Filmmaking with Sigma Cine with Jozua Malherbe

I think I’ve spotted a problem and it’s not what you think.

Having just come off another big show where we used the SIGMA FF high-speed cinema lenses (F1.5–F2) I can’t help but wonder why I don’t see the SIGMA brand on more film sets – and I’m not only talking about the lenses.

The FF Cine lenses are clean, robust and short making them ideal for a director and DP like me who uses the entire kit of lenses in a scene. I believe lenses form the film’s personality, the aesthetic of the show is developed in part through the lens choices, but I also believe that lenses are a utility through which to tell the story. Smashing from an ultrawide tracking shot to a long lens follow shot can be much more dynamic and interesting than sticking to defined rules of when which lenses should come out of the box.

In general I view gear for its utility value, a camera is a camera by any other name (something like that) and does not define the success or failure of the story I am busy telling. I believe in telling great stories in interesting and personal ways. On Griekwastad (2019), my first feature where I directed and DOP’d, I went with my gut, feeling what the scene may need to decide where and how to light from and which shots to get within my allocated time. The gear was what I could afford, not what I had planned for. But this method of trusting my intuition, making bold choices, and pushing the gear as far as I can has stayed with me. In short, I don’t believe gear makes a good films; filmmakers make good films and the gear is there to assist the process.

Which brings me back to the following question: why don’t I see more SIGMA gear around me? The FP-L full frame stills camera is a piece of gear I am giddy about and can’t wait to use. This little monster of a camera – it is really little and a total machine monster – has the adaptability to switch into a director’s viewfinder. A real viewfinder where I can lock my chosen lenses onto the body, set the camera to shooting mode i.e. Arri, RED or Sony, and then boom, full blown viewfinder. Just this option alone makes it a filmmaker’s dream, never mind the 4k full frame shooting or the beautiful design aesthetic that runs through all the SIGMA products.

What about the DP QUATTRO range which has a fixed lens but shoots, in my opinion, more rich tones than the FUJIs for example. These beautifully designed cameras are simple and elegant; it could be in any wardrobe, make-up or continuity person’s bag for on set images to shoot accurately without having to use those damn cell phone cameras.

The thing that gets me excited about gear isn’t how much it can do, but what is the thing that it does really well. I’m not as interested in a Swiss Army knife as I am in a beautifully crafted Japanese blade and trawling through the product range of cameras and lenses I realise that SIGMA makes products for users like me. Users that value a tool for its specific use, its build quality and the design that pulls it all together.

Director and Producer, Jozua Malherbe.