Caffeine Priority: Taking the (ultra-fast) Sigma 20mm f/1.4 and the Canon 5DS out for a quick fall venture


posted Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 8:41 AM EST


We couldn't wait to get the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 into our lab, now among the fastest primes to venture that wide an angle, but it never made it to the lab. It did though make it into my camera bag, along with a "gone-missing" Canon 5DS body. (I figured nobody would notice at least for a few days!)

I've heard the common question: "Why do you need a large aperture on a prime lens made for landscape work. anyway?" And that's a good question, as most landscape photographers use tripods and opt to stop way down for their work. But, wide angle lenses serve other purposes too, including in mid-level and lower light situations. Fall is a good time to try and track some of those down, so out and about I went.

I'd seen a tree while hiking with my kids weeks earlier that I wanted to try and capture. A juxtaposition of two trees, actually - one very large and one very small, at an interesting angle to each other from a steep forest hillside. I knew I'd need wide angle, and knew I'd not likely get a tripod to cooperate on that hillside (at least, not while hiking with little kids). I'm going to try the shot again, would like to actually try the tripod and stop it down, but this is a decent representation of handheld in shady forest conditions. (Reminds me just a little bit of that old Moody Blues album cover with the crazy tree.... am I dating myself?)

1/80s / f/2.5 / -1.0 EV / ISO 100

The most fun aspect to wide angles for me is the ability to make small objects appear much larger, and stay tuned for another post on that from Dave Etchells himself. This shot below is actually my favorite shot I got with this combination thus far. The overcast October light was just right for the autumn feel I was hoping for.

1/600s / f/2.5 / -0.3 EV / ISO 100

There were a few times I'd wished it were just a tad wider, having shot the Canon 11-24mm f/4 earlier this year on the 5D Mk III, but that lens isn't nearly as bright as this one so they obviously serve different purposes. The shot below is stopped down a bit as there was ample light, and I cropped in just a bit as well.

1/250s / f/5.6 / ISO 100

I also shot this Darth Vader pumpkin handheld. Obviously a tripod would have been easier on this shot, but at 20mm and at 1/30s exposure I wasn't too worried. (I was worried how my hand felt after carving though, when my 5-year-old asked for Darth Vader for his pumpkin...)

1/30s / f/1.4 / -0.3 EV / ISO 800

Stay tuned for our full technical review of the Sigma 20mm f/1.4.

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Caffeine Priority is a new series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!

1/30s / f/1.4 / -0.3 EV / ISO 800