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SEL20F18G Review: Shooting Architecture with Darren Soh

by Darren Soh

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Understanding Architectural Photography
While architectural photography is a more contemplative field compared to wedding or sports photography, it is still one that is challenging to master.
To begin with, one may say that the field’s purpose is to grant people a visual understanding of buildings that they may never visit in their lifetime. 

Therefore, architectural photography requires a considerable amount of time for pre-planning to best highlight a building’s interior, exterior, and even sculptural details all for the sake of documentation. When capturing the image, it is crucial to find the right light and avoid tilting the camera. 

When asked about architectural photography, Darren Soh promptly conveys that he can be quite particular when it comes to keeping the lines straight in his photographs.
“Buildings shouldn’t look like they are falling over,” he elaborates.
 

Alpha 7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/160 sec | F8 | ISO 100

His words are to be taken heed of. After all, Darren is an acclaimed Singapore-based photographer who has been capturing man-made marvels of the modern world for the last 15 years. With numerous awards under his belt, he is not just sought after in the commercial world of developers and architects, but also has his works published in international magazines such as Wallpaper* and Monocle.
 

Alpha 7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/500 sec | F8 | ISO 100

Understanding Architectural Photography

While architectural photography is a more contemplative field compared to wedding or sports photography, it is still one that is challenging to master.
To begin with, one may say that the field’s purpose is to grant people a visual understanding of buildings that they may never visit in their lifetime. Therefore, architectural photography requires a considerable amount of time for pre-planning to best highlight a building’s interior, exterior, and even sculptural details all for the sake of documentation. When capturing the image, it is crucial to find the right light and avoid tilting the camera. 
 

Alpha 7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/250 sec | F11 | ISO 100

Capturing Singapore’s buildings with the SEL20F18G

As an island city, Singapore is home to a large diversity of buildings constructed over the last 200 years. From heritage houses to towering skyscrapers, Singapore truly is a treasure trove of man-made wonders, perfect for architectural photography. 

Alpha 7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/500 sec | F8 | ISO 100

Darren observes that the buildings are generally built very closely together.
“I really do need wide-angle lenses very often,” he continues.

One such lens is Sony’s FE 20mm F1.8 G lens (SEL20F18G), which easily captures the beauty of tightly packed buildings, while offering amazing sharpness with almost no distortion.

  

With a maximum aperture of F1.8, the lens allows Darren to work in situations when there is not enough light. He goes on to say that the large aperture is extremely beneficial for someone like him who “occasionally needs to capture photos without using a tripod in challenging lighting situations”.
 

Alpha 7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/160 sec | F11 | ISO 100

Furthermore, the lens is equipped with Sony’s Dual XD Linear Motor Autofocusing to ensure that precision and fast focusing are achieved in all his shots. This function works best with the newest Alpha Full Frame bodies such as the Alpha 7 III and the Alpha 7R IV

Alpha 7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/200 sec | F11 | ISO 100

Smooth operating with the SEL20F18G 

It is not all just about performance when it comes to the SEL20F18G. 

For starters, Darren is really glad the lens comes with a manual aperture control ring. He shares how he can conveniently change the aperture on the lens directly without touching the camera body. In addition, the lens comes with a function button to adjust various camera settings on the go.
As the lens is compact and lightweight, Darren is able to add it to his existing repertoire of lenses without affecting his mobility. When paired with any of the full frame Alpha bodies, the lens offers him capabilities beyond what he could do previously without any penalties on weight and size.

Alpha 7R IV | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/160 sec | F8 | ISO 100

Final tips

Darren suggests that aspiring architectural photographers should try and discover different vantage points from which to plan their shots.
Where does one start though?

“In Singapore, we have thousands and thousands of publicly accessible corridors,” Darren offers. “So start exploring!” 
Watch the video to see Darren capturing the architectural marvels of Singapore.

Disclaimer:The opinions expressed in this publication are those of Darren Soh. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Sony Singapore. 

Footnote
  1. Actual colour and dimension may differ from the screen image.
  2. Colours & features of the product shown may differ by model and country.
  3. 4K: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.
  4. Services availability depends on region. A part or whole of software/services installed into or accessible through the product may be changed, discontinued, removed, suspended, or terminated without notice.
  5. Features and specifications are subject to change without prior notice.
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