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Review: Sigma Cine Lenses

This review looks at two zoom lenses and one prime from the Cinema lens line, tested with a Blackmagic URSA 4.6 Mini Pro 4.6K.

Breathing in the Zoom

One of the issues that others who have reviewed these lenses bring up is the fact that the zoom lenses have a lot of breathing in them. Breathing is what you see when you zoom a lens, and you notice a distinct change in the image when you're zooming from one focal length to another. If I have a subject that's far away, and I rack the focus to a close focus point, then the objects in that scene far away and close will sort of distort, change shape, and appear to almost move in the scene. That's just a by-product of the elements inside the lens actually moving inside the body.

I didn't really notice this very much with the Cine Lens zooms. There were one or two shots that I did where I racked as I was just setting the focus, and I noticed that really changed the perspective of what I was looking at here. Now, maybe other cinema lenses don't have an issue with that. The image won't distort, it won't change the shapes of your objects as you zoom. They do slightly, but to me, it wasn't a big deal, partly because it didn't bother me, and partly because, for some people, this would be an artistic effect that they might actually like.

I watched a movie recently where they were using anamorphic lenses, and as they racked the focus, the entire scene actually kind of distorted, and it made for a pretty cool effect, because it drew attention to the fact that the viewer's attention is already back here, but now we want to bring it up to the foreground, so it kind of jarred me into thinking, "Whoa, what's happening? Now they want me to look at something that's close by."

It's really just a personal preference. To me it's not a sign of a lower-quality lens at all. It's just a matter of whether you want that artistic effect or not. If you don't like that breathing effect, you can certainly stick with the cinema prime lenses. Sigma has a full complement of lenses all the way from very wide focal lengths to the 135 prime.

I really enjoyed and got a lot of use out of all three of these lenses on my shoot, but to me the star of the show was the 135 prime. Although it's not a particularly long focal length, because of its super-close focusing distance, you can almost use it as a macro lens. It focuses all the way down to about two feet, eleven inches, so I was able to shoot some super closeups of somebody's eye and face, and got some fantastic footage out of it, just by getting very close to my subject.

That's a few of my thoughts on the Sigma, cinema, high-speed lens line. I used both from the zoom series, the 18-35 and the 50-100 and I used the longest from their prime lens line, the 135.

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In this tutorial I'll look at two new cameras from Blackmagic Design: the URSA Broadcast, a 4K camera; and the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K, which is an update to the previous URSA Mini 4.6K.