Nature Reflections and the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art lens with Herve Rannu

Nature Reflections and the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art lens with Herve Rannu

- Herve Rannu

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 28mm, F13, 1:6s, ISO100.

As a landscape and nightscape photographer with overall love for nature I always look for possibilities how much can one piece of gear help me out in the field. Usually my photography adventures are also connected with hiking and camping, my other two passions. Because your backpack size is limited and carring an extra heavy bag in longer trips isn’t very smart then I have to look for versatile solutions when I am going out to nature capturing its beauty. Maybe for example bringing only a couple of lenses that do the job. But not just do the job but do the job very well.

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 51mm, F4, 1:1000s, ISO400.

I have used the previous version of the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art for about 3 years and I have to say that it has probably been the only lens that has pretty much always come with me on my photography trips.

So now I had the possibility to try out the new SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art lens. I used it with my Sony a7RV camera body. I was very excited about it and I decided to go on a two day camping trip to one of my favourite places in Estonia - Põhja-Kõrvemaa Nature Reserve. It was a one hour drive and then a 30 minute hike to the camping spot. I set up my tent and other things and headed out to a bog which was about a 10 minute walk from my camping site. Bogs cover about 6-8% of Estonian landscapes and they are our pride and glory. If you are lucky enough, you can capture or witness its mystical beauty on a foggy and dreamy morning which looks absolutely amazing. But for now I went out to try and capture the sunset first.

Unfortunately, there were no clouds in the sky and therefore the sunset wasn’t very colourful. In landscape photography, sometimes you want to capture a wider scene of the landscape, but there are times when you also want to get closer to the subject. Luckily, there was almost no wind so I could capture some minimalistic photos about the small bog islands and its reflections. Here comes the 24-70mm range of the lens focal length very handy. It allowed me to get closer to the islands and I could refine my compositions. In this case when I would have taken the shots with the 24mm focal lenght, the islands would have been too small in the frame and the photo wouldn’t work.

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 37mm, F16, 1:60s, ISO400. 

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 52mm, F5.6, !.100s, ISO400. 

Right away, I first saw that the lens weighs less and also is smaller than the previous model. Approximately 7% smaller and 10% lighter. This was a good start because if a lens is small and lightweight it makes my life easier and takes less room in my camera bag. SIGMA has added the zoom lock switch at the wide end and aperture ring to the lens which allows different shooting variations for photographers with different needs. I really liked how the lens felt in my hands and it was convenient to use.

After the sunset I went back to my camping site and made dinner. Then I set my alarm at 4 am to capture the sunrise.

In the morning, there were some high clouds in the sky and I woke up, looked to the sky and knew right away that I could get some photos full of morning colors. As I mentioned before, I really like the focal length range of the lens. 24mm is wide enough to include different foregrounds in your photos that make the photo more interesting.
In the morning, I was able to capture a couple of these photos. Later nature offered some very cool cloud reflections and here I could play around with the focal length again, deciding what to include in the frame or not.

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 24mm, F2.8, 13s, ISO800. 

When the sun was higher I was able to find some details to capture. Because the lens minimal focus distance is 17cm in the wide end and 34 cm in the narrower end therefore I can get very close to different subjects. Usually here I am shooting with the F2.8 aperture to get a nice blurry background. I get very low to the ground to separate the subject from surroundings. This is also how I can create more depth to the image.

This brings me to sharpness of the lens. Sometimes shooting with the widest aperture the image can come out a bit soft. Here it wasn’t the case. The lens worked very well with the widest F2.8 aperture and the photos were very sharp. For me this is it. When it does the job in the widest aperture then I’m happy and I know that I can also use it in lower light conditions.

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 24mm, F13, 1:6s, ISO100.

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 70mm, F2.8, 1:3200s, ISO100. 

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 70mm, F2.8, 1:2000s, ISO800. 

First I decided to stay for one more night but later the weather forecast promised rain and not so good conditions. So I decided to pack my camp and wrap things up. But that wasn’t it and I had no idea what was waiting for me the next day.

During my drive home I started to get notifications that a strong geomagnetic storm is arriving our earth in couple of days and we can expect some amazing northern lights. That got my heart pumping and the next evening the northern lights colors had arrived. I decided to go back where I was couple of days ago and capture the northern lights in the bog. In Estonia the dark nights were over but we still had astronomical twilight for about two hours and the northern lights could still be seen.

Fact was I already started shooting the aurora during nautical twilight and the red colors were dancing in the sky. About 1:30 at night the sky exploded with all the different colors and the aurora was dancing all over the sky. I had never witnessed Auroras like this before. This is the time the photos you see here are captured. And of course they are captured with the new SIGMA 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. It also shows that you don’t need to get all the aurora into the frame and with 24mm focal length I really like the result. Probably my all time favourite aurora shots. Later it was confirmed that it was the biggest northern lights show in 20 years and last time the aurora was so strong was in year 2003. So I was out there in nature during night when history was made. How awesome is that!

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 24mm, F2.8, 2s, ISO800. 

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 24mm, F2.8, 2s, ISO1600. 

SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN II | Art. 24mm, F2.8, 4s, ISO800. 

In conclusion I think SIGMA has done an amazing job again with the new lens. It is easier to carry along and comfortable to use during my photography trips. I can capture different landscapes with different focal lengths. Get closer to nature details. Take it out during night and also take some quick lifestyle shots when hiking or camping outdoors. Providing excelent image quality in different scenarios. This all makes it a very versatile lens and I am happy that I have it in my camera bag and also highly recommend it to other photographers out there.

Herve Rannu
Landscape & Nightscape Photographer and SIGMA Nordic Ambassador

Herve Rannu is a landscape and nightscape photographer based in Tallinn, Estonia. Herve started his photographic journey back in 2017. His started out with some SIGMA lenses and over the years, they have never let him down. 
Starting out, Herve used to wander around in the middle of cityscapes during night time and capture different scenes with long exposures. After a couple of years he found himself more in nature and realised that this was what he wanted to do. Capture the amazing beauty and experience fantastic moments in our wonderful nature.  

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