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Mark_Se
31-Dec-2008, 04:29
Hello,
I`m a student and want to specialise in architecural photography.
I bought a cambo 4x5 a week ago including 2 recessed boards and a bag bellows- my first large format camera.
I think i will shoot a lot with a 6x7 back and 4x5 only for special works. (in europe 4x5 is really expensive).
What lenses would you recommend? Schneider, Rodenstock...? Maybe a 90mm for 4x5 and a 65mm when shooting 6x7?
I have about 700 for the lenses.

cjbroadbent
31-Dec-2008, 05:31
Others will be fast to contradict this, but: A rule of thumb for interiors and architectural work is a lens as short as the short side of the film. That means 60mm and 90mm in your case.
More: It's impossible to see through an f.8 s.angulon or similar. The short SuperSymmars cover a lot of shift - my favorite on 4x5 is the 100mm. If you shoot with parsimony, 4x5 works out cheaper.

Frank Petronio
31-Dec-2008, 05:59
A Rodenstock Grandagon 90/4.5 is expensive but if you are patient you can find a good deal. While they are large they are not as large as the Schneider XL series and they still provide plenty of image circle for extreme rises and shifts. It would be my first and most used lens for architecture.

Don't forget that you can makes "wider" pictures by "stitiching" which might save you the headache of dealing with the expensive ultra-wide lenses that you may only use in rare cases. I also think that the stitched images look better than the super distorted ultra wides.

Walter Calahan
31-Dec-2008, 06:26
I would recommend any Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikkor, or Fujinon lenses. All modern glass, all will work fine for you.

A 90 mm and a 65 mm lens set sounds great for you to learn. Go for it.

neil poulsen
31-Dec-2008, 10:31
How about a Schneider 90mm Super Angulon f5.6? Has decent coverage for architecture.

For 6x7, consider a Linhof Technikon 58mm f5.6. I've heard that this is the same as a Rodenstock Grandigon 58mm lens. If so, it barely covers 4x5 with minor vignetting in the corners. So, you can get some movements with 6x7. I don't know if it was the same with the Linhof version, but the Rodenstock versions of this lens had a tendency towards separation. So, check them out first.

I waited for weeks to find one of these lenses that I would want to purchase. I finally gave up and bought a 58mm XL Schneider instead from Midwest Photo Exchange. Ironically, I recently ran across a Linhof 58mm on the internet for what I thought was a reasonable price. Send me a message, if you're interested.

Mark_Se
31-Dec-2008, 11:38
thanks, whats the advatage of the Schneider Super A. f5.6 in comparison to the f8?
Is it "only" brighter or is the image quality better?

Frank Petronio
31-Dec-2008, 11:40
also a larger image circle, more movements, as you will want a lot of rise for architecture

Kirk Gittings
31-Dec-2008, 13:35
Good advice above on lenses, but if you are considering trying to make a living doing this shooting contemporary architecture at some point you will need to consider shooting digitally. Not to be a wet blanket about shooting architecture with a 4x5 and film, as I did it for nearly 30 years. A plain fact of life is all clients these days want files and the digital workflow is much more conducive for generating files in quantity. I resisted the change for years, shooting film and scanning it, but now I feel digital is a superior workflow that simply targets my clients needs better.

Steve M Hostetter
31-Dec-2008, 14:33
for interiors you'll want the widest lens you can use.. Go to Youtube.com and find dean collins on photographing Motel rooms..

He uses a 90mm 6.8 Sinaron on an 8x10 and then crops off the dark corners..

Kirk Gittings
31-Dec-2008, 20:55
Those are very old talks and techniques by Dean Collins on photographing motel rooms, I think I saw exactly the same images and certainly the same MO 20 years ago at his seminars. Certainly those techniques would work today, and I used them successfully for years (for example I would use a 47mm on 4x5 and crop the corners), but I doubt his approach is still the same today. Mine certainly isn't.

Frank Petronio
31-Dec-2008, 22:02
He's been dead for years now, so it probably isn't.

Kirk Gittings
31-Dec-2008, 22:05
Thanks Frank, I missed that obit!

Frank Petronio
1-Jan-2009, 00:22
I don't miss all the direct mail and hard sell tactics his seminars used, but he was a good commercial photographer in his time.

Walter Calahan
1-Jan-2009, 06:52
Kirk

Exactly, the client pushes us to their needs, not the other way around.

Mark as a student, use 4x5 as a learning step. 4x5 is great for your personal photography for the rest of your life, but ultimately you'll have to transfer your knowledge to a digital workflow as Kirk points out.

Allen in Montreal
1-Jan-2009, 09:55
........ 4x5 is great for your personal photography for the rest of your life.......

Walter, I just looked at your web site, the stained glass window reflections series is great!!

Mark_Se
1-Jan-2009, 12:23
...but if you are considering trying to make a living doing this shooting contemporary architecture at some point you will need to consider shooting digitally...
I would love to make a living from architectural photography some day, I don`t really know how the market is today, probably not really good.
At the moment my goal is to learn the LF basics and to have a good portfolio in 1-2 years. Maybe then when I have clients some day I can consider digi LF.
Anyway, what kind of school what you recommend? At the moment I study at an art college, its not really satisfying in relation to architectural photography, maybe I should assist a good photographer after college....

Frank Petronio
1-Jan-2009, 15:06
You'll learn more from assisting than from a course.

The trick will be to find a working architectural photographer who has the budget to hire an assistant.

(If finding one proves to be a challenge, that should tell you something right there... and then your real education will begin.)

Henry Ambrose
1-Jan-2009, 15:18
You might offer to intern or assist for free. Pick some well regarded photographers near you and ask them if you can help for free. Expect to carry their gear and follow directions quickly and explicitly while you pay attention carefully. You'll learn a lot more than any school can teach you.

Steve M Hostetter
1-Jan-2009, 15:32
I understand what Kirk and Frank are saying ,,, I point was that If you want to know what lens works best my point was the widest for you chosen format whatever that may be.. My example of the 90mm on an 8x10 was merely to say this is what Dean says he used back in the day..
If you have millions to spend on med format digi back and all digial lenses then I envy the heck out of you but most don't.. Myself,, I'd use the 700.00 on a traditional wide angle lens and the Sinaron 90mm 6.8 sounds like your baby..

Kirk Gittings
1-Jan-2009, 17:36
I would love to make a living from architectural photography some day, I don`t really know how the market is today, probably not really good.
At the moment my goal is to learn the LF basics and to have a good portfolio in 1-2 years. Maybe then when I have clients some day I can consider digi LF.
Anyway, what kind of school what you recommend? At the moment I study at an art college, its not really satisfying in relation to architectural photography, maybe I should assist a good photographer after college....

I went to art schools and am largely self taught as an AP. Don't downplay the art instruction. It helps in developing a unique style. Get all the art history, theory and criticism you can get. Assisting is the best approach for tech skill, real life experience in all phases of the business. I had no one to assist and had to do it on my own. As far as I know there are no really good schools for AP, including the ones I teach at. As per cameras.......actually I am not talking MF or LF Digital. I make 95% of my living with a Canon 5D and T/S lenses (just bought a 5D MII). It is mainly about vision and lighting, not cameras, but the digital work flow is most useful. There is great value in learning the basics with a LF camera and I would encourage you to pursue that for now. Never forget the art in architectural photography. It is the only commercial photo field that is totally preoccupied with interpreting another art form (ie architecture).

Mark_Se
2-Jan-2009, 03:53
As per cameras.......actually I am not talking MF or LF Digital. I make 95% of my living with a Canon 5D and T/S lenses (just bought a 5D MII) .

ah okay, I heard that from other architectural photographers too. I also thought about buying a 5d & t/s instead of a LF. I`m happy that I didn`t do it. Like you said- I want to make sure that I understand the LF basics before I buy a digi.

mccormickstudio
2-Jan-2009, 22:47
Hi Mark -

I am an architect and a photographer, and I think you should learn with the 4x5, even if it's just a tool for learning. I shoot digital with shift lenses, MF, 4x5 and 8x10, so I know them all very well. I would recommend an older 65mm f8 Schneider super-angulon (with the chrome barrel - it's a little dark, but you can see through it and great glass for low $$), and inexpensive 90mm and 150mm lenses - these could be Ilex, Caltar, old or new, whatever you can find for less than $150-200usd each.

Shoot inexpensive black & white 4x5 film (don't use a roll film back - you won't get the most from your lenses) and process them yourself, in a tray in a bag if necessary. Occasionally try transparency and print film as your budget allows. Diligently study the photographs of Ezra Stoller, Julius Schulman, Richard Barnes, or others that you admire. Think about light and time during the day.

Eventually you will do some or most of your work in digital, but I find that I don't take the same time or care to make quality shots with digital as I do when I work with film in 4x5. Most architects really only need about 5-10 excellent photographs of a project. The rest will be for their own reference. Personally, when shooting for architect friend or on my own best projects, I usually shoot about 20 sheets of 4x5 film yielding about 6 shots and about 20-30 digital reference pictures. If there is a fantastic shot that turns out in the digitals, I usually re-shoot 4x5.

Almost everything you will learn about architectural photography will come from struggling with the view camera, and you will learn the necessary patience that doesn't come naturally when young.

And I completely agree with all here who say work as an assistant - for free if necessary. Do whatever it takes to work with those who's work you admire. What city are you in? Perhaps someone here can help with a hook-up?

Good luck!

Mark_Se
3-Jan-2009, 03:17
thank you very much, lots of useful information.
Problem is that I`m from Austria/ Europe. But maybe someone is from here (Salzburg, Vienna, Linz....). I think I`ll post that in a local forum too.

paul08
3-Jan-2009, 19:33
Craig's advice on the 65mm is good, although I find I use 90 & 135 the most (300mm for exteriors from a distance - flattens nicely). The real key is to get the most out of your camera's movement capacities. I occasionally get near the almost 250mm (combined) rise and fall on my Cambo, and lately I use 100mm+ pretty often, so it helps a lot to have lenses with greater than 200mm ICs. There are a lot of great 4x5 lenses out there for good prices used (ie, the Rodenstock Sironar N 135 & 150 AKA Caltar II-N) that simply won't give enough coverage for full movements. It's worth it to do the research and get lenses with larger ICs (ie, the Fujinon CMW 135mm, Rodenstock Grandagon 90mm 4.5, etc)

Kirk Gittings
7-Jan-2009, 21:58
Others will be fast to contradict this, but: A rule of thumb for interiors and architectural work is a lens as short as the short side of the film. That means 60mm and 90mm in your case.
More: It's impossible to see through an f.8 s.angulon or similar. The short SuperSymmars cover a lot of shift - my favorite on 4x5 is the 100mm. If you shoot with parsimony, 4x5 works out cheaper.

I will contradict that. If I understand it right. I have heard a plethora of complaints over the years from architects and magazines about photographers who overuse very wide angle lenses. The plain fact is that shooting an interior with a 65mm introduces so much distortion/exageration that the image will no longer resemble the space being photographed. Such an approach assumes that inclusion is more important than composition. Look at the work of such, masters as Nick Merrick or Peter Aaron. They step back and use the longest lens they can in a space. Everyone uses super wide lenses sometimes, you have to, but the best use them rarely. I didn't own one for like the first ten years I was in business and did a ton of national magazine work with nothing wider than a 90mm or longer than a 210mm. For a very long time I only owned a 90, 120 and 210. The only rule of thumb I ever heard was "you will use your 90mm lens 90% of the time", which I found to be true.

Merg Ross
7-Jan-2009, 22:41
Others will be fast to contradict this, but: A rule of thumb for interiors and architectural work is a lens as short as the short side of the film. That means 60mm and 90mm in your case.
More: It's impossible to see through an f.8 s.angulon or similar. The short SuperSymmars cover a lot of shift - my favorite on 4x5 is the 100mm. If you shoot with parsimony, 4x5 works out cheaper.


I will contradict that. If I understand it right. I have heard a plethora of complaints over the years from architects and magazines about photographers who overuse very wide angle lenses. The plain fact is that shooting an interior with a 65mm introduces so much distortion/exageration that the image will no longer resemble the space being photographed. Such an approach assumes that inclusion is more important than composition. Look at the work of such, masters as Nick Merrick or Peter Aaron. They step back and use the longest lens they can in a space. Everyone uses super wide lenses sometimes, you have to, but the best use them rarely. I didn't own one for like the first ten years I was in business and did a ton of national magazine work with nothing wider than a 90mm or longer than a 210mm. For a very long time I only owned a 90, 120 and 210. The only rule of thumb I ever heard was "you will use your 90mm lens 90% of the time", which I found to be true.

I agree with Kirk. One of my first assignments as an architectural photographer was to re-photograph two houses that another photographer had done on 4x5 with a 65mm. The architect was dismayed by the distortion from the 65mm, and had every right to be. I re-photographed the houses with an f:8 90mm Super Angulon on 4x5. This was my bread and butter lens, followed by a 150mm and a 250mm for the long shots. I concluded after a short time, that it was best to use the longest lens for the space. The architects I worked for agreed, and they are not the easiest clients to please. From this initial re-shoot I did a dozen more jobs for the architect, some winning national awards.

John T
7-Jan-2009, 23:29
I also agree with Kirk. My most commonly used lens for exteriors was a Fuji 125 SWD. Moderate wide without looking distorted. The 90 or occasionally the 75 was used in a a lot of interiors.

That said, the above lenses were used when the client was an architect or publication. If I was shooting for a developer, I sometimes used wider lenses to create more drama. They seemed to be more concerned about selling the space rather than depicting the building accurately. If you want to really upset an architect, try shooting the exterior with an extreme wide angle lens when he/she is trying to submit for AIA considerations!

Kirk Gittings
8-Jan-2009, 00:35
try shooting the exterior with an extreme wide angle lens when he/she is trying to submit for AIA considerations!

Bang on! I brought this up because just today I had a meeting with some client architects who I had not worked for in awhile. No big deal. Clients need a break sometimes to appreciate what you do. They had been using a young guy who is kind of a protege of mine. He is a very decent photographer but he loves super wide lenses for everything. They brought me back in because my "images look great and look like the building too". I couldn't be more pleased and it happened just in time. The next project they need is one they joint ventured with one of the top architects in the world that will be submitted for every AIA award in the country.

cjbroadbent
8-Jan-2009, 05:14
Well, Kirk didn't actually contradict me. Mark's question was "I think i will shoot a lot with a 6x7 back and 4x5 only for special works." My reply was "A rule of thumb for interiors and architectural work is a lens as short as the short side of the film. That means 60mm and 90mm in your case."
I would happily qualify that with "... a lens no shorter than the short side of the film."

Frank Petronio
8-Jan-2009, 07:16
Reading comprehension issues aside ;-)

That's why I suggested just getting the 90/4.5 as your primary purchase. You can find good deals on longer lenses but spend the most money on the 90mm.

Drew Wiley
9-Jan-2009, 17:20
If I had to carry only one architectural lens for a 4x5 it would be a fast 90. Shorter
lengths distort more, are more difficult to focus, and worst of all, allow significantly less perspective movement. Slower lenses like f/8 might be OK outdoors, but interiors can be quite dim, and if you're on a production schedule a fast lens will pay for itself. Unless you are routinely photographing tiny spaces like bathrooms or kitchen nooks, I'd invest in a 90 first. There are plenty of used ones at reasonable prices. My personal favorite is the Nikon 90/4.5, combined with a 3b center filter. My brother once did about 90% of his commercial photography with a 90, probably some kind of
super-angulon. Nowadays, however, full-time architectural photographers are gravitating more and more to digital to improve workflow efficiency.