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Author Topic: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR  (Read 13612 times)

Michael Perlmutter

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Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« on: November 14, 2011, 05:54:51 am »

I am a professional architectural photographer investigating the transition from LF to digital photography. I have a long list of questions about this, but will just stay focused on one issue here: lenses. I am looking into DSLR, since MF seems way too out of the ballpark cost-wise.

I have a Canon 5d MkII, and would be interested to hear from other architectural photographers who have already made the digital transition: Which lenses to use? I am starting from scratch here on this, since I only have the first TS-E 24mm, which I know needs to be upgraded. I am used to LF Schneiders and Rodenstocks, and would like to hold that standard, at least as close as possible.

As I see it, after checking around, there are basically 2 viable options: Either get the whole set of Canon TS-E lenses plus a 1.4x extender, or get the Canon TS-E 17mm and 24mm II, plus a Mirex TS lens adaptor with a set of Mamiya N lenses (35mm, 45mm, 55mm, 80mm M, 120mm M, 150mm). Any feedback on this? The issues are sharpness, lens distortion, CA, etc, but also ease of use (important when working quickly under pressure). The extender will degrade sharpness, but enough to think twice about going that route?  Schneider's TS and shift-only lenses seem too problematic, from what I have read, and don't seem to be a good solution for digital architectural photography.

Though cost is always a concern, I need to stay focused on the best options, since the cost differences between going all Canon or Canon plus Mamiya are not so far apart (compared to the cost difference between choosing DSLR or MF).

A related question concerns how to deal with correcting lens distortion. Lens correction software, like PT-Lens or the lens correction tool in Lightroom, has various correction profiles for a range of camera-lens combinations, but the old Mamiya lenses are not there (no lens data is recorded for each shot), and using shift complicates things for both the Canon and Mamiya lenses. PT-Lens has a rather cumbersome method for correcting shifted lenses, where among other things one needs to note the amount of shift for each shot taken. Anyway, how great an issue is this with the different lenses in question, and how are you dealing with it?
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stever

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2011, 11:41:51 am »

do a search, there is at least one extensive thread on the 5D2 for arch

i heartily agree with using a gimbal for pano
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aaronleitz

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2011, 08:25:31 pm »

I shoot with Nikon but I think the essential focal lengths to have in perspective control lenses would be 17mm, 24mm, and 35ishmm (using the 1.4x extender). I have tried them and both the Canon 17mm and 24mm (version 2) have very little distortion and what little distortion there is would be easy to correct in Photoshop. I use a 24mm PC and a 24-70mm zoom often. I have used the 45mm PC a few times but always wished for something a smidge wider (like a 35mm PC). Every so often I will use a 70-200mm zoom as well. The vast majority of my interior photographs are taken between 35mm and 70mm but as I shoot more architecture focused projects I find myself needing to shoot a bit wider.

I don't see the advantage to using Mamiya lenses on your Canon and would think that image quality would suffer somewhat trying to use larger format lenses on a 35mm sensor. I'd stick to Canon mount lenses.

"The 24TSE stitch gives a more natural wide look without the stretched distortion common with wide 35mm camera lenses in single frame final images."

Not sure what you mean by this statement. Images with the same field of view taken from the same location will have the same amount of stretched distortion regardless of the amount of stitched frames used to create the image.
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Michael Perlmutter

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2011, 09:46:59 pm »

Yes John, Stockholm, Sweden. No problem about renting lenses here, and I have indeed rented the 17 TS-E and 24 II TS-E a few times, so I do know something about how good they are. Shooting a lot of interiors as I do, especially domestic spaces, the 17mm would have a place, but yes you are right, it must be used judiciously.

It is true for me as well that the 45 TSE and 90 TSE would be used a lot less in architectural work. But I also photograph a fair amount of architecturally integrated art works, so being able to zoom in a bit more is often needed for that, while keeping verticals parallel. On the other hand there is a huge need for a 35mm shift lens for exteriors, and since such a lens doesn't exist, I am searching for a good solution to this. Hence my question about the Mamiya lenses with TS adapter, which I have read about in other forums (See for example www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/882423).

As for stitching, well, I definitely see the benefit of using the Canon this way, and have done some of that now and again pretty successfully. (John, what is "5.5" when you say that PS CS5 and 5.5 can do all the stitching work?) I completely agree about wanting to get away from the 3x2 vertical look as well. But after so many years of composing images on the ground glass of the LF camera, where I can see and judge the entire image as I intend it to be, I find it difficult to pre-visualize the result of a stitch when trying to compose with the Canon. I mean, since I can't see the whole stitched-together composition on the rear screen, I have to put it together in my mind, and for me this doesn't come so naturally. It still feels like shooting a stitch is a little like taking a hail-mary shot, hoping and expecting the composition will come out good, but I can't really be sure. I don't honestly know if I could shoot every image that way...but perhaps one learns eventually?

Would it be strange to do the opposite, and instead of stitching you just crop a single-frame to get a 4x3 format, then do a bit of interpolation as needed to get the minimum file size you need?

And to throw another wrench into the works, if you are shooting hdr, what does the workflow look like when you are stitching: do you first apply the hdr software to the many exposures of the 3 different images of a stitch, then do the stitch afterwards? Or is it the other way around, first stitching each exposure, then applying the hdr? Either way, seems like a fair amount of prep work before you can even judge if the image is to your liking. If all your images in a set are shot for both stitching and hdr, doesn't it get to be a bit too much?

Concerning the Induro GHB2: this is marketed as a head for users of very long and heavy telephoto lenses. What makes it special for stitching/panos as well, compared to say the Manfrotto 405, which I have been using over the last 6 months or so? I am not quite getting it.
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uaiomex

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2011, 11:58:29 pm »

I'm very happy with my current equipment doing interior and architecture photography.
My equipment:
5DII
TS17
TC1.4II
TS24 buying in xmas. Sold my old 24 and my old 45 Ts's. Meanwhile using 17-40 and 70-200 when I need them. Not the same, of course.

The TS17 with TC1.4II (fl=24mm) is way sharper and more corrected in every department than the old 24TS
I'm waiting for the new TS45 and the new TS90 to show up and get them (one at the time)
Unbelievable easy stitching makes the 5DII/TS combo the digital medium format of the not rich. Especially easy with a sliding ruler or a collar. If you print big.

Eduardo
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Kirk Gittings

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 01:12:11 am »

There is allot of info related to this on my blog. Pardon me for not wanting to repeat it here-no time.
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Mr S

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2011, 07:32:03 am »


The 24TSE stitch gives a more natural wide look without the stretched distortion common with wide 35mm camera lenses in single frame final images.


2 shifted vertical images with a 24mm tse stitched together will produce the same image as one horizontal taken with the 17mm tse.
The stitch will have a higher resolution of course, but perspective distortion will be exactly the same.

The level of perspective distortion is defined by the distance to the subject, not the lens you're using.
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Mr S

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2011, 07:44:28 am »

I'm also using the 17mm tse, the 24mm tse II, and a 1.4 extender with the 24.
I only use the 17mm when I have to, and then it really is a lifesaver.

For my taste too the 45mm ts is not good enough, so I'm using the 24-70 instead. The 17-40 has too much barrel distortion.

For larger projects I could really use a 45mm tse though. I had high hopes for the Schneider 50mm, but it seems we'll have to wait for a new Canon design.
And a 35mm tse would be great as well of course...

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EgillBjarki

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2011, 08:18:13 am »

The most cost effective way is of course to just use what you have and stitch into panorama images. But that will rob you of energy and creativity during shooting, compared to getting both 17mm TSE and the new 24mm TSE II.

I would prefer getting the TSE lenses, let's you see the results right away so that you can make angle or focus adjustments on the spot (kind of hard to judge if you have 4-12 images of the scene you plan to stitch).
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Scott Hargis

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 02:42:22 pm »

Pretty much ditto what John S said.
I shoot 5DmII, 24TSmII, and 1.4x extender -- LOVE it. I am actually looking at a Zork adaptor and a Mamiya 45mm to gain the next step in PC focal length: I do a fair amount of detail shots and it would be useful often enough to justify the ~$600 or so of cost, I think.

Flat stitching with the 24TS couldn't be easier.

uaiomex

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2011, 03:03:35 pm »

This is true. I find stitching gets in the way of the creative process. Exact framing is impossible unless you back up a little and then you crop at will in post.

I found a way to overcome this to a certain extent. If I'm stitching 2 frames with a 24TS, I know I'm going to end with a perspective and framing if done with a 17mm. So, first I do the framing (sensor in horizontal) with the 17mm on tripod then I switch to the 24TS and do the shifts (sensor in vertical).

If stitching with 90TS final image is like 64mm lens.
If stitching with 45TS final image is like 32mm lens.
If stitching with 24TS final image is like 17mm lens.
If stitching with 17TS final image is like 12mm lens.

Notes:
Framing is 2:3 ratio. Final image is 3:4 ratio. So you end up with an image with a shorter x axis but a longer y axis. Taking notes helps a lot here.
An L bracket helps to maintain the same location of the lens in respect to your prior framing.
One or two zooms come very handy to accomplish the desired framing. Of course, fixed prime lenses seem at first to be first choice but not really. Primes often differ considerably from the nominal FL. Use a zoom lens and compare to the stitched image. Take notes and adjust zooming position.
Anyway, if it happens that you own these 8 primes, then you are a very lucky photographer.
If you encounter parallax errors that software can't fix, then you need a slide ruler or a collar. Because it happens once in a while.

There's a way to stitch with TS glass and able to maintain the same ratio of 2:3 both in vertical and horizontal, but that's story for other post. If someone is interested, please let me know.
Eduardo

The most cost effective way is of course to just use what you have and stitch into panorama images. But that will rob you of energy and creativity during shooting, compared to getting both 17mm TSE and the new 24mm TSE II.

I would prefer getting the TSE lenses, let's you see the results right away so that you can make angle or focus adjustments on the spot (kind of hard to judge if you have 4-12 images of the scene you plan to stitch).
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 03:21:50 pm by uaiomex »
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bernhardmarks

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2011, 04:06:38 pm »

@ scott

don´t go the mamiya-way.  i work with zoerk-panorama-adapter and pentax 70mm. 55mm is also very good as i heard. i had a pentax 35mm. it´s ok but not as brilliant as TS-E II 24.

what i´m looking for is a L-bracket. any advice?

bernhard

Kirk Gittings

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2011, 06:08:29 pm »

Quote
There's a way to stitch with TS glass and able to maintain the same ratio of 2:3 both in vertical and horizontal, but that's story for other post. If someone is interested, please let me know.
Eduardo

I'm curious about your approach to this.
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uaiomex

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2011, 12:24:50 pm »

Hi Kirk,  my approach goes like this:

Instead of shifting left to right or up and down, I turn the lens to a position that the shift movements happen at 45 degrees. It takes 4 different shots shifted towards the corners of this exploded rectangle. In my case, I've found out that the the neutral shot at center position is not needed because all the other 4 "cornered" shots cover easily the whole center area. Nevertheless, I usually shoot in the neutral position first. Photomerge can do the stitch with or without it.

Canon TS glass have 2 detents at 30 degrees apart. In order to shift at 45 degrees you have to position the lens between the 2 detents. If you are careful positioning the lens it is always accurate enough for a good stitch. Maybe a mark can be painted at each of the 2 positions but I think it would be a nightmare finding the exact positions. Do Canon know about this? After Photomerge, you can see in your canvas how much your were off the 45 degree targeted shifting. Actually rarely they match perfectly between the 2 axis but I've seen this doesn't preclude the process.

The technique is the same for both vertical or horizontal stitches.

The best part of this more complicated approach is that you end up with a bigger file than doing it the "traditional" way. As much as 14%.
The other good part is that this technique maintains the same ratio, allowing exact visualization of your final picture by composing first with the wider corresponding lens.
The bad is that if you encounter parallax errors, the ruler doesn't doesn't work here. For this you need a collar. (Stefan, you owe me :D)

Best
Eduardo

I'm curious about your approach to this.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 01:25:45 pm by uaiomex »
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Kirk Gittings

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2011, 03:01:48 pm »

Yes that is what I do to. I thought maybe you had a different approach, but I have never encountered parallax errors that CS5 couldn't easily resolve.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 03:03:22 pm by Kirk Gittings »
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Michael Perlmutter

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2011, 07:19:50 pm »

Several methods of stitching are described in this thread. For those of you photographing this way, are you basically doing it for every shot? I am getting the sense that serious architectural photography on dslr almost requires this way of working ....?
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Kirk Gittings

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2011, 09:06:18 pm »

FWIW, I have been a "serious" AP since 1978, and no I don't do it on every shot. I do it on shots that demand a different aspect ratio (I don't want to crop to a smaller file size), images that need a wider view and images that are going to be used very large. For 25 years I used 4x5 exclusively, but well before switching to digital I realized that 4x5 was overkill since 99% of my shots were never used above 8x10. So in my last years of film I switched to 6x9 roll film.

If I needed large files on every shot I would go to MF like an Arca technical camera and at least a P45+ back. BUT I have never had complaints about small file sizes. I've only had complaints about files being to large (seriously!) :).
« Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 09:08:32 pm by Kirk Gittings »
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uaiomex

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2011, 12:31:59 am »

No, not at all. Nowadays I rarely do stitches. Since the 5D2 with Canon latest wide-angles plus careful technique at optimal settings, I can go easily to 16X24". A little Genuine Fractals and I'm at 24X36" prints that would make green with envy any 6X9 drum scanned transparency (my personal reference). My 70-200 F4.0 IS copy is outstanding too. I can't hardly wait for the new iterations of the 90TS and 45TS.

My years of heavy stitching were when I was stuck with APS Canons (10D and  20D). Since the 5D my stitching needs decreased considerably.

Eduardo


Several methods of stitching are described in this thread. For those of you photographing this way, are you basically doing it for every shot? I am getting the sense that serious architectural photography on dslr almost requires this way of working ....?
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Michael Perlmutter

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2011, 03:43:45 pm »

Ok, just trying to think it through, and I know everyone's needs are different – I am accustomed to delivering file sizes that are suitable for magazine publication: 300 ppi, 6000 px (approx. 20") in the longest dimension for horizontal shots; 5000 px (approx. 17") in the longest dimension for vertical shots. Vertical shots for a full page with bleed normally need to be at a 3:4 ratio; while horizontal shots for a full 2-page spread (or for half-page) are usually around 2:3. Sometimes, however, I will want to do horizontals at 3:4 instead, for consistency with the verticals. For me it is very rare that I would need to deliver anything larger than these sizes.

The Canon 5d2 produces an uncropped 2:3 image that is 5616 px in the longest dimension (at 300 ppi). When cropped to 3:4, this longest dimension is reduced to 4992 px. For horizontal images, to get from say 5500 px (allowing for a little cropping) to 6000 px requires a 9% enlargement if I want 2:3; to get from say 4900 px to 6000 px requires a 22.5% enlargement if I want 3:4. For vertical images at 3:4, a cropped single frame would require an enlargement from say 4900 px to 5000 px, or 2%.

So what I wonder is: what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to cropping a single frame and then enlarging? In all the cases above I would need to enlarge. I could imagine that 2% and 9% should be ok (with no stitching required), and 22.5% might be ok too, but maybe not? Should one use Genuine Fractals or Alien Skins as a standard part of a workflow for the larger enlargements? Or is it better to plan on stitching all horizontal shots intended for a 3:4 ratio?
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aaronleitz

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Re: Architectural Photography – Lenses for DSLR
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2011, 07:02:26 pm »

I think you could double the pixels in a properly focused/exposed 5DmkII file and not notice much of a difference, especially when it's offset printed in a magazine. 25% would be no problem for Genuine Fractals or AlienSkin or even Photoshop.

I've only stitched a handful of times and it was really to get an absurdly wide angle. Like others here I would prefer to compose as a single shot.
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