B&H Wedding Guide: Sigma Lenses
When piecing together your lens kit for photographing a wedding, a number of ideas should be running through your head in regard to the variety of imagery the clients require and the types of situations that can occur throughout the event. While it would be ideal to photograph a wedding with a single, do-it-all lens, the simple fact is that this is not typically possible, and a number of lenses should be curated to best fit the range of situations you plan on handling as the wedding runs its course. Sigma makes an incredibly wide range of lenses to suit almost any type of photographic situation you could face, and as such, there is a handful of lenses that are especially well suited to photographing a wedding that afford you the greatest amount of efficiency and control.
Zoom lenses are best known for the range of possibilities they afford in a single lens. Often reaching from wide-angle to telephoto, or standard to telephoto, these lenses make switching focal lengths an incredibly quick and intuitive process. One of the most common and useful zoom lenses available is the 24-70mm lens, of which Sigma has their 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM Lens. This lens, which is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A mounts, covers standard wide-angle to portrait lengths to suit shooting in a wide array of circumstances that are common to weddings. In addition to the useful variance in focal lengths, the constant, wide f/2.8 maximum aperture better enables shooting in low light as well as providing greater control over your focal plane when working with portraiture or objects for shallow depth of field imagery. This constant maximum aperture also suits video applications well, and the possibility of zooming while recording, without having to adjust exposure.
In regard to the lens’s design, a Hyper-Sonic Motor focusing mechanism is incorporated to provide fast focusing that is equally precise and quiet, to benefit working in fast-paced environments where sharpness is desired. An inner-focusing design also helps with focusing accuracy and maintains a consistent lens length that does not interfere with polarizers and other filters. Three aspherical elements and two special low and one extra-low dispersion element are integrated into the optical construction to help improve overall image sharpness and contrast, while also reducing chromatic aberrations and distortions throughout the zoom range.
Picking up where the 24-70mm leaves off is the APO 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Lens, which is also available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A lens mounts. This lens’s focal length range covers from a mid-portrait length through a full-telephoto perspective, which is well suited to single-subject portraits as well as photographing a wedding’s activities from a distance. Also, like the 24-70mm lens, this lens features a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range to suit shooting in low-light conditions at any magnification.
Also benefitting low-light photography is the incorporation of an optical image stabilization function, which will help to minimize the effects of camera shake for the Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts, or simply help to produce a stabilized image in the viewfinder for Pentax and Sony mounts, since they have in-camera stabilization. The HSM focusing mechanism ensures consistent, fast, precise, quiet autofocusing and additionally can be instantly converted to full-time manual focus for greater control over the exact area of focus when working with selective focus imagery. Both of these focusing attributes are beneficial to video recording as well as fast-paced shooting, with extra attention given to overall control.
The lens construction includes two F low-dispersion elements as well as three special low-dispersion elements to help minimize color and chromatic aberrations and maintain overall image sharpness and clarity. Additionally, a Super Multi-Layer coating has also been applied to elements to improve image contrast and reduce surface reflections and ghosting.
Standard Prime Lenses
As an alternative to working with zoom lenses, prime—or single focal length—lenses are available and often more desirable than zoom lenses due to their ability to incorporate larger maximum apertures, and often produce imagery with greater quality. The obvious drawback is that they encompass only one focal length, and as such, you'll need a few lenses to effectively round out your photo coverage when working an event such as a wedding. A typical lens kit for such an event will likely include one wide-angle lens, one normal-length lens and one portrait-length or telephoto lens.
Beginning with an ideal choice for a wide-angle lens, the newly released 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens is the first lens that's part of Sigma’s new Art series of lenses, which give special consideration to the overall image quality and speed of prime lenses. This lens is available for Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A lens mounts and is also compatible with the newly released Sigma USB Dock, which allows for customization of certain lens attributes such as its focusing parameters and properties. This lens’s main attribute is its wide maximum aperture of f/1.4, which greatly enhances the possibility of working in dimly lit conditions that are often prevalent at indoor weddings. The wide aperture is also intended to give greater control of focus when working in closer proximity to subject matter.
The optical design integrates two aspherical, one F low-dispersion, and four special low-dispersion elements to provide higher image sharpness, clarity, contrast and color fidelity while minimizing aberrations and distortions. Additionally, a floating-element design and the integration of an HSM focusing mechanism also contribute to the overall performance of this lens by aiding in sharpness and usability in an array of circumstances.
Second in line for the essential prime lens kit would be the normal-length 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens, which is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A mounts. This lens, like the 35mm f/1.4, features a wide maximum aperture that enables its use in a wide variety of conditions and provides greater control over the focus plane when shooting wide open. Its normal-length perspective mimics the same angle of view of human eyesight, which is often the most pleasing focal length for shooting general subject matter due to its realistic and natural-looking portrayal of scenery. Helping to balance the pleasing angle of view is the incorporation of one aspherical lens element into the design, which aids image sharpness and clarity while reducing aberrations and color anomalies. Multi-layer lens coatings also benefit image quality by minimizing lens flare and ghosting, leading to imagery with greater overall contrast. Also, like other Sigma lenses, this lens utilizes the HSM focusing motor to provide quiet and quick focusing performance that can also be instantly switched to manual for more control over the exact point of focus.
The final lens that rounds out the ideal standard prime lens kit from Sigma is their 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens. This portrait-length lens, which is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A mounts, is commonly thought of as being ideal for single-subject portraiture, due to its slightly longer-than-normal length, which aids in subject isolation. Also helping to reduce the distraction of background subjects and enhancing low light image capture is the f/1.4 maximum aperture. The lens construction includes one special low-dispersion element and one aspherical lens in its design to help reduce aberrations and improve image sharpness and clarity. Additionally, the HSM focusing motor works to quickly and quietly acquire focus when working with either still imagery or when recording video.
Macro Prime Lenses
Aside from standard prime lenses, having a macro lens with you can also be incredibly beneficial while photographing a wedding, due to its characteristic ability to focus closely for working with smaller subjects and details such as the wedding rings, shoes, flowers, the cake or other decorations.
One of the longest macro lenses available from Sigma is the 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro Lens, which is available for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A mounts. In addition to this lens’s 1:1 magnification and 15” minimum focus distance, its focal length can work equally well for single-subject portraiture and other images from a distance where isolation from busy backgrounds is desired. The wide f/2.8 maximum aperture further helps to accomplish this and also aids in photographing in dimmer light. Also benefitting low-light shooting is the incorporation of an image stabilization system, which helps to reduce the appearance of camera shake and enables the use of slower shutter speeds. The OS function is not incorporated into the Sony/Minolta version of this lens due to the inclusion of an image stabilization system in Sony DSLR bodies.
Three special low-dispersion elements are integrated into the lens construction, and the apochromatic design helps to produce high overall sharpness, contrast and color definition for well-rendered imagery. Additionally, a Super Multi-Layer Coating has been applied to lens elements to reduce flare and ghosting and further enhance light transmission and image contrast.
Slightly wider than the 150mm f/2.8 is the 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens, which is a highly desirable focal length for portraiture as well as close-up imagery and detailed shots. This lens, which is available for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A mounts, incorporates an optical image stabilizer system for minimizing the effects of camera shake that can be increasingly noticeable when working with greater magnifications. The lens can focus as closely as 12.3” at a 1:1 life-size magnification, and the HSM focusing mechanism with full-time manual mode enables a wide breadth of control over focusing. Two special low-dispersion elements, including one high refractive index SLD element, are integrated into the optical design and help to produce sharp imagery that is void of aberrations and distortions throughout the focus range. Additionally, a Super Multi-Layer Coating has also been applied to lens elements to further improve image contrast and clarity by way of lessening surface reflections and ghosting effects.
The widest macro lens available from Sigma, and a viable alternative to the other 50mm lens mentioned previously, is the 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens, which is available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A mounts. This lens can focus as closely as 5.3” while providing a 1:1 life-size magnification for detailed rendering of close-up subjects. The wide focal length—for a macro design—can be used as a creative tool in depicting smaller and mid-sized subject matter in unique ways. Additionally, this lens’s wide f/2.8 maximum aperture benefits shooting in dimmer conditions, and for selective-focus applications.
One other lens to consider when photographing a wedding or similar event is a fisheye lens. A fisheye’s extremely broad angle of view, nearly limitless depth of field at small apertures, and ease of focusing make it an ideal tool for photographing smaller, crowded and fast-paced situations more efficiently. The 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Lens, available in Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sigma SA and Sony/Minolta A mounts, is a popular option due to its ability to produce a rectangular full-frame image while still offering a 180-degree angle of view.
By piecing together a selection of these lenses, a well-rounded kit can be easily formed to support photographing a wedding or event in a thorough manner. Sigma’s lineup of lenses will maintain consistent quality throughout the range, and their incorporation of well-designed optical constructions paired with ample lens technologies will suit working at any event, in any environment or circumstance.
For more information about Sigma lenses and how they can be extremely useful to wedding photographers, please speak with a B&H sales professional in our New York SuperStore, over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or online via Live Chat.