As a photographer who self-confesses to using a longer focal length, greater than 24mm on a full frame sensor, the chance to take a wider lens on my trip to Kenya was a challenge to say the least. Thanks to Sigma Imaging UK, I had the chance to couple my Canon 5DSR with my very own SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports and the new SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art lens and there were many surprises along the way.
The joy of a Kenyan safari meant I had to travel light, especially as I was on a 15kg restriction, so planning was essential with many compromises required. But in doing so, it forced me to think deeply about how the equipment should and, more importantly, could be used to get the best shots possible. Even though the cost of the holiday to Kenya was a pretty penny, options to re-shoot were not on the cards…..unless future sponsorship permits of course! However, after reading reviews on the new SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art, I knew that it would not fail me and I can assure you it didn’t.
Initially I was struck with the lens weight, slightly more than I had given credit for, but notably the build quality was obvious. It felt like an artist’s lens and the precise nature of the movement, quick focus and construction made you think like one too. Most reviews in the past have commented on the sharpness of the lens across the whole image and from the images I have captured, was not disappointed. Typically, using a wide angle I took some lovely images of the vast landscapes of the Kenya parks, from the low grasslands through to the jungle areas around some of lakes. The ability to capture some stunning scenery alongside some of the most beautiful light coupled with rain and sun, all in one image, was a delight.
Personally, I struggle to visualise the end results with such a wide lens, but after a small amount of practice, I had not only shot landscapes, but found the versatility of this lens in a number of alternative genres, including close ups, indoor architecture and maybe the more obvious, astro-photography. The dark skies in the Masai plains at night were alive with the celestial lights and even to the naked eye, were absolutely stunning. But the SIGMA 14-24mm |Art lens did not disappoint again and with a few quick 30 second exposures, the lens delivered some stunning images.
Of course, I have been concentrating on the SIGMA 14-24mm | Art lens, but equally the SIGMA 150-600mm | F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens did not fail me either. On each day, there was a plethora of wildlife to see and enjoy (so long as you have guide to help you of course) and the Sport lens was an absolute winner in this field. Whilst patience is part of the equation to a great photo, having a reliable piece of glass to go alongside that, meant that I merely had to do my bit to capture these images. Prior to my departure I had updated the SIGMA 150-600 | Sports lens via the SIGMA USB dock and changed the firmware driving the focal speed. This game changer was vital in capturing the hunt of the lionesses and the speed of the cheetah, but also gave me the upmost confidence of not missing a shot. The only disappointment was not getting a USB dock earlier as I am positive some of my other work would have definitely benefited from this update.
Whilst some people on the drive were trying to capture the wildlife on your typical smartphone or tablet (I so wished to meet them later to compare results!), there were very few people using a lens with this kind of reach. The reach, and more importantly, the sharpness of the lens meant they were not going to get these kind of images for their holiday album. For me, these will form part of a new book that I am developing and given the timing, probably be entered for a number of upcoming wildlife photo competitions.
At the time, I could not justify owning the SIGMA 14-24mm | Art lens, based on my lack of experience of wide-angle lenses, but after only a couple of days, will need to seriously consider this particular lens as my next purchase.
You can see more of Graham’s image on any of the following links: