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Here is the second part of my lens buying strategy. If you missed the first part here it is.

I bought three more lenses to my lens kit: The Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, the Sigma 30mm f1.4 and the Canon 70-200mm f4. I think I covered now the most important ranges a DP would need in order to get various jobs done in video production. Here is my opinion about each of them.

I’ll start with the widest lens. I got the Tokina 11-16 f2.8 and I think its one of the best lenses I had so far. Super sharp, love the wide angle it produces and has a great pseudo 3D effect when you are panning because of the distortion effect it creates. Its excellent for indoor or real estate shots where you need wide lenses to show the entire room. But also I use it if I want to bring the subject and its surrounding into more context. The only thing I would want is weather sealing on it. I had a couple times rain going on and wasn’t really sure how much the lens would take. The price tag is $599 and I think its a steal.

Now the Sigma 30mm f1.4. It has a similar characteristic in colors and sharpness then the Sigma 50mm f1.4 (test here). I use it a lot for outdoor documentary shots following a subject for example since it has a wider angle then the 50 mm. You can control how much shallow depth of field you want (an variable ND filter is necessary for outdoor shots in order to shoot wide open and stay at 50 fps).
The color tone is very creamy and excellent for portrait shots (what I love the most as you know) and its extremely skin friendly especially wide open since its not super super sharp and adds a slight softness that my feminine talents very much prefer. If I want more kick I stop down to f2 and get the full sharpness of the Sigma. Regarding the weather proof I’m as much concerned as I am with the Tokina. It seems that the only company that is weather sealing lenses is Canon. So I hope one day they will follow. The price of around $450 is ok. I think you get a good lens for your buck.

The last one is my Canon 70-200mm f4. One of the best lenses in the market. It was rated in many tests of one of the best lenses produced by Canon. And I agree. The sharpness is unmatched, none of the others can hold up, the bokeh is fabulous especially for interview shots, though you have to shoot further away from the talent. I shot now most of my interviews with it since it cuts out the background and leaves a blurry color background around the talent. I used it also in a lot of sport shots where I couldn’t get close enough onto the subject.
So, you might ask why I didn’t choose the Canon 70-200mm f2.8?
First, its way lighter then the f2.8, its half the price. Most of the time I use it outside so I don’t need the extra f – stop because to shoot indoor the angle is too tight for getting the subject into the frame.
What I really miss is the IS image stabilizer. I think if you have the cash invest into the Canon 70-200 f4 IS with the stabilizer. Its twice as much but worthwile for shooting handheld. The version without IS you hardly can use it handheld. Now the best thing is that since its an L lens of Canons lens series (the top category) it is weather sealed. That means when you put a UV filter in the front its totally water, rain and dust proof. I can tell from my own experience having shot recently on a water banana boat and got wet all over the place. My 7D and the L lens where absolutely fine after the shooting. So, its true. Its working.


Some samples from the real world projects:

Sigma 30mm f1.4

Sigma 30mm f1.4

Tokina 11-16mm f2.8

Tokina 11-16mm f2.8

Canon 70-200mm f4

Canon 70-200mm f4

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  1. Great post Shmuel! Do the Sigma lenses have image stabilization? If not, is the image that much better that you would forego a Canon prime lens with IS?

  2. Thank you Daniel. No, the Sigma does not have IS. No, I would go with IS from Canon.

  3. […] Shmuel has posted many posts on how to build an improvised studio, and how to choose a lens, but I’m here to tell you what to do once the video’s […]

  4. Jake Livni says:

    Minor correction note: the Canon 70-200 / f4 L is only weather-sealed on the IS version. The non-IS version seems to not have this extra protection. I have a 70-200/4 non-IS but the lack of weather-sealing hasn’t been a problem for me.

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