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Thread: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

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    Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Hi all,

    I'm new to the forum. I work for a small architecture studio and I'm looking for a digital SLR camera that's well suited for architectural photography as well as for general photography (i.e., 'Auto' as well as manual options should be available).

    Any recommendations? My price range is maybe $500-$2500, and I'm looking for the best mid-range camera within that. In addition, recommendations as far as good lenses for architectural photography would be helpful.

    Thanks!

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by chris5100 View Post
    Hi all,

    I'm new to the forum. I work for a small architecture studio and I'm looking for a digital SLR camera that's well suited for architectural photography as well as for general photography (i.e., 'Auto' as well as manual options should be available).

    Any recommendations? My price range is maybe $500-$2500, and I'm looking for the best mid-range camera within that. In addition, recommendations as far as good lenses for architectural photography would be helpful.

    Thanks!
    Hi Chris,

    There are a lot of models, bridge, DSLR, compact point and shoot that will take decent photographs of architecture. You have to ask yourself whether or not you will be shooting interiors, exteriors, low light, for professional publication and then look at what features of the camera will provide you with the ability to capture the image. If you provide more information on your intended use for these and other photographs I am sure we can assist you.

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Sure-- but my answer will be necessarily vague, because I'm looking for a camera that will be flexible enough for a wide variety of uses including:

    • Daylight exteriors - houses, small commercial buildings, etc.
    • Architectural interiors - houses, other buildings
    • Nighttime - Not crucial, but we may do some nighttime exteriors & interiors
    • Landscapes
    • Architectural publication quality - or at least close
    • People & events
    Dave Humphries found this helpful.

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Chris,

    I would read the following tutorials to give you some idea about what style of images you want to capture. This will give you some guidance on lens choice. As far as the camera you choose, specifications are important, shutter speed, exposure metering, and focus modes, but most important is how the camera feels in your hands. Because of your wide selection of photographic compositions, you will want a camera that provides excellent depth of field.
    Tilt/Shift Lenses: Using Shift Movements to Control Perspective
    Tilt/Shift Lenses: Using Tilt Movements to Control Depth of Field
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 27th January 2010 at 11:23 PM. Reason: added hyperlinks for tutorials

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Hi Chris,

    Welcome to the CiC forums

    Another question is what software do you have to Post Process the images?

    If you want to make the buildings appear vertical, there are two methods; software or special tilt/shift lenses. The latter will require taking time on the capture and using a tripod. I'm no expert, but I suspect, in a commercial, time pressured world, the software method is going to be the most practical (most of the time).

    Cheers,

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by chris5100 View Post
    Hi all,

    I'm new to the forum. I work for a small architecture studio and I'm looking for a digital SLR camera that's well suited for architectural photography as well as for general photography (i.e., 'Auto' as well as manual options should be available).

    Any recommendations? My price range is maybe $500-$2500, and I'm looking for the best mid-range camera within that. In addition, recommendations as far as good lenses for architectural photography would be helpful.

    Thanks!
    I believe that the lens you select is far more important than the camera. I am only familiar with Nikon equipment, but I am certain than Canon has lenses and camera bodies of similar quality.

    I use a Nikon D700 and a 14-24 f/2.8 lens. I think this is about the best setup for architectural photography. This wide angle lens is quite outstanding and the low light capabilities of the D700 might obviate the need for flash and/or tripod. Since you will be dealing with geometric distortions which are a big problem with architectural photography I can recommend the DxO software which is excellent for geometric corrections.

    A less expensive alternative would be a D300 plus a 12-24 f/4 Nikon or Tokina lens.

    I don't think that getting an expensive specialized tilt/shift lens is advisable.

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Hi Tristan,

    The other "variable" is "what kind of quality do you need" (in the pictures)? The camera itself isn't going to be too critical - the lens will be more important - but - if you're after high-quality results then you'll also need additional lighting, tripods etc.

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Hi Chris,

    Perspective control lenses (also known as tilt/shift lenses) are the most commonly used for architecture and automotive photography, they're manual focus only fyi; also very expensive and used in conjunction with a tripod. Recommend that you look into Canon or Nikon (because not many companies makes perspective control primes, it's pretty much name brand only). But in general any camera will do but would lean more towards the wide angle lenses.

    But since you're just starting, just start off with a camera within your budget and learn the basics first before investing in more gear.
    Last edited by Amberglass; 28th January 2010 at 03:37 AM.

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    All,

    I have been looking at a Nikon, such as a Nikon D90, with 12-24 f/4 Nikon or Tokina lens. Your advice seems to support this. Any specific recommendations for Canon or other brands?

    As far as perspective correction, we have Photoshop CS3 and I think we will be better off using software rather than a tilt-shift lens -- that's probably too advanced, as we're not professional architectural photographers.

    Good tip about lighting -- I knew a tripod would be helpful, but you're absolutely right and I will look into additional lighting as well.

    Thanks for the welcome and for the advice, it's very helpful.

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by chris5100 View Post
    All,

    I have been looking at a Nikon, such as a Nikon D90, with 12-24 f/4 Nikon or Tokina lens. Your advice seems to support this. Any specific recommendations for Canon or other brands?

    As far as perspective correction, we have Photoshop CS3 and I think we will be better off using software rather than a tilt-shift lens -- that's probably too advanced, as we're not professional architectural photographers.

    Good tip about lighting -- I knew a tripod would be helpful, but you're absolutely right and I will look into additional lighting as well.

    Thanks for the welcome and for the advice, it's very helpful.
    Chris, master the camera and the basics first before you hop on the lighting bandwagon. You will be absolutely shocked on how much goes on in those interior design and architectural magazines, especially in evening interior room shots. You will definitely need more than a tripod, but there are DIY lighting setups that I can help you with that's easily affordable from Lowe's or Home Depot. But first master the basics of photography 101 and read your camera's manual. The D90 will definitely suit your needs to start with.

    Books to start with, recommends: Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera".

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Just wanted to follow up and let you know what I decided to get. I ended up getting the D90 with a NIKKOR 18-105mm zoom lens as a flexible general-purpose lens. If it seems necessary and affordable, we will look into getting a wide-angle lens at a later time. However, this setup seems pretty capable.

    Thanks for all the help.

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by chris5100 View Post
    Just wanted to follow up and let you know what I decided to get. I ended up getting the D90 with a NIKKOR 18-105mm zoom lens as a flexible general-purpose lens. If it seems necessary and affordable, we will look into getting a wide-angle lens at a later time. However, this setup seems pretty capable.

    Thanks for all the help.
    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for taking the time to pop back and give us the update, it's always nice to know how things turned out.

    Needless to say, you know where we are if any further questions arise; lenses or PP.

    Best regards,

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    I would not begin with a tilt-shift lens because the learning curve is pretty darn steep and some photographers really never master the technique of using those lenses.

    I would look into a used full-frame camera such as the Canon 5d ii or even a 5D classic along with the 16-35mm f/2.8 Canon or 16-28mm Tokina lenses. A tripod could be considered almost mandatory. A flash will help a lot and you can get some decent results with a single flash bounced modified with a Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro but, a master and slave or slaves setup can be more versatile.

    At a lower cost, a Canon 1.6x system with a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 or 11-16mm f/2.8 lens would do the job. Using a tripod and/or with judicious use of flash, you can work just fine with a lens that has a slower aperture; such as the 12-24mm F/4 Tokina. You will probably want to stop down at least a couple of stops or more from the maximum aperture in order to increase the DOF.

    One use for flash is to somewhat balance the interior light with exterior so that the windows are not blown out.

    Another use for a multi flash system (Master and a couple of slaves) is to open up "black holes" in your image. Hiding the flash and bouncing will usually fill in these dark shadow areas.

    I would get a CPL filter for the times when I shoot outdoors. The CPL will reduce reflections and help saturate colors. Shooting at the widest focal length with a CPL can be problematic but, if possible, don't shoot at those wide focal lengths for your outdoor shots.

    A greenish gel for your flash or flashes will be an advantage when shooting an area that is primarily lit by flourescent lighting. When you balance the color of your flash with the ambient flourescent light, you can then adjust the lighting for the entire image. Don't include windows in the image when doing this.

    Do a Google search using the parameters "architectural photography" and you will get a muktitude of instructional hits...

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    Re: Best Digital SLR Camera & Lenses for Architectural Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I would not begin with a tilt-shift lens because the learning curve is pretty darn steep and some photographers really never master the technique of using those lenses.
    Out of interest, a collegue of mine has made a very good lifetime career out of architectural photography. I asked him about tild / shift lenses - he said he never uses them.

    I think the trick with conventional lenses is to simply keep the sensor plane vertical (so parallel to the walls) - and remember to adjust the camera height. It's more about the lighting.

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