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    Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses

    Community Member
      Hi Everyone, I just wanted a suggestion for a camera and type of lens for shooting exterior/interior architect. Mainly, houses for a real estate oriented profession.

      I've heard plenty of positives regarding Nikon ..My budget would be moderate ..not too much yet I want something that will have the ability to tackle most aspects of architectural photography proficiently.

      Any help would be appreciated... I have a few books coming in on this topic, but just wanted to hear some first-hand opinions and suggestions. Thanks again!
        • 1. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
          Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
          I specialize in architectural photography and generally use a large format camera.

          I have recently had the need to use digital dslr for three projects and the Nikon D3 suited me the best by far over the Canon.

          A lot less noise.

          The problem is your budget the camera cost about $5,000 US.

          You need to use the PC or shift lens but they no longer make the PC lens they will be introducing three new tilt shift lenses that should make up for that but when is another story.

          You won't have the flexibility with a dslr that you would with a 5x4 view camera.

          It would be wise to use a full frame camera and a lens that offers image displacement.

          Now when reading those books you purchased read them with a grain of salt, most professionals have a distinctive naive understanding of the subject. So you may read some things that conflict with what others say.

          The answer t your question is the Nikon D3 but it cost $5,000
          • 2. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
            Community Member
            look at this beauty:
            http://cgi.ebay.com/Graflex-Graphic-4x5-view-camera-red-bellows-Schneider_W0QQitemZ1902163 45652QQihZ009QQcategoryZ15247QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem#ebayphotohosting

            (don't buy if you don't know what it is : )
            • 3. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
              Fred Nirque Community Member
              Holy sugar, am I that old? That's what we learned large format on in first year university way back when.

              Not sure if it's a "beauty" - the rising front being stuck won't help much in architectural stuff at all...... ;-)

              As Wade points out, a 5x4 film camera would be preferable both from a functionality point of view as well as being very cost effective - good samples are coming up all the time (Sinar, Cambo etc) at a fraction of the price of a D3 and a new 24mm PC lens. Downside is that film costs and processing will have to be factored in, and don't expect to use one proficiently in a few hours, either. It will take some heavy practice and wasted film to learn properly.

              If you want to go digital instead, as far as I can see the Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED PC-E lens is available now (Adorama $1850), and it would work fine on a D300 if the D3 is beyond your budget.
              • 4. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                Community Member
                They didn't teach you how to tilt the tripod? : )
                The red graphlex not only looks pretty [beauty]
                but has more "moves" than any 35mm. lens could imo
                and a caveat
                (two with Fred's)

                Can you imagine custom fitting a PhaseOne (380Mb) or Kodak Pro back on that?
                (that's pretty much how Dicomed started in digital)
                [methinks]
                • 5. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                  Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
                  You are correct the 24 mm is available. I will have to give it a test ride.
                  • 6. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                    Allen Wicks Community Member
                    >...houses for a real estate oriented profession.

                    Unfortunately the world of residential real estate is (of course with a few exceptions) largely dominated by real estate folks with no eye who consider a point-and-shoot snap more than adequate, not realizing that
                    i buyers
                    react differently to good house imagery. At that level, best investment is a decent $200+ tripod and head and any DSLR with wide angle zoom lens; e.g. $500 Nikon D40 and 12-24mm lens, plus the kit lens that comes with the camera. Most of all, do not skimp on tripod quality, and in general heavier is better at the under US$400 price points.

                    However if one wanted to shoot
                    i houses for a real estate oriented profession
                    reasonably well on a budget of a few thousand US$ I would suggest the above Nikon 24mm T/S lens, three Nikon SB-800 flash units and any of the newer Nikon DSLRs that will wirelessly drive the SB-800 flash units. The good news is that with that gear you can shoot the thousands of practice shots necessary to get good at it for FREE. Film solutions are only inexpensive in the very short run, and are relatively limiting to the learning process.
                    • 7. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                      Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                      That's a graphic View 1 with tilts at the bottom. It also is missing the camera's own tripod mount. The one supplied looks grim.

                      It was my first 4x5 camera in 1964. It does good work.

                      I would pass, unless you are a collector.

                      I am perplexed at the insistence of a shift lens as corrections, especially for the real estate market which normally doesn't even bother, can be done in PS. I used to do it in the darkroom when I was limited to using the Hasselblad.
                      • 8. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                        Nick Decker Community Member
                        >I am perplexed at the insistence of a shift lens as corrections, especially for the real estate market...

                        Same here, Larry. I regularly shoot real estate with my Nikor 12-24mm. Between PTLens for barrel distortion, and Transform in PS, it works fine for me.

                        There are probably those who will say that that method interpolates pixels, but I've never had a complaint.
                        • 9. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                          Allen Wicks Community Member
                          >I am perplexed at the insistence of a shift lens as corrections, especially for the real estate market which normally doesn't even bother, can be done in PS.

                          Good point. To date I have survived with the 10.5mm, 12-24mm, Nikon Capture and PS. I do lust after the 24mm T/S however, especially after I get a D3...
                          • 10. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                            Community Member
                            Everyone, thats so much for the info.

                            Allen, I completely agree in your assessment of real estate photographers. I've been doing graphic design for the past 10 years. After coming across a photographer who happened to specialize in real estate photography (who, surprise surprise, happened to be a Realtor 10 years ago) I decided to give this a crack... I have nothing but respect to the profession, which is why I came here to pick all of your brains.

                            So basically, a good start seems to be a Nikon ..I was looking at the D80., 18-135mm Nikor, 12-24mm Nikor, and a good tripod. Would a flash unit be necessary?

                            I need to soak up as much info possible since I'm a novice to this game.

                            Again, thanks for all the help.
                            • 11. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                              Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                              i So basically, a good start seems to be a Nikon ..I was looking at the D80., 18-135mm Nikor, 12-24mm Nikor, and a good tripod. Would a flash unit be necessary?

                              Exactly what I use, except I have the Tokina 12/24, and have no complaints. You will spend several hundred dollars less for it.

                              But start with the 18 to 135. It will get you through 90+% of the work. So far this year I haven't had to trot out the Tokina, but I haven't been doing any interiors yet.

                              Oh, I don't have a flash unit.
                              • 12. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
                                Actually no one insisted on a nikkor PC lens just what I would use. It is not quite the same thing correcting the image using photoshop as it is with displacing the field of capture within the image circle.

                                But that is my needs. Although I have one or two clients that re developers I have only twice in my career ever worked for a realty concern, so my need are different.

                                As for my suggestions that is based on my what I am use to and what i think would ultimate,y make life easier fro all of you as well.

                                Even though you use it or have used the PC lenses from Nikon if you get in the habit of using them you will have a much better go at it when composing the image with displacement.

                                The tilt won't come into place to often in architectural photography but the shift will.

                                Also it will be valuable if you want to move on to something more substantial in the realm of real architectural subject.

                                I will probably purchase both the D3 and the 24mm PC lens. the tilt, and when rotated swing, is more for product photography then it is for architectural photography.

                                And allen would be interested in knowing that I might pack four or five or six SB type flashes eventually but will tes them first.

                                They won't light a large room but they can be helpful for dark areas in a large space.
                                I'll give it a try and see if they are practical.

                                But you guys are correct not really necessary for realty images but for what I do much more practical especially when the client is there. My client preferred the shift lens on the last shoot. They had no use for the 24-120 zoom.
                                • 13. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                  Fred Nirque Community Member
                                  My only problem with altering the perspectives in Photoshop is that it means displacing and replacing pixels, which will drop the quality of the image. Of course the importance of that is dependent on the final size the image is to be reproduced at.

                                  I'm fascinated by the 24mm PC, not so much for its architectural use but for a way to bring good ol' Mr Scheimpflug's principle back into my landscape photography... the cost of the lens vs the actual in-use benefit being the dissuading thing, though.
                                  • 14. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                    Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                                    I don't let the client dictate equipment. i respect their desire fro specific output, but that's as far as it goes.

                                    There are differences between software correction and shift lenses, but given the choice, I can actually bring the image back to what the drawing looks like with software that a shift would only approximate. It would be nice to start with an image from a shift system, but not necessary.

                                    If you stay in 16 bit, Fred, it really works well.

                                    Nothing's perfect. :-)
                                    • 15. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                      Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                                      A trip down memory lane. <br /> <br />This is my first landscape shot with that view camera, 1964. It's pretty much the first one period, except for test shots in the back yard. I had just moved to Portland the previous fall. <br /> <br />There is a story behind this image. <br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.pixentral.com/show.php?picture=1p65kdj5bd6n6fqQtRwmSwUwjPex" /></a> <img alt="Picture hosted by Pixentral" src="http://www.pixentral.com/hosted/1p65kdj5bd6n6fqQtRwmSwUwjPex_thumb.jpg" border="0" /> <br /> <br />Hmmmm, darker here than in PS.
                                      • 16. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                        Allen Wicks Community Member
                                        >...the cost of the lens vs the actual in-use benefit being the dissuading thing, though.

                                        Yup.
                                        • 17. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                          Allen Wicks Community Member
                                          >Would a flash unit be necessary?

                                          IMO yes, at least one SB-800 (do not waste time on lesser flash units, and use all 5 AA batteries, NiMH) adds a great deal to a DSLR. Wireless multi-flash TTL shooting is challenging and takes quite a bit of practice as well as owning multiple flash units. The D80 comes with a built-in flash unit but it really is only adequate for flash fill at fairly close distances.

                                          Even though the optics can be a value, I recommend against buying third-party lenses because they may not work with Nikon's next version of wireless iTTL flash or whatever. For interiors IMO iTTL flash can be of great value.

                                          It is possible to light residential interiors without strobes, just cheap incandescent flood lamps but it takes some time and is best done when outdoor lighting is not strong, because outdoor color temps are usually different and can easily be too strong at windows. Nikon flash units come with simple gels for various temps that work pretty well.

                                          Wade-
                                          >And allen would be interested in knowing that I might pack four or five or six SB type flashes eventually but will test them first. They won't light a large room but they can be helpful for dark areas in a large space.

                                          Actually, although they will not light a concert hall, several SB-800s will light a large room. The light available from a group of SB-800s is pretty surprising, even moreso when coupled with the higher available ISOs of the D3. Anytime I have set up multiple SB-800s I have gotten pretty much instant recycle times and 5-battery sets lasting for many pix.
                                          • 18. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                            Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                                            My preferred interior lighting is to support that which is present. After all, unless lighting was an afterthought, it is part of the scheme.

                                            Really great interiors take patience and long experience to achieve anything that reflects what the architect and/or interior designer intended. But beware. There are some out there that prefer a certain "look" that has more to do with their ego and less with the project!

                                            (Been there!)
                                            • 19. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                              Fred Nirque Community Member
                                              What Allen said about getting an SB-800 and the bit about using all 5 batteries is all good advice. Anything less is a waste of time.

                                              Personally I side with Larry, though, and try for natural light wherever possible, supplementing only where necessary, and then as subtly as possible. I hate using flash. But then architecture and interiors are a seldom asked for thing in my normal working life these days.

                                              That said, there have also been some masterfully lit interiors displayed here over the years by some who simply excel in that method.
                                              • 20. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
                                                I try not to use lighting but sometimes have to though there are always different techniques that can make up for it.

                                                Unfortunately the techniques do not always work with a digital camera and will have to be adapted. Multiple exposure means something different on a DSLR then on a 5x4 using film.

                                                I will find a way that will yeild the desired result.
                                                • 21. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                  Community Member
                                                  You do have to adapt your technique. Even though you can't do mulitple exposures on digital, you can do perfectly pin registered separate exposures and quickly combine them in post. I find that doing that I often am not using any added lighting and when I do need additonal lighting, it's just a little fill here or a gridded spot there. What's really amazing is how good many rooms look with the light that exists naturally - window light especially. Once you tame the exposure contrast, the actual quality of the light is really very nice. I also love leaving existing tungsten lights on to provide added warmth when mixed with daylight.
                                                  • 22. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                    Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
                                                    Well I guess I will have to adapt.

                                                    Pin registration!

                                                    You know something you're a nut!
                                                    • 23. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                      Community Member
                                                      I'm taking that as a compliment, I think...
                                                      • 24. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                        Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                                                        So far I haven't made HDR work well at all, but I haven't really tried either.
                                                        • 25. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                          Community Member
                                                          FWIW I have had very mixed results with HDR. In fact, so mixed that there's only one image where I like the result. I wouldn't call what I do with multiple exposures HDR, but I suppose it has sort of that effect. The trick is to make it look as natural as possible.
                                                          • 26. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                            Allen Wicks Community Member
                                                            >Multiple exposure means something different on a DSLR then on a 5x4 using film.

                                                            It is easy to just shoot a broad bracket of 5 exposures in less than a second, then in PS make each exposure a layer and erase/fade portions of layers as necessary to achieve what you want with things like windows. Not HDR, just layers.
                                                            • 27. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                              Community Member
                                                              Allen, erasing anything is destructive
                                                              use layer masks and blends
                                                              Lighten is most useful for multiple tripod shots
                                                              (and layer opacity tweaks)
                                                              • 28. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                                                                I agree about erasing, but in this case, erasing is being done on a mask which is a replica of the original so far as basic information is concerned. The net loss should be zero.
                                                                • 29. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                  Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
                                                                  >It is easy to just shoot a broad bracket of 5 exposures in less than a second, then in PS make each exposure a layer and erase/fade portions of layers as necessary to achieve what you want with things like windows. Not HDR, just layers

                                                                  You miss the point entirely but since you are so convince that you are not missing the point it would probably be impossible to communicate the difference to you.
                                                                  • 30. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                    Community Member
                                                                    Explain to me which point was being missed, because I must have missed it too.
                                                                    • 31. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                      Allen Wicks Community Member
                                                                      Wade-

                                                                      Probably I do miss the point, please explain. It seems to me digital multiple exposures are similar to film multiple exposures only much easier.
                                                                      • 33. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                        Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
                                                                        Easier, I would say that depends.

                                                                        I explained it before but I will try again.

                                                                        You are in the field, your subject is at hand you are in the space or location.

                                                                        You have your lights you turn them on and off change the power output. You may even relocate them during this multiple exposure process. So as you build this exposure up you
                                                                        and work with your lighting you can judge as to what has to be changed or altered in order to accomplish what you want. You then test this adjustment. And now in the filed you see it
                                                                        all built on one proof and of course if it is not correct you can now develop your lighting scheme even further. If you try this in the field with a digital capture you have a one shot day as you have the laptop there and probably have to start from scratch with each adjustment.

                                                                        I know to you this does not sound right because you have never really use the technique that I am incorporating and you say you just don't see how that makes a difference.

                                                                        And I believe that is true you don't see it because you have never made the effort it seems very difficult and often unattainable to anyone that has never tried it. But it is a superior way.

                                                                        I can even do a number of variations of the same scheme with very little effort in the field once I have the lights set up.

                                                                        The fact that you think this is hard shows me you really have no experience at this, I know for instance Lawrence does not have experience with this technique because has already mention such. He does not use a press shutter which would be necessary to do this.

                                                                        Although one can simple hold a black colored object in front of the lens if using hot lights at night and a bulb exposure.

                                                                        You have to try this in order to see how much advantage this simple technique offers. I wish I could give you better insight but you have to think about it carefully to see what I meant.
                                                                        • 34. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                          Community Member
                                                                          Well Wade, it may come as a huge suprise for you to hear this, but that's just basic lighting and exposure skill. You'll find the equivalent just as easy in digital, but even faster. I used that very technique shooting night shots downtown both last night and tonight. The same goes for product shots and almost anything that doesn't move. Techniques like that or variation of them are always considered and used if necessary. I always find it amusing to hear how you think you've got some huge secret and you're the only one to figure out creative exposure techniques and then talk down to the rest of us as if we're just a bunch of neophyte plebes in the presense of the greatest photograher of all time. Sure you'll have to figure out how to adapt the analog tricks to digital, and the faster and more efficient you are at combining images in Ps, the better off you'll be, but I'm sure you'll get it quick enough.
                                                                          • 35. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                            Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
                                                                            You're funny.

                                                                            Now you know you know absolutely nothing about this, yet you are willing to shoot off your mouth.

                                                                            Very interesting.

                                                                            Let me ask you something have you ever worked with a press shutter?
                                                                            • 36. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                              Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                                                                              With or without Waterhouse stops?
                                                                              • 37. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                                Community Member
                                                                                Wade, you would do a lot better by not telling folks what they know and what they don't. You are so quick at making assumptions with no basis in fact. Is there a reason you have to try and make yourself feel so superior and self important? We were trying to share information and techniques and instead of sharing -y'know, stuff like how to adapt analog techniques to a digital world - something that some of us here have a fair amount of experience doing, but all you seem capable of is putting everyone else down. You using Copals or Prontors 'cause you won't need 'em with your new Nikon.
                                                                                • 38. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                                  Community Member
                                                                                  that's good for larry too
                                                                                  (but he wouldn't understand : )
                                                                                  • 39. Re: Architectural Photography - Camera Suggestion / Lenses
                                                                                    Hudechrome-sd9sPI Community Member
                                                                                    speculation....

                                                                                    Take your own advice.
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