Architect of His Own Vision –
Sony Alpha Ambassador Darren Soh
Sony Alpha Ambassador Darren Soh
Amidst the bright lights of the city, an Alpha is at work. Award-winning photographer Darren Soh captures the soul of a city with his ultra-precise architectural photos. His ethos mirrors that of Sony Alpha’s—the drive for excellence, the thirst for the highest image quality, and being light on his feet. Read on to find out more.
What does architectural photography mean to you?
I have been an architecture photographer for the last 13 years. In a small country like Singapore, with constant redevelopment, buildings come and go at an astonishing pace. To document these buildings for my work, I depend on equipment that is forward thinking and always evolving. In a genre where precision and image quality are vital, Sony Alpha shares my fundamental values. You can even say our DNA are hardwired the same way.
Alpha 7R IV | FE 100–400mm F4.5–5.6 GM OSS | 198 mm | 6 sec | F8 | ISO 100
Alpha 7R IV | FE 70–200mm F4 G OSS | 79 mm | 1/250 sec | F8 | ISO 100
Alpha 7R IV | FE 100–400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS | 400 mm | 1/250 sec | F11 | ISO 100
What is in your camera bag?
I am using the Sony Alpha 7R IV in tandem with several Sony G Master and G lenses. Most of my work is captured with FE 12-24 mm F4 G and FE 100-400 mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS lenses. I appreciate Sony Alpha mirrorless camera system’s pursuit of the very best image quality and innovation.
What are you looking for when you are out on a shoot?
There are two elements that I look out for: light and story. The quality and direction of natural light is key to expression and color. For example, the early morning sun offers a great opportunity to frame an interesting shot with the interplay between shadow and light.
Alpha 7R IV | FE 12–24mm F4 G | 14 mm | 1/500 sec | F8 | ISO 100
Alpha 7R IV | FE 100–400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS | 400 mm | 1/400 sec | F8 | ISO 100
As a visual storyteller, I am always on the lookout for a scene with a story yet to be told. There are many tales to be gleaned from the façade of a typical public housing block. I also look out for contrast between the old and new, juxtaposing older and contemporary architecture. A unique theme is an important ingredient for a captivating image.
How has Sony Alpha’s compact size and ergonomic design aided your work?
I love the ergonomics of the new Alpha 7R IV. The handgrip feels comfortable without sacrificing the compactness of the design. It just means that I can shoot more comfortably for longer. The combination of Sony’s Alpha 7R IV and FE 12-24 mm G lens weighs far less than a bulky DSLR, so the weight on my shoulders is really reduced. I can easily carry three Alpha 7R IV bodies with different lenses and not have the weight bog me down. Even with such a compact body, the Alpha 7R IV has dual card slots and 650-shot long battery life, so I won’t run out of memory space or power. No other 35 mm Full-frame camera offers the same combination of portability and image-quality.
How has the high image quality benefited you as an architectural photographer?
For architectural photography, the resolution of the camera matters. Sony’s Alpha 7R IV’s 61-megapixel resolution helps me preserve a piece of Singapore history in the highest resolution possible. At the rapid rate of urbanisation, many facets of Singapore architecture may disappear overnight. In order for future generations to fully benefit from my pictures, they really need to be of the highest quality. With 61-megapixel resolution, every detail and texture is captured unerringly.
From time to time, I have been tasked with producing billboard-sized images, sometimes as large as 6 m in height and 9 m in width. This is where the Alpha 7R IV’s new 240MP Pixel-Shift capability truly shines. It creates a seamless gargantuan image from stitching 16 separate images together to deliver a final print that stands up to close scrutiny. Pixel-Shift delivers the results that exacting professionals needs.
Unique Alpha mirrorless camera innovations, like the 61-megapixel high resolution sensor and Pixel-Shift technology, allow me to future-proof my work in the highest image quality possible, extracting details that are often invisible to the naked eye. I am realizing my vision to the fullest quality and creative potential. That’s the Alpha difference.
Alpha 7R IV | FE 24mm F1.4 GM | 24 mm | 1/200 sec | F11 | ISO 100
Which Sony E mount lenses do you recommend as an architectural photographer?
I use the FE 12-24 mm F4 G lens and the FE 100-400 mm G Master zoom lenses for most of my work because of their high quality and versatility. The FE 12-24 mm G lens is especially useful in Singapore because the buildings are all so close to each other and the wide focal lengths capture buildings in their entirety within the limited space I have to work from. Coupled with its low weight, almost distortion-free perspective, and amazing edge-to-edge sharpness, I am able to capture dynamic cityscapes without compromise.
Alpha 7R III | FE 12–24mm F4 G | 12 mm | 10 sec | F8 | ISO 200
Alpha 7R IV | FE 100–400mm F4.5–5.6 GM OSS | 100 mm | 1/320 sec | F8 | ISO 200
My other favorite lens for architecture is the FE 100-400 mm G Master. This super telephoto lens allows me to connect incongruent skyscrapers into a seamless tapestry of steel and glass. I love it for its corner-to-corner sharpness when used at F8 to F11, helping me tell a highly detailed story. The FE 100-400 mm G Master also has one of the fastest and most accurate autofocus I have ever used in a Super telephoto lens. Coupled with the autofocusing capabilities of the Alpha 7R IV, precise focus with the lens is assured even in low light situations.
How can you sum up your experience with Sony?
At the end of the day, the 5 Fundamentals of the Sony Alpha mirrorless system offers an unparalleled combination of image quality, speed, lens line-up, long battery life, and comfort. With the advanced technology of the Alpha system, the images that I make of these buildings will stand the test of time, preserving my stories and memories for future generations.