Andy Marcus Shares His Lens Selection Process

May 10, 2017

Photo © Fred Marcus Studio

As a New York City-based studio portrait and wedding photographer, Andy Marcus requires high performance and low distortion in his interchangeable lenses. His brand of choice is Sigma, he explains, “the focusing speed on [Sigma’s] lenses is exceptional. I’m also always impressed with their sharpness and images with no distortion.”

But the reason Marcus selects a specific Sigma lens depends on what it does best for the type of shot he needs to take. We asked Marcus to share which Sigma lens he used in four spectacular photos from his extensive portfolio, and why he felt it was the right lens for the shot.

Captured with the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens. Photo © Fred Marcus Studio

To capture a formal wedding portrait that’s both exquisite and intimate, Marcus reaches for the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens. “On a portrait like this,” he says, “you really want people to be drawn in and focus on the eyes.” To achieve this, he needs a fast lens that will provide wide apertures for exceptional bokeh or background blur. “I can shoot wide open at f/1.4, which makes my subjects really pop.”

But the design of the lens also makes it ideal for close-up portraits. “The close-focusing ability  of the lens allows me to be in communication with my subject. With a longer lens, you’re too far away.”

Captured with the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II lens. Photo © Fred Marcus Studio

Photographers rely on wide-angle lenses for many types of photos, from scenic shots that provide a sense of place, to fun group candids that convey the spirit of an event. For Marcus, the Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 DG HSM II Art lens does both. “It’s such a terrific lens since it has almost no distortion. You can photograph buildings without having them look like they’re falling over. I use it to shoot candids, too, since you can come in close and capture the intimate excitement of a wedding.”

It’s a lens that not only captures the sharp details of a scene, but also maintains consistent lighting across the picture plane, as it does here. That’s tricky in a shot like this, where there’s different light sources in one image. “It was just after sunset,” Marcus says. “So, it was important pick up the blue of the sky, along with the warmth of the light in the fireworks.”


Captured with the Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens. Photo © Fred Marcus Studio

When Marcus photographs clients in his studio, he uses his Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens. It produces exceptionally sharp pictures, and it’s versatile, which is helpful when working with children. “It’s very flexible, which means I can use it with unpredictable subjects, like babies. I can zoom in super close, just to get her eyes, nose and mouth. Then, zoom back out to get more of her entire body. With children, you want to work quickly, because changing a lens may mean you miss an amazing shot.”

Captured with the Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM lens. Photo © Fred Marcus Studio

The Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM is Marcus’s primary lens for most of his handheld event photos during a wedding. “I’ll leave it on for about 85 percent of the party, since I can quickly go from wide angle to close up.”

For this photo, Marcus needed to photograph his subject in a challenging hotel setting, with the bride situated behind a double-glass doorway. There was also foliage between the first and second doorways, which meant there was not only more clutter, but also less light.

But even with these variables at play, Marcus could shoot at a slower shutter speed and still capture sharp detail like the bride’s eyelashes due to the image stabilization of the 24-105mm lens. “This kind of image stabilization is a major breakthrough in the technology of lenses,” says Marcus. “I always use it because it makes a huge difference in sharpness. You could make this picture into a 30 x 40-print, and it will still be crystal sharp.”

Learn more about these lenses at sigmaphoto.com/lenses.

–Sponsored by Sigma