Stuff We Love: Sigma ARTisans

May 5, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

Just over a week ago, fellow Titan and Tite Group content creator of all things camera-related Catty Chan went to the Sigma Photo and Cinema Lens event, hosted by Vistek.  

While there, she saw some pretty awe-inspiring content that proved exactly why sometimes showing is better than telling.

It’s time to face the facts: viewers are looking away from traditional ads and instead gravitating towards content that offers them some value. When looking at great examples of content marketing, the common thread is the element of natural storytelling. 

Speaking of, there’s no better product fit for content marketing than camera lenses. Quick poll: would you rather see a picture of a lens or see the lens at work?

We hope you’re edging towards the latter.

Especially for people who are immersed in this art, like Catty, it’s important to see how the tools work. Artisans are the perfect subjects to show off the “how.” Not only are viewers treated to an inside look at crafts they’re unfamiliar with, but filmmakers and photographers alike get to flex their creative skills.

It’s a win-win situation of visually stunning proportions.

We sat down with Catty to get her thoughts on Sigma’s ARTisan series.

1.         What makes this the best way to show off the lenses?

Image capture can be a very technical form of art – a lot of photographers will mill around gear rumours and specs, but once sample images are released, a lot of those numbers go out the door. The surest way to see the quality of the product without having it in your hands is to see the work that photographers and film makers are able to produce with it. You can't see the "character" of a lens in words – the colour, the bokeh, the fall-off. I'm getting a bit nerdy here.

Also, all of the films are 100% produced with Sigma glass, either owned by the film makers or provided by Sigma for the production – everything you see in the series is through the eyes of Sigma glass.

2.       How do the lenses elevate the work of the artisans who are being showcased?

Some of the environments that the artisans work in are quite dim and dark for a camera to see, but the lenses are able to capture some of the things hidden in the shadows of a workshop that help tell the story. The lenses are also tack-sharp, which helps film makers focus on the fine details and textures that may not be noticeable otherwise. These details and components all help to draw in the viewer visually into the story being told.

3.       What are the greatest challenges that Canadian filmmakers face?

I can't speak for film makers in the commercial industry, but in the independent world, resources and scheduling are always top of mind. There are film industry hubs in Canada – Toronto and Vancouver are fairly established – but nowhere near the level of New York, or LA, where people from around the world converge to create films. In those environments, it's probably easier to network with like minds and find resources and people who are understanding of what you're trying to accomplish. Just as this series shows, independents can still create, it’s just that the process happens differently.

4.       What’s should aspiring filmmakers and photographers be looking for in their lenses?

This would be more of a personal opinion than anything else – everyone would give you a different answer. Aside from the technical stuff, I think that it comes down to choosing lenses that you'll actually take with you and use.

The lenses in my toolkit tend to be durable, smaller primes that perform well in low light. For my style of shooting, I'm much more likely to take these with me than heavy, bulky lenses. Of course, it also depends on the type of subject you're trying to capture and the style that you're going for – sports, portrait, and documentary all require different tools.

5.       How does shooting a video series/creative platform like this help position the Sigma brand?

For people who are considering Sigma lenses but may not have the chance to try them hands-on, it's a great way to demonstrate and promote what they might be able to accomplish with the product.

I find that their lenses range from enthusiast to pro – Sigma’s new cine lenses are something that you might use on a commercial set and would cost an independent shooter an arm or two to own. Still, the more affordable lenses are still super high-quality – that’s what the series has been produced with.

It's also a Canadian series featuring local artisans, people who are experts in their craft, so a lot of people might recognize their neighbourhood small businesses and connect more personally. When they show the level of detail and care the artisans put into their craft, it draws parallels to the brand, which itself is family-owned.

What Sigma has done here is put the craft before the product. Yes, it makes lenses. But more importantly, Sigma is about creating quality tools that allow artisans to tell their own stories.

The quality shows: last year, Sigma pushed past Nikon for the #2 spot in the market share for lenses and it is the only family-owned manufacturer. This fact is about more than a family photo on the wall: it means that every component of the lens is produced in-house, right down to the individual screws that hold everything together.

Want to see the rest of the stories? You can catch every last detail of guitar making, coffee brewing, glass blowing and more in the full Sigma ARTisans films online


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