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Author Topic: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?  (Read 9612 times)

Lust4Life

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Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« on: January 29, 2017, 05:09:24 PM »

I am finally going to set myself up as an photographer of architecture, both commercial and high end residential/real estate, interior and exterior.  My passion for Landscape work is never going to assist me in paying the bills.

Given:  I've shot many iterations of gear in my tenure on the planet, both DSLR and MF, film and digital.  I've always been a Hasselblad shooter from way back in the dark ages of film and the Wista 4x5 was another favorite (loved the tilt, shift, etc and I used it expensively until I finally gave it up when I sold my Howtek HiResolve drum scanner). 

I currently have the H5D 50c WiFi with the 28 and 100 lenses.  I have pondering adding the HTS 1.5 but I feel that will not give me the level of control and perfection I seek to compete with the existing photographers currently in my market area (Raleigh Triangle, NC). BUT I AM OPEN TO BEING TOLD THAT WHAT I HAVE WITH THE HTS added IS QUITE ADEQUATE TO START MY NEW VENTURE WITH!  I'll listen to all advice.

I even had the Cambo mated to digital years ago, but did not care for it at the time.

Thus, function of this thread:  Define the top two candidates of camera body and two, max three lenses for the highest level of architectural photography that can be achieved keeping the array to 60MP or less, but as prices drop capable of moving the higher MP arrays.  Why do I say "top two", because one I expect to be "cost no object" and the other will be "real world".

So folks, here is what I'm currently pondering:
Arca Swiss
   RM3DI body, E-cloud module

Alpa   
   12 STC/Shift capable Travel Compact
   12 WA & SWA /Wide Angle and Shift Wide Angle

Cambo
   Wide RS-1200

Sinar
   IanTec and the arTec

All constructive input is greatly appreciate BUT I ask that you speak of gear you ACTUALLY OWN or have rented and used personally.  This is remove the element of "vapor opinions" from the equation.

Please include all accessories to the camera body that you have found to be essential in your work with your respective unit; i.e. Rotating Back, Viewfinder, etc.

I am reluctant to ask for comments on what digital back to mate the body.  I would like to save that for a subsequent thread if you don't mind.  Just the Technical camera and a two, no more than three, great lenses.
Thanks in advance to all that help point me in the new direction.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 05:24:28 PM by Lust4Life »
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2017, 07:33:40 PM »

I went through a thorough process in deciding which camera platform to purchase about 5 years ago and I settled on the Arca Swiss. 

The reasons for this were as follows:

-I found it to be the most compact of the options while still allowing for a limited amount of tilt or swing. 
-The focusing helicoid and tilt/swing functions are built into the body which means you do not need to purchase those every time you have a lens mounted.  This lowered the price of purchasing a new lens by about $1000-$1900 depending on the corresponding body and whether or not you wanted tilt/swing. 
-The helicoid is larger and more precise, which is a plus when dealing with wide angle lenses that have much lower tolerances in regards to obtaining critical focus. 
-The lens mount was designed to work with or without a sliding back without requiring the need to send the lens back to get remounted. 
-The additional spacers supplied with the lenses to compensate when not using a sliding back could be stacked on top of each other allowing for table top and macro photography, so long as you had at least two lenses.  (Not nearly as good as using a bellows camera, but better then the other systems.) 
-The less complicated lens mount design allowed for you to easily swap out a shutter on location if the one on the lens went down.  (I have needed to do this once so far; takes about 5 minutes if you carry a spanner wrench with you.) 
-Only the back of the camera shifted.  For the Alpa, you need to buy an extremely over priced adapter for this.
-Any Acra Swiss body will mount onto any Arca Swiss tripod head without the need for a plate, so you don't need to worry about always having one. 
-Arca Swiss makes a bellows camera, their M Line; Apla and Cambo do not. 
-The RM3Di's back mount is the same as the bellows mount on the M Line, which means you could use the RM3Di as the front standard on their M Line cameras. 
-Any lens mounted for the R line can be used on the M line with a simple bayonet adapter plate. 

Insofar as lenses, I use the SK 35mm, Rodie 55mm, and the Rodie 90mm (previous version that does not require the extra box, still super sharp by today's standards). 

The SK 35mm does suffer from lens cast on the 60mm backs, but with the current version of C1, you can get 14mm of shift.  With additional work, you can get up to 18/20mm of shift, but this will require additional layers in post to bring back loss of color saturation and correct magenta hues that the LCC did not fully remove. 

The Rodie 32mm is your best bet for future proofing the system, however it is a $10K lens.  It also has an unique distortion that can be removed in C1, however you need to keep track of the shift for each image.  Not a big deal when you are shooting tethered, but a pain when you are not, like with exteriors.  Also, the front half of the lens is so heavy, it is adviced not to walk around or swing the camera with the lens mounted because this could torque the shutter.

I do use a sliding back and prefer this over live view or the view finder.  Live view sucks and eats up batter life; the varo-finder is well thought but you are not actually seeing your true frame.  I use a Kapture Group sliding back, which is smaller and lighter than the Arca Rota-Slide, however KG is no longer in business.  The Rota-Slide would be great for studio use, and it is better made. 
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 07:39:16 PM by JoeKitchen »
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Graham Welland

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2017, 09:36:56 PM »

Joe,

A couple of points regarding accuracy:

Alpa - tilt adapters are required, shift is built in to the STC and Max (and SWA). You had shift ...

Bellows - I was very surprised to read that Cambo don't have a bellows solution. Extremely surprised in fact because I use the Cambo Actus DB with my IQ3100 and there are a couple of variants available for just 35mm (Actus) and also as a rail camera (Actus XL).

If you want the most cost effective solution with all movements, and you have a back or body with live view, I would challenge you to beat the Cambo Actus. The best part is that all lenses can be bought without mounts and fitted to lens boards. I have tilt, swing, rise & fall and rear shift with the Actus DB.
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Lust4Life

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2017, 09:37:39 PM »

Joe, thank you for your input.  I checked out your web site and the proof that the system does the job was seen in your images.

What back have you mated the Arca to?

Jack
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2017, 09:47:32 PM »

Joe,

A couple of points regarding accuracy:

Alpa - tilt adapters are required, shift is built in to the STC and Max (and SWA). You had shift ...

Bellows - I was very surprised to read that Cambo don't have a bellows solution. Extremely surprised in fact because I use the Cambo Actus DB with my IQ3100 and there are a couple of variants available for just 35mm (Actus) and also as a rail camera (Actus XL).

If you want the most cost effective solution with all movements, and you have a back or body with live view, I would challenge you to beat the Cambo Actus. The best part is that all lenses can be bought without mounts and fitted to lens boards. I have tilt, swing, rise & fall and rear shift with the Actus DB.

Forgot about the Actus; I was thinking about when I bought my system and I don't think that was out yet. 

However the Actus does not look too stable.  I have never used it, but for a MFB, I am not sure if I would trust it.  Perhaps I have only seen the one designed for the Sonys.  Could be like the Arca Swiss Universalis; a good deal less stable then the M Line 2. 

Insofar as the Alpa, yes shift is built in.  But (I am can't remember which) either rise/fall or lateral shift under normal use is on the front, so you would be moving the lens.  Alpa sells an L shaped bracket that screws into the front lens plate that allows just the back to be moved.  I look at this as a design flaw; the back should have been designed to shift only, espeically for that money. 

With that said, I still think the Acra Swiss system is much better integrated.  All the little things really come together. 

Also, I was looking for the most compact system and a bellows camera just seems too much.  I use a Mindshift 26L backpack and current have in it my RM3Di, a sliding back, IQ260, three lens mounted for the R system, an XF camera body with a prism VF, P1 55mm LS lens, 7 different filters, a lee filter system and I will probably be able to fit one more tech camera lens in there when I get it. 

I challenge you to do that with a bellows camera.  (I really hate hard cases and large cases.) 
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 10:00:52 PM by JoeKitchen »
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2017, 09:56:48 PM »

Joe, thank you for your input.  I checked out your web site and the proof that the system does the job was seen in your images.

What back have you mated the Arca to?

Jack

I was using a P45+ up until about two months ago, then switched to the IQ260. 

I don't think any of the 80 or 100 MP backs work well with any of the tech camera lenses, especially the 100 MP ones.  Too much lens cast IMO. 

I am hoping the technology in the current Sony AII will make its way into the full frame MF (with the back illuminated pixels).  Only then would I consider anything higher in resolution. 
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Lust4Life

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2017, 10:04:35 PM »

I was using a P45+ up until about two months ago, then switched to the IQ260. 

I don't think any of the 80 or 100 MP backs work well with any of the tech camera lenses, especially the 100 MP ones.  Too much lens cast IMO. 

I am hoping the technology in the current Sony AII will make its way into the full frame MF (with the back illuminated pixels).  Only then would I consider anything higher in resolution.

The P45+!  That was one of my favorite backs that I used on a 500cm Hasselblad decades ago with T* lenses and the waste level viewfinder!  One of my all time favorite images was taken with it.  Two rows of 5 across, f stopped of 3 deep each.  But I got the image I wanted!!  It's Glen at High Shoals, GA on my web site under Panorama tab.

I could easily go with a P45+ again for the start of this project, but would probably be seduced by the 60MP if I let cost of entry not bother me.  We will see.
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2017, 10:10:39 PM »

The P45+!  That was one of my favorite backs that I used on a 500cm Hasselblad decades ago with T* lenses and the waste level viewfinder!  One of my all time favorite images was taken with it.  Two rows of 5 across, f stopped of 3 deep each.  But I got the image I wanted!!  It's Glen at High Shoals, GA on my web site under Panorama tab.

I could easily go with a P45+ again for the start of this project, but would probably be seduced by the 60MP if I let cost of entry not bother me.  We will see.

The P45+ was ideal for me, however the screen just was too much of a pain to deal with.  If I only shot interiors, I probably would not have changed. 

The wide angle lenses flare really easily and it was just too difficult to notice a flare from a passing cloud, which tend to be broad and soft; not something you can really notice on those screens.  The screen of the 260 was worth the price I paid, plus the wireless connectivity to iPad will help even more. 

Also, I have an on going project that I need to shoot hand held and the DF+ is horrible.  The XF system is very nice, and you can only use the IQ backs on it. 

Of course the trade off was a little more lens cast and (really) long exposures that are not as good. 
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Graham Welland

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2017, 10:26:37 PM »

With all due respect Joe that's a lot of supposition about gear that you don't use ...

Bellows are bellows - you can't change that aspect ... with the Actus they have a strong magnetic mount. The camera body is precision CNC manufactured magnesium / alloy and all standards are rigid and strong. The rail is as strong as any solid metal rail period. There is no play in movements.

Anyway, if the OP wants a technical pancake camera then any of the Alpa, Arca or Cambo offerings will do the job. It's just a question of which features and conveniences are required and cost. They are all superbly built.
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2017, 10:34:53 PM »

Graham, okay lets just leave it at I never used one and Cambo did not have one to offer when I bought my system, which is why I did not think of it. 
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 10:42:58 PM by JoeKitchen »
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Graham Welland

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2017, 10:48:39 PM »

Agreed, I have no skin in this game myself actually - just trying to keep things honest.

I have owned and used Alpa Max, TC and STC cameras with all the associated hardware for tilts. I have also used the arca & Cambo WRS over the years. I would agree that the arca has the benefit of all movements built into a single body without having to add tilt lenses or adapters etc. Without LV the focus is somewhat different due to the need for focus tables vs distance markings and back calibrations but at this level you're hopefully going to know what you are doing anyways ...
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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2017, 11:13:33 PM »

Hi Jack,

I like Joe and yourself went through the process of ARCA/ALPA/Cambo decision.

I have the RM3di /32Rod / SK43 /SK60 and 90Rod (old magenta band) and find this a very versatile set of lenses.  I'd potentially add the SK72 and 120 and be very happy I think.
I also have the emodule.

Joes said a lot of good points, but here is my current thinking
  • I think the emodule is something you should trial before spending your money on it...mine had to go in for service 5 months ago, and I even though it's come back, I haven't used it since.  I estimate a distance, look a the charts that come with each lens and dial it in.  It can be awesome for dialing in detail interiors though.
  • If you are used to movements with detents the RM3di doesn't have them, while the cambo and alpa do at 0/5/10 and 15mm.  This is one thing I would LOVE Arca to integrate into the RM3di. 
  • People say these cameras are slow to work with.  I disagree.  You can move very nimbly and lightly with them
  • The modern backs (post P45+) are infinitely more workable due to the screen on the back.
  • I've got in the habit of taking a photograph of the back of my camera that shows the movements and composition along with the Arca card so I know what lens was used (see attached)  I upload this directly to a project specific dropbox folder. It helps especially for the Rodenstock distortion tool in C1

To photograph architecture, I don't think you can't have a Canon or Nikon system with the 17/19 or 24 equivalents as well, so factor that in.  Maybe then you'd be best with the Sony and Universalis/Actus if you wanted to go bellows camera...

Any questions, let me know.

Cheers

A
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Gigi

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2017, 11:16:21 PM »

There is also the Linhof Techno. With a stitching back it has all the movement one could want, and uses regular lenses in lens boards. But the pancakes are a bit quicker.
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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2017, 12:00:35 AM »

Agreed, I have no skin in this game myself actually - just trying to keep things honest.

I have owned and used Alpa Max, TC and STC cameras with all the associated hardware for tilts. I have also used the arca & Cambo WRS over the years. I would agree that the arca has the benefit of all movements built into a single body without having to add tilt lenses or adapters etc. Without LV the focus is somewhat different due to the need for focus tables vs distance markings and back calibrations but at this level you're hopefully going to know what you are doing anyways ...

Disclosure: I have skin in the game, as my Arca is on sale on this forum.

One advantage of Arca is you can swap the back and you just need to find the focus factor for a given back. No physical adjustment is required. Since you are into business and if you decide to rent/borrow another back for a given job, you don't need to alter anything physically. However, that's not the case for Cambo WRS. I don't know about Alpha.

Hope this helps.

Subrata
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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2017, 12:32:10 AM »

I am finally going to set myself up as an photographer of architecture, both commercial and high end residential/real estate, interior and exterior.  My passion for Landscape work is never going to assist me in paying the bills....

...I seek to compete with the existing photographers currently in my market area (Raleigh Triangle, NC)...I'll listen to all advice.

Thanks in advance to all that help point me in the new direction.

There is no architectural project on this planet that can't be photographed absolutely beautifully with a Canon DSLR and its basic complement of lenses. And a tech camera is probably the worst system to use for real estate photography.
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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2017, 02:17:39 AM »

We need a 'LIKE' button on this forum....maybe we don't, it'd just open a can of worms.

There is no architectural project on this planet that can't be photographed absolutely beautifully with a Canon DSLR and its basic complement of lenses. And a tech camera is probably the worst system to use for real estate photography.
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Christopher

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2017, 02:50:07 AM »

Can only support Arca on this. I won't comment on Alpa, even if I could, but as some stated I do not want to open a can of worms.

Currently have the Rm3di, Rm2d and the factum.

Use all three with my IQ180/3100.

Before that the p45 and p65.

Lenses 32/40/43/70/90 all Rodenstock

A few thoughts:
- I like all cameras for slow and very precise architecture work I feel the Rm3di is best. For traveling and landscape work I love the other twos

- have the orginal emodul and the binocular finder. Have to admit that I never used the emodul enough and will sell it soon. I just prefer a laser meter for interiors. Loved the finder with the p45 and p65. Haven't used it since as the screens of the IQ series are fantastic.

- the p65 was for me the best back in terms of resolution to shift. It's true one has to be more careful with the 80/100mp backs.

- as a side note it's amazing that I can no work with the IQ3100 back and don't need ANY cables anymore. It makes live so much easier. ( of course with the limitations the electronic shutter has)

If you have any specific questions just let me know.


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Lust4Life

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2017, 08:14:15 AM »

Interesting that Arca has the dominate following so far in this post.  That is what I expected.
I'm thinking if I went the Arca path I'd keep my H5D 50c WiFi, get an external power supply and start there. 
That way I'd still have my H5D for travel work and fast setup, also as a second tool when on a arch shoot.

I did check with my favorite Hassie dealer, Peter Lorber in Boca Raton and interrupted his Sunday hockey, to learn that
the X1D I have on order will not work with a tech camera.  That was a disappointment.

When I started this thread I was favoring the Sinar arTek from a technical perspective BUT the cost of entry is so high, unless there was a SERIOUS advantage in arch work I am having a very difficult time considering going Sinar's way.

Is that a common deterrent to the arTek that others feel as well?

Jack
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Chris Barrett

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2017, 08:19:43 AM »

I used the Rm3d for architecture for maybe 5 years before giving up on MFDB.  It's an awesome system.  The Alpa is great too, but Joe has already pointed out why I liked the Arca better.  I didn't care for the Cambo.

If this is the way you want to go, then I'm sure you'll be thrilled with the system.  The achille's heel for me was wide angle performance.  I felt like the SK 35 was just crap on the 60mp backs.  I owned the P65+ and then the IQ260.  Also, that wasn't even as wide as I needed to go sometimes, so I had to resort to also carrying a dslr and the 17 ts-e.

Nowadays, as Aaron points out, the small cameras are really hard to beat.

Scroll through the front of my website, it's an even mix of files from Phase One, Sony & Red.  Good luck picking out which is which.

Also, I did a write up on the Rm3d when I got mine, that may give you additional info:  http://christopherbarrett.net/arca-swiss-rm3d/

Good luck!
-CB

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Re: Architecture - Ideal high end set up with gear available 2017?
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2017, 09:43:09 AM »

I think CB is right on the SK 35mm. 

At first I was hopeful on the quality, but I just spent this morning looking over images I captured with it for a client.  I am not just not satisfied with the quality beyond 12mm of shift. 

Thankfully this is one of my good and not super picky clients.  But now I am rethinking my lens choices and whether or not I really want to invest in the SK 43mm. 

I may decide that the 32mm and 40mm are the safer routes. 
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
“Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”  William Faulkner
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