First Look: SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art

The SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens replaces the very popular 30mm EX DC HSM lens as the fast, standard prime designed exclusively for DLSRs with APS-C sensors, including the SIGMA SD1 Merrill, the Canon EOS Rebels, 60D and 7D and a number of Nikon models including the D7100, D90, and D5100. And based on the updates and upgrades, the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is going to make a lot of photographers very happy.

As an Art lens the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | A is built to the same design and performance standards introduced with the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens, the first lens in this line to be announced. In fact, this lens feels like a scaled-down version of that fast, full-frame prime lens. And it’s not simply a cosmetic change. The new 30mm F1.4 has a completely new optical design, with more lens elements, including a double-aspheric lens which minimizes spherical distortion. As far as focusing goes, there’s been a lot of advancements since the original 30mm F1.4 was released in 2005. The autofocus is much faster, and much more quiet. And the full-time manual focus ring is very responsive for complete creative control. And as a Global Vision lens, each and every 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is individually tested on the A1 MTF device at the Aizu, Japan factory.

The 30mm F1.4 is designed for outstanding edge-to-edge image quality, even at the widest apertures thanks to its being an Art lens. And with a very flat field, it’s easy to focus on a detail and recompose the scene and keep the selected subject sharp anywhere within the frame.

On APS-C DSLRs with a 1.5x sensor, such as the SIGMA SD1 Merrill and the Nikon DX cameras, the lens is equivalent to a 45mm lens–the standard field of view for the 35mm format–so perspective and field of view is very similar to human stereoscopic vision.

Combine this with the shallow depth of field at widest apertures captured through nine rounded diaphragm blades, and it makes for images with beautiful background blur and focus fall-off. (On cameras with a 1.6x APS-C, like the Canon models, the lens is equivalent to a 48mm).

The included circular lens hood pairs firmly with the rubberized connector ring on the front of the lens. And as a photographer who is always mismatching lens hoods, I personally really appreciate the design detail of all new Global Vision lens hoods that includes both the part number of the lens hood, and the name of the lens it is designed for!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made photos with the SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens indoors and out, with both the Canon EF-mount version paired to a Canon EOS Rebel T3i, and the SIGMA SA-mount version paired with the SIGMA SD1 and universally the results have been very pleasing.

Images pop right from the camera, even in the harshest lighting conditions. Super Multi-Layer Coatings on the lens elements, combined with the overall optical design–rear internal focusing, the double aspheric element, and so on–all work to deliver outstanding image quality.

It makes some sense to compare this lens to the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens for APS-C exclusive photographers, as the equivalent field of view is pretty much right in the same vicinity when either of these are mounted. Overall, the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | A is smaller and lighter than its full-frame stablemate, and is also available for a lower price. The biggest reasons to look instead to the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art are these: slightly greater maximum magnification size at close-focus distance (1:5.2 vs 1:6.8) and  immediate future plans to upgrade your kit from an APS-C camera to a full-frame model.

And as with all new DC and DG lenses in the Art, Sports, and Contemporary lines, the 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is compatible with the USB Dock and SIGMA Optimization Pro software for multi-zone micro-focus adjustments and firmware updates.

All in all, the SIGMA 30mm F1.4 DC HSM | Art lens is a great, fast, standard prime, perfect for demanding photographers working with APS-C DSLRs.

Sigma SD1 and SD15 for Digital Infrared Photography

Infrared photography involves capturing light at wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum. Infrared energy is reflected quite differently than we are accustomed to by many organic and inorganic surfaces, and the results of landscapes bathed in infrared light has long been a favorite style of photography for fine art photographers since the silver halide days of centuries past. A unique design advantage of Sigma’s DSLRs allows creative photographers to quickly and easily swap between visible spectrum and infrared photography.

Lilypads, trees, and clouds are highly reflective in Infrared wavelengths, as this scene from midday in Spring Lake, NJ, illustrates. Camera: Sigma SD1 with IR blocking filter removed. Lens: 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Infrared Filter: Cokin P 007 (89B) Infrared passing filter (50% transmission at 720nm) | Exposure: 1/80 at F/13.0 ISO 100 X3F Raw Capture. Converted through Sigma Photo Pro 5 to monochrome.

All digital SLR sensors are sensitive to infrared wavelengths–but these wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum are prohibited from reaching the sensor by IR-blocking filters. In the Sigma SD1 and SD15 Digital SLR cameras, the Infrared blocking filter is just inside the lens mount–and above the reflex mirror. It easily pops out to enable sensor cleaning, and this also allows energy of infrared wavelengths to hit the sensor.

Continue reading Sigma SD1 and SD15 for Digital Infrared Photography

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