. Small, easy to use, and quite affordable, this tele zoom provides sharpness for wildlife, isolated landscapes, and macro.

During a particularly active thunderstorm, I shot safely from a distance of 20 miles with the Sigma 100-400mm tele zoom. Lightning over Ashland County, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary lens at 150mm. f/8, 1 second, ISO 100. Gitzo tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

At dusk mid-summer, a particularly strong thunderstorm steamed across Ohio. From the safety of a distant hill, I pointed the 100-400mm at the most active part of the sky. With exposures around 1 second, I fired off a number of shots, many of which captured ominous clouds and streaks of electricity. Focusing in the late day light was simple, and the resulting shots were tack sharp.

The Sigma 100-400mm is great for all kinds of wildlife, from photographing birds to depicting megafauna. My work in the Children & Nature has me frequently catching wildlife and creating high key images, highlighting shapes, colors, and textures of common animals found in our own backyards. Recently, Gorman Nature Center contacted me with an exciting find: a smooth green snake. Looking to add another image to my Curious Critters series, I pulled out the Sigma 100-400mm to produce a portrait of the brilliant lady. The resulting images are sharp, contrasty, and rich with color.

The close-focusing capabilities of the Sigma 100-400mm allowed me to create this eye-level portrait of a smooth green snake, one of my newest additions to my Curious Critters animal series. Gorman Nature Center, Mansfield, Ohio. USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary lens at 400mm, f/14. 1/100 sec. ISO 100. Three strobes, Lastolite Outdoor Cubelite light tent. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 100-400mm excels at many types of nature photography. It provides a great range for isolating patterns and textures in landscapes. It’s a great zoom range for mammals such as white-tailed deer, moose, elk, and bear. The long end will work for many birds. And, if you need more reach, add a teleconverter, either the TC-1401 or the TC-2001. Now you have the reach of a 560mm and 800mm lens, respectively. Alternatively, you can mount the 100-400mm to an APS-C body for a 150-600mm F5-6.3. At these focal lengths, you can photograph the moon, birds from afar, and other distant subjects.

Macro

Nature shooters are particularly excited about the Sigma 100-400mm because of its excellent close-focusing ability. At 400mm, the minimum focusing distance of 63” provides true macro at a magnification of 1:3.8. This allows photographers to turn from depicting deer or birds from a distance to shooting butterflies and dragonflies relatively close at-hand. I say “relatively,” because that’s exactly what the benefit of this lens is: photographers can get fabulous magnification but maintain a working distance that will decrease the odds of scaring away flighty subjects.

At 200mm, the Sigma 100-400mm limits background elements behind a clump of fawn mushrooms. Notice the nice bokeh of the woodland plants forming the background for these fresh fungi. Malabar Farm State Park, Richland County, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary at 200mm. f/8, 8 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Across my career, I have done a lot of macro work. For me, the bar is set high for lenses used for shooting small subjects: a lens has to capture minute details or it does not find a place in my bag. I have to say that right away upon shooting macro subjects with the 100-400mm, I was blown away. The details are amazing!

On a recent hike at Malabar Farm State Park, I came across a fabulous clump of fawn mushrooms (above). While these fungi are quite common, this bunch was unique: as they grew from the rotting log below them, they lifted up a carpet of moss to make a wonderful green hat!

While I often use the Sigma 105mm or Sigma 150mm for mushrooms, I decided to back up and shoot at 200mm with the Sigma 100-400mm. This longer focal length produces a narrower field of view, reducing background distractions. The resulting image is so sharp that you can see spider web strands stretching across the moss spore structures!

The Sigma 100-400mm reproduces intricate details in macro subjects, such as this firework-shaped blossom of common chicory. Tiny hairs on the petals stand out in intricate detail. Richland County, Ohio, USA. The 100-400mm works well on full-frame and cropped-sensor cameras. Nikon D3300, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens. f/5.6, 1/30 second, ISO 100. Gitzo tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

I also love photographing wildflowers, especially blue ones. Among the most prolific and photogenic blue blooms are those of the humble chicory plant. The image above reproduces the coffee-substitute’s colors nicely, and contrast is strong; most impressive, however, is the detail resolved in the image. You can make out tiny hairs covering the petals. Finally, the bokeh is quite nice, blurring the stems behind the blossom in a way that is pleasing and adds to the design of this geometrical image.

Optical Stabilization

Manufactures make various claims about optical stabilization. I prefer to run my own tests. For the 100-400mm, I photographed a copper cupola atop the workshop at Kingwood Center Gardens . Setting my D800E on high speed mode, I fired off 20 shots consecutively with the OS off and 20 shots consecutively with the OS on. It was a sunny, blue-sky day, so I added a Sigma polarizer filter and dialed the ISO down to 50. This allowed me to shoot at 1/15 second at f/16.

Back at my computer, I compared the results. With the OS off, not a single one of the 20 shots was “very good.” In fact, not one was even “acceptable.” With the OS on, all 20 were “acceptable,” and 18 of 20 were “very good.” My results show that you can reasonably gain at least four stops hand-holding with the OS turned on.

Two shots of a copper cupola taken with the Sigma 100-400mm, the left with the OS off and the right with the OS on. These represent the best shots from the two groups of twenty. All 20 shots were blurry with the OS off. All 20 of the shots were acceptably sharp and 18 of the 20 were very good with the OS on. To see a detailed view of this test, examine the next image. Kingwood Center Gardens, Mansfield, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens. f/16, 1/15 second, ISO 50. Hand-held with OS off (left) and on (right). Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Crop of the two copper cupola shots taken with the Sigma 100-400mm, the left with the OS off and the right with the OS on. These are the best shots from the two groups of 20. All 20 shots were blurry with the OS off. All 20 of the shots were acceptably sharp and 18 of the 20 were very good with the OS on. Kingwood Center Gardens, Mansfield, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens. f/16, 1/15 second, ISO 50. Hand-held with OS off (left) and on (right). Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Conclusion

The Sigma 100-400mm telephoto zoom is something special. Sigma’s new optic is amazingly sharp throughout its entire range. The compact optic handles nicely. And it provides good bokeh for anything from macro to portraits.

The Sigma 100-400mm is so versatile, it can even be used to duplicate two-dimensional art. Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair, 1633, Rembrandt van Rijn, (Dutch, 1606–1669), oil on canvas, Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E; Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS Contemporary Lens at 112mm. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo tripod and ball head. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

My prediction: Once you start shooting with the super-sharp optic, you’ll be reaching for the 100-400mm all the time!

07.18.2017

Intro

The Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art  lens is perhaps the sharpest lens I’ve ever used. In addition, it’s a fun, artistic optic, one that may change the way you make pictures.

Wide open, the 85mm F1.4 dramatically isolates subjects while resolving amazing detail, and its bokeh—oh, my! Artfully designed state-of-the-art optics render out-of-focus foregrounds and backgrounds so buttery-smooth.

Read More >>

07.12.2017

Are you looking for an affordable mirrorless camera with class-leading resolution? Then the Sigma SD Quattro may be just the right camera for you.

The Sigma SD Quattro’s sensor resolves eye-catching details, such as the intricate patterns in this later summer sunset. Malabar Farm State Park, Lucas, Ohio, USA. Sigma SDQ, Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro HSM OS Contemporary lens at 17mm. f/8, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and Gitzo GH2780QD ball head. Photo © 2016 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

With a 2.3 megapixel viewfinder and as well as a rear 2.3” TFT screen, you have two fine options for lining up your prize-winning shot, but with a 39 megapixel-equivalent Foveon sensor under the hood, the final images are what will blow you away.

After spending some time shooting with this diminutive but powerful imager, I can say that the photos produced by the SD Quattro are, simply put, amazing in their details, spot-on in their color renditions, and full of eye-pleasing contrast.

Capturing stunning colors with fine gradations is one of the hallmarks of Sigma’s Foveon sensor technology. Here the bright red of the Chesapeake & Ohio Caboose #90776 is set off against a brilliant blue sky and green summer grass. Gambier, Ohio, USA. Sigma SDQ, Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro HSM OS Contemporary lens at 17mm. Sigma PZ Filter. f/8, 1/125 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and Gitzo GH2780QD ball head. Photo © 2016 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The SD Quattro is a mirrorless camera that takes a variety of interchangeable lenses. While the body will work with any lens with a Sigma SA mount, lenses in the Sigma Global Vision (SGV) lens lineup—Contemporary, Art, and Sports optics—work best. For my first several shoots, I used the 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | A, the 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM | C, the 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM | C, and the 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro (not a SGV lens).

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07.07.2017

Introduction: 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art

 

The Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art lens is the lens you have been dreaming of for landscape, architecture, travel, automotive, train, and nature photography. Featuring a constant f/4 aperture for bright viewing and quick focusing, impeccable corner-to-corner sharpness, and impressive close-focusing capabilities, Sigma has given photographers every reason to upgrade their ultrawide glass right now.

The Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art lens is perfect for landscapes, travel, and architecture, including this cityscape of Columbus, Ohio, as seen from the Rich Street Bridge. Terry Allen’s bronze deer peers over the Scioto River, whose name derives from the Wyandot word for “deer.” Nikon D800E, Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens at 20mm. f/16, 1/80 second, ISO 200. Hand-held. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw, Photomatix, Photoshop 2017 CC. Photo © 2017 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Beyond the first impression when you pick this beauty up—namely, an immediate sense of the pro-level quality of the lens—there is in the end the satisfaction with the remarkable detail this lens resolves. Beginning at 12mm, picking up 122° or more than one-third of the world around you, this lens reveals intricacies that you would never see with the naked eye. While you might expect good center sharpness—the 12-24 has this in spades—the edge and corner sharpness is excellent, too. Add to this contrasty, nicely color-balanced images, and little distortion, and you have the perfect tool for prize-winning photography.

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11.23.2016
Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art

Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art

Intro

If you are looking for a super-fast, ultra-wide prime for nature, architectural, and event photography, then the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens is for you. Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM Built with the same professional durability, usability, and image quality as its predecessors in the Sigma F1.4 Art lens lineup—the 35mm F1.4 Art and 50mm F1.4 Art—as well as that of its newer stablemates, the 24mm F1.4 Art and 85mm F1.4 Art, the 20mm F1.4 is an amazing lens.

The super-wide angle and ultra-fast aperture of the Sigma 20mm F1.4 Art lens are perfect for capturing sunrises and sunsets. Easy viewing in near darkness and sharp images from corner to corner are two benefits. Plum Cove Sunset, Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens. f/5.6, 1 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and Gitzo GH2780QD ball head. Image processed in Adobe Camera Raw, Photomatix Pro, and Photoshop CC 2015.5. Photo © 2016 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The super-wide angle and ultra-fast aperture of the Sigma 20mm F1.4 Art lens are perfect for capturing sunrises and sunsets. Easy viewing in near darkness and sharp images from corner to corner are two benefits. Plum Cove Sunset, Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens. f/5.6, 1 second, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and Gitzo GH2780QD ball head. Image processed in Adobe Camera Raw, Photomatix Pro, and Photoshop CC 2015.5. Photo © 2016 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Immediately upon unboxing the 20mm, you will likely be impressed by its build quality. Solid, generous (but not too hefty), and beautifully engineered are three things that describe this impressive piece of glass right away, but the real show-stoppers occur during image-making.

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11.21.2016

While the first lens you may think of for photographing fall foliage may be a wide angle lens, such as the Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | Art, one of my favorites choices is a telephoto zoom. Long focal lengths, such as those produced by the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 Contemporary lens and the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens, allow you to isolate beautiful leaves, capture particularly picturesque parts of scenes, and compress to abstraction various shapes, colors, and textures.

Long telephoto zooms allow photographers to isolate and perfectly frame spectacular fall foliage, even when most of the rest of the leaves are past their prime. Richland County, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens at 370mm. f/22, 1/250 second, ISO 800. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and Gitzo GH2780QD ball head. Mirror lock-up, Nikon MC30 wired remote. Image processed in Adobe Camera Raw, Photomatix Pro, and Photoshop CC 2015.5. Photo © 2016 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Long telephoto zooms allow photographers to isolate and perfectly frame spectacular fall foliage, even when most of the rest of the leaves are past their prime. Richland County, Ohio, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens at 370mm. f/22, 1/250 second, ISO 800. Gitzo GT2541EX tripod and Gitzo GH2780QD ball head. Mirror lock-up, Nikon MC30 wired remote. Image processed in Adobe Camera Raw, Photomatix Pro, and Photoshop CC 2015.5. Photo © 2016 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

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09.29.2016

635_24-105mm_f4_angle-150dpi

by David FitzSimmons

Intro

Ansel Adams is attributed with saying “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” While it is true that the photographer is fundamental to making great images, few of us would deny that four inches of wise glass up front can contribute a lot, too. Enter the Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM zoom. Adding this sharp, fast, and unbelievably rugged Art lens to your rig goes a long way toward making stunning images.

The Sigma 24-105mm zoom is a great choice for nature photographers, including dramatic broad views at sunset. Lupine near Sommesville, Maine, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm, f/22, 1/60 second and 1/4 second, ISO 400. Images processed in Adobe Camera Raw, Photomatix Pro, and Photoshop CC 2015.5. Photo © 2016 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

The Sigma 24-105mm zoom is a great choice for nature photographers, including dramatic broad views at sunset. Lupine near Sommesville, Maine, USA. Nikon D800E, Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM Art lens at 24mm, f/22, 1/60 second and 1/4 second, ISO 400. Images processed in Adobe Camera Raw, Photomatix Pro, and Photoshop CC 2015.5. Photo © 2016 David FitzSimmons. All rights reserved.

Three things jump out right away when using this lens:

  • Versatility
  • Sharpness
  • Durability

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