For many years, Sigma Corporation has been a leading manufacturer of quality lenses for major camera brands. To discuss the attributes of a few of these lenses, we spoke with Judy Host, a professional photographer, lecturer and educator based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been honored as a Sigma Pro, and she uses a variety of Sigma lenses to create her prize-winning portraits and commercial work. She photographs models, does headshots for aspiring actors and creates advertising images for clients in Atlanta. “My commercial work is all about beauty,” she says.
135mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art Lens
This prime lens offers very sharp image quality and enables photographers to create large image file sizes from today’s full-frame, high-resolution cameras. “The aperture of f/1.8 is a huge boost for me, especially when I’m doing lifestyle, head and beauty shots,” Host comments. “It’s a beautiful, fast lens.”
She says that when shooting in shade or low light, the wide, bright aperture ensures sharp images. The long focal length yields a compression effect, while its maximum aperture of f/1.8 delivers beautiful bokeh (out-offocus background), a desirable feature when shooting portraits. Host utilizes strobe lighting when she’s working in a studio, but she uses natural light on location about 85 percent of the time. She praises the clarity of the 135mm lens, as well as its image quality, which is apparent when she teaches workshops. “When I’m photographing with my students, I compare their photos to what I’ve shot,” she remarks. “I give them my camera settings, but they’re using a lot of different equipment.”
“When I blow my images up to 100, 200 or 300%, my images are unbelievably tack-sharp,” she says. “I can see my reflection in my subject’s eyes when I’m shooting up close.” Host points out that she can even count the subject’s eyelashes when using the 135mm F1.8. “I have confidence when I’m shooting,” she says, “because I know what this lens will do for me.”
The suggested retail price for the 135mm F1.8 DG HSM / Art lens is $1399.00
24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art Lens
As with the 135mm, this lens is very sharp, which enables photographers to get large, sharp image files. The 24-70mm also incorporates a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for high-speed autofocusing, as well as optical stabilization to help ensure sharp images without using a tripod. The wide aperture of f/2.8 also delivers great bokeh.
Host says, “What I’m finding in my commercial work is that the 24mm wideangle perspective is a wonderful tool to have. It’s a style choice.” In branding her particular style in the commercial world, she finds that she’s encompassing more scenery and environment in her images. “A lot of script is required when I create ads for my clients,” she says. “My subject needs to be off to one side or the other, and having blank space (for ad copy) makes my art directors very happy.” The wider focal length and zoom range gives her that capability. “I don’t always get to choose my locations,” she adds. When she needs to work in tighter areas, the wider 24mm angle of view gives her a greater sense of space. “The f/2.8 aperture also gives me more light,” she says, noting that the Sigma Art series lenses are incredibly sharp at all apertures and focal lengths.
The 24-70mm zoom range gives her a lot of versatility without having to switch lenses, which is especially helpful when she’s shooting at the beach. “I’m not going to change my lens out there on the sand,” she says. “I don’t want to open my camera on a windy beach.” Host acknowledges that 24-70mm is a great focal range for shooting in a wide variety of situations, including her studio. “I have lower ceilings and not a lot of space,” she says. “With this lens, I can shoot a full body against a white background.”
The suggested retail price for the 24- 70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art lens is $1299.00.
50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art Lens
This redesigned prime lens was created for full-frame DSLRs, and is ideal for portraiture and studio photography. It incorporates an updated AF algorithm and Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for quiet, highspeed autofocusing. The 50mm also boasts a wide maximum aperture of f/1.4.
Host has high praise for this lens. “For me, this is the most magical of all the Sigma lenses.” She says that her photographic passion these days is ballet, which she primarily captures with the 50mm F1.4. “This focal length is the most natural perspective that reflects what your eye actually sees,” she says. “When photographing dancers, I’d say that 70 percent of my work is shot with the 50mm F1.4.”
Many portrait photographers carry this “normal” lens in their arsenal. “The wide aperture makes it a very fast lens, very sharp, and great for low-light shooting,” she explains.
Once again, Host emphasizes the importance of creating a brand for herself with the lenses that she uses. “I’m not a real technical individual,” she remarks. “For me, these lenses are all about reallife usage. I know what I need to accomplish for my clients.”
The suggested retail price of the 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens is $949.00.