SEL20F18G Review: On the Streets With Bryan van der Beek

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SEL20F18G Review: On the Streets With Bryan van der Beek

Street photography can be quite overwhelming when starting out. It is a genre that is all-encompassing, where trying to define it may end up limiting a photographer’s vision.  

Alpha 7 III | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/160 sec | F1.8 | ISO 200

To veteran photographer Bryan van der Beek, it is about finding the right combination of composition and moments. He also avoids sticking to a one-size-fits-all photography style, and instead finds shots that play off each other, from combining complementary visual elements to the juxtaposition of backgrounds and subjects.

You could say his photojournalism background influences Bryan’s take on street photography. Storytelling steers the photographer’s creative process, landing his works in the pages of international publications, plus an exhibition in the National Museum of Singapore.

Alpha 7 III | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/640 sec | F4.5 | ISO 800

Go close and get wide with SEL20F18G

Bryan shares how traditional street photographers often use longer lenses, such as the 35 mm or 50 mm lens.

“Personally, I prefer to get up closer,” he defers. “Which is why the FE 20mm F1.8 G (SEL20F18G) comes in handy.”

Alpha 7 III | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/1100 sec | F1.8 | ISO 1600

Truly, the lens showcases excellent close-up performance, with a minimum focus distance of only 19 cm. This makes it easy to get close-up detail shots of the subject.

Alpha 7 III | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/125 sec | F2.8 | ISO 200

The SEL2F18G boasts great wide-angle optics, which Bryan says offers a new perspective in street photography. This lens allows a shallow depth of field, allowing the subject to pop out of a beautifully blurred background. 

He shares that the shallow depth of field on this wide-angle lens is probably its best attribute. He is also impressed with how the aperture ring allows him to easily change the aperture on the fly to get different looks for different shots.

Alpha 7 III | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/100 sec | F1.8 | ISO 400

The Alpha Full Frame body makes a perfect match

Some of the best street shots happen in spontaneous moments that disappear in the blink of an eye. One needs quick responses and the intuition to anticipate a developing moment to excel in this field. Therefore, possessing photography gear that can keep up is definitely essential.

When paired together, the SEL20F18G maximizes the capabilities of an Alpha Full Frame body with Fast Focus Dual XD Linear Motor. Alongside its Eye AF, the lens takes advantage of the bodies’ full autofocus speed, precision and tracking potential for fleeting moments. Shooting with F1.8 aperture is also much easier.

Alpha 7 III | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/100 sec | F1.8 | ISO 400

Convenience at its best

Shoving a bulky lens into a person’s face is intrusive. Street photography requires some level of stealth where you capture fleeting shots. The SEL20F18G is perfect for this type of work, thanks to its small and compact size.

Additionally, the lens also comes with a custom button that Bryan has programmed to Eye AF, allowing him to quickly focus on his subjects when shooting from the hip level.

Alpha 7 III | FE 20mm F1.8 G | 20 mm | 1/60 sec | F4.5 | ISO 200

Final tips

For those aspiring to be street photographers, Bryan leaves you with this nugget of wisdom: “Instead of observing from afar, take your street photos to the next level by going in close and be part of the picture.”

Watch the video of Bryan mastering street photography with the SEL20F18G.

Disclaimer:The opinions expressed in this publication are those of Bryan van der Beek. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Sony Singapore.

  1. Actual colour and dimension may differ from the screen image.
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  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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