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  1. #1
    nick_059 Guest

    Architecture Student First DSLR

    I'm an architecture student who is looking to buy my first DSLR for shooting great architecture on trips that I take throughout my career. I'm hoping to have this camera last for a long time, so I need something that has good quality and that will last technology wise for quite some time. Here are my answers to the questions...

    Budget
    * What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.

    As a college student, I can't spend too much. I'm looking at a maximum of about $600. Hopefully less if possible.

    Size
    * What size camera are you looking for? Or does size not matter at all to you?

    Size is not really a consideration for me.

    Features
    How many megapixels will suffice for you?

    I'm not sure how many I need for photography of buildings and such. Would like some advice on whether I should go 6+ or 10+

    * What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x, Other - Specify)

    Not really sure...I would assume 3x-4x though.

    * How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)

    Image quality is pretty important. Probably around a 8 or 9.

    Do you care for manual controls?

    Doesn't matter.

    General Usage
    * What will you generally use the camera for?

    Architecture photographs

    * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?

    For the most part no...maybe on a few occasions.

    Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?

    I'd say probably about half indoor and half outdoor, so quite a few.

    Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?

    No.

    Miscellaneous
    Are there particular brands you like or hate?

    No, doesn't matter, as long as the quality is good.

    Are there particular models you already have in mind?

    I've been looking at a Nikon D40, but that's just because Nikon is a brand I know of.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    if you need a wide angle lens, (as most architecture people prefer), i dont think your budget is realistic enuf...but this depends on what sort of quality you are wanting out of your shots.

    i have the sigma 10-20mm, its the only wide angle that will AF on the d40 and it is not a good option for architecture cos there is too much barrel distortion. the best wide angle lens' are either the nikkor 12-24, canon 10-22 and tokina 12-24 cos they all have significantly less distortion at the wide end. the lens alone in these cases costs around $600ish.

    so...for wide angle and architecture, your best bets are either the canon xsi or xti with the tokina or canon lens. or the nikon d80 with the nikkor lens. the d40 is not the way to go for this type of photography imo cos your lens' choices are too limited in this field.

    not sure what pentax, olympus or sony have to offer in this category.
    D800e l V3 l AW1 l 16-35 l 35 l 50 l 85 l 105 l EM1 l 7.5 l 12-40 l 14 l 17 l 25 l 45 l 60 l 75
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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Actually, I would tend to disagree. The superwides are all pretty unacceptable for proper archtectural photography. They all have issues with distortion.

    The problem is still budget. The starting point is a basic camera (assuming APS-C size) with a 35mm normal lens (D40 series, I'd go with the Sigma 30mm f1.4 HSM). This should provide the absolute minimum distortion. Distortion is the enemy in architecture photography. The wider Nikon primes are mostly and average lot, so if Nikon is the camera of choice, then future budget should give due consideration to Zeiss primes.

    I don't know that much about Canon primes. My old Canon 50mm f1.4 fd was a peach, but I never had any of the new lenses. However, Canon still makes a full line of tilt and shift lenses, which should be a strong consideration for anyone thinking of going into architectural photography. These lenses are designed specifically to correct perspective issues in architectural photography.

    Another thing you have to budget for is a tripod. One of the fortunate things about architecture is that it doesn't move (well, except here in California, where it shakes). Critical architectural photography must be done with a level camera. Since it doesn't move, there's no reason not to use a proper tripod. While you can spend a lot more, a decent tripod and ball head should run you around $200-400.

    If I were going to do this my starter kit would be a Canon XTi and a 35mm prime. I'd add a 21mm prime as soon as I could afford it. The tripod would be next. By that time, you will be well in the grip of lens lust, so you will need a job to feed the monster.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Brisbane, CA
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    Well for $600 you're going to be stuck with the kit lens until you can afford something nicer.

    Your body choices are the Canon XTi, Nikon D40 and the Pentax K100D. The Canon is 10 MP I believe and the other two are 6 MP. The main reason for more MP is for larger prints. If you don't want larger prints then you shouldn't limit yourself there. 6 MP is enough for 8x10" prints with some cropping and maybe 11x14". I would also throw the Nikon out for lack of wide AF options. The Nikon wide angle is very expensive. Going with Canon gives you plenty of options for wide angle. I believe the Tokina is around $450. There are also some tilt/shift lenses available for Canon which can keep architecture from getting distorted. I don't know much about it beyond that though. The Pentax version of the Tokina is $200 more (I think). However, with the Pentax body you get in body IS which isn't available on other short lenses for Canon/Nikon. This will help in lowlight indoor situations if you can't use a tripod. There are currently limited telephoto options for the Pentax system but it's improving (slowly) and it doesn't seem to be your focus anyway.

    If you go with a Pentax then you can get the Pentax 12-24 which I think might be the same as the Tokina, the Sigma Rooz mentioned and a Pentax 14mm f/2.8. Pentax also has some nice short primes.
    Last edited by TheWengler; 01-28-2008 at 04:34 PM.
    Lukas

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  5. #5
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    Well, optimally you would go with a 4x5 or 8x10 bellows type to allow tilt and shift and all that rectilinear architecture stuff...I have no idea what those cost nowadays, and obviously as you are on a digital forum, film is out :-)

    Next would be the 35mm (or other length) shift-perspective control lens for the common DSLRs...oops about $900 or so. Rats! (I want one too).

    In my film days I found the 24mm to be a good length architecturally, so I guess that means around 18mm for digital.

    Now is a good time to get a Pentax K10D for (pretty cheap) about $520 if you can catch the rebate. It has 10 MP which is plenty. You might still be able to find a K100D for $375 or so, and 6 MP is adequate. Pentax makes a 14mm and 21mm prime, and the 12-24 is handy though about $725.

    Truly, just about any current DSLR body will work. As you subject is not moving quickly, used and inexpensive manual focus and funky-metering lenses may be an option, too.
    Pentax K20D/K5/15/21/40/70/10-17/12-24, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.5/150-500, Tamron 90 Macro/70-200 2.8, Canon SX20 IS/Elph 500HS
    (formerly Pentax 50 1.4/50-200/55-300/K100D, Sigma 18-50 2.8/70-300 APO, Tamron 28-75, Viv 800, Tele-Tokina 800, Canon S3 IS, Samsung L210)
    http://s133.photobucket.com/albums/q78/KylePix/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    Northern Colorado, USA
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    An interesting note. Nikon just announced a second PC (tilt/shift) lens, and they are in final development of two more. That puts them back in the race for the architectural photography crowd.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Charleston, SC
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    2,364
    That was what I was thinking about Nikon,Eric--it was a pleasant surprise!
    A friend of mine who is an architecture major has a 1DMKII and a 24TSE and a 45TSE. He spent a lot of money but it's worth it to him.
    The quality out of the wides or super wides is just plain bad for architecture from close up.
    DxO is great for fixing the distortion, but who wants to edit each picture over and over?

    Sadly Nick, it is unrealistic to have within your price range something that would satisfy an architectural photog.
    Good luck and best wishes.
    US Navy--Hooyah!

    Nikon D700/D300|17-35 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8, Sigmalux, 80-200 f/2.8, 16 f/2.8 fisheye,

    Lots of flashes and Honl gear.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    Northern Colorado, USA
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    I had a look back at their website. The new 85 is going to be a departure from the old. The old 85PC was not just Tilt and shift, it was also a macro (1:2), suggesting it's intent was more as a studio use lens for product photography. Of course, that does not preclude it from being used for architectural use, but Nikon being Nikon, I'll bet it was very much optimized in the suggested direction.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Mattoon, IL USA
    Posts
    143

    My thoughts

    As previously stated: the best solution will not fit the stated budget.

    I believe that a wide angle field of view is necessary. The architectural photos that I take fall into three categories: 1) images of building exteriors or interiors that I like which were not designed by me or our firm, 2) photos of existing building conditions for renovation/expansion projects and 3) photographs of exteriors and interiors of buildings that our firm has designed - to be used for promotional presentations.

    Photos in categories one and three could be made using the same camera. And with a limited budget, about any P&S camera on a tripod would suffice, along with stitching software. If, at a later date, the budget becomes more flexible, an SLR would be most appropriate.

    The camera that I use for data gathering (category two images) is a Canon 5D with a 16-35mm lens. The extreme wide angle is very useful in tight quarters and the excellent low-light, high ISO performance of this camera is also a great benefit. The distortion I get with the lens and noise from using ISO 3200 is not a problem for this type of photography - I am not trying to create fine art, just document existing conditions (which aids this old man's not-as-good-as-it-once-was memory).

    Well, that's my two cents worth; hope it helps.

    Have a good day.
    Respectfully,

    Mike Sneddon
    Mattoon, IL USA

    Canon SD1000, S3, 20D & 5D; Panasonic LX2. Canon lenses: 50mm f1.4, 16-35mm f2.8, 28-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 IS Also have two film cameras: Canon Elan 7E and a Yashica TL Super (which I purchased in Vietnam in 1969 for $106).

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