Unleashing Creative Potential
Why SIGMA Prime Lenses are Essential for Travel Photographers
Words and Photos: SIGMA Ambassador Kam Vachon | @kamvachon
In a world where there is so much to explore, being a travel photographer is a profession that keeps you on your feet and challenges you on every adventure that you take. Being able to capture vibrant cultures, landscapes and architecture all around the world is a privilege. For each destination you will visit in your lifetime as a travel photographer, you will always come back home a different person full of new experiences and knowledge. This career offers so much opportunity, from meeting people with diverse background to experiencing a new way of life on the other side of the globe.
For us travel photographers, it is very important to be versatile and to be able to capture things that unfold in front of our eyes as fast as possible. In my journey, I’ve worked with a variety of different lenses that allowed me to become efficient and never miss an opportunity. Most of us are going to use zoom lenses, something in the like of the SIGMA 28-70mm. It’s one of my favorite travel lenses because of its small size, and how sharp it is. But throughout the years, I’ve found a system that works better for my workflow: prime lenses.
I decided to start using prime lenses mainly because of their size. This characteristic is one of the most important for me when it comes to buying a new lens for traveling. I need something light that is going to keep my setup small so that I can be more subtle while doing street photography. It also allows me to hike long distances without having so much weight in my backpack. It made a huge different for me, especially for street photography. Also, prime lenses have an amazing image quality. They often have fewer lens elements compared to zoom lenses, which can result in sharper images with less distortion and chromatic aberration.
I started using SIGMA’s 85mm F1.4 DG DN | Art and to my surprise, it became one of my favorite lens for travel photography. Most would say that 85mm is a bit of an unusual focal length for traveling, but it can force you to be creative. For street photography, it allows me to be further away from my subject which can be very beneficial for countries where people don’t want to be photographed, such as Morocco where being subtle is very important.
I would also highly recommend SIGMA's line of compact prime lenses for their size and weight. There is such a wide variety of focal lengths, my favorites being the 35mm F/2 and the 50mm F/2. Sigma is known for their superior optical quality, so I always trust that these tiny lenses will be able to capture everything that I need while I travel. Plus, they are much more affordable than from the camera manufacturers like Canon and Nikon and Sony.
For me, I’d rather have a small size lens with an aperture of F/2 than a big prime lens that opens up to F/1.8. From past experiences, traveling with heavy gear isn’t fun and can be very stressful, so I am more than willing to trade even a full stop of light for smaller lenses in my kit. An aperture of F/2 is more than enough to capture all the beauty around you while you travel.
After all, working with a fixed focal length will challenge you to think more creatively. It will force you to be more engaged with your surroundings and discover unique perspective. It will free your mind with the worry of choosing the perfect lens or zooming in on your subject. Forget about being perfect and work with what you have. Being in the moment and capturing emotions is much more important than stressing out about your gear. The quality of your images can drastically improve from this and this is why using prime lenses is essential for any travel photographer.