My name is Steffen Jahn, I´m a seasoned car photographer based in Germany. With over 20 years in business and all the famous manufacturers like Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes and Audi on my client list, I have a basic understanding what professional car-photography is all about.
I recently got the chance to shoot the Ferrari 488 Pista – a 2018 Geneva Motorshow novelty – secretly at Ferraris headquarter in Maranello / Italy for British Top Gear magazine.
The Nikon D850 was my camera of choice. I took the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 Art lens with me that I purchased 2 months before. It offered excellent quality images on other assignments and I simply loved its build quality and feel. So it seemed to be a perfect match for this shoot under time pressure. The editor asked for 12+ high-end shots in a timeframe of less than 6 hours.
Arriving at 8pm to Ferrari’s showroom the car showed up in all of its beauty and I started my shoot. As I wanted to avoid all the ugly reflections from the showroom in the cars glossy body, I worked my way around the 488 with my Elinchrom 400 battery flash, light-painting the car in multiple exposures. When checking my shots in Capture One (as I always shoot tethered), I realized that the car was jumping up and down in the frame.
At first, I blamed it on the shaky wooden floor that seemed to move, I took great care to not come near the camera when doing the next exposure round. Still, the images were not consistent – although my carbon fibre Gitzo tripod and Arca D4 head had proven rock solid in all other shoots before.
So while being under horrible time pressure I´d try to figure out what is messing up my production – but in the end, I kept shooting, convinced I´d somehow had to solve that problem later via Photoshop / Photomerge function.
A few days later I had a chat with SIGMA service personnel, and they explained to me that even when switching the stabilization (OS) to off, it does not mean that it’s really off. The stabilization element is kept in its position by a magnetic field. Whenever the camera goes to sleep – the element moves down. After waking up the camera, it takes a moment to reposition itself to the proper position. And it’s even doing it during exposures!
In a 5 sec light painting exposure – the car is tack sharp in the rear – while blurry on the front when the OS element moved. In the professional world, where you need to rely on every single shot, this strange behaviour of a lens could kill THE magic image.
Sigma Germany was checking my lens, reloading its OS-firmware, but when testing the lens on a massive FOBA studio stand, it shows the same jumpy behaviour.
So my lens went instantly to eBay – and I only can advise photographers who need to rely on consistent results – stay away from SIGMA Art lenses with OS as far as you can.
About the Author
Steffen Jahn is a Stuttgart, Germany based photographer who spends his time travelling the world capturing images in the jungles of Thailand, on Arctic test tracks and in a Los Angeles studio. His clients include Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes, Porsche, and more. You can find out more about Steffen on his website and follow his work on Behance and Instagram. Images used with permission.