Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Review of the Sigma 24-105mm F4 ART Lens

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

This is the third of the new Sigma “Global Vision” lenses that I have used and tested in the past year. The other two were the 35mm F1.4 DG ART (review here) and the 120-300 F2.8 DG SPORTS lens which I took on my trip to Namibia, Africa in September. To say that these lenses are unbelievably good, would be a huge understatement. And now after testing the 24-105mm, I truly impressed with the quality of the >Sigma Global Vision Lenses.

In testing the Sigma 24-105mm lens, I used it on both a full-frame Canon 5D MKIII and Canon 7D APS-C sensor cameras. The 7D with the APS-C sensor which has crop factor of 1.6x effectively makes this lens the equivalent of a FF 38.4mm to 168mm.

I do own the Canon 24-105mm F4L lens, the zoom range makes it a very versatile and useful all purpose or walk around lens. However I was disappointed with it’s performance from the start. It is not as sharp as other Canon L-series lenses, the distortion at 24mm is huge, the AF sometimes “searches”, it doesn’t lock in right away – this could be a result of the lens being an F4 and I am use to shooting with fast lenses with apertures of F2.8 and faster. Aperture really does make a big difference in the speed and accuracy of focusing as does the auto-focus motor and the camera itself.

The criteria that I use in evaluating any lens is based on the following factors. Yours might be similar, but maybe in a different order.

  1. Sharpness.
  2. Distortion, Chromatic Aberration and Vignetting, if these can be easily corrected in post-processing it’s not really an issue.
  3. Construction, Lens Design and Ergonomics.
  4. Price.

In testing the Sigma 24-105mm I was fortunate enough to be able to use it for several weeks, before having to return it to Sigma Canada.  That gave me the opportunity to use it on many of my photo shoots. In fact, after reviewing the results from the first test shoot with it, I was confident enough in the image quality to use it on all of my commercial shoots.

For me the most important factor to consider is the lens’ performance, is the picture quality high enough to meet the demands of the publishing industry. What I found with the Sigma 24-105mm is that it is an extremely sharp lens and definitely far surpasses the high standards for publishing. On the Canon 5D MKIII  the sharpness is excellent in center, and while corner sharpness was not quite as sharp, it was still very good.  When comparing it against the Canon 24-105mm f4L, the Sigma outperforms it in every aspect. Overall it is sharper at every focal length and aperture setting,  including corner sharpness and wide open at F4.

On both the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and 7D, I found that the focusing was very quick, accurate and is unbelievably quiet.  And although I didn’t use it very often,  you can also use manual focus at any time to over ride the auto focus.  The lens also has a very effective four-stop image stabilization, as opposed to three-stops in the older technology of Canon’s.

A design feature that I think is a very good idea was placing the zoom ring, which is very large at the front of the lens as opposed to the Canon 24-105mm which is quite small and located closer to the camera body and it’s focusing ring is towards the front of the lens. I definitely prefer using Sigma’s configuration, it is better balanced making it easier to hold the camera/lens and also easier to operate.  It has an 82mm front filter compared to 77mm on the Canon, although after using for a day I didn’t notice any difference physically between the two.  Adjusting the focus and zoom does not change the length of the lens, as well the front element does not move or rotate, so using a filter holder or polarizing filter isn’t any problem. The minimum focusing distance is 45 cm (17.7″) I had to look that up, Canon and Nikon’s 24-120mm is similar.

The combination of rugged construction and the high quality of materials give the overall build of the lens is a  and high precision.  The lens mount is made from brass and when it is attached it to the camera goes on smoothly and fits tightly. The lens does not have a rubber weatherstripping seal, so don’t stand in the poring rain with your camera and this lens. If fact most people use a raincoat for their cameras/lenses since most cameras are not weather resistant either. A new accessory for the Global Vision Lenses is the Sigma USB dock which allows you to calibrate the lens and update the lens’ firmware.

There are many technical reviews, charts and scores about this lens on the internet, however I find that reading them is like reading an an instruction manual. I don’t read instructional manuals from cover to cover very often.  What I’ve heard about these other reviews, is that basically they have come up with the same results that I have discovered by using this lens in my day to day work. And that is, Sigma has once again designed and manufactured another lens which is producing outstanding results. A lot of thought has gone into designing this new series of Sigma lenses. I have been using the EX series of lenses for the past 2 -1/2 years and my opinion of them is that they very good, now with the new series of Global Vision  lenses,  all I can say about them is they are incredible and an excellent value.

I had almost completely given up using the Canon 24-105mm and had forgotten how useful that zoom range was. Now given the superior image quality from the Sigma 24-105mm I am hooked on that zoom range again. After using the Sigma 24-105mm F4 I will buying one and will be selling my Canon lens, although I’m probably shooting myself in the foot by writing this review.

 

 

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105h

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105g

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105f

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105e

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105d

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105c

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105b

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Namibia Photo Workshop

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Last September I returned to Namibia, leading another photography tour to this amazing country. I first travelled there in 1988 while I was on a four month trip to Southern Africa, on that trip I brought 400 rolls of slide film with me. That was a lot film!  Since that trip I have returned many times conducting workshops and tours in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. I will be returning to Namibia again in September 2015 and conducting a photography tour with Safari Wise, send me an e-mail if you are interested.

 

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Ottawa Photography Workshops and Photo Shoots

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Last year, near the end of November I launched a Photography Meetup group for my Ottawa workshops. These workshops will cover a variety of topics: studio lighting and also location model photo shoots, creative impressionist photography, visual design, photo shoots in downtown Ottawa of architecture, spring flowers and autumn colours. In addition to my own workshops and classes, I have also added Ashley Murfin as another instructor/organizer. He has an incredible studio which is fully stocked with tons of props and is constantly conducting “Themed Photo Shoots”

Hope you will be able to join us on an upcoming workshop or photo shoot.

 http://www.meetup.com/Ottawa-Photography-Workshops-and-Photo-Shoots/

 

 

Sigma Photo Contest

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Sigma Photo Contest

 

Sigma Canada Photo Contest – Each photo entered gives you a chance to win a monthly Sigma Canada credit of $500 and to be considered for the Grand Prize — a trip for two to Japan.

ENTER NOW!

 

 

Studio Lighting Workshops

Monday, October 28th, 2013

This past weekend was the first of this fall and winter studio lighting workshops. During these workshops I will be demonstrating some of my favourite lighting set-ups and many of the  techniques that I use. I will also be providing instructional information on directing your subject for the camera, finding poses and angles that both flatter and accentuate your subject, and understanding the relationship between lighting and posing. This is both an instructional and hands-on shooting workshop, you will be photographing and working with the models yourself.  If you are interested, contact me, as these classes always fill up quickly.

Ottawa Studio Lighting Workshops Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX

Ottawa Studio Lighting Workshops
Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX

 

Ottawa Studio Lighting Workshops Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX

Ottawa Studio Lighting Workshops
Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX

 

Angelique will be one of the models in upcoming workshops

Angelique will be one of the models in upcoming workshops

 

 

It’s Been Awhile

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

In fact it’s been a LONG time since I have posted anything here.  I have been extremely busy with work – photo shoots, workshops and editing/processing photos. So unfortunately I haven’t had a spare minute to post anything here. I do however do post many of my pictures on my Facebook Page and Garry Black Photography Facebook Page, please add me or “Like” my page if you haven’t already.

Here are two images from recent shoots, one in Ottawa and the other in Namibia, Africa. Somehow they seem rather similar to me.

Virginie in the grass

Virginie in the grass

 

 

Lion in the grass

Lion in the grass

 

For the Africa trip I used the new SIGMA Sport 120-300 mm F2.8 DG HSM OS lens. I used it with a Canon 7D which has a 1.6x cropped sensor, which made the lens effectively a 192-480 mm which was incredible. I had bought the 7D especially for this trip and to use with this lens. Once I have the opportunity to process some more of the images from this trip (and some time) I will post more images taken with the lens and a review of it.  But I can tell you right now – I loved using this lens!

 

LENS REVIEW – SIGMA 35MM F1.4 DG HSM

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

For the past several weeks I’ve have been using and testing Sigma’s new 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens and every time I mention it or post one of the photos, everyone asks “what do you think of it?”  The short answer is…..Stellar results and performance!

 So what makes this lens so great?

This is one of the newly designed lenses from Sigma’s new Art line, one of the three new lines that also includes Contemporary and Sports categories. When I first saw this lens several months ago at a trade show I was quite impressed with the solid feel and mechanical  quality/construction.  As soon as you see and start handling it you realize the quality of this lens, it has a feel to it of being a superior  professional lens – which it is.  There are many well thought out and designed features, one which I really thought was very well done is the large and well placed manual focusing ring, which is a full-time manual override.  Since the depth of field at F1.4 (as it is with any F1.4 lens) is only a very thin plane of focus, I sometimes find myself fine tuning the focus manually. I’m old school and this approach works for me. That being said, the majority of the time I use the auto focus and with this lens I found it to be quick, accurate and there it almost completely silent. Just take care where you place your focus point(s), as you would with any F1.4 lens. The minimum focusing distance is about 12 inches, which allows you to get in really close to your subject, an added bonus.

So what about image quality? The sharpness and colours are amazing. The resolution/sharpness wide open is excellent, and shooting at F1.4 – F2 is one of the main reasons why you are buying this lens.  The in-focus details are razor-sharp and the bokeh, background blur, is very soft and diffused. For low light photography this lens is 2 stops faster compared to my 24-70 F2.8 and with my Canon 5D MKIII it focuses incredibly quickly and accurately. Plus there is the additional advantage of the 1.4 aperture for bokeh, which is way better bokeh than f2.8.  There is practically no chromatic aberration, fringing and distortion. On a cropped sensor camera it would be a fantastic normal field of view lens, as it would be approximately the equivalent of a 50mm lens. Before getting this lens, I already had the Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM a lens that truly impresses me with it’s image quality. The new Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM actually surpasses the build and image quality of the 85mm.

 Below are some of the photos that I have taken using a Canon 5D MKIII and the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens.

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F7.1

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F7.1

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F4.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F4.0

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F11

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F11

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

 

 

 

Given the high optical quality and the excellent build of this lens, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it. The lens sells for a very reasonable price, which is also substantially less than the camera manufacturers’ equivalents. It also comes with a 7 year warranty from Sigma Canada. Bottom line – I would definitely recommend this lens, it is probably the highest quality lens that I have ever shot with!

 

 

Ottawa 2013 Summer Workshops

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX

 

I am planning to hold several workshops this summer in Ottawa, ranging from Fashion/Model photo shoots to Day-Long Photo Walks: designed to improve your creativity and your unique and personal vision.  If you would like to receive priority notification for any of these workshop please join the Ottawa Workshop Mailing List

 

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX

 

 

 

The Crispness is Amazing

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Canon 5D MKII - Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG

 

This is one of the images from last weekend’s Studio Portrait Photography Workshop. When I posted it on my Facebook page I assumed that all of the comments would be about the lighting, colour, composition and oh yes, probably a few about Taryn, our model for the photo shoot.

Well, it did receive all of those comments, but there were a couple of other comments that I didn’t expect. Those were about how crisp the image is. Until somebody mentions it, lens quality isn’t something that I normally think about when I am shooting, I do know that the quality of the lenses I use are excellent and that they are tack sharp.  And since I earn my income as a photographer – making and creating pictures for magazines and commercial clients, lens and image quality is something that I must and do have.

If you follow my posts you know that my favourite lens by far is the SIGMA APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG HSM, followed closely by the SIGMA 24-70MM F2.8 IF EX DG HSM. I probably use these two lenses for over 90% of my work. The image quality of these lenses is superb! Now there are all sorts of equipment reviews and tests out there, comparing “This thing is better than that thing”…..well, I really am not a huge fan of these types of reviews. They do serve a purpose and are a good starting point in helping you decide what you should consider in purchasing, but what I think is much more useful are “Real World Tests”.  Actually using the equipment or getting that advice from someone who will give you a subjective evaluation.

Well, what I can tell you is that I have been using the 4 Sigma lenses listed below for over a year now….and that they are indispensable to my work. In some of my future posts I will give you some Real World examples showing how and when I use these lenses.

SIGMA APO 70-200MM F2.8 EX DG HSM

SIGMA 24-70MM F2.8 IF EX DG HSM

SIGMA 120-400MM F4.5-5.6 APO DG HSM

SIGMA 85MM F1.4 EX DG HSM

 

 

Masterclass Studio Lighting and Post Production Workshop

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG

 

Masterclass Studio Lighting and Post Production Workshop – Due to a cancellation a space has become available

http://www.garryblack.com/studioportrait2013_2.html

 

Sunday February 3, 2013  –  10am to 4pm
Wednesday February 6, 2013  – 7pm to 10pm