The Blog: See what
Sigma is saying.

01.23.2015

Sigma Pro explores the possibilities with the Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG HSM lens

What’s bright, gives wonderful, round bokeh and is perfect for portraits, sports, street and product photography? Give up? It’s Sigma’s 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens. This beauty fits on both full frame and cropped sensor cameras.

The ideal portrait focal length is said to be twice to two and a half times the normal focal length. So before diving into the 85 let’s take a look at focal length and what it means in regards to sensor size. First, here’s a definition or two.

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09.19.2014

Tout_LensExploration-15mm

Sometimes a camera wants to see differently. That happens to me I get inspired to go wide… really wide. I’m talking fisheye wide. That’s when I put away the other primes and zooms and pickup the ultra compact, wide and fast Sigma 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens. The lens covers a full frame format camera  providing a 180º angle of view. That’s half a circle!

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02.13.2014

A bottle of red. No it’s not a Billy Joel song. This is the real thing… not Coke; wine. Red, red wine.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Photographing a red wine bottle presents a few lighting challenges. The first is to define the shape of the bottle itself. It is really a very shiny almost black mirror. Lighting dark, reflective objects is simply adding the highlights that will define its shape.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Photographing a red wine bottle presents a few lighting challenges. The first is to define the shape of the bottle itself. It is really a very shiny almost black mirror. Lighting dark, reflective objects is simply adding the highlights that will define its shape.

 

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02.10.2014

Ok. I admit to being somewhat of a snob when it comes to the speed of the lenses I use. The list of my f/2.8’s includes the 120-300mm, 70-200mm, 24-70mm, 150mm Macro & 105mm Macro and a 15mm fisheye. For f/1.4 the list is all primes with the  85mm, the 50mm and the new 35mm Art lens. All of these speed demons are from Sigma of course.

So along comes the latest member of their new Global Vision lenses; the 24-105mm at what I thought was a not-so-speedy f/4.0…

I really need to have a talk with myself about it. Here’s a transcript of that conversation:

Speedball Me: “Hey, hey! Look at this! A 24 to 105 Art lens from Sigma, sweet! Wait a minute… It’s only an f/4.0? Really?!? What’s up with that?”

Photo Me: “Ah, come on Speedball, it’s only one stop slower. That’s no big deal to get the extra reach. I’ll take 105mm at f/4.0 over 70mm and f/2.8 any day. Really!”

Speedball Me: “Well…”

Photo Me: “Speed. Schmeed. Double the ISO and you’ve covered the one stop difference.”

Speedball Me: “Hmmm…”

Photo Me: “By the way, optically stabilized too. Shoot it. Look at the results then decide.”

Speedball Me: “What? It’s a longer telephoto with stabilization too?”

Photo Me: “Yes sir!”

So of course the photographic part of me shot the lens a lot and…Wow. Yep. Wow.

The proof is in the photos. One of the first shoots was with model Amy Patterson as part of my Red Dress series where different ladies rock the same gown.

The proof is in the photos. One of the first shoots was with model Amy Patterson as part of my Red Dress series where different ladies rock the same gown.

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11.26.2013

The quality medium format cameras no matter what the brand stand out as superior to most DSLR cameras. This is particularly true when super large prints—thirty by forty inches and large—are to be made. Color fidelity in medium format is superior too thanks to the larger size of the photo sites that produce the pixels. This quality comes at a price measured not only in dollars, euros or yen. It is a price paid in size and flexibility. Medium format cameras are much heavier than DSLRs. It’s reasonable to want to use a tripod when shooting one.

I have a Hasselblad thirty-nine megapixel medium format camera that makes really fine, high quality photographs. It’s big, heavy and pricy too. So imagine what happened when Sigma introduced the SD1 Merrill. DSLR size, lighter, less money and more megapixels—forty-six and true color fidelity. My medium format camera wasn’t getting much use. Wait. It gets better. Sigma took their forty-six megapixel APS-C sized sensor and put it in a point-and-shoot body complete with a 50mm f/2.8 lens and called it the DP3 Merrill. At slightly shorter than double that format’s normal focal length (28mm) it is the perfect portrait camera. Best of all it can go anywhere. [2799-001.jpg]

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The images from the DP3 Merrill are… well, stunning. These photographs were made at Photo Plus Expo in New York in October of 2013 in Sigma’s Safari Experience. I could shoot only between helping people attending the show make their own pictures of models made up as wild animals. The DP3 Merrill really delivered!

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F10 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F10 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | Aperture: F7.1 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | Aperture: F11 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/160 sec | Aperture: F11 | ISO: 100

[2799-002.jpg, 2799-003.jpg, 2799-004.jpg]

There was one issue with all point-and-shoot cameras. I truly don’t like holding a camera at arm’s length to use the screen as a viewfinder. I want a viewfinder with an eyecup (and diopter correction so I don’t have to wear glasses) that makes hand holding it more stable. My first pass at giving my DP3 an eye friendly viewfinder was to use thin bungee cords to hold a Hood Loupe on the screen. Not too elegant looking; it was really useful. The permanent solution became the Nikon custom finder kit from hoodmanusa.com This beautifully made system attached to the camera’s tripod socket. It has it’s own socket for a quarter inch tripod screw or for a mounting plate like the one I use from Really Right Stuff. Best of all it feels great in my hand while my eye rests solidly on the included diopter equipped Hood Loupe. First issue solved!

Most regular readers of my Sigma Pros blog posts recognize that my happy place is the studio with lots of electronic flash light available. The DP3 Merrill does not have a flash socket, but with a Pocket Wizard Plus III mounted in the hot shoe my super tiny medium format quality portrait camera is ready for studio shooting. Yes, I hand hold it. [2799-005.JPG]

2799-005

Sigma has put a lot of thought into the three DP cameras. By far the DP3 is my personal favorite thanks to its portrait focal length lens. The other two are wonderful for landscapes (DP1 19mm f/2.8) and street shooting (DP2 30mm f/2.8.)

There’s a 90 second video of me with my Sigma pocket portrait camera on httpss://vimeo.com/77099102. Read more about Sigma’s DP Merrills on www.sigmaphoto.com.

This parting shot, of Amy Patterson was made during a testing at my Atlanta studio with the DP3 Merrill. [2799-006.jpg]

 

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F16 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Camera: DP3 Merrill | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F16 | ISO: 100

10.24.2013

A year ago I purchased a 24 megapixel Sony NEX-7 to use as a backup camera during a trip to Belgium, Germany and France. I carried Sigma’s 19mm and 30mm f/2.8  prime lenses. The quality of the photographs amazed me every evening when I downloaded the day’s take. Those results made me carry my “big boy” Canon 5D Mark 2 less than I’d originally planned. The professional quality coupled with it’s touristy—amateur look, I was never questioned in museums, cathedrals, gardens or when I was doing street shooting.

A musician playing along the Rue au Beurre in Brussels caught my eye. A single Euro dropped into his guitar case bought permission to make this portrait. The setting, especially with the gentleman on the left looking back toward the music not to mention the sculpted angel seemingly looking down in enjoyment as well. © 2013 Kevin Ames | Lens: 19mm F2.8 DN | Focal Length: 19mm | Shutter speed: 1/1250 sec | Aperture: f4 | ISO: 400

A musician playing along the Rue au Beurre in Brussels caught my eye. A single Euro dropped into his guitar case bought permission to make this portrait. The setting, especially with the gentleman on the left looking back toward the music not to mention the sculpted angel seemingly looking down in enjoyment as well. © 2013 Kevin Ames | Lens: 19mm F2.8 DN | Focal Length: 19mm | Shutter speed: 1/1250 sec | Aperture: f4 | ISO: 400

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09.17.2013

More and more I find my self shooting one of three Sigma prime lenses in the studio… the 50mm f/1.4, the 85mm f/1.4 and the 150mm f/2.8 OS macro. I noticed that zooms were making me a bit lazy. Hey! It’s a lot easier to twist a zoom ring that it is to move a 300 pound studio stand even if it is on wheels. So why do I do it? A couple of reasons. Perspective, perspective, perspective. I shoot full frame Canon cameras. Their normal focal length is almost 50mm. That’s about the same angle of view as we see with our eyes. I use the 50 mainly for full length photographs.

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F11 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames | Lens: 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: F11 | ISO: 100

This may surprise you, it’s great for shooting lay downs like this Confederate Army jacket or this sword and scabbard from the civil war. It’s wonderfully sharp and has almost no distortion.

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07.31.2013

Macro lenses are for making pictures of bugs, watch parts, coins, jewelry and other tiny stuff. Right? Well not necessarily. Recently one of my model buddies wanted some beauty photographs that mimic Cover Girl makeup ads. We gathered one Friday morning at my studio and went to work. I set up an evenly lit white background using V-Flats while Hope had her makeup done by Kristen White.

© 2013 Kevin Ames

© 2013 Kevin Ames

© 2013 Kevin Ames

© 2013 Kevin Ames

I did two looks; one soft and sweet and the other bold and colorful.

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06.03.2013

My last post tells the story of the power of the ocean. This one looks at the same power in the light of the art of moving water. While homes lost or in danger of being lost to the sea is a disturbing reminder of how impermanent the thing of life are, there can be beauty too.

© 2013 Kevin Ames. A timber poking out of the sand is all that’s left from a lost structure. I was making this photo with my Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 HSM when the waves hit it creating a fantail. Lens: 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM | Exposure mode: Manual |Focal length: 51mm | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: f8 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames. A timber poking out of the sand is all that’s left from a lost structure. I was making this photo with my Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 HSM when the waves hit it creating a fantail. Lens: 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM | Exposure mode: Manual |Focal length: 51mm | Shutter speed: 1/125 sec | Aperture: f8 | ISO: 100

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05.13.2013
© 2013 Kevin Ames. Carrying my camera with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, I happened upon a dinghy in the back yard of a beach house on Madaket beach on Nantucket. I climbed the stairs to the back porch then leaned over the railing to make this photograph. The land flows into the distance before becoming beach that transitions into the waves. The ocean seems a long way away. Lens: 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM | Focal Length: 30mm | Shutter speed: 1/50 sec | Aperture: f8 | ISO: 100

© 2013 Kevin Ames. Carrying my camera with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, I happened upon a dinghy in the back yard of a beach house on Madaket beach on Nantucket. I climbed the stairs to the back porch then leaned over the railing to make this photograph. The land flows into the distance before becoming beach that transitions into the waves. The ocean seems a long way away. Lens: 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM | Focal Length: 30mm | Shutter speed: 1/50 sec | Aperture: f8 | ISO: 100

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