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Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens review – Space.com

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Stargazers are absolutely spoiled for choice when it comes to lenses these days. At the low-end, there is a clutch of manufacturers selling surprisingly good quality glass that makes wide-field astrophotography a doddle. The prices are often surprising as well – with astrophotographers less concerned about niceties such as image stabilization (you’re on a tripod) or autofocus performance (astrophotography is manual focus only), efficiencies can be made without hugely compromising on the quality of the optics.

Key specifications

Type: Zoom

Compatibility: Canon EF mount, Nikon F-mount, L-mount

Focal range: 14-24mm

Aperture range: f/2.8-f/22 constant

Thread size: No filter thread

Weight: 2.65 lbs

But what happens when you try to make a lens that doesn’t compromise anywhere? That’s the question Sigma seems to be attempting to answer with its spellbinding range of wide-angle, large aperture, Art-series lenses. It takes the fight to lenses such as Nikon’s gold-striped lenses, Canon’s L-series optics, and Sony’s G Master glass, often beating them for straightforward optical quality, at the same time as frequently beating them in terms of value for money.

And into the Space.com offices comes the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART series lens, promptly surrounded by a gaggle of keen astrophotographers. Keep reading to find out why it features in our guide to the best lenses for astrophotography.

Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens: Design

  • Weighs 2.65 lbs
  • No filter thread
  • No image stabilization

Image shows a side view of the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens against a white background.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Pull the 14-24mm out of its box and you’ll be struck – once again – by Sigma’s commitment to build quality. Like the Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM ART lens before it, this thing is built to last. The mount at the back is made from long-lasting brass, as is the very back section of the lens. Everything you can touch forward of that is made of tough-feeling plastic, and the lens has a rubber grommet where it meets your camera, providing water and dust resistance. It all adds up to an impressive, if somewhat weighty, first impression – this beast of a fast wide-angle clocks in at 2.65 lbs.

The Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens produces a rectilinear image – that is, one with no barrel distortion – but you could be forgiven for thinking that the bulging front element is actually for creating fisheye images. The big front element, of course, is necessary for drinking in all that light and providing the ultra-wide field of view, but as with other of Sigma’s ultra-wide, fast Art lenses, it protrudes sufficiently far that you won’t be able to attach a filter to the front. That might pose a problem for landscape photographers, as well as for anyone looking to protect the front of the lens from scratches. Perhaps noteworthy is the fact that there are lenses on the market that offer similar specifications but have flat or almost-flat front elements that can accept filters – take Canon’s RF 15-35MM F2.8L IS USM, which is phenomenally expensive (around $2,400 to the Sigma’s $1,300), albeit with a longer focal length and image stabilization. If this is going to be a lens that goes on proper adventures, our advice is to use the slip-on lens cap as much as possible and double-check your camera insurance.

Only a handful of Sigma’s Art-series lenses have zoom mechanisms – most are primes – but that doesn’t mean Sigma can’t put together a decent-feeling lens ring. Turn the zoom ring on this lens and you’re rewarded with a nicely dampened movement that requires quite a bit of effort to turn. You can’t snap the focal length from one end to the other really fast, but thanks to the internal stiffness the lens doesn’t creep when it’s pointed straight up, which means your focal length won’t slowly widen if you’re shooting the night skies directly overhead. The same is true of the focus ring – being able to turn this accurately is a must for astrophotography – and again it feels like it’s been built uncompromisingly.

Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens: Performance

  • Well-controlled chromatic aberration
  • Geometric images, even at wide angles
  • Sharp from corner to corner

Our experience with other Sigma Art lenses made us optimistic that this one would be a cracker as well, and we were right. Sharp, contrasty and with well-controlled chromatic aberrations, even with the aperture set to f/2.8, this is a lens that will render any well-executed wide-field composition easily. Because it’s well-built, attaining perfect focus is straightforward, and the non-creeping focal length is, again, appreciated. 

For night-sky photography, we were pleased to note excellent performance across the whole frame. You will be able to spot a little coma towards the corners of the frame but you really have to go hunting for it – if you’re planning on aggressive crops of your image to make the most of certain, non-central-to-the-frame constellations you might run into trouble, but for the most part it’s only something you’ll ever see while pixel-peeping.

Sigma claims there is absolutely no image distortion on the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens, which is a bold claim on a lens this wide but does actually seem to be true. Horizons lay flat from one side of the image to the other even at the lens’s widest focal lengths. You should think twice about shooting a portrait of a person with it, perhaps, but for landscapes and night skies – this lens’ twin fortes – you won’t be spending ages correcting geometrical distortion.

Image is a photo of the night sky taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

(Image credit: Dave Stevenson)

There’s more good news. We tested the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens at both extremes of its focal length, at every major aperture stop, and were really pleased with the results. Even on super high-contrast images, we couldn’t spot any purple fringing, and particularly at f/4 and smaller, sharpness to the corners was beautifully preserved. There was a small drop-off when shooting wide open, but you’d have to look carefully to spot it.

It’s sharp as well – beautifully so in the middle of the frame, with the smallest of perceptible drop-offs towards the corners, particularly at 14mm. Unless you’re into heavily cropping weird, off-center compositions you’ll never notice it – check out our test images to see what we mean.

Image 1 of 7

Image shows a corner crop on an image taken with a Sigma 14/24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

Corner crop of a photo taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens at a focal length of 2.8. (Image credit: Dave Stevenson)
Image 2 of 7

Image shows a corner crop on an image taken with a Sigma 14/24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

Corner crop of a photo taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens at a focal length of 4. (Image credit: Dave Stevenson)
Image 3 of 7

Image shows a corner crop on an image taken with a Sigma 14/24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

Corner crop of a photo taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens at a focal length of 5.6. (Image credit: Dave Stevenson)
Image 4 of 7

Image shows a corner crop on an image taken with a Sigma 14/24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

Corner crop of a photo taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens at a focal length of 8. (Image credit: Dave Stevenson)
Image 5 of 7

Image shows a corner crop on an image taken with a Sigma 14/24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

Corner crop of a photo taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens at a focal length of 11. (Image credit: Dave Stevenson)
Image 6 of 7

Image shows a corner crop on an image taken with a Sigma 14/24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

Corner crop of a photo taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens at a focal length of 16. (Image credit: Dave Stevenson)
Image 7 of 7

Image shows a corner crop on an image taken with a Sigma 14/24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

Corner crop of a photo taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens at a focal length of 22. (Image credit: Dave Stevenson)

There are two final points to make, which are arguably of less interest to astrophotographers. Firstly, this lens doesn’t come with image stabilization. Since no astrophotographers are shooting hand-held, this is unlikely to be much of a drawback, but it does slightly limit the 14-24mm’s appeal when it comes to walk-around travel photography style shooting. Secondly, Sigma’s HSM autofocusing (Hyper Sonic Motor), while blissfully silent, isn’t super quick on the uptake. It’s by no means a disaster, but don’t expect to get a lot of sports photography done with this lens.

Should you buy the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens?

The Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART is a fantastically useful lens for astrophotographers. It easily holds its own against other high-end, wide-angle, big-aperture lenses and does so for a pretty impressive amount of money. Compared to prime lenses, the slight amount of zoom on offer is useful, compositionally speaking. Although the f/2.8 maximum aperture isn’t the last word in terms of light admission, it’s easily bright enough for good results, particularly when used on high-quality full-frame cameras, and that applies doubly if you’re going to use a star tracker, where you’ll be shooting at even lower ISO settings. Because it zooms, the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART also has applications for wider fields of photography such as events and weddings, as long as you can get the hang of the comparatively draggy autofocus performance.

Image is a photo of the night sky taken with the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM ART lens.

(Image credit: Dave Stevenson)

If this product isn’t for you

That doesn’t mean this should be a default purchase for astrophotographers, though. Indeed, the 14-24mm has competition from Sigma’s own products. For roughly the same price, for example, you could have the utterly superb Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM ART. It doesn’t zoom like this lens does, but for a lot of “Milky Way over a local landmark” photography, it really doesn’t need to. You also get a whole extra stop of light admission through the aperture, which allows faster shutter speeds or lower ISOs.

Alternatively, Sigma also makes its 20mm f1.4 DG HSM Art Lens. This is a beautiful piece of kit that costs under $900; some $400 cheaper than the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8DG HSM ART. Despite that, you get an even larger maximum aperture than you do with the 14mm f/1.8, and a whole two stops more aperture than you do here, which means, potentially, quartering your shutter speed or ISO. As a prime lens, it’s a little less flexible, but it’s hugely popular with astrophotographers, not least because of that bargain-basement price.

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Kingston arts scene: Art and remembrance – The Kingston Whig-Standard

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With Remembrance Day just behind us, and not yet being in the throes of the festive season, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the relationship of Art and War (or Art and Conflict, or Cultural Property and Conflict, depending on how one wishes to frame the subject). Is there such a relationship, you might ask — indeed there is. And while art and conflict may seem like uneasy bedfellows, they have marched alongside one another for nearly as long as both have existed. Not always in step, and not always from the same point of view, but together nonetheless.

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Historically speaking, we start seeing large-scale conflict in the region of Mesopotamia sometime before 4000 BCE, due in large part to the establishment of city-states there. With city-states came the need to protect and defend them, and a parallel rise of persons of influence and power who did the ruling and defending of said city-states in conflict. One of the earliest examples of a representation of war is the so-called “Royal Standard of Ur” of Sumer from about 2600 BCE, which has on one side (the “war side”) narrative bands depicting charioteers and infantry soldiers in battle trampling and capturing opposing forces, stripping them of arms and armour. On the opposite side of the Standard (the “peace” side), there are similar narrative bands showing the collection of war booty by the victors, and a victory banquet in progress in the top register. Like this object, many of the earliest examples of representations of conflict show the ruler of the conquering people larger than life and glorify their prowess in battle.

The depiction of the collection of war booty, which often consisted of the movable material wealth and cultural property of a defeated people, is significant, because the accumulation of art as the spoils of war is just one other aspect of the conjunction of art and conflict. One clear illustration of the practice can be seen in the “Spoils of Jerusalem” panel of the Arch of Titus in Rome (circa 81 CE), in which Roman troops loot the Second Temple there, which they afterwards destroyed. (The Second Temple replaced, as you might guess, the First Temple (a.k.a. Solomon’s Temple), which the Babylonians had looted and destroyed in 586 BCE.) War booty was sometimes used to enrich the treasuries of a conquering people and was also often used to pay troops for their service in war. The practice was condoned for centuries but was also questioned on moral grounds as early as the Classical Greek period. Nonetheless, the seizure of art as war booty continued into modern times — and likely continues, despite international treaties and policies against the practice — to the enrichment of many of the world’s most prestigious galleries and museums. One has only to look to the Louvre in Paris (the foundation of its vast collections consisting of war booty collected by Napoleon’s troops in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) and the scrutiny of many of the world’s galleries with respect to Nazi War Art and its possible repatriation to get an idea of the scope of the activity.

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There are, fortunately, efforts being made to repatriate some portions of art looted from one culture and in the possession of another, but it can be a thorny endeavour for a variety of reasons. For example, how does one return artwork to a culture or entity that no longer exists? And is the cultural property perhaps better off remaining in an institution that can care for it properly? The act of repatriation may also be politically motivated — just as the act of the destruction of cultural property in times of conflict may be. Think of the destruction by the Taliban of the seventh-century Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 — a means of demoralizing local cultures and causing outrage in the international community. The destruction of cultural property (often artwork, monuments or architecture) to oppress a people and erase cultural memory is a practice that goes back to ancient times, and is one that continues today.

Not that the association of art and war is all negative — indeed, conflict has been the catalyst for many new types of artistic expression and movements. In particular, many of the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century (such as expressionism, vorticism, cubism, etc.) were more effective at capturing and illustrating aspects of modern warfare than were more traditional and staid styles of representation. In fact, it has been suggested that it is truly only artists who can accurately relate what being at war is actually like — visually, emotionally, psychologically and physically — through the power of imagery that words cannot begin to match.  Canadian artist W. Thurston Topham’s impressionist painting “Moonrise over Mametz Wood” of 1916 has been described by veterans as an “eerily accurate impression of the Somme battlefield in 1916.” As well, starting in the First World War and continuing in the Second World War, many nations, including Canada, established Official War Art programs. Many of a country’s notable artists were sent overseas to record and represent the conflicts and were indelibly marked by the experience. It has been argued, for example, that the art of some members of Canada’s Group of Seven was influenced more by the blasted landscapes of war in Europe than by the austerity of Canada’s North, as has so often been stated. Canada continues to invite artists into theatres of conflict, with some moving imagery coming out of such collaborations as a result.

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While the subject of art and war may seem to be a gloomy one (and this essay has merely scratched the surface of the topic), many beautiful and even humorous objects have resulted from the association. Art produced as a result of war is a testament to the enduring human spirit and the act of creativity, which may help us to understand events and experiences of the past.

Kamille Parkinson earned a PhD in art history from Queen’s University and is presently a writer, burgeoning copywriter and art historian at large. You can find her writing at Word Painter Projects on Facebook and can contact her at wordpainterprojects@gmail.com.

The Vimy Memorial, designed by Walter Allward, in Vimy, France.
The Vimy Memorial, designed by Walter Allward, in Vimy, France. Photo by Kamille Parkinson /Supplied Photo

Art About Town

Gallery Raymond

Annual Open House — Works by Gallery Artists

Annual Harambee fundraiser (to Dec. 2)

Studio 22 Open Gallery

Autumn 2021 Artist Portfolio Series. Now open Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and online.

• Victor Oriecuia, “Sacro Fiore”

• Bruno Capolongo, “Drips”

Window Art Gallery

• Nov. 16-30: Kingston Printmakers

Union Gallery

• Print Pulse (to Dec. 11)

• Coping and Care (to Dec. 11)

• Side-Ways (to Dec. 4, in conjunction with the Modern Fuel ARC)

• What Are You Reading? (to Dec. 11)

• Intimacies (to Nov. 27)

Modern Fuel ARC

• There are Minimums to Operate Properly (to Dec. 4)

• Turbo (to Dec. 4)

• Side-Ways (to Dec. 4, in conjunction with the Union Gallery)

Agnes Etherington Art Centre

• Studies in Solitude: The Art of Depicting Seclusion (to June 2022)

• Pandemical Lonliness (to March 2022)

• Humour Me

• Superradiance

• With Opened Mouths)

• Other Worlds

• Worrying the Mask

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Northern Arts Review: Why art is smart investment – Alaska Highway News

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Haley-BassettHello, dear reader. This week, I will cover a big announcement from the BC Arts Council, as well as some ins and outs of the arts grant–writing system, and argue for stronger relationships between local governments and arts organizations for the betterment of the community.

On November 12th, the BC Arts Council announced its Arts Infrastructure Program, with awards up to $250,000, more than three times the usual amount made available through this program. The purpose of this funding is for arts organizations to acquire, construct, or renovate an arts space that will enhance the cultural capacity of the community. There are two other streams for funding as well, worth up to $25,000 for planning and research and $40,000 for acquiring specialized equipment. The deadline is 11:59 PM on Jan. 14, 2022.

The BC Arts Council will host a virtual information session for communities and organizations in the Peace-Liard Region about this program at noon on Dec. 2. This session will include insight on the AIP from Program Officers Erin Macklem and Sarah Todd, as well as a Q&A section.

This grant is a great opportunity that can make a major difference in the region. If successful, it could finance the new arts hub in Fort St. John, a permanent gallery space in Chetwynd, or much needed renovations for the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. This is the second year in a row that BCAC has released funding through this program. However, it is unclear whether it will be offered again, so it is important to seize this opportunity now.

The BC Arts Council has been working to serve rural communities better in recent years, which is why the grant qualifications are slightly relaxed for northern communities. This grant may be up to 90% of the total budget for projects based in rural and remote areas with a small population. As an example, for applicant organizations based in Dawson Creek or Fort St. John, only 10% of the budget needs to come from an additional source. Meaning $25,000 can become $250,000, which is a great investment. On the other hand, the grant can only make up to 75% of the project budget for organizations in communities that don’t qualify as rural or underserved.

These budget splits are often how arts funding works from granting bodies like the BC Arts Council, Canada Arts Council, First Peoples’ Cultural Council, and Creative BC, although the funding component is not usually as high as 90%. Grant-based awards typically cover between 50% to 75% of a project total, which is still incredibly generous. Even with a 50% split, an applicant can double their project budget. The purpose of these splits is to show that the project is feasible, and has support from more than one source. This is something that arts administrators know well, as navigating this grant system is a large part of what they do. However, this point is often lost on local governments, who don’t have close working relationships with these funding sources.

The drawback with opportunities like the the AIP is that it often requires cooperation from municipal governments, who are slow to respond. Often arts spaces are publicly owned, but operated by a non-profit. For example, the Dawson Creek Art Gallery building is owned by the City of Dawson Creek, meaning that the gallery cannot go ahead with an application like this without the city’s support. Historically, the arts have been a blind spot for our local leaders, and this oversight is leaving money on the table, to the detriment of the community.

Understandably, at any given time there are many other pressing needs demanding the attention of local politicians—the pandemic, for example. The cultural revitalization of our communities slips lower down the priority list. However, this needn’t be the case. What is needed to allocate funds efficiently is simply an understanding that the arts and its funding system is a complex industry with many opportunities that require specific expertise and knowledge to capitalize on. This is why local governments need to work closely with arts organizations, and be more responsive to them, so that when opportunities like the Arts Infrastructure Program arise, both parties are prepared to make the best of them. That way, we can bet small and win big for the communities we serve.


Do you have an artistic endeavour you would like to promote? Is there a topic you would like me to discuss? I would love to hear from you! Please email me at programs@dcartgallery.ca.

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44th annual Penticton Art Auction set for early December – Penticton Western News – Penticton Western News

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After almost two years of adjusting on the fly and being forced to reschedule events, the Penticton Art Gallery is set to go ahead with the 44th annual art auction on Dec. 5.

The gallery is giving people the opportunity for a sneak peek on the evening of Dec. 3 so that they can explore all the art that is being sold.

The weekend-long event doesn’t have to wait though. Online pre-bidding opened on July 26 and is set to end 24 hours prior to the start of the live auction.

This year’s event will be conducted both in-person and virtually, via Zoom, and anyone attending the live auction at the gallery will be required to show proof of vaccination.

“If you don’t have a vaccine passport and would like to arrange a private viewing, please contact the gallery and we can make alternative arrangements,” said Penticton Art Gallery Director Paul Crawford.

Among the items available for auction include Andy Warhol pieces from his “Marilyn” series. The opening bid for the Warhol items was $1,500, with an estimated value of $5,000. After Marilyn Monroe’s death in 1967, the artist began to work on his now-famous series.

This year’s auction at the gallery will contain no shortage of historic items available for sale. James Irwin’s NASA flight suit is also up for auction, with an opening bid of $4,500 and an estimated value that the gallery calls “priceless.”

A woolly mammoth tusk rounds out the gallery’s list of “priceless” items but in this case, the piece had an opening bid of $1,750.

READ MORE: Mammoth finds at 44th annual Penticton Art Gallery auction

To view the complete list of available items, the gallery asks that you visit pentictonartgallery.com/annual-art-auction.

“The Penticton Art Gallery champions the transformative power of the Arts through an annual program of thought-provoking exhibitions,” said the gallery’s director.

Crawford said in the latest bi-monthly gallery newsletter that they’ve seen a 60 per cent reduction in revenue over the last 18 months that they had previously earned through a number of fundraising programs, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite that, he told the Penticton Western News on Thursday that even though he doesn’t know what to expect out of this year’s auction, he’s excited about the gallery’s immediate future.

“As we come to the end of the year, I hope you can help support the Gallery through the purchase of one of our Soup Bowl packages, a work from our Under $500 Exhibition + Sale, Annual Art Auction, the purchase of a membership, early bird tickets to the 2022 Ignite the Arts Festival, or a charitable donation this year,” he wrote in the letter.

READ MORE: Ignite the Arts Festival gets Penticton council’s blessing and funding

Successful bidders will be notified via email within 48 hours of the auction’s closing.

The live auction begins on Dec. 5 at 1 p.m., with the deadline for registration coming on Dec. 4 at 4 p.m.

As of Nov. 25, the auction has raised $8,295, which is 33 per cent of the gallery’s goal for the event.

To register for the live auction, email info@pentictonartgallery.com.

In addition, to get in on the pre-bidding festivities virtually, you can visit 32auctions.com/PAG2021.


@lgllockhart
logan.lockhart@pentictonwesternnews.com

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