Most Nikon users won’t be familiar with the 135mm focal length as, for some reason, Nikon just hasn’t gone down that alley. The Canon 135mm f/2 and Zeiss 135mm f/2 lenses (with manual focus only) were pretty much the options to choose from, until now… Finally, the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 has hit the South African shores with smooth bokeh and sharp detail all invited to the party which starts at f/1.8.
Without further ado, I managed to get my sweaty gear-testing hands on one of these bad boys and started arranging a shoot over a long weekend, on short notice which, in hindsight, was not the easiest thing I have ever done. After many phone calls and messages, I finally found someone who was willing and available to shoot. So, we quickly hit the streets for a sunset shoot. For those who don’t know, I love shooting into the sun!
While testing out the lens, I started searching for the problems I usually encounter. Shooting into the sun is a major issue when it comes to focusing as there are too many light reflections bouncing off the different lens elements. But, with the Sigma 135mm Art, I wasn’t experiencing any of these issues as I would’ve when shooting with 135mm lenses. The focusing was fast and accurate. If anything, I was having problems keeping the focus on the right spots. I could clearly see where my subject or I moved and where the depth of field was too shallow, hitting the focus on her nose instead of her eyes.
Shooting close-ups with this lens at f/1.8 definitely has its challenges, but it’s a risk I took and it paid off. The focus was brilliantly sharp. As the street’s traffic passed us, I tried panning on them with the lens to test out its continuous focusing speed. Mesmerised with the lens, we carried on shooting for the best part of 40 minutes. The shoot was so effortless that is was over before I realised it.
Back to my PC for postproduction, I downloaded the images and started scrolling through them. Soon, I realised that I wouldn’t easily be able to pick only five good shots – there were so many! I ended up copying the JPEGs to Google Drive and forwarded the link to the model so she could choose her favourites! Problem solved. Well, kind of as I was tempted to edit even more than her selected favourites.