I have to be honest, the Sony RX100 is a great camera. However, the only reason I used it for my Chinatown street photography was because my Ricoh GR battery died! Haha...to tell the truth, I was surprised to learn that the RX100 is capable out on the Singapore streets, too!
Words & Photos By Nathan Allen
Obviously, one reason is that with an f1.8 lens, I can still shoot at night or in low light. The photo below was taken at Chinatown complex after dark. This group of men is hanging on every move of an intense Chinese chess game.
I shoot RAW and do my own black and white conversions, but the RX100 has nice B&W and effect modes as well.
My Ricoh has a "snap focus" mode, which really helps with split second street shooting. The Sony does not, but I still found a way to set it up for zone focusing. Basically I set the aperture low, like f8...then use a fast shutter speed, like 1/500 of a second. Then, in manual focus mode, I use "focus peaking", so I can see where (and how much) of the scene in front of me is in focus.
The shot of the man & temple above was probably focused around 1.5 meters in front of me. With those settings, most of what you see behind him will be in focus as well. Keeping the camera set up like this enabled me to take plenty of lightning quick shots here...and make sure they were all candid.
By the way, I realized that the RX100 has a nice focus ring...my Ricoh does not.
In the Chinese zodiac, 2017 is the "year of the rooster". The photo below shows a massive lantern display, right in the middle of the busy Singapore streets. This gives you an idea of just how serious the Chinese take their traditions.
I used a relatively long exposure setting, so that I could capture the motion of the pedestrians and traffic passing by. It was taken handheld, thanks to the camera's superb image stabilization. For more about this, you can check out my Low Light & Night Photography w/ RX100.
Below is another black and white evening shot in Chinatown complex. Don't worry, this old man is only resting.
Singapore Crowds on Pagoda Street
Of all the locations I shot street in Singapore, I think I like my Chinatown the best. I found a never ending stream of people...and from all walks of life. The arc of the sun falls in line with Pagoda street...so there's nice, even morning and afternoon lighting.
I walked through the shady corridor until I reached the entrance of Chinatown Food Street, another great location for afternoon shooting.
Temple Scenes - Chinatown Street Photography
The Buddha Tooth Relic temple is a striking landmark. I was quite inspired here. I love the way the afternoon sun drops lantern shadows on the walls. The later in the afternoon, the more pronounced the effect is.
After exploring the temple inside and out (a must see), I made my way back to Pagoda Street.
The shadows were growing taller and taller...a sure sign of fading light to come. I returned over the course of a few days, and decided my favorite time for Chinatown Street Photography is about 2 hours before sunset.
The low angle of the sun provides perfect lighting – with a lot of dramatic shadows. 1 hour before sunset might be a bit too late in a big city like this, because the tall buildings may already be robbing your subjects of sunlight.
(continued below, but I do hope you'll consider following along with me...)
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Before hopping on the MRT, I noticed one last opportunity for a shot. It turned out to be one of my favorites.
Pleasantly Surprised by Shooting Street w/ the RX100
Overall, taking candid shots with the RX100 certainly impressed me. I already knew the camera was versatile, but I realize it more and more every time I use it. Hope you enjoyed my Chinatown street photography series...be sure to check out the 3rd and final chapter of my adventure below.
Those interested in this awesome little camera can find it on Amazon here:
I'm curious if you've used the Sony RX100 for street photography?
Do let me know if you have any questions.
- Nathan Allen
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