Planning my trips tends to always go the same way. I pack my suitcase in less than a minute, and then deliberate over what goes in my camera bag for days.
I was going to Iceland this time, and I knew I’d be wanting to photograph the epic landscapes and scenery the island has to offer, but also be equipped for shooting the night sky, in case luck was on our side and we got to witness a display of the Aurora Borealis.
Having recently changed camps from Canon to Sony, I was eager to put something wide on my Sony a7iii to capture the vastness that is Iceland. It was the perfect opportunity to try the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | ART SE for Sony.
There’s something about 14mm on a full frame camera that just draws everything towards the centre of the frame. Clouds seem more dramatic. Fields look windswept and wild.
I just knew this lens would do the Icelandic landscapes the justice they deserved. But more than that, the faster aperture meant I had an extra 1.3 stops of light coming through the glass than most 14mm lenses (typically open to F2.8), and in keeping with the rest of the ART series, it is SHARP wide open, so I knew that my night time shots were going to be cleaner. I wouldn’t have to compromise on ISO and end up noising up the image by increasing the sensitivity, and I didn’t need to worry about having to use much longer shutter speeds thus risking the stars to leave trails as the planet spins.
With all this in mind, we set off for Iceland, equipped only with the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art SE mount and the SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art Canon mount attached with the SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-11 for Sony.
We rented a car at the airport and this gave us the autonomy to go anywhere (that authorities allowed) so we hit the south coast, hunting for waterfalls, ponies, and the Northern Lights.
The difference in focal length between the 14mm and the 35mm made both lenses quite complimentary of each other and allowed us to capture the same subjects but with a completely different aesthetic.
And when it came to showcasing the vast, the inhospitable, and the breath-taking of Iceland, the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art SE did not disappoint.
A few things that are worth considering with a lens such as the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art SE, as with most 14mm wide angles, is that the front element is so wide and so curved, you won’t be able to fit a filter to it as you would with longer lenses, if only to protect that front element. You’ll need to invest in a filter holder system which allows you to slot a square pane of filter glass in front of the lens like a slide. I had no such system in my camera bag.
This meant there was considerably more risk attached to every shot I look with the lens, as the elements of Iceland are harsh, sub-zero, and often wet.
One such moment, when my need to capture the shot was in conflict with my desire to protect the gear, was when we visited the Skogafoss waterfall. I was not equipped with rain gear for the camera and lens, and I had not brought any filter panels to slot in front of the lens, so the entire camera, lens, and front element, were directly exposed to the spray of mist from the gigantic deluge I wanted to capture.
While no harm came to camera or lens, having that huge front element exposed to the elements like that did certainly give me pause, if only for a moment, until I remembered it’s a tool for capturing.
You can see more images created by David O’Dwyer, DOD Media Inc. by clicking one of the following links:
Featured product: SIGMA 14mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art in SE mount