What architectural photography gear I use.
Very often I am been asked about the gear and equipment that I use for my Architectural and Interior Design Photography.
This is the place to state that architectural photography is a technicality oriented and experience-based niche and the gear is taking a very minor part, At the end of the day I can photograph almost all of my photos in my portfolio with any camera and lens.
So here is the breakdown for my architectural and interior design photography gear list:
When it comes to upscale commercial photography work that goes for billboard and print I find myself in need of high-resolution cameras.
Allowing the client to have a verity of advertising and printing option is crucial for commercial level of architectural photography.
I personally use the Canon 5DS (50 Megapixel) that is considered a studio camera pro level.
Although 70% of my time I shoot on medium resolution (24mp) I need cameras that can accommodate higher resolution for both large scale prints, billboard and sometime cropping the photos for better fit different layouts.. (a 5ds replacement is due in 2021 to make sure you keep an eye for it)
If you aren’t exclusively working as a commercial photographer that relies on large scale prints, I would highly recommend to get the newer and cheaper models out there.
The 5ds camera dose-not excel when it comes to noise levels and you can find yourself very fast with lots of noise in the photos.
For all you Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Fuji lovers, any camera above 20mp would do the trick, the key for me with canon is the availability to shoot with Tilt Shift lenses that are not available in many other camera brands out there.
Using adapters on cameras to have the availability of using TS lenses may reduce the final quality and also create some technical problems which i don’t have the time to mess around with in commercial shoots.
Also dual cards are crucial for backup when working with any client and obviously for high-end clients.
I typically set both cards to recored simultaneously of my RAW files, keeping the SD card always in camera and taking out the CF card for downloading the photos, making sure I always have backup on camera as well.
I do not delete my 128GB SD card until it’s completely full.
Lenses for Architecture Photography
When it comes to lenses there are two categories in my view. The Architectural lenses and all the rest.
Tilt Shift Lens give you the availability to shift the lens left, right, up and down allowing me to move the camera perspective without moving your camera.
It comes in hand when photographing buildings to minimize distortion and avoiding any skewing and cropping in post production that ultimately will reduce the file resolution and quality.
Canon 24-70 F2.8 Lens
Canon 17 Tilt Shift Lens
The Tilt Shift is very useful when you need to photograph buildings from a lower perspective, when you need to avoid mirrors or you don’t have straight forward angle.
Canon 17 TSE – is great for photographing small spaces and high-rise buildings when you can’t go backwards and capture the whole building. It’s always my second go to lens.
The only disadvantage of this camera is that it’s front element (glass) is not flat as other lenses.
The Sphere has a bump and it does not get covered by a sunlight hood, meaning you might have flares more easily that you need to block with a screen or hand if possible, so for outdoor shoot you must have this in mind.
Also not having sun protector / lens hood may have more potential for damages and scratches.
Canon 24 TSE – is my main lens, it gives more a closeup look for interiors and large spaces and pushes you to find creative angles rather than shoot wide “side to side”.
When photographing architecture and interior design our goal is to showcase the architecture and design not the “real estate shoots” that goes from one side to the other, this is important as your target audience is looking for the “Design” and not only the space.
Again, the biggest strength of the Tilt Shift (TSE) lenses, is that it helps you avoid distortion you get when using a wide angle lens and the ability to shift up, down, right or left without moving the camera to capture images in proportions.
- note: TSE lenses are manual focus only in most cases.
Canon 24 Tilt Shift Lens
Canon 24-70 II – This is a great commercial and lifestyle lens and also uses as a double for architecture and interior if something will go wrong with my TSE lenses, it is also great to use it for all the closeup and detail shots.
As we are looking to create a separation from the overall wide photos of the space, using a telephoto lens to photograph the details will create more product focused photos.
Personally I don’t like detail photos as no one really looking to hire an architect or designer for few elements. They hire them for the overall design, But for commercial purposes of adding visuals for a catalog or a campaign they are important to showcase material and finishes.
Canon 16-35 and 17-40 – Are great lenses however I would not recommend using them for architecture and design unless you don’t have any of the above. The only reason is that they are ultra-wide lenses with a lot of distortion. If you need to use any of the ultra-wide lenses I would recommend zooming in to 24mm at minimum and photograph only straight forward with them, angle shoots getting too much out of proportion.
** don’t forget every manufacture has their equivalent gear, make sure to check for online gear comparison.
Studio Lighting / Strobes / Speed-lights
The lighting category splits into 3 sections, Big Studio Lights, Small on-camera flashes and continuous lighting.
Speed-lights (on camera flashes) I use 3rd party (not canon originals) speedlights.
I choose the 3rd party for 2 reasons, first they are cheaper and provide almost the same quality as the originals, second is that I have 3-5 of them in my photography bag and I use them most of the time on manual setting for environmental lighting.
Profoto B1 Set
Studio Lighting / Strobes I personally work with Profoto B1 and Flash Point 600 Pro sets.
They are great to move around with, and photographing high-end homes and resorts or lifestyle shoots is always a plus when you don’t have cables running around you and your team.
Continues Lighting – there are many options from light guns to light sticks, from LED to tungsten lights to choose form depending on your preferred setup.
Don’t forget the continues lighting almost always are less stronger then flashes and strobes, meaning you might need to crank up the ISO to compensate for that.
Transmitters and Receivers
There is no a better way to get creative with remote triggers, I personally use the Profoto and Flash Point remotes when it comes to flash operations, but any 3rd party flash system has its own triggers and remotes and all of them work great.
When it comes to camera remote and trigger my preferred choice is the Cam Ranger and the Cam Ranger II, The first version had some issues in communication that the V2 was able to provide a solution and also a faster communication speed is always better when showcasing to the client on a second monitor.
There are endless options to choose from when it comes to tripods, I use the same Manfroto aluminum tripod for over 8 years, I didn’t choose the carbon fiber just to have more weight on the tripod making it more sturdy.
Only recommendation I have is to the hight of the tripod, I would recommend that your tripod will reach above 5.5ft (170cm) this will help in complex places when you need to go higher than normal.
Personally I like the most the Manfroto Junior 410 that has been on the market for years, the only disadvantage is that you can’t tilt the head vertically only to one side.
There are many tripod heads out there geared for architectural photographers, I would recommend to find one that let you to fine-tune the camera position by small stops for most accurate results.
Bubblehead is always good to have on the tripod and the head to make sure your starting point is most accurate.
Note: Although I like the Manfroto 410 the only disadvantage I have with it, it’s the fact that you can only tilt for portrait on one side as the other side is blocked by the knobs.
There are many lights stands in different sizes, heights and price range.
My most favorite light stand is the Manfroto 4BAC series that allow the light stands to attach to themselves and save space on transportation, they come in few models depending on the hight and I love them due to their stability, hight and most important the fact that I can stack them and overall smaller foot print.
With that said, my only recommendation is the safety of you, your clients and their home, make sure that the light stand can support 50% more than your heaviest overall weight and it’s sturdy enough to hold the wight.
Bags and Cases
When it comes to bag it is mostly depends on your setup, I like to travel light however always making sure I got all my backup equipment as well.
I use Lowepro backpack for all my photography equipment that includes 2 cameras, 3 lenses, remote controls and sometimes speed lights or tripod heads when traveling.
The second bag is a rolling bag from Lowepro as well, and there I hold my 2 studio lights and small light adapters.
In the case or traveling for lifestyle work I take the Manfrotto light stand bag that can accommodate 4 light stands and use it for 3 light stands and folding umbrella and soft-boxes.
Thats all, I hope I was able to answer most questions about my architectural and interior design photography equipment and gear.
Camera Remote and Client Review
When it comes to controlling the camera depending on the assignment I use my Iphone XS Max or my Computer as a shutter releaser.
On small projects I use my phone for fast working environment and for lifestyle and commercial shoot when I have a art director or a client, I use the Computer for larger screen in order to see all details.
A great trend that brings value to you as a professional is setting up a client viewing station.
You can setup your IPAD or a Laptop to showcase in real time your photos to your client.
Personally my clients don’t hold my hand when I photograph, but in large projects that the client want to be “involved” they like to have the option to sit in the side and review the photos.