There are so many choices when it comes to photography gear. As a busy mom with three young kids, I need four things when it comes to my lenses: 1. autofocus speed and accuracy (my kids are quick!); 2. image sharpness, especially at lower f/stops; 3. affordable pricing; and 4. great lens-build quality. I’ve tried lenses from numerous companies and, hands down, Sigma beats them all. Sigma lenses are incredibly reliable and exceed my expectations in each of these four categories, which is why you’ll always find their lenses on my camera.
Each lens changes the way I see.
As a photographer and my family’s visual historian, I find so much joy in documenting the fleeting moments of childhood, as well as our everyday adventures. It’s a rare sight if you catch me without a camera close at hand. We’re on the go, a LOT. I can’t carry a fully packed camera bag with me all the time. Most often, I have room for my camera and a single lens. This means I have a tough decision before each adventure: I have to make a choice about which lens I’m going to use to maximize my storytelling ability.
I prefer to shoot with prime lenses. The Sigma Art Line lenses that I love to use open up to a low f-stop (between f/1.4 and f/1.8), letting in more light at those wide-open apertures. This gives me flexibility to shoot in low light situations with a lower ISO (resulting in less noise in my images) versus using a zoom lens that doesn’t open up quite as wide.
My prime lens collection currently consists of a Sigma 15mm Fisheye and the Sigma Art 24mm, 35mm, 85mm, and 135mm lenses. The varying focal lengths (literally) change how I see the scene and, therefore, how I capture the stories I observe. Whichever lens I choose for the adventure at hand, I push myself past the perceived limits of a single focal length. Having just one prime lens forces me to be even more creative, and, in fact, many of my favorite images were captured on adventures when I only had a single lens available.
I love my Sigma Fisheye lens for whimsical fun, indoors or out.
The Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye is a lens I bought because I thought it would be fun to use on occasion, but soon after I was shocked at how often I love using this lens. It has an f/2.8 maximum aperture and is fantastic to use in full sun situations. The fisheye distortion adds a whimsical feeling to most outdoor images and really enhances the sensations of joy and fun that come with childhood.
I use this lens more often than I ever anticipated and I love to take it places where I have large areas to work, especially with wide open skies! It also works well indoors, but I have to be very mindful of the lines in my frame because of the profound distortion. The lines can be fixed in post processing but sometimes I lose important details close to the edge of the frame. Because of that, I often turn to my Sigma Art 24mm when it comes to images in tighter indoor spaces.
My Sigma wide-angle lenses are ideal for storytelling.
The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is another lens I hold in high regard. I love being able to get in close to my subjects with this lens. I will often use the closer proximity of my subject to help layer the image and enhance the feeling of depth. Because the distortion is minimal, I use this lens in my home all the time. It’s my first choice when I know we’ll be traveling in the car, when I want to take an overhead shot, or when I need to pick a lens for the swimming pool.
When it comes to versatility, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens takes the top spot. There is a reason this particular lens is beloved by photographers far and wide. It’s sharp, quick to autofocus, and handles any light situation with ease.
Personally, I love taking this lens along when I know we’ll be in spaces where I’ll have a little bit of room to work around my subjects. For example, I used this lens recently at a natural science museum and it worked perfectly to capture my children in the rainforest dome watching butterflies. I was able to shoot from a tier above them and take in enough of the environment to tell a story, but not so much that strangers would be included in the image.
Sigma’s longer focal length lenses are amazing for portraiture.
When I have even more space to work, I love using a longer focal length, like the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art lenses. These are great choices when we’re hiking on the trails behind our home. They both offer beautiful compression, which helps soften cluttered, busy backgrounds.
The Sigma 85mm is my go to for outdoor portraits. It doesn’t distort the image and is flattering for close-up shots. The 135mm is a dream to work with when I want the background to softly melt away. The bokeh is buttery smooth and this lens can pretty much make any outdoor location look extraordinary.
I make my Sigma lenses work with my artistic vision.
There have been occasions where I’ve packed a longer focal length, and when I get to my destination I realize I would have preferred something wider. In these moments, I don’t let the lens dictate my vision for an image. Instead, I’ll make it work to my advantage.
This image of my son at the creek was taken with the Sigma 85mm Art. I did not have enough room to back up and take in the entire scene without stepping into the middle of a deep swimming hole, but I knew I wanted to offer the viewer a sense of scale as he sat there at the edge of the creek. To capture this image, I first photographed my son where he was sitting. Without changing my settings or my focus, I began to methodically shoot overlapping images around the entire scene. Then, in post processing, I let Adobe Photoshop do the hard work, and it built this panorama out of nearly 80 images.
It took some time to figure out what lens worked the best on each of our adventures. Now I’m able to make a best guess and am always happy with whatever lens I’ve chosen. I can travel light and am pushed creatively to make a single focal length work for me. And I’m looking forward to experimenting more as Sigma puts out new lenses, like the 40mm Art.
When it comes to gear I can wholeheartedly rely on as a busy mom and photographer who can’t afford to miss a moment, Sigma wins the spot on my camera every time.
Photos by Melissa Haugen
Psst… Did you know you can view more images taken by Click Pros with each of the Sigma lenses mentioned in Melissa’s article in our Images by Lens database? Yep! It’s THAT amazing. Check it out!