Urban & Architecture Photography

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Urban photography with the Huawei P20

Every time a new smartphone is released it is inevitable there is going to be some sort of hullaballoo about the quality of camera attached to it.  I recently bought the new Huawei P20, not the top of the range three lensed P20 Pro, but it’s slightly cheaper, two lensed sibling.

Taken in HDR mode

Taken in HDR mode

We’ve all seen the marketing, the inevitable iPhone shot cover – funnily enough forgetting to mention the highly skilled photographer, the impeccable studio space, the photographers assistants and the thousand pounds of lighting – apparently it’s just the phone that does the work, but there you go.

All that being said, I wanted to try out the Huawei P20 for myself and see how it measured up for use for scouting my urban / architectural style shots.  So I thought I would give it a try on one of many aimless ambles.  Maybe this will be better option for me than a dslr with a 50mm I normally use when scouting locations?  

Taken in Pro mode

Taken in Pro mode

It is amazing how different the experience is using a smartphone compared to using my traditional styled cameras.  There is no denying the convenience factor but I still find handling a bit fiddly when photographing with a smartphone.

On the plus side smartphone design but default nudges you towards framing vertically instead of horizontally, so it is good to see things a bit differently.  It can be all too easy to fall in to habit of landscape framing when using a dslr or mirrorless camera.

Taken in HDR mode

Taken in HDR mode

So is it better than my previous option of scouting possible locations with my dslr and a 50mm lens?  Well, yes and no.  It is definitely much more convenient and being able to whip out a smartphone to take images in situations where using a camera would be frowned at is a definite plus.  Focussing is pretty quick and the Pro mode allows shooting in RAW (although, for my needs I am not sure how I often I will need/use this.  Time will tell).   Also, having the extra width (the lens on the Huawei is 27mm focal length) is useful for urban and architecture scouting.  The only downside is that smartphones (for me) are still a bit fiddly to use and can take a good while to set up to what I want in a given situation when using any of the advanced modes– perhaps I just need to use the phone more often?

What do you think?  How often do use your phone to photograph?  Do you find it a useful too?  Feel free to comment below.

Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 DC USM Art Lens review: Sharp, sharp, sharp!

Following on from my initial thoughts of the Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 DC HSM Art lens, have my feelings changed about this lens?  Or has extended use the lens brought us closer together?

I decided to try out this lens during a recent holiday to the Greek island of Santorini.  I do not normally do travel photography and I can honestly say after my time in Santorini I have a greater appreciation of the travel photographers art - how they achieve anything worthwhile whilst working in such blistering heat is beyond me!  Anyway, moving on...

The image quality is fantastic

I normally shoot between f5.6 and f11 and the image quality is excellent within this range.  One thing that was particularly noticeable was the lack of flare on the lens in such harsh sunlight and chromatic aberrations were virtually nil.  All images looked fantastically sharp, even prior to RAW processing in Lightroom – I actually found myself questioning whether I had applied sharpening to the image already and had to double check.

18-35mm reach is fine (for me)

I had no issues shooting with what some would regard as a limited reach.  I prefer to shoot minimal style images so this suits me but I can certainly understand that most travel photographers would find this limiting.  That said, It really is worth considering exactly what type of images you are going to shot before opting for a lens such as this.

It's still too heavy

As a travel lens I think this lens is too heavy - I will stick to my primes from now onThe Sigma weighs in at 1.79lb on its own so add that to a camera, and even a light bag and it can be become a bit bothersome to lug around.  That by being said if you want to take quality images using an Nikon APS-C camera then the extra bit of weight is perhaps worth the bother.

Handheld, 1/250, f5.6, ISO 100 @ 31mm

Handheld, 1/250, f5.6, ISO 100 @ 31mm

Conclusion:  Is the worth buying?

There is no denying that the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Lens  is a fantastic lens.  The sharpness you can achieve on a Nikon APS-C camera is fantastic.  As I stated earlier I usually shoot between f5.6-f11 but when I did shoot at f2.8 image quality appeared to be maintained.  Really, the only downside for me is the weight, it is really is noticeable, if you used to using prime lens.  That being said if you want sharp images this is the lens you need.

Have you used this lens or have any questions about?  Leave a comment below.

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Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art lens for Nikon: first impression review

After what seems endless hours researching different lenses for my Nikon APS-C system I finally taken the plunge and purchased the Sigma 18-35mm Art lens.

I have been using only Nikkor 35mm and 50mm prime lenses for the last year but my increasing interest in architectural photography found me wanting to go a wee bit wider, but with some flexibility too.  Really, I wanted a lens that would work wide and at 35mm and the Sigma seemed to fit the bill for me.  Also almost every review I have read about the lens raved about the quality and sharpness (see DPReview or SLRLounge) so I felt this was a good bet for me.

I will provide a more in-depth review of the lens when I have had some time to use it extensively and come to an informed conclusion.  For now though I discuss some first impressions in using the lens briefly during my visit to The Lighthouse in Glasgow.

Build quality

The lens looks professional and the build quality is excellent.  The zoom ring is slow but smooth, however it does turn in the opposite direction to my Nikkor lenses which is a little annoying.. One nice touch is the the focal length numbers are marked clearly on the zoom part of the lens making it easy to choose desired focal length. 

Weight

This a hefty lens.  I would say it seems too heavy for me to use as a walk around lens - I'll reserve judgement for now though.  It was my intention to sell my Nikkor 35mm 1.8 after buying the Sigma so I will see how I feel about this in the future. 

Image quality

Raw files look fantastic.  Clear and amazingly sharp (see below).  A real move up in quality compared to the Nikkor primes I have been using.

f5.6, 1/125, ISO 400 at

f5.6, 1/125, ISO 400 at

Last bit

One minor grievance I have had using the lens is that the lens does not seem to clip on properly a lot of the time.  Admittedly, this is a minor quip but for a lens that costs around the £600 mark it does seem a bit of an oversight.

Conclusion

With only limited use the Sigma 18-35mm is already proving to be a great lens.  The image quality is fantastic and I am pretty sure I can overcome the minor inconvenience of the zoom ring turning opposite to the Nikon lenses and the ill-fitting lens cap.  I will write a a full review after more prolonged use with the lens but of you have any questions please ask via the comment section below.

Four photography YouTubers actually worth watching

Enter "photography tutorial" in YouTube and you'll get over eight million results.  It's not easy finding the right content but the four channels below provide a top notch starting point for your photography needs.   

Thomas Heaton

I have been following Thomas's YouTube for about two years and I can honestly say that he is a fantastic landscape photographer.  He uploads his vlogs weekly (sometimes more frequently) about photography excursions.  He has a great eye and his photography is really top notch.

Thomas is a great host and his style is very laid back.  What's great is that he is just as likely to upload videos when trips don't go according to plan as wells his successes.  His channel has really exploded in recent months and subscriber numbers are now well over 120K.  Well worth checking out

Serge Ramelli

I learned everything I needed to.know about Adobe Lightroom from Serge.  His free tutorials are fantastic and if you really want you can often download his RAW files to edit and along with the relevant video.

It is not just Lightroom though, Serge also uploads Photoshop tutorials as well as a host of other photography tutorials too.  If you want to be an expert in Lightroom, look no further than Serge.

Jimmy McIntyre

If you use HDR or exposure blending then Jimmy's channel is an ideal stop for you.  I have to admit I am fairly new to the whole exposure blending process but Jimmy's excellent tutorials are an absolute must.  Many of his tutorials revolve around his own software called Raya Pro - if you can afford it, buy it - it really is amazing, as well as exposure blending in Photoshop.  Jimmy talks us through the exposure blending process is laid back style, explaining the intricacies and how to achieve these effects.  You can achieve some remarkable results using exposure blending so this is channel is definitely worth checking out.

The Art of Photography

Hosted by Ted Forbes, this is another channel I have followed for a long time.  Ted is clearly a vastly knowledgeable guy who adores photography.  He offers vlogs which cover topics such as the history of photography, photo assignments and the excellent artist series where Ted meets a highly respected photographer to discuss their work and their work practices.

Have any reccomendations?  WHo do you subscribve to on YouTube?  Leave a comment below.