Tweak these lenses to suit the scene

CUSTOMISABLE: Sigma says that its new lenses can be programmed through a USB dock to capture specific kinds of shots.


    Jul 25, 2013

    Tweak these lenses to suit the scene

    The New York Times

    CAMERA and accessory company Sigma has built a series of lenses that can learn a thing or two. That is because they are programmable, and can be set to shoot the way you want them to.

    Its new lenses, designated A for art, C for contemporary and S for sports, claim to be the first programmable lenses, which can be customised through a USB dock to capture specific kinds of shots.

    Similar lenses, five so far, are available for cameras from most major brands.

    For instance, the 120mm-300mm f2.8 DG OS HSM zoom is a huge 3.4kg lens suited for sports and wildlife photography.

    Here's why customising its settings is useful. Let's say you are photographing a baseball game and the action you want to capture is at home plate. You can set the lens to focus only a metre or so ahead of and behind the plate. That way the autofocus doesn't accidentally zero in on the third baseman. The lens can also focus faster because of the limited range.

    With two custom settings, you can be prepared for two kinds of shots, or change it to standard settings with a switch right on the lens barrel.

    In addition to field of focus, you can make micro-focus adjustments. If your shots are just a tad soft at a specific distance, you can program a small adjustment to change the focus point at that range. There are 16 ranges available.

    You can set the speed of the autofocus (it's more accurate at slower speeds), and you can adjust to three degrees of optical stabilisation (it can interfere with the view through the eyepiece), which adjusts for slight shakes.

    Even if you aren't using the custom settings, the USB can be used to load updated software that might improve lens performance or make it compatible with as-yet-unreleased cameras and features.

    The 120mm-300mm lens comes with a price as heavy as the device itself. It retails at US$3,600 (S$4,550) and the USB dock is US$60, but the software is free.