Best LF Camera for architectural photography?
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?
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
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.
As has been said, there's no best camera - just the camera you like to work with. 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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.