Sigma lenses were shown at Camera Nordic
Thursday June 8th 2023, Japanese lens manufacturer Sigma held an event showcasing their High Speed and Classic Full Frame Cine lenses at Camera Nordic AB in Stockholm, Sweden. In attendance were a dedicated group of Swedish cinematographers from the FSF, movie business professionals and cinema lens enthusiasts in general. Stefan Sjönvall, Steve Calavitis and Fredrik Loreby at Camera Nordic were gracious hosts and were making us all feel as comfortable as if we’d still been back home in our own living rooms.
Tom Holzhauser BVK
Also flown in from Cologne, Germany, for the occasion was Director of Photography Tom Holzhauser BVK, to speak about his recent experience shooting with the Sigma High Speed and Classic lens sets on an episodic TV production.
I had a chat with Rickard Larsson, Sales Manager Cine Equipment at Sigma Nordic, who explained ”Sigma Nordic was created two years ago, there wasn’t really any sales organization in Scandinavia prior to that. No one had direct responsibility for Sigma’s cine products in this market up until that point, and the general feeling was that the cine equipment needed to be made more visible for Scandinavian cinematographers”.
Rickard continues, ”because of this, wanting to connect with Scandinavian Cinematographers, this evening’s event was created, and Camera Nordic was an obvious partner, since they are already selling the Sigma range of cine prime lenses”.
Moving on to the actual lenses on display here this evening, we’re looking at two lens series and two zooms. The High Speed series, designed for the Full Frame format, consists of 11 primes which open up to T1,5 except for the widest and longest lenses in the set, which are T2. The Sigma Classic Full Frame Cine lens set also consists of 11 primes and the focal lengths are identical, but here the maximum aperture is T2,5 – T3,2. The Classics offer a more ”vintage” look with more flares and less contrast.
”The difference is in the coating”, Rickard expertly clarifies, continuing ”you have to have a basic coating to prevent mold from getting a foothold inside the lens, and also to prevent dust from sticking to the glass surfaces. Light has a tendency to ”get stuck” inside the glass elements of a lens, hence the difference in performance between two lenses where one has excellent coating and the other less so”.
Sigma furthermore has two short zooms on display as well, 18 – 35 mm and 50 – 100 mm, both designed for the Super 35 format and both opening up to T2,0. ”These have become very popular now with the new Arri Alexa super35 camera as well as with the RED Komodo”, Rickard proudly announces, continuing ”and a special steel alloy is used in the lens mount of these Sigma primes and zooms to minimize material expansion and contraction. The prime lens mounts also have lens data contacts on them, to transfer lens metadata during production”.
Also here this evening to talk about the new Sigma lenses is Tom Holzhauser BVK, who shot the entire first season of the TV series ”Kohlrabenschwarz” with the Sigma High Speed and Classic Full Frame lenses. This series actually premieres this evening on the streaming platform Paramount +. The name ”Kohlrabenschwarz” is a german expression meaning ”as black as a raven” and it’s a horror fantasy genre piece, with most of the action taking place at present time, but with historical flashbacks in the story. Tom was the Director of Photography on the whole show, and collaborated with the same director throughout all six 45 minute-episodes of the season.
Tom clarifies that ”for mystery, I felt very strongly we should be shooting against the light for the whole show, and we prepared everything working from floor plans so we could figure out the blocking, and therefore we could focus on shooting the scenes against the light”.
“All Sigma Cine lenses have image diameter size engraved on them”
As he was revving up for the project, Tom decided to use the Sigma Classics for the dream sequences, as a way to use these lenses without taking too great a risk (as opposed to using them for the whole show) since time constraints didn’t permit him to do extensive tests with them.
But he needn’t have worried, as it turns out. ”I felt immediately confident with them”, Tom muses, ”I like the lower contrast without sacrificing sharpness, and the Classics have a sharpness which is softer than the high speeds. I also like the exaggerated flares and the lens reflections in the glass itself inside the lens. So you could say that ’the drawbacks’ of the classics were actually a strength for me in the dream sequences, where I wanted a hazy, dreamy and gloomy atmosphere. Additionally, depth of field is the same on both Sigma Full Frame Cine lens sets when they’re fully opened”.
Tom had a great experience using the high speed set for everything taking place at present time throughout the whole show. He liked the brilliant and contrasty sharp look these lenses offer. Using the VENICE 1 camera on the whole show, the T stop of 1,5 – 2 helped a lot for the low light scenes, using ISO 2500 on the VENICE 1. ”The fast T-stop helped me avoid having to push the camera too far ISO-wise”, Tom continues, ”The color rendering with this set is fabulous, and all focal lengths are well balanced with each other”.
“The Next Generation! Charlotta Tengroth FSF (second from left) invited students from Stockholm Film School”
Article by Lars Pettersson, FSF.