Monday, July 21, 2014

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM Lens

My two most recent blog posts dealt with two prime lenses designed to be used with APS-C sized sensors like those contained in my Canon EOS 7D bodies, the Sigma 10mm f/2.8 fisheye lens and the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens. In a roundabout way, I have now obtained what will be the third of my trio of prime lenses designed for use with APS-C sensors.

The saga started when I decided to sell my EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens, intending to  then purchase an EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens to replace it and pocket the difference. As it happened, the person to whom I was selling the 24-70mm lens happened to have the 17-55mm lens on his camera and I was able to play with it a bit. I did not like the build quality at all and decided that I really didn't want to buy one of those lenses.

So, I remembered someone local was selling an older Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8L lens on craigslist and was able to arrange a deal, pocketing some of the money from the sale of the 24-70. This lens design dates back to 1996 and was discontinued in 2001. While I knew that the edges of this lens are extremely soft on a full frame camera, I was counting on the fact that the 7D would only be using the middle portion of the lens' image circle.

I don't know if this was a particularly bad copy of this lens or if the design is so outdated that it simply doesn't work well with modern digital cameras but the results were really not useable. And since Canon no longer supports the repair of this lens there wasn't really a way for me to find out. I was able to sell the lens for much less than I paid for it but only after I made sure that I would be getting enough to replace it with something I hoped I would like.

Enter the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM lens which I bought on eBay for less that what I received for the 17-35. The EX version of this Sigma lens was replaced in 2013 by one of what Sigma calls their "Art" line of lenses. Most reviews of the newer lens mention a superior build quality over the EX version but as my Sigma fisheye is an EX lens I wasn't really concerned about build quality as that lens is quite solid. Luckily, I was right as the two EX lenses are very similar and I have no complaints.

A 30mm lens has the field of view of a 48mm lens on a full frame camera. Image quality with the Sigma 30mm is far better than the old Canon 17-35mm zoom lens. Right after picking it up at the post office I stopped at one of the Waterford locks for a test. I was quite happy when I examined the images. This JPG has no correction for chromatic aberration and only standard adjustments for contrast and sharpness.

Canon 7D, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC, f/8, 1/350 sec., ISO 100

So, in addition to my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, I am now using only the Sigma 10mm fisheye and 30mm lenses and the Canon EF-S 60mm macro lens with my two 7D bodies. Here are shots, made from the same spot, showing the field of view of each of the three prime lenses.

Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Fisheye

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Fisheye Lens

The other lens I mentioned last time as being very useful with my crop sensor 7D bodies is the Sigma 10mm fisheye lens. This is also an f/2.8 lens and as such is fast enough for use indoors for events.

My widest lens other than this lens is presently the 24-70mm which has a full frame field of view of 38mm at its widest end. This fisheye lens is a nice alternative in tight quarters and is capable of all kinds of different "looks" depending on how the shot is composed. Flat lines will curve if placed near the top, bottom or sides of the frame but if kept toward the middle, the scene can appear as if shot with a normal wide angle lens.

This first shot illustrates that effect as the island and bridge appear normal but the straight edge of the wharf is massively curved.

Similarly, the vertical lines toward the center of this scene of lock E-2 are straight while vertical lines more toward the edges appear curved. Objects closer to the lens also will curve more than objects at a distance as the tower on the Ursula of Switzerland building illustrates.

As I mentioned, this lens is relatively fast and is useful for indoor shots. This shot of an Easter morning service was made at f/2.8, 1/30 second at ISO 800.

For this shot of the third branch of the Mohawk River from Van Schaick Island, I was standing right next to the white rock in the foreground. I would have liked to compose a little more to the left but my shadow was just to the left of the frame. This shot has a natural look to it due to the lack of straight lines except for the trees, which don't look at all unusual if they are bent a bit.

This shot of the same scene, after several days of rain, was made with the 40mm pancake lens which has a full frame field of view of 64mm. I had to stand back about 10 feet from the rock, across a path to get both the rock and bench in the frame.

I always thought this would be a nice location for an engagement shoot with the couple sitting on the rock.

Monday, June 2, 2014

EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Now that I am using two EOS 7D bodies, I can embrace lenses designed for the smaller sensors of these cameras, lenses I couldn't use with my full frame bodies. The two lenses of this type I currently own are the Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC ESM Fisheye and the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM.

The Sigma has the look of the classic 15mm diagonal fisheye and the Canon nearly the field of view of the classic 100mm macro lenses. Here are some samples made with the 60mm macro lens yesterday morning.

All images are processed from three bracketed files, +/- 1 EV, with Canon's DPP software. Exposure information in the captions are for the normally exposed file. Bracketing is achieved in aperture priority mode by changing the shutter speed. So, the underexposed file will have a shutter speed half as long and the overexposed file will have a shutter speed twice as long as the normally exposed file.

Canon EOS 7D, EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro, f/8, 1/15 sec., ISO 100

Canon EOS 7D, EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro, f/11, 3 sec., ISO 100

Obviously, with shutter speeds as long as 6 seconds, a tripod and remote release was essential for the above images. Macro lenses are also good for other types of photography, however. This lens makes a particularly nice portrait lens, for instance, and can also be used for landscapes.

The image below was able to be successfully bracketed without a tripod due to faster shutter speeds because of the brightness of the scene and the 8 frames per second shooting speed of the 7D which limits camera movement between shots.

Canon EOS 7D, EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro, f/8, 1/180 sec., ISO 100