The ultra-telephoto lens that opens up new horizons

Menno van der Veen

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports, SONY α1, ISO 500 , F5, 1/40s, 99mm

I made my first forays into photography during my ‘previous life’ as a sports teacher. At the time, I regularly travelled to the Alps and always brought a camera with me.

I was captivated by photography and would consider things like: what do I need in low-light situations? How do you shoot sports? Why is this photo blurry? Why was this photo a failure? By constantly challenging myself, plus a bit of trial and error, I gradually improved my skills. People started to pick up on that – some of them even asked me to photograph at their party. My next gig was at my local music venue, and one thing led to another…

I vividly remember thinking how cool it would be to shoot at an event like Tomorrowland or Defqon.1 Festival one day. And now look where I am. I now fly all over the world to work my magic at the biggest events imaginable.
However, what really helped me out was the fact that I knew loads of these DJs, as I used to work as a DJ myself. I was known as ‘DJ MNO’. My name featured on posters alongside big ones like Endymion, High Voltage, and Bass Modulators, although they really had to try hard to squeeze ‘Menno’ in. That’s why I chose ‘MNO’, which is the name I now use for my company: MNO Photo.

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports, SONY α1, ISO 800, F4.5, 1/200s, 60mm

Under its spell

As artists were increasingly using and sharing my images, I was gaining exposure among more and more organizations. At one point, I was faced with a dilemma: do I continue to do this alongside my day job as a sports teacher or do I put all my effort into photography? Photography came out on top. The excitement, the variety, the travelling, the dynamism, the creativity… Photography had and has me under its spell.

Of course, it’s important for me to continue delivering quality, otherwise my business won’t last very long! You achieve that quality by noticing and capturing details. You want people to be amazed by your work and wish they’d been there. I want to use my images to make memories come alive. I’m also eager to give visitors a different perspective on a show, as the average visitor will often miss the details.

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports,
SONY α1, ISO 800 , F4.5, 1/200s, 60mm

* The images without photograph data have been created with lenses
other than SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports

No longer scared

My first time shooting at a big event was a nerve-racking experience. But I’m used to it now. Photographing at an event like Defqon.1 Festival, with a 60,000-plus crowd, is actually easier than photographing at the local music venue. That’s because the light at big events like these is so much better, and there’s so much more happening. If you’ve got the skills to shoot fantastic images on small stages, those bigger stages are nothing to worry about. That has been my biggest growth area over the years: I’m no longer scared. But there’s one more important thing: you should never forget how cool it is to be doing what you’re doing.

Productivity shoots up

I have the odd off day. But being at one of these events always re-energizes me, not least because of the music: I’m a huge hardstyle fan! My productivity really shoots up as a result.

During an event, I always start out by shooting the images I need: the opening, a shot with fireworks, the crowd with their hands in the air, the close-up of the DJ… Once I have those images on my CF Express A card, I start playing around and experimenting with cool angles, different focal lengths, certain movements, that sort of stuff.

I always work with large-aperture SIGMA prime lenses as well as the large-aperture telephoto zoom lens, the SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports. When I was asked whether I’d consider using the SIGMA 60-600 F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports, I had to stop to think for a second. But then again, I do love a challenge. What’s more, today’s mirrorless cameras have solved the once insurmountable problem posed by higher ISOs, especially in combination with current software. It’s plain sailing up to ISO 3200.

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports, SONY α1, ISO 1000, F4.5, 1/200s, 60mm

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports,
SONY α1, ISO 2500, F5.6, 1/320s, 236mm

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports, SONY α1, ISO 3200, F4.5, 1/250s, 76mm

From all-embracing panoramas to super close-ups

If you’re working in a very low-light situation, you’re best off leaving this lens in your bag. Especially if you’re also dealing with a lot of smoke. There’s no getting around it, and anyone who has some knowledge of photography will tell you the same. However, when there is enough light, it’s a truly fantastic lens. Think about all those big outdoor festivals in summer… It’s an extremely versatile lens that lets you capture beautiful images in many situations. At 60 mm, you can shoot gorgeous panoramas and then zoom in to take some super close-ups. And all with one lens! Just have a look at the images I took of those masks during Warface…

Fast and razor-sharp

I spent a bit of time on the balcony taking overhead shots that evening, when a rapper suddenly appeared on stage. A quick zoom-out meant I could get them in shot just like that. How great is that? In a nutshell, that is the power of this ultra-telezoom’s versatile range. I also really enjoyed shooting on stage with f-stops of at least F5.6 and even F6.3. I was sceptical at first and thought: “Oh dear, it’s not 1.4. This is hopeless.” But standing there and seeing that the light was totally okay, I looked at the results on the screen of my Sony α1 and knew it would turn out all right! This lens opens up new horizons in my line of work. The AF is impressively fast, and the images are razor-sharp. It’s awesome! Considering its huge range, it’s relatively light. It’s very easy to handle, so you can comfortably shoot freehand.

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports,
SONY α1, ISO 1000, F6.3, 1/250s, 396mm

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports,
SONY α1, ISO 500, F4.5, 1/60s, 60mm

SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports,
SONY α1, ISO 800, F4.5, 1/250s, 60mm

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