Lou asked me to chat about my favourite lens. Wait, what? What favourite?
I honestly had to sit here and give that question some serious pondering, with thinking music, because I love all my lenses for different reasons. Plus to pick a favourite felt… mean to the other lenses. I’m not weird.
I thought about which one affords me the most fun and creativity… two of the reasons I got into photography in the first place.
So just quietly (as in, don’t tell my other lenses), my Sigma 105mm F2.8 Macro Lens is a special favourite for a number of reasons. Not least because of the crazy awesome bokeh it gives like in this shot I took with the 105mm on f/2.8. Also, this is obviously a good time to mention my mad photographer skillz… do you have any idea how hard it is to get a beagle to stand still?
Years ago I considered buying a macro lens. But I (mistakenly) thought macro photography was mostly about shooting bugs. It occurred to me “how long can I shoot bugs before I’m bored?”. It seemed a lot of money for a lens that does one thing. Plus I’m not a bug person. Not buying a macro lens was a no brainer, clearly.
Happily for me, opportunity to test drive the genre came in the shape of a friend with GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome, which is an affliction that affects mostly boy photographers). He had a Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens , which he was happy to lend to me. I’m very trustworthy like that if anyone out there has a fisheye lens, just sayin’.
Look at this. It’s not all about bugs. Sometimes it’s about cats.
Through playing with that lens I discovered very quickly that macro photography is not all about shooting bugs. In fact, I have never shot a bug with a macro lens.
Instead, I had super dooper fun getting in real close to other teeny things and capturing in fine detail the texture and form.
I also discovered the creativity of rendering as art the most unassuming and unexpected subjects found in my garden, my yard and around my house. The especially awesome thing about that is when I just can’t get out of the house, I can still find something to shoot.
So I returned the Canon macro to my mate, sure in the knowledge I wanted to buy my own.
I did the adult thing and researched. I hate researching. Seriously, just tell me what to buy. This is how I bought a tripod… “hey Friend, you know how your Son bought a tripod and he’s a really science-y guy with a big brain and he investigated 78 tripods over 6 months? What did he buy? Ok, thank you, I’ll buy that one”.
But I was hesitant about the cost, and I knew no science nerds with a here’s-one-I-made-earlier research finding on this specific quest, so that motivated the dreaded research. I read some really great reviews about the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro which had a reputation for stacking up beautifully to its equivalent other branded lenses, but at half-ish the price. I was a Canon purist until then (safe to say due to laziness not snobbery or marketing hype) but regardless I took a deep breath and handed over the cash for a Sigma.
Turns out, a macro lens isn’t limited to shooting macro. In my business when I photograph families, I always use it for extended family groups. The reason I do this is because when I stop down enough to ensure a group of 4-ish people deep are all in acceptable focus from front to back, the compression of the 105mm length gives me more of a beautiful background bokeh than I would get if I shot the family at the same aperture with a standard length of say 50-70mm.
This family was shot at f/5.6 but check out the gorgeous background blur.
I also use it occasionally for portrait head shots for its ability to capture detail and its beautiful fall away in focus.
For those interested, comparing my shots from the canon with my shots from the sigma? Same same, I found them equally fantastic. Yaay for research and adulting!
I don’t have a side by side identical comparison shot to share with you. But take this shot of a snail instead. Sometimes it is about bugs. Or slugs.