The camera and accessory company Sigma has built a series of lenses that could learn a thing or two. That is because they are programmable, and can be set to shoot the way you want them to.
Its new lenses, designated A for art, C for contemporary and S for sports, claim to be the first programmable lenses, which through a USB dock can be customized to capture specific kinds of shots. The lenses, five so far, are available for most major brands of cameras.
For instance, the 120- to 300-millimeter f2.8 DG OS HSM zoom, is a huge 7.4-pounder suited for sports and wildlife photos. Here's why customizing its settings is useful.
Let's say you are photographing a baseball game and the action you want to capture is at home plate. You can set the lens to focus only a few feet ahead of and behind the plate. That way the autofocus doesn't accidentally zero in on the third baseman. The lens can also focus faster because of the limited range.
With two custom settings, you can be prepared for two kinds of shots, or change it to standard settings with a switch right on the lens barrel.
In addition to field of focus, you can make micro-focus adjustments. If your shots are just a tad soft at a specific distance, you can program in a small adjustment to change the focus point at that range. There are 16 ranges available.
You can also set the speed of the autofocus (it's more accurate at slower speeds), and you can adjust to three degrees of optical stabilization (it can interfere with the view through the eyepiece), which adjusts for slight shakes.
Even if you aren't using the custom settings, the USB is used to load updated software that might improve lens performance or suit it for as-yet-unreleased cameras and features.
The 120- to 300-millimeter lens comes with a price as heavy as the lens itself. The lens is $3,600 retail. The USB dock is $60. The software is free.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.