Taking the Sigma 56mm f1.4 DC DN lens in the M4:3 mount out for a spin. Nice and small.

Ben turned 25 this week. I'm stunned how fast time sprints. The kid is doing great. Looking at a new job as a writer for a cutting edge tech company and generally staying fit and centered. I'm always happy when he drops by the office in running apparel and tells me he's heading off for a long run around the lake. He's so, so much faster than me but I guess that's to be expected, given our 40 year age difference... 

We had dinner with him last night and I took a few photographs of him with the new lens. 

I picked up the new lens on Thursday. I meant to get a used camera but I started psycho-analyzing myself on the drive out and decided that my desire to buy new cameras right now must be a reflexive reaction to not being able to go any place or shoot anything exciting. I thought maybe a lens would be a less Jungian trope.

I'd been thinking about this lens for a couple of weeks. I wasn't paying attention when it was first announced but Sigma's Contemporary lens line has mostly been surprisingly good. The current line up, consisting of the 16mm f1.4, the 30mm f1.4 and the 56mm f1.4, is really superb considering the moderate cost. They offer the lenses in the Sony E mount, the M4:3 mount, the Fuji mount and now the L mount. All three lenses are designed to cover APS-C sized sensors, and smaller. I can't see the logic of me getting an L mount version since I have so many "normal" lens options for the Panasonic S1 cameras and the Sigma fp. So it was a pretty straightforward choice to opt for the M4:3 mount.

The Sigma 56mm f1.4 has an extremely sharp center area; even wide open. It's a great, longer lens for a small sensor system if you routinely want to photograph under low light conditions and you don't need expansive depth of field. The lens body is much smaller than that of the 16mm f1.4 and the front filter diameter is a very useful 55mm. The lens doesn't not include image stabilization and I think that helps keep the size and weight down. 

Just like the new 85mm f1.4 Sigma Art lens (v2) the 56mm was designed with compromises that are largely meant to be fixed by automatic, in-camera correction software. Both the lenses feature exhibit a relatively high degree of pincushion distortion and both have appreciable vignetting when used wide open. Used on a Lumix GH5, G9 or GX8 the system seems to do a good behind the scenes job making everything look great. 

I pulled the lens out of its box yesterday, put it on a G9 body and headed out for a walk through downtown. The focus was quick, precise and accurate. I'm happy with the optical performance and I've put a selection of images down below so you can see for yourself. Be sure to click on them to see them larger. 

My birthday comes up next week and I think I'll use the opportunity to spend more time swimming and less time thinking about what new gear to buy. Seems like more of a New Year's Resolution than a birthday thought but there you have it.

We're having our first "cold" snap here. My Calgary Friend, Eric, will laugh at this but it got all the way down to 52° Fahrenheit last night and I got to wear a light jacket this morning. After swim practice I bought a coffee and an egg sandwich and went to my favorite park to sit at a concrete picnic table to eat, drink coffee and watch the millennials play Frisbee Golf. Nice to just do normal things and watch happy activities in a year so fraught and disturbing. Be sure to turn off the news from time to time and watch people play and laugh and have fun. It's a reminder that we're meant to be good and to have fun. But sometimes we have to work at it.

I had coffee with a friend who is, politically, my polar opposite this last week. We skirted political conversations. We spent a lot of time discussing video. When we left we promised each other that no matter who wins the election we'll take a few days to recover and then, as usual, we'll meet for coffee. That made me feel good. 

I just can't pass up those multi-paned, reflective windows when I've got a camera in my hands.

We started out our day with the usual heat and humidity and then the winds blew in 
from the north, sucked the humidity out and dropped the temperatures quickly. Sweet.

There was never a reason for valet parking to exist in Austin when I came here to go to the University. The city was sparsely populated. You could park anywhere. The parking meters cost a dime for six hours.
Now that our economy is adapting and recovering the valet parking is roaring back.
It all seems so strange to me. It always has.

Fun to watch the wind gusts blow the trees over a bridge. It felt like the first day of Fall. 

An odd business concept. 

An electric boat on Lady Bird Lake. All selfies all the time...

String. Blowing in the cool wind. 



Eric Rose said...

Right now it's -18 degrees C (approx 0 degrees F)with windchill. There is about 10 inches of snow on the deck table and I'm just about to take my grand daughter out tobogganing. While the air is bracing it's also very invigorating. Fortunately we get lots of sunlight here in Calgary which keeps me sane during our 10 months of winter and 2 months of lousy sledding.

Your great images of downtown Austin help to keep me warm! Keep it up Kirk!

Your frozen Calgary friend, Eric

CWM said...

Just a minor correction. The three f/1.4 primes are not available in Fuji mount. They are available for Canon EF-M as well as the other three you mentioned.

I have all three for Sony E and with the A6500 give me f/1.4 with image stabilization, so a great lower light capability. These three lenses are reasonably priced and provide great images at all apertures until diffraction. f/2.8 - f/4 seems to be a very sweet spot, but they are also quite good wide open. Enjoy your 56mm!

Anonymous said...

My friend Eric beat me to the "you think that was cold?" reply. Though it was 1 degree colder at my house on a hill above the city. It was -19C. Perfect battery testing weather.
Eric has an informal camera group and we meet on a semi regular basis and sometimes even talk photography. And if possible, bring a couple of prints. We hope you can make it here whenever this pandemic subsides enough for travel. Somehow meeting during the cold prairie winter to shout across the border does not seem like a great place for coffee and photography.
I've been thinking about that Sigma 56mm 1.4, or the 16mm. I have the first version of the Panasonic 20mm and while I love the images it produces, I find the slow, hunting for focus behaviour too frustrating. Along with the cold weather, at this time of year daylight gets shorter and very low contrast if the sun is not out. By end of November, it does not get bright until after 10am and twilight comes around 4pm so a fast, snappy focusing lens is very helpful.