Ben Cherry is an environmental photojournalist and natural history cameraman, working with NGOs and production companies, having worked with the likes of the BBC, National Trust and The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
I have been after a super wide angle zoom for a while. There is never one which quite ticks all the boxes. From having a good zoom range for varied scenario coverage in quick hustle and bustle situations, to offering excellent image quality and even the ability to add filters, there are plenty of things to consider. The SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art lens offers a fantastically creative zoom lens with plenty of uses.
I’ve always been a ‘24mm kind of guy’, usually finding anything wider than that is not overly appealing. Plus I just love the creativity that a 24mm lens offers, especially the famous SIGMA 24mm F1.4 DG HSM |Art. However I have worked on a number of projects recently where I needed something wider than 24mm so I thought the SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art lens would be a great solution. It has been getting rave reviews and although you can’t easily put a filter system on it, I thought the benefits would massively outweigh the negatives and I wasn’t wrong. Wow!
The first thing which grabs you is the weight of this compact and beautifully made piece of glass. Hefty but not so much that I wouldn’t carry it slung on my shoulder all day. Knowing that it is weather sealed helps to offer some reassurance when using this out in the field. The second thing is the bulbous front element which consistently terrifies me! This is something to be particularly aware of when utilising the tiny minimal focusing distance, as at 14mm you’ll suddenly realise you’re almost touching the thing you’re focusing on! The payoff of this lens design though is fantastic image quality edge to edge wide open or stopped down.
In the short time I’ve had the lens I’ve used it on stills and video commissions, from TV documentary work covering fireworks and big sky landscapes, to doing some commercial architecture photography. Using it either on a Sony FS7 with an adapter for video to give a full frame field of view, or on the Sony A7riii for stills works, again utilising the full width of this lens. For me, this really isn’t a crop/S35 lens as in my opinion the 4mm gained using it, over the wonderful SIGMA 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art lens, is negated by a lot of other factors.
I only carry around threaded lens filters which of course don’t work with this lens but for my video work I can use the SIGMA 14-24mm with cameras which have built in electronic NDs to give full creative control thus allowing me to use any aperture regardless of the sunlight. This set up also allows me to run a time lapse which is something I certainly want to do with an ultra-wide lens.
The F2.8 spec of this lens is also a benefit as I often work in low light scenarios where that extra stop of light is incredibly helpful. I find that F2.8 offers fantastic separation across the zoom range, offering a lovely shallow depth of field. I often use this kind of lens for close wide images, to place something within its environment but keeping the focus very much on the target subject.
Ben Cherry is an environmental photojournalist and natural history cameraman, working with NGOs and production companies, having worked with the likes of the BBC, National Trust and The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. His next article will focus on a short film project in one of the most remote islands in the world, using a range of Sigma lenses.
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