The Crispness is Amazing

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




13 Responses to “The Crispness is Amazing”

  1. Lauren says:

    It’s nice to see a top professional sharing their ideas, far too often reviews are conducted by people who don’t make a living from taking pictures but rather from talking about it. The Sigma 24–70 F/2.8 is probably the most useful lens I have, I love it! Thanks a lot for sharing with us !!

  2. Pete R says:

    Wow I love the sharpness of my Sigma 70-200 F2.8, it gives me excellent details and sharpness. I bought it after seeing your photos that you posted, I thought if a professional of your caliber uses it that it must be good!!!!! I also save more than a $1000.00 over buying the Canon :) Thanks for your advice, it’s a refreshing break from some of the nonsense on the forums.

  3. Dave Watt says:

    I have a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 and I think the quality of photographs is really impressive. I have Canon 7D and using the OS hand held at 200/320 it is pin sharp. Cropping and enlarging still give exceptional imagery and detail, bokeh is soft and even. This is definitely the best lens I have ever owned, worth every cent. Cost comparison with Canon makes it a no-brainier. I would strongly recommend it.

  4. Chris H says:

    Just a quick question….don’t you have anything wider than 24mm?

  5. ski247 says:

    Would this lens be good for landscape photography?

  6. GB says:

    #Chris: I have the first version of the Canon 16-35 F2.8 and I am not very happy with it. I am thinking about getting either the newer version of the Canon lens or what I think would be a much better choice would be the SIGMA 12-24MM F4.5-5.6 II DG HSM lens. I would rather have the extra wide angle reach over the F2.8 aperture.

    Also on my list of must get lenses:
    SIGMA 35MM F1.4 DG HSM
    SIGMA 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

    #ski247: Yes the Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG is an excellent lens for landscape photography. Use the tripod collar mount on the lens, it will be balanced and more stable than using the camera tripod mount. Also make sure you turn off the OS feature when using it on a tripod. The same applies for Nikon VR and Canon IS.

  7. Clarence says:

    Hi, I follow your posts regularly. I love that you don’t focus on the technical aspects of photography, there are enough camera and optic geeks out there with charts and tests and crappy pictures.

    This portrait is great! Amazing technique and results! Good Job!!!!!

  8. Kevin says:

    I am a pixel peeper, enjoy looking at graphs of MTF plots, and looking at comparison pictures of the corner vs center sharpness at the various apertures. I think I have it all figured out then I start reading the reader’s comments and I am totally confused. Comments like: “maybe you got lucky with this lens, yours must be a really good copy”

    “really depends on application, weight and price”

    “Really interesting to see how it is possible that DxO has not yet tested this lens”

    “That lens is rumored to be…..”

    “I love how everything can be formulaically boiled down into just one number. Without these numbers I would have no way to compare two products to really know which one is the best. What would I do without these rating systems? Probably off doing something silly like taking pictures.”

    I am looking forward to seeing more of your “REAL” pictures!

  9. Mike says:

    I am looking forward to your presentation at the NFRCC Convention in a couple of weeks.

  10. Alireza says:

    I have Canon 70-200mm F4L and it would be interesting for me to see a head-to-head comparison between Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 and Canon 70-200mm F4L in real-world. However, I have a Canon T3i camera, which is not full frame. Does it effect the result? Thanks.

  11. Larry says:

    Great work! What a gorgeous model! How do you get the multi-coloured background? What an amazing effect. Sent you a message about the Ottawa summer workshops. I really like Lauren’s comment about photographers who make a living from photography “Taking vs Talking” that’s so true! There are very few photographers of your caliber who actually give any advice regarding equipment – THX

  12. GB says:

    I appreciate everyone’s comments.

    #Kevin, I think I’ve read everyone of those quoted comments a hundred times.

    #Alireza, yes there is a difference between a full frame and cropped sensor camera. The cropped sensor is only using the centre area of the lens, so any lens that is designed for a full frame camera will preform much better on a cropped sensor. Traditionally with all lenses, it is the corners and edges that have softness problems. We you take the workshop I will lend you the Sigma lenses so you can test them.