Essentials: The High End Architecture Shooter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Essentials is a series where we round up specially curated kits for different photographers in different situations. Other items could surely be substituted, but these are what we personally recommend. 

If you’re going for the high end Real Estate shooting gigs or photographing architecture, you’ll always need the right gear. Now, we know that using high megapixel DSLR can always do a great job, but to get the most performance from your files and the most versatility overall in post-production–and lots of post-production is needed to get the very best photos of buildings.

Here’s what we recommend for photographing buildings in the high end world.

Phase One 645Df+

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes, we know–it’s expensive. However lots of Real Estate and architectural photographers spring for medium format cameras because of not only the resolution, but the fact that the lenses have a reverse crop factor. 80mm lenses on medium format are considered to have a very normal field of view (ie around 50mm.)

The Phase One 645DF+ is built like a tank and designed very much like a Mamiya style camera body. Many professionals use them for studio work but they’re also great for landscape and architecture shooting.

When you get to the medium format world though, you’ll start to realize that your camera body means less as opposed to your lenses and the back. Generally, Phase One cameras are used the most by high end professionals.

Phase One IQ250

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The new Phase One IQ250 is a bit different than other medium format backs. First off, while lots of backs have traditionally had CCD sensors and were full frame medium format, the IQ250 has a cropped CMOS sensor. It allows you to have better high ISO performance if you need it when shooting in very low light situations.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 12.59.25 PM

Additionally, the IQ250 has a touch screen, WiFi capabilities, Live View (though without autofocusing) and what we’re finding to be some very top notch image quality.

Pro Tip: If you're shooting buildings, you're bound to be doing post-production. Luckily, Adobe Lightroom's Upright setting lets you fix loads and loads of problems that wide angle lenses have.

Pro Tip: If you’re shooting buildings, you’re bound to be doing post-production. Luckily, Adobe Lightroom’s Upright setting lets you fix loads and loads of problems that wide angle lenses have. Also if possible, try to have all of the lights on and curtains open when shooting interiors. It will give a brighter look to a place.

Vanguard Auctus Plus 383CT with GH-100 Pistol Grip Head

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For lots of the shooting that you’ll be doing, we strongly recommend using a tripod for the absolute best in levels, stability, and getting the right angles. Tripods often have bubble levels all around them to ensure that your lines are straight and that translates into better architecture images.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then when it comes to making the finer adjustments, we recommend the ergonomic simplicities of a really nice pistol grip head. Pistol grip heads are some of the smoothest to operate and can give you lots more information to ensure that you’ll have the most technically composed images you could possible need.

Pro Tip: When shooting without a tilt-shift lens, try to give yourself some extra room for cropping and correction of distortion.  Also always meter for the shadows and pull the highlights if necessary.

Pro Tip: When shooting without a tilt-shift lens, try to give yourself some extra room for cropping and correction of distortion. Also always meter for the shadows and pull the highlights if necessary.

Phase One Schneider 28mm F4.5 Ls Lens

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last on this list is the lens that we recommend the most for architecture shooters that don’t want to go for a tilt-shift option. Schneider’s 28mm f4.5 is sharp and has a very wide view of view on a medium format camera back. It will make shooting landscapes and buildings a joy. But if you’re shooting with the cropped sensor that the IQ250 has, then you’ll need to keep in mind that you’ll be using a lot less of the viewfinder area–essentially just around the center. Keep this in mind when composing and framing your photos.

For more, please follow us on FacebookGoogle+Flickr and Twitter.