Best LF Camera for architectural photography?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Tristan, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. Tristan

    Tristan Member

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    I'm looking for the best option specifically for specialising in shooting architecture.
    Anyone got any ideas?
    I'm currently using a hand-made Panfield by Andrew Meintjies.
    Anyone else got one or one that beats it?

    Tristan McLaren
     
  2. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Tristian, not familiar with your camera, but here is what I would recommend to you. Any decent 4x5 with a bag bellows and a good selection of short lenses with center filters if you start using the really tight stuff. The long lenses aren't going to be as important (to me) as are the short ones, which require plenty of coverage and movements at short focal lengths. Best, tim
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    There is no "One" best LF camera for architecture.

    Sinar, Linhof, Arca-Swiss, etc.

    You need to do your homework by studying various brands to see if they meet your specific needs. You might want to do something with the camera that other architectural photographers do not think is important.

    Basically for me, a camera with lots of movement that is easy to use in the field is important. Some cameras are great in the studio under controlled conditions, but out in the elements become a problem.
     
  4. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    As has been said, there's no best camera - just the camera you like to work with. :smile: I like my Horseman LE. I am using bag bellows, a short rail and and at the moment a 150 mm lens (need more coverage for movements so I'll be looking at replacing my 150 and 210 lenses with a 90). The camera is a bit on the bulky/heavy side but it has geared movements and easy to read scales so I can live with that trade-off.

    If you don't need movements, a good MF camera with a wider angle lens could suit you well.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    There are many cameras that will do the job.

    If I were shooting mainly architecture, I'd probably go with a Sinar F-series camera with a bag bellows. It's a versatile, solid camera with convenient scales and calculators, very adaptable, compatible with generations of cameras, so there are lots of accessories available on the used market. Sinar service is fairly widely available, and you can often rent lenses on Sinar boards in major cities.
     
  6. Harrigan

    Harrigan Member

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    The camera I use for architecture is a little Wista 4x5. Yes no kidding I have plenty of movements with this camera and its small and light and fully functional. You may think you need some super technical camera with rediculous movements but you really do not. I've been shooting commercial arch for many years now and this is the only camera I need. I do have 6x7cm, 6x17cm and 5x7 backs for the camera and use 58, 72, 90, 150 and 210mm lenses on a regular basis. The 58 and 72mm are on recessed lens boards. Yes I can focus the 72mm lens on the 6x17 and 5x7 backs (which extend a bit from the regular camera back position) for rediculous wide shooting if required. I even played around with mounting a Pentax 45mm lens from a Pentax 6x7cm camera and I could focus it. I've not used that lens on the 4x5 but it could be done. Certainly there are better more expensive cameras with more technical and bigger movements than the Wista but I find I do not need them. I find in real use you don't use a much movement as you think you need. Granted for shooting sky scrapers from street level this camera might not work but for every other situation I've been in its been fine.
     
  7. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    If you want the best for the job, get a Sinar. It does not have to be new. A SInar profeessional, now commonly called a Norma, is sturdy, beautifully built and will do a great job.
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i shoot architectural photos for work too ...
    i use a little toyo cx.
    admittedly, it is inexpensive, and it doesnt' have all the bells+whistles as a sinar ...

    even though it isn't "top of the line"
    it can take a bag bellows, and all sorts of toyo accessories.
    if you have LONG lenses you might consider a camera that can take a really long rail --- i use lenses from 65mm - a 210/370.

    for years i used a graphic view II. and to be honest, the only reason i sold it was because it couldn't take really wide lenses ( like a 65mm ). in many ways, i kind of miss using it.

    good luck!

    -john
     
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  9. SteveH

    SteveH Member

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    My vote goes for the Sinar F2. Lots and lots of movements, tons of accessories, and as said before, the lensboard/lens rental is a bigger deal than one would normally think.
    Also, the calculators are great (eventhough some may frown upon them)..Especially in lower-light conditions where you can't see the whole image clearly.
     
  10. Kirk Gittings

    Kirk Gittings Member

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    Tristan, This is my profession of 30 years. You rely primarily on short lenses for architecture with plenty of coverage. Try to find a camera that you can use a 47mm without a recesed board. If it can handle that it will work for any possiblity. I used a flatbed for many years but the bed is an inconvenience with wide lenses. So a rail camera generally is the best choice. There are a few out there that will handle a 47 on a flat board, the Arcas I believe do. My choice? You won't believe it. A modified Calumet Widefield. For the first 10 years, I used a Tachihara as a stringer for Architecture Magazine working all over the west. For the past 20 I have used the Calumet. It is not quite stock and I have rebuilt it completely about every five years. I will try and post a picture of it with my modifications later this week. I also carry a Hassleblad for long Lens shots because they don't need perspective correction.

    For the past few years I have primarily shot roll film, as I got really tired of loading sheet film in motel bathrooms on extended trips. I use Calumet C2N 6x9 rollfilm holders, which gives me lower film costs. I've never had a complaint from clients I used to shoot 4x5 for. I only shoot 4x5 for my personal work and a few very picky national magazine clients. I carry the following lenses: 47XL, 65, 90, 120, 150, 210, 305. The 65 is the most used lens for 6x9, the 90 for 4x5.

    For the past couple of years, for clients who only need digital files, I have shot Fuji 160S color negative film and scanned it in house with various scanners, currently an Epson 750 Pro. If you know what you are doing color negs scan beautifully with a long tonal scale that leaves you plenty of dynamic range to play with.
     
  11. Tristan

    Tristan Member

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    Thanks all for the responses, particularly Kirk.

    The problem with the bulkier cameras, like the Sinars, is that they're bulky!
    Down here in SA I don't get budgets that allow me a crew of assistants so I've got to carry the stuff myself!
    I use the Panfield which Andrew made specifically for architecture: it's lightweight but sturdy, compatible with the Linhof / Wista lensboards and he made it with a Linhof Technika back system.
    I use it in conjunction with my Linhof Technika, but end up using it more because I get full range of movement (to the ends of image circles) with the range of lenses I currently use: 58mm XL to 180mm.
    I also, like you Kirk, shoot a fair amount on 6x9 format but use a 75mm mainly, also with my 90mm mainly on 4x5.
    I must be honest, I was casting a line to see if there would be any suggestions that would better the Panfield. From what I've found about the Arca Swiss is that they're close but I think my Panfield is simpler and lighter.
    I'm exploring the possibility of continuing with the production of Andrew's camera now that he's passed on. I was wondering if it would be worth it?
    I'll post some images of it in the next few days.

    I have an Epson 4990 scanner which for 2 years I thought couldn't possibly be as good as something like the Imacon - until recently when I wasn't satisfied with the results I was getting from an Imacon at a scan shop, scanning 4x5 negs.
    I compared my Epson and found the results to be as good!
    Now I scan all my own film and send digital copy to clients.
     
  12. Terrance Hounsell

    Terrance Hounsell Member

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    Expedition Review

    As you will see in my review of the Wisner Expedition Technical Field (follow the link below) you will see that I purchased it because it does an admirable job of both landscape and architectural photography. In the beginning I was using it to photography skyscapers and much preferred it over the rail camera that I had. Now it is mostly used for landscapes and I wouldn't part with it. I won't go on a long winded rant here; you can read the review if you are interested.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=33243&highlight=expedition
     
  13. User Removed

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  15. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    Any 4x5 will do, as long as it has required movements. A wide lens (90mm) bag bellows, short rail... etc. I have from time to time used the M645 super w/ shift lens and clients have been quite happy. On the super, I've used the 35mm lens for interior rooms and set at mid-wall height. Most important to support the tripod with some additional weight if the camera is not a brute. Also, be more concerned with lighting equipment....
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi again tristan

    one thing i forgot to mention is that i bring 2 cameras to every job -
    a toyo and a speed graphic. the toyo is for shots that require PC
    and the speed graphic for everything else. if i was to get rid of the toyo and get something else, it would be exactly what kirk suggested. i use a 65mm + 90mm for most of my "client work" and i use a rollback if it needs to be smaller --- oh, and the 65mm fits on the speed graphic with a flat board :smile:

    good luck!
    john
     
  17. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Tristan,

    Though probably heavier (about 7 1/2 lbs) than the Arca Swiss F line and your Panfield, you may also want to consider the Linhof Technikardan 45S (or older 45). If you can get accustomed to the way the camera opens and closes it is a great camera. It is frequently a 1st or 2nd (to the Arca Swiss F line) choice camera by many. I do not shoot much in the way of architecture (I shoot Landscape), but the camera will take all the Technika IV/V/M boards, is compact, and collapsible (triple extension rail [based on the Technika triple extension bed], very well designed and made, and has a lot of movement capability (only center tilts and swings however). These are readily available used on eBay and from other sources. I have the 45S which is the improved version and I like it very much.

    Rich
     
  18. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I always used to use a Sinar (Norma) for architecture, don't think you can get round a monorail, 90 mm lens got most use, 75 mm is good for tight(-ish) spots but still with some movements, 65 or 58 for desperate cases.

    If bulk/weight are issues, the best answer I know is a Toho View - quite incredibly compact!

    Regards,

    David
     
  19. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    And light. Kerry Thalmann with minor modification got this camera below 3 lbs in weight.

    Here is the link to Kerry's review of the camera:

    http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/toho.htm

    Rich
     
  20. Kirk Gittings

    Kirk Gittings Member

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    Tristan,

    I am curious about this camera. I have never heard of it before. Where can I see pictures of it? Thanks
     
  21. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Kirk,

    I am not sure about photos, maybe Tristan can supply them. Unfortunately Andrew Meintjies has passed away and as far as I know, the Panfield cameras are out of production.

    Rich
     
  22. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    Second on this. Its light and can be toted around mounted on the tripod with relative ease. I just sold mine (moving to 8x10) but it was used quite successfully with a number of HABS level architectural documentation projects; exteriors, interiors, and entire domestic/landscape documentation. Sinar is great, but it is an expensive overkill outside of the studio...
     
  23. Illegible

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    Panfield

    I doubt that you will find anything that beats it. They seem very light, easy to use and rugged.

    I've had one for about 4 years and am fond of it.
     
  24. Nokton48

    Nokton48 Member

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    I'll second the use of the Sinar Norma for photographing architecture. I used to do a fair amount of commercial work, using the 4x5 size. Then I got an 8x10 back for landscape shooting. Now I have a sizable portion of the Norma system, and a 5x7 back. That is something new and different for me.
     
  25. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    Any decent monorail!
     
  26. ron_gulsvig

    ron_gulsvig Member

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    Tristan

    Well I'll put my two cents in a SInar F1 with bag bellows In my opinion it's a cut above. Plus the Swing tilt and all movement are a breeze because they show you how with the controls in the back and the ground glass is set up to give help with a wide angle bellows and your choice your in like Flyn whoever he might be

    ROn