Quick review of the Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens with Bridal and Engagement pictures

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I purchased a new lens, the Sigma 85mm EX DG HSM f1.4.  This quick review is from using a full frame Nikon D700 camera with this lens. I typically only buy Nikon lenses, so I have some top of the line lenses to compare the Sigma too, such as the latest Nikon 24-70 f2.8.  Nikon’s high end lenses have incredible optics and lens coatings that really control typical problems like chromatic aberration and lens flare.  My main concern is taking the highest quality pictures possible, currently Nikon’s 85mm f1.4 lens is $1700 vs $1000 for the Sigma which is a nice difference, but the big problem is you just can’t buy Nikon’s version.  I checked all of Nikon’s authorized dealers and I just can’t find it in stock.  I had read really good reviews of the Sigma lens from photographers such as Ryan Brenizer that I really respect, so I decided I would give it a try.

First of all, the lens has beautiful Bokeh, or the nice smooth out of focus areas in the background and foreground.  At f1.4, you are going to get a very shallow depth of field, a very small area of the picture that is in focus.  However, different lenses even at the same aperture, can vary a lot in the quality of the out of focus area or Bokeh. The out of focus areas of a picture can be as important as the in focus areas. I included the first shot below, not as an example of a really good picture, but because I wanted to show the quality of the Bokeh.  If you notice there is very little flare from the sun, even in the harsh lighting conditions.  The spots of light coming through the trees have turned into beautiful rounded discs, this means there is a high quality rounded aperture.  Of course I knew the Bokeh would be nice from the reviews I had read.

Focus and handling of the lens is really something you need hands on time with to know if it works for you.  My Nikon lenses such as the 24-70 and 70-200 focus extremely fast on the Nikon D700 body.  I knew the Sigma would not be that fast, but I’m pleasantly surprised with how quickly and spot on it locks the focus.  I occasionally miss focus on a shot, but it always seems to be my fault. When you are shooting wide open at f1.4 you have to be really careful to keep your subject in focus, it’s almost impossible if they are moving.  I actually was more afraid of shooting at f1.4 than I should have been, almost all my shots had almost perfect focus, or at least close enough it looked good.

To sum up my quick review, so far I’ve found the Sigma to have excellent focus, beautiful Bokeh, and fast performance.  I haven’t tried it in low light yet such as at a wedding reception, so I will see how it goes.  But so far I’m more than happy with the results I’ve been getting.  I hope you enjoy some of the shots below, they were all shot with the Sigma 85mm wide open at f1.4.  I’ll update this after using the lens more this summer, so far it seems like an excellent addition to my always growing bag of gear.

Note: If the things I talked about in the post sound confusing, there are lots of links that explain everything.  You will learn a lot if you check them out.

Update to this article: A few days after I wrote this I actually found the Nikon version of this lens in stock at the Nikon store for $1699.  I ordered this and will likely be returning the Sigma.  Everything I said about the Sigma is true, it’s a fantastic lens.  So why did I get the Nikon?  It’s all about build quality.  I was getting frustrated at my recent wedding because it was raining and I knew the Sigma is not weather sealed.  While the picture quality is fantastic, I use my lenses so much and in such harsh conditions I decided I should go with the Nikon.  Nikon builds their high end lenses like a tank, and while the build quality of the Sigma is fine, I decided I would prefer the weather sealing of the Nikon.  But if you aren’t a pro, get the Sigma.  It’s great for normal use.

Example of Bokeh from Tamron Lens
This image is just here to show the quality of the Bokeh

Sunlight hitting the veil - Bridal Portrait - Myrtle Beach
Sunlight hitting the veil - Bridal Portrait - Myrtle Beach

View post Quick review of the Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens with Bridal and Engagement pictures

Fun engagement portraits and getting a new lens

I’ve had a lot of really nice engagement portrait sessions this winter.  The weather has been fantastic, I’ve noticed I had more work this winter then last year probably because of the nice weather.  I actually don’t have anything scheduled this weekend, but I have a couple of engagement session for the next.

I’m getting a new portrait lens the Sigma 85mm f1.4.  You might wonder why I’m not buying the Nikon version of this lens.  I almost exclusively use Nikon, my go to lenses the 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 are fantastic.  Ryan Brenizer, a photographer I really trust, reviewed the Sigma lens and really loved it.  With the problems in Japan, Nikon lenses are so expensive and hard to get right now, I just decided to go with the Sigma instead.  The reason I’m mentioning this, is this will probably be my new lens for engagement pictures, at least for many shots.  For example the Bokeh, or out of focus sun coming through the trees in the first image, with the 85mm prime lens at f1.4 would be much creamier and and softer.  It makes for a really amazing look.  It’s harder to use a prime lens of course, because you have to zoom with your feet.  Also accurate focus is critical when shooting at very wide apertures like f1.4.  I’m going to give the lens a good try and I’ll probably write a review myself as well.

The couple featured below was a lot of fun.  They haven’t set a date for the wedding yet, so I was just doing engagement pictures separately from the wedding.  They were very happy and couldn’t stop smiling at each other, it made for a lot of fun candid shots.  I hope you enjoy some of the pictures below.

Engagement portrait in front of the oak trees - Myrtle Beach State Park
Engagement portrait in front of the oak trees - Myrtle Beach State Park

Couple sitting on the oak tree in black and white. - Myrtle Beach State Park
Couple sitting on the oak tree in black and white. - Myrtle Beach State Park

View post Fun engagement portraits and getting a new lens