Sport in evening dresses – The German closed championships formation dance

This article originally appeared as Sport in Abendkleidung – Die Deutsche Meisterschaft im Formationstanz on Sigma Germanys blog.

Saturday November 11th, 2017: outside it is cold and grey as we walk towards the ÖVB Arena in Bremen. In the arena, however, everything looks completely different: lots of color and glitter, a great atmosphere. On this day, German closed championships formation dance are held here. A big event with 8,000 spectators, 256 dancers in 16 teams and 220 children participating in the opening show.

Our task is to photographically document this event for the Tanzspiegel, a print magazine about the German and international dance scene and the official publication of the Deutschen Tanzsportverbands e.V. (German Dance Sport Association). In addition to the competition itself the whole behind the scenes, that spectators normally don’t see, should be caught in this photo gallery as well.

And perfectly suited for this task, in our opinion, is the new SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art. It is bright enough for shooting in the catacombs. Has focal lengths suitable for both group photos and portraits and fast autofocus for shooting the performances itself.

We als brought with us the SIGMA 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports. It is less bright but the focal lengths give you the opportunity to take pictures in this arena from a greater distance.

One of the central elements of the formation dance are the so-called Pictures. Due to the changes in the dance positions these Pictures are made, for example; diamonds, lines, circles, rows and diagonals. How those Pictures are created accounts for a large part of the choreographic performance, as the effect of steps and poses also depends heavily on these Pictures. From above these Pictures are best seen. In this case the 150-600mm turned out to be an excellent choice. From the second ring 150 to 250mm just the right focal length range to capture these images. But you also have the opportunity to zoom in and single out one or two dancers. We found the contrast, sharpness and definition to be excellent and the stabilizer in the lens was extremely helpful at times.

Our absolute favorite on this day however was the 24-70mm. Between the rounds a lot happens. Interviews are given, clothes repaired, make-up reapplied and, of course, the teams prepare for the next round. If you then wander through the catacombs one is offered a lot of motives. But the lighting conditions are very difficult, it is usually very dark and for that it is of course helpful to have a high-speed lens with you.

Besides the light issue the motives vary a lot, from wide-angle shots to portraits. Here the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art really showed its strength. It also scored high points with us for its rendition. It records pictures with good, strong contrast and has excellent sharpness. Combined with, for a zoom lens, fabulous bokeh, we very impressed.

In the competition pictures, the 24-70mm also peformed very well. Formation dance is actually a very fast sport. Therefore you need shutter speeds of at least 1/500s or higher. In addition to that you need high ISO values even with wide open aperture as it is all indoors. All this was no problem for the 24-70mm, because even with a wide open Aperture sharpness is excellent. The autofocus impressed me too, it had no problem at all keeping up with the dancers. It was actually always ‘spot-on’ (user-error excluded of course).

Oh, and one more, not unimportant, point. The photos that the 24-70mm produced were so good that very little post-processing was needed. This saves one ample time when you come home with 10,000 pictures ;).