Potential Within

Bastards. Big Bastards. So who asked the courier to collect D7100 camera body from a workplace that is no longer trading, since April? Who? Me. That’s who. I wish I had checked; I wish I had deleted that bloody address from everywhere, because then at least I’d have the prospect of opening up the box of a D800 tomorrow. Instead I have to wait till Thursday now, at the earliest, before an excited eye is cast across the magnesium alloy frame of that glorious object. Boo hoo.

Instead it was picked up today by the most incredibly chipper DPD man I’ve ever met. He’s a hoot; I’ve spoke to him a bunch of times now and he’s always got a great outlook on his day. Delivering blinds when we moved in to our new house; you’ll be busy. Today he had the best burger he’s ever eaten, around the corner at the new refurbished cafe, just up from the butchers. Fact. Along with the collection of the D7100, safely tucked up inside a beautiful unicorn paddling pool box, was a delivery of the first part of the 2-part move to Full Frame heaven; the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art.

It’s heavy. It’s black. It’s textured. It’s lovely. It has a surprisingly domed front element. I have only my D3400 available to pop this on whilst the 2nd part of the trade happens, so it’ll have to do for now. Looks ridiculous but is it any good? Tentatively I get snapping and wow this thing has a short DOF, even on the crop sensor of this entry level shooter. Immediately though I know that it’s front-focusing and that it’s consistent in this behaviour. To check, I focus on something and move slightly closer to the subject and done; pin-sharp.

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What this usually meant in the past was the lens and your designated camera had to go back to Sigma; they’d calibrate it and sort out the issues, returning the ensemble 6-7 weeks later. Not ideal by anyone’s standards. When I got the D7000 it had AF fine-tune built in, where you could sort out any front or back focusing issues in-camera. This was handy and I used it to great effect with the old Sigma 50mm f/1.4; I bloody loved that lens. I sold it because I’m stupid and regretted it ever since. The D7100 had the fine-tune setting too and I used it for the various lenses I had; Tokina and Nikon alike. But as it’s an entry level DLSR, the D3300 has no such setting for lens corrections and so it’s stuck like this, front-focusing forever more, unless I send it back to Sigma with the D3400 and be out of camera and new lens again…or is it?

Well turns out that Sigma have, along with their new design and awesomeness direction, released what they’re calling the Sigma Dock; a small puck-shaped thing that you attach to your lens the same way you’d attach it to your camera, and this plugs into your computer allowing you to do the same calibration that Sigma used to perform at their testing and service centres. How amazing is that!? So I’ve plopped for one of those too because I’ll be continuing to use the D3400 for video (it does 1080p @ 60fps) but want it to be able to take photos too, so needs to be calibrated. I did think that it wouldn’t matter as the D800 will have the AF Fine-Tune ability and thus I wouldn’t really need to calibrated the lens itself, but then I thought that a calibrated lens is better than an un-calibrated lens. I can then adjust anything I need to on the D800, and the lens will work on both my bodies. Job done. It’s £40 for this Dock, but once the lens is calibrated I can just stick it on eBay or back on the shelf, for any more Sigma lenses I might happen to own later on.

So that’s that. It’s a beast of a lens, reminds me very much of the various Sigma lenses I’ve owned in the past; the 50mm f/1.4 and the 70-200mm f/2; heavy, well made, brilliant aesthetics but dodgy focus accuracy out the box. Luckily we are now in the age of Sigma’s Global Vision rethink and have the ability to sort any of these once painful issues ourselves. Thanks Sigma, you bloody beauties. I’ve also just checked their website and HOLEY MOLEY look at all those lenses. I wish I was rich, and I’d have them all.

What I have realised however is that an aperture of f/1.4 in direct sunlight = over exposed. I’m hoping the D800 will handle this better than the D3400 did, and I might not have to stick my ND filter on there to use this lens wide open. With a fair wind and some luck, we’ll know on Thursday either way.