One of my all time favourite lenses is my Sigma 18-35 f1.8 ART lens with my Metabones adapter on my GH5. Although this is an older story its worth another look as the line up of cinema lenses is fantastic.
SIGMA timed the announcement of its new line of cinema lenses, the ‘SIGMA CINE LENS’, in conjunction with the broadcasting general trade show; ‘IBC’ ( International Broadcasting Convention) held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on the 7th September 2016. We had heard of stories for some time that SIGMA lenses had become a favorite among many users who customized their interchangeable photographic lens (‘still lens’), alternatively using them in film production shoots. We gained a reputation for our ‘motion picture lenses’ from professional users around the world, particularity through the outstanding optical performance of the Art line. Its innovative image quality that SIGMA pioneered shone through in a world of remarkable high-resolution digital photography and performance-centered lenses.
When the 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art, the world’s first F1.8 zoom lens, was announced in 2013, it was only in the United States that indicated very high sales. After investigating as to the reason why, it was the feedback of the people working in motion pictures who told us the lens was “amazing” and had used it regularly for their work. We had not originally intended for this lens to be used for the purpose of motion pictures and we remember being taken back by this revelation at the time. CEO of SIGMA Kazuto Yamaki, who took the lead in this project, recalls to us about what prompted bringing SIGMA to “cinema”
“The mere mention of movie-making equipment from the past would bring to mind equipment made according to enormous Hollywood budgets, a very special world beyond our reach. As well as there being a small number of manufacturers and choice available, they were incredibly expensive. It was with the advent of shared video content services like Youtube thriving over the past 10 years that the game has greatly changed. Content like web promotion and video clips for music and videos have become the norm. And at the same time, there has been an increase in individual and small-scale productions, that is to say the stage of the so-called independent producers has become bigger”. “One of the factors that has lead this change is the evolution of filming functions on SLR cameras, and the rise of small yet high-performing digital cinema cameras. The price of one camera in Hollywood was on a par with a high-end imported car. In other words, in a world where it was common knowledge that movie cameras would cost more than $100,000, it could be said that a rather drastic change in price has occurred.
It was the introduction of innovative cameras, with outstanding high-quality imaging, that has changed the situation. The cameras are also at a much more reasonable price than what is expected from a camera with a seamless balance of data handling and compactness. In the movie making industry, equipment is judged on the basic premise that “price of equipment equates to performance”. Without an ample budget, there was the problem of not being able to get hold of good quality equipment. With these digital cinema cameras becoming more prevalent, the doors have opened where even with a small scale budget, a movie with high-performance equipment and high-production values can be made.
“This technological innovation in cameras designed for cinema would bring a positive influence on both the market and overall artistic expression. We felt that with the rapid progress made on the one hand, the lenses were not keeping up with the evolution of cameras. Around the same time, we were asked by those in the industry around the world as to why SIGMA did not make interchangeable lenses for cinema (‘CINE LENS’). In a world where a single lens can cost anywhere between a few thousand dollars to a few ten thousand dollars, performance dictates price where even renting something for only the occasions it was needed would multiply and pile up the costs. We sensed the load being borne on the financial side of video production was a pressing issue to address.”
In a world that places demands on the quality of a single frame, SIGMA had gone ahead and delivered the high-performance Art line series of lenses for high-resolution photography. So for SIGMA, who had established the developmental know-how and mass-production technology to achieve this, there was no technological hurdle to overcome to develop the CINE LENS. As Yamaki explains, “Of course, we could develop a dedicated cinema lens, but the market was so small that to start from zero would not be effective for mass-production. However in regard to the development of the optics, the most important and difficult component with the biggest impact on cost, we copied the existing high-performance Art lens we had available. By configuring the mechanical structure toward cinema, we were confident we could make a landmark lens that combined the high standard of Art with compactness at the minimum of cost.
Sigma now have a full compliment of lenses from a 14mm T2, 20mm T1.5, 24mm T1.5, 35mm T1.5, 50mm T1.5, 85mm T1.5, 135mm T2 and three zoom lenses 18-35mm T2, 50-100mm T2 and finally the 24-35mm T2.2