Tudortech (South Africa) the official Sigma distributors throughout the African continent, last week kindly dropped off two brand new professional lenses for me to review. The 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM as well as the new 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM OS. Thank you Michael from Sigma/Tudortech and Colleen from CMN Marketing.
Sigma call this “The Ultimate Wedding & Portrait Lens” and with it’s large aperture and medium telephoto lens focal length plus the pro rounded 9 blade diaphragm it is going to give hand held low-light shooting with a smooth, dreamy bokeh. It will become your “make money” lens. (See next blog entry (Sigma 85mm EX DG HSM f/1.4 (Part 2) Review) for technical report and some wow images.)
Beautifully boxed and with their 3 year local warranty sticker proudly visible; a huge stamp of product confidence and should allay any fears of the backing and commitment of the brand. Not that I’ve had any major mishaps after using several Sigma’s dating from ’91, all of which are still functioning perfectly today even after migrating from film to digital bodies and despite being subjected to years of use in dusty and hot game reserves, outdoor (sometimes wet – skidpan) event photography, commercial work, freezing night shoots and in a tame studio.
I unwrapped the sealed plastic, opened the box and packaging, removed the decent carry bag and extracted the lens. It felt solid as I lifted it out the box. With it’s distinct metallic gold ring that denotes their Professional EX Range of lenses, the 85er beckoned for a product shoot before it ended up with dust and finger prints.
A full frame lens for FX / APS-H DSLR’s but it can naturally be used on DX / APS-C sensors at 1.5x (Sigma, Nikon, Pentax, Sony) or 1.6x (Canon) crop factor, it oozes build quality. At a massive 130mm on DX at f/1.4 you have to use your feet to get your composition and you will need a deep studio in order to back pedal if shooting models full length. No “lazy user” zoom rings here. On a plus you no longer have to shove your lens into your models face to get that eye or lash close up
From it’s large focus ring grip, a well positioned big positive action AF/M thumb switch to the metal bayonet mount this lens is not your standard plastic fantastic. I popped on the lens hood (The hood extension is not shown but is included, provides better protection from flare when used on APS-C DSLR’s, this is unique from a lens maker) and then with a solid tight bayonet click onto the DSLR I felt no slap or play at all. Fairly well balanced weight with the DSLR+GRIP, perhaps a tad nose heavy in comparison to my studio 28-80mm f/2.8 zoom. Raised it to my eye and looked through the viewfinder…whoa! Bright! I thought my Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 was bright…it’s amazing what two full stops of light makes. I snapped off a few images indoors in ambient but subdued light and the bright crisp results and fast shutter speeds were just amazing. The last time I held such a fast lens in my hands was in the 80′s with my Rokkor-X MD 50mm f/1.2 but that was a feather weight in comparison. I still have that lens and am tempted to do a side by side photo shoot. Not that I found the 85er in the Gerrie Coetzee class, but it is physically more rotund than a 35mm MF 50mm and looks like it means business.
So into the studio with one 300w strobe, diffusers, a Gossen DigiPro F Light Meter, my trusty D90 and the tripod. An hour later I had a few quality (sexy) original images of the 85er attached to a D7000. The least I could do for the kind folks at Tudortech.
All the product images above were shot with my own workhorse; a 2009 Sigma 28-70mm EX DG f/2.8
If you are looking to purchase one please drop me an email.
RRP is surprisingly good value at +/- ZAR R9000-00 inc VAT ($970-00) excluding delivery or professional tuition for a lens that will last you well throughout your career.
Needless to say I took a number of snaps with it around the studio. I also took it to Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday and coupled it to a D300s and D7000…images and technical write-up to follow shortly but here’s some teaser images. Both are SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera, untouched, uncropped, resized).
During April I will have a chance to do a boudoir shoot and hope by then to have the 85er down pat to capture some sensual and dreamy images.
Gear I use: Bodies: Nikon D-SLR’s / Lenses: Nikon, Sigma, Tokina, Vivitar
Filters: Hoya UV & Polarizing , Formatt / Flash: Nikon Speed-lights / Bag: Lowe Pro
Tripods & Heads: Manfrotto / Grips, Triggers, Timers, Batteries etc: BandH
Memory Cards: SanDisk, Lexar, Transcend
Editing Plug-in: Topaz Labs Noise Reduction, HDR, B&W Conversion & more!
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