Sigma 12-24 aka Popeye aka The Really Freakin Wide Lens

22 06 2010
Sigma 12-24 lens

Sigma 12-24 lens

A long time ago, digital SLR’s were only available with a crop sensor. This meant that if you wanted to go really wide, you had to get a REALLY wide lens.

One of the only options around was the Sigma 12-24 3.5-4.5 lens. I had it for a year or so and was very impressed with the image quality and build. The only problem I had with it was the front lens element which made me extremely paranoid when walking around in a crowd. Seriously, no wonder the lens is nicknamed “Popeye”. Back when I was still shooting with a crop sensor, I thought the lens was very wide. Check out the examples from the coronation of King Sihamoni in 2004.

Students gather at the coronation ceremony of King Sihamoni

Students gather at the coronation ceremony of King Sihamoni


RCAF soldiers stand at attention at the coronation of King Sihamoni

RCAF soldiers stand at attention at the coronation of King Sihamoni

Nice and wide at 18mm’s.

The other day I happened to be at the Phnom Penh Post dropping off some photos and ran into Heng Chivoan, one of their shooters. He had the Popeye sitting on his 40D and let me put it on my 5D.

What a difference 6mm’s makes…

Phnom Penh Post offices

Phnom Penh Post offices

Rick Valenzuela hard at work at the Phnom Penh Post

Rick Valenzuela hard at work at the Phnom Penh Post

Heng Chivoan on his laptop

Heng Chivoan on his laptop

a 12mm shot of Rick Valenzuela 3 inches from his chin

a 12mm shot of Rick Valenzuela 3 inches from his chin

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A really wide lens

10 10 2009

I have been commissioned to shoot an event in Battambang for IDWA. It’s an interesting pilot program where they are teaching mine awareness through hip hop. From what I took today, it is a great program that should get more exposure.
Along with taking photos of the event, I got some great audio to hopefully turn it into an audio slideshow. So to the two or three people that read this blog daily, it will be up in the next few days.
Anyhoo, to the title of the post. I got a chance to shoot with the Sigma 12-24 lens (aka “Popeye” for its huge front lens element). I used to own the lens about 4 years ago when I first bought my Canon 20D but since sold it when I had a chance to buy a 17-35L from an AP shooter in Phnom Penh.
Now that I primarily shoot with a Canon 5D, it was interesting to put the lens to a full frame camera.
For those not versed in the geek camera cabal that I happily belong to, the Canon 20D has an APS-C camera sensor which means it has a 1.6 focal multiplier. What the hell does that really mean?
Well it means that the sensor that captures the image is smaller than regular 35mm film. Which is not good if you are shooting in ultra-wide but is an asset if you are shooting long (or telephoto) which means you effectively have a longer reach for photos.
Now, if you have a full frame sensor and have the Sigma 12-24, you get some pretty interesting compositions.
Big ups to Heng Chivoan from the Phnom Penh Post for letting me shoot a couple of frames with it.