Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Low-Light Handheld Test

Canon 40D, Sigma 30mm f/1.4 -- handheld at ISO3200, f/1.4, 3/10 second.

This shot was taken at night in a dark room with nothing but a small nightlight in the corner. Other than that, the hallway light was on, but only partially lighting the floor and a small amount of the wall behind me. I leaned up against the wall, shot at f/1.4, ISO3200, 3/10 second.

I focused this with Live View, which was tough, because even on the LCD screen, I couldn't see her eye, it was so dark. I had to focus on her ear.

Note that the Canon 40D has a true ISO1600, then pushes it a stop to ISO3200 for use when you absolutely need it. In this situation, I did. I couldn't have handheld for any slower than this - even here I was really pushing it. When shooting with a pushed ISO, you should give extra care to expose the shot properly. Any further brightening of the image will introduce more noise.

I just received my new Sigma 30mm f/1.4 yesterday, so I'm running around shooting in every room in my house with the lights turned off (it's been too cold outside). So far, I really love this lens. It's been a while since I've shot f/1.4, so I'm re-learning how tough it is to focus with it. The 40D's AI Servo focus is definitely helping.

Of course I was very interested in the low-light capabilities of this lens. The main reason I purchased this focal length, however, was so that I could shoot near a traditional 50mm - the lens many film photographers left on their cameras full-time. The Canon 40D and most other digital SLR cameras have sensors smaller than 35mm film, which effectively makes each lens a little more telephoto than they would be traditionally. This sensor is 1.6X smaller than 35mm film, so 30mm becomes 48mm.

If you decide to purchase this lens, make sure you get the correct one for your camera body. Sigma makes this lens for Canon (link), Nikon (link), Pentax (link), Sony (link), and Olympus (link). Those links will take you to B&H Photo, where you have 14 days to return the lens if you're not happy with it. If you haven't used f/1.4 before, you'll be amazed at what you can do with it. Just have patience - wide apertures take practice!

Again, this was shot at:
f/1.4, ISO3200, 0.3 seconds

If you're wondering how dark this room was, here's a couple equivalent exposures you could use if you didn't have ISO3200 and f/1.4:

f/2.8, ISO1600, 2.4 seconds
f/4.0, ISO1600, 4.8 seconds
f/5.6, ISO1600, 9.6 seconds

So, go into a pretty dark room where your camera's reading something like that, and you'll get an idea. Try a handheld shot at 9.6 seconds!


dimzPhotography said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

dimzPhotography said...

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