Archive for the ‘ LENS REVIEWS ’ Category

Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art lens for video

Sigma 18-35 for video review 4

For a few years now I’ve been using the Canon EF-S 17-55 f2.8 as a general walk around lens when shooting events with my C300. Over that time I’ve become quite frustrated with it, mainly due to it’s nasty plastic construction and the way the horrible rear mounted focus ring feels in use. Lets also not forget the fact that it can cause vignetting when used with the C300.

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8

Most of my other Canon lenses are L series which tend to have a better build quality and feel much nicer to use. When I purchased the 17-55 the only real alternative from Canon was the 16-35 f/2.8 but when I tested that lens against the 17-55 the image stabilisation in the 17-55 won me over and I opted to live with the horrible feel for the advantages the IS provides.

During  the next couple of years I was generally happy with the images produced by 17-55 but I never really got past the nasty feel of the lens, it also has a habit of sucking dust inside the barrel which can be annoying. Earlier this year something broke inside the lens during a shoot causing the zoom mechanism to get stuck, the 17-55 found it’s way unceremoniously thrown in to my spare parts box!

Over the next few event shoots I swapped between the Tokina 11-16 and Canon 24-105 but I missed the flexibility of having a fast mid zoom so eventually decided to look for a replacement. I visited the Wex Store in Norwich with my C300 to try out the Canon EF16-35 f/2.8 II and also have a look at the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art series lens which I’d been hearing good things about online.

canon 16-35

Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L II

I tried the Canon 16-35 first. At £1064 it’s not a cheap lens but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s sometimes better to swallow the cost in favour of reliability and performance. The 16-35 II felt very familiar, the zoom and focus rings have the same loose but solid feel as my other L series lenses. I tested the dual pixel autofocusing on the C300 and the 16-35 responded extremely quickly. I didn’t feel I needed to worry about image quality from a lens of this standing, i was more concerned about feel and operational performance.

Next up I asked to try the Sigma 18-35 Art Series lens. At £610 it’s a lot cheaper than the Canon 16-35 but unlike the Canon it’s not a full frame lens. Much like the Canon EF-S range the Sigma is designed to work with APS-C cameras like the 7D but at f/1.8 throughout it’s entire zoom range the Sigma is faster.

Sigma 18-35 for video review 1

Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art Series

As soon as the sales assistant passed me the lens I was surprised at how heavy and solid it felt, it had a cold metal feeling that reminded me of holding my old Nikkor lenses.  Once fitted to the C300 I was immediately struck by the feel and responsiveness of the zoom and focus rings, they have a heavy yet extremely smooth travel which responds more like a cine style lens than a stills lens. Unlike the Canon L series lenses it’s really easy to perform a smooth zoom on this lens if required as well.

Sigma 18-35 for video review 2

Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art Series

I’d read reports that the Sigma lens would only work with the dual pixel autofocusing feature on the C300 with it’s fully open at f/1.8 but that wasn’t the case and the lens focused successfully throughout the aperture range. The focus speed was slower than the Canon lens however I found that to be an advantage as a slower focussing looks more pleasing if used within a shot than a snap focus.

Sigma 18-35 for video review 3

Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 Art Series

I found that both pulling focus and running the zoom on the sigma produced extremely fluid results that far exceed what I could produce with my Canon glass. Just to be sure I fitted the Canon 16-35 again and in comparison it actually felt clunky and nowhere near as nice to use. I was sold and purchased the Sigma there and then!

IMG_5818

Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 fitted to Canon C300

Two days after purchasing the Sigma I filmed an event for Harley-Davidson and the Sigma performed flawlessly. It’s a great walk around lens for the C300 and having the option to shoot at f/1.8 makes it great for low light shots and shallow depth of field work during the day.

I haven’t found any negatives to report so far. I do miss the image stabiliser from the 17-55 a little so it would be great to see Sigma add IS to the mix in the future.

I used the Sigma for most of the shots shown in the video below and would highly recommend it for video use. In fact, I’m now keen to replace some of my other Canon L zooms as well!

Buy the Sigma 18-35 at B&H

Canon EF 24-105mm F4 IS USM Lens for video

I’ve just posted my thoughts on using the Canon EF 24-105mm F4 IS USM Lens for video.

Canon EF 24-105mm F4 IS USM Lens for video

Do I really need another lens?

Canon EF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM Lens

When it comes to lenses for my DSLR’s I’ve invested in some lovely primes, my Canon 50mm 1.2, 24mm 1.4 & 35mm 1.4 L series lenses are all low light wonders and produce gorgeous looking footage from the 5D and 7D. When I was purchasing these lenses I did consider going for a medium zoom and owned a Canon 24 – 70 2.8 for while but decided to return that in favour of the primes simply because in low light those extra few stops do make a huge difference.

I also own a Canon 70 – 200 2.8 IS lens which is fantastic, quite often I’ll prefer the results from that over my primes it really depends on what it is I’m shooting and the type of result I’m looking for. The Image Stabiliser on that lens is excellent and even though it makes lot of noise it makes handholding such a long lens quite easy.

One time when primes become a bit of a pain though is for event work. I took my 5D along with the 50 and 24 to my recent shoot for Harley-Davidson in St Tropez and although both lenses produced nice results, it seemed that the moment I swapped the lenses a shot would present itself where I felt like I wanted to swap them again. I really don’t like swapping lenses more than I have to in the field as it’s way too easy for grit, dust and other nasties to get inside the cameras.

So, for my next event for Harley which takes place in Barcelona next weekend I’ve decided to try out the Canon EF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM Zoom. Now at F4 this is by no means a fast lens, it’s not going to be on my 5D when I head out in the evenings but for daytime use I think it’s going to be a lovely lens giving me a nice range to work with without swapping lenses. It’s also not going to deliver the extremely shallow depth of field that my primes can, but again that’s not something I really need for handheld work at events.

When choosing this lens I considered another 24 – 70 2.8, but the 24-105 has some advantages over the 24-70 which are very important for event work. Firstly, and most importantly it has IS (Image Stabilisation) which works wonders for handheld video use. Dealing with camera shake is one of the hardest things about working with DSLR’s so having IS helps a lot. When I get back from Barcelona I’ll post some examples of how much it helps.

The other advantage the 24-105 has over the 24-70 is that it’s quite a lot lighter, for event work carrying the 5D around as well as my EX1 weight can be tricky, the less weight I have to carry the better.

The 24-70 at f2.8 is obviously a few stops faster than the 24-105 and if you need a wide zoom to work in lower light situations as well then it would be a better choice. Even f2.8 can be a bit limiting in low light though so I’ll stick to my 50mm f1.2 and 24mm f1.4 for that.

The lens has literally just turned up this morning so I haven’t had much time with it yet, but from my first impressions it looks like it’ll work a treat, the IS makes a huge difference and I can get shots which don’t look like handheld shots at all. As with all of Canon’s L Series lenses it appears to be built well and ready for the challenge ahead.

Although a lot quieter than the 70-200 the noise from IS on this lens would probably still be noticeable if using an on camera mic but for most of my usage that’s not a big issue as I generally use an external recorder for anything where I’m going to need the sound.

I’ll post more when I return from Barcelona and let you know how it worked out.

The Canon EF-24-105 F4 IS can be purchased in the USA from B&H for $1,059

In the UK Warehouse Express sell it for £929.99