Choosing a DSLR Camera for Architectural Photography – The Gear (Part 2)




In part 2, I dig in to the gear I purchased: camera body, lenses, and a few recommended accessories. (A complete list can be found here: )

Gear I purchased:
Camera body: Canon 70D, crop sensor $999
Lenses: I chose to buy two prime lenses one for close-up work – details and filming videos, and another for wider angle work.

Lens 1: 40MM/f2.8 EF STM (effective focal length of 64MM) $179 STM stands for Stepper Motor which has been designed for nearly silent autofocusing when recording video. This one came with a hood, a UV filter and a lens cleaning supply kit too.

Lens 2: 24MM/f2.8 EF-S STM (effective focal length of 38MM) $149 The ’S’ designation stands for “small image circle”. Crop sensor cameras allow the optical elements to protrude further into the camera body, which allows for some very wide angle lenses and enables them to be made smaller, lighter (containing less glass), faster (larger aperture) for less money.

A wider angle option: if you have a slightly larger budget is the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, $649. Be aware this is a manual focus lens and the max. aperture changes as you zoom. Effective focal length of 16 – 35MM

(You can always rent lenses too; try before you buy.)

Accessories:
32GB SD card, Class 10 80MB/sec capture (for video) – $12

Tripod – Ravelli APGL2, $65 with adjustable pistol grip, extends to 70” tall. Check/tighten all the screws when this arrives. There are better tripods out there certainly, but this is an excellent starting point.

External Microphone – Rode VideoMicPro shotgun mic $199on board mic is poor. This is only necessary if you plan to shoot video.

Extra batteries – comes with one battery and a charger

Lightroom + Photoshop – $10/month via Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Post-production helps correct lens aberrations, keystoning fixes, vertical/horizontal adjustments, white balance tuning, etc.

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12 Comments

  1. Edwin Pojoy
    July 16, 2016
    Reply

    gracias por compartir tu trabajo… thank's

  2. sadallah chahine
    August 6, 2016
    Reply

    Maybe you can make a guide to buying a laptop cuz that's also important for an architect

  3. di'velept
    September 5, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Eric. I am pondering the purchase of an external mic to go with my dslr. Have you noticed a huge increase in audio quality with your mic? Could you possibly post a video that shows the difference?

  4. in5omniac
    September 18, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Eric! First of all I'd like to say that I really enjoy watching your videos. You've done a really great job documenting your work, and I find this kind of videos really helpful for young architects. Since you've talked about the gear you are using for video and photography I'd like to know your opinion on mirrorless technology if you are familiar with it. If you think of doing one or more video tutorials showing your workflow on editing your photos in lightroom and photoshop I'd be interested on watching that. Thanks!

  5. Dawgg65
    November 24, 2016
    Reply

    It is joy to watch educated person presenting something in a great way. However I wish to highlight few things concerning this field.
    No 1. I really believe that wide angle lens is paramount for architectural photography and those presented here are not wide enough. Speaking in full frame terms, barely wide enough lens would be 24mm or in APSC terms something around 14 to 16mm. So this set of two lenses perhaps would be more suitable for videography? Of course for certain details and close ups too.
    No 2. Same old question: better lens on cheaper body or vice versa? My vote goes to better lens. Of course it is upgradable and if you are certain of your future work agenda and if you are aware of system limitations anything goes.
    No 3. Budget…always that question. perhaps I'd split it between second hand body and wide angle lens or wide angle zoom. Proverbial…just mu 2 cents.
    Once again congrats on the great presentation.

  6. dubo625
    March 10, 2017
    Reply

    I agree with op but I wish I would've seen this before getting started. this is excellent for beginners, will be following. thanks again for putting this together.

  7. MaZEEZaM
    March 20, 2017
    Reply

    This is EXACTLY what I need, I am coming from a complete newbie to DSLR cameras and photography generally. Thanks. +1 SUB

  8. MaZEEZaM
    March 20, 2017
    Reply

    I considered putting a dead cat on my microphone but Kitty wasn't to keen on the idea 😀 Live cat, perhaps

  9. Paul Fan
    June 2, 2017
    Reply

    The equipment you propose is a joke to a professional architectural photographer.

  10. 30X40 Design Workshop
    August 13, 2017
    Reply

    80D is the latest version of this camera I recommend: http://amzn.to/2fBWGMQ

  11. Alan McDonnell
    October 3, 2017
    Reply

    Excellent continuation from Part 1, no doubt that many people will take great benefit from this.. thanks for the time and effort!! If I could trouble you with one question.. what video editing software are you using? I know there are plenty of decent ones to choose from.. FCX, Premiere, Lightworks, Resolve ..just interested fro your PoV.. many thanks!!

  12. James Reid
    October 31, 2017
    Reply

    Heritage Conservation Architect's kit:
    I shoot Canon, but this could just as easily be a Sony or a Nikon kit. All the gear is good these days – just pick a system that appeals to you, or one that you are already familiar with and you can't really go wrong. I've had Canon since my film days and it didn't make sense for me to switch up to a different manufacturer.
    I recently sold all my APSC small sensor gear to fund a new primary camera body – the Canon 5D mk IV.
    My requirements are probably a little different from the average architect in that i'm shooting old and existing industrial, commercial, religious and residential buildings – quite often in remote locations and often, with no power or working lighting. I have also done quite a bit of exterior landscape related photography.  My photos are for documentation, and create the basis of my CDs (photos with notes overlaid). My photos are also for permanent record and must be high quality, usually in these three formats together: RAW, JPEG and output on archival quality prints.  

    Here's the gear:

    Camera Bodies:
    5D Mark IV – primary body. My 6D MK I, which used to be the primary is now the backup.
    The 6D is a tank – it has been absolutely stellar and never let me down, even in sub-zero conditions, snow or wet weather. Battery life is excellent. Shooting in the dark or near dark has been exceptional.
    Canon S110 (now partially broken, but still functioning after a nasty concrete impact)
    Canon G7X Mark II for site work/first walk throughs to replace the S110.
    iPhone 6 plus – because the best camera is the one you have with you. cliched but true. iPhone takes amazing shots… shockingly good sometimes compared to all this other pricey gear!
    … many batteries. I have 2 per body. Keep chargers in your camera bag for in the field charging. A car outlet to elec converter is a useful item too.
    Strangely, I have acquired 8 batteries for my original 5D, but that camera doesn't come to site anymore – just for personal projects now.

    Camera Lenses
    Canon 17-40. This is the workhorse more often than not). I've never had the 16-35 series because I've been very happy with this lens.
    Canon Tilt Shift lenses: 17mm, 24mm Mark II and the older 45mm. These TS-E lenses are fantastic for true rectified photography. Correcting perspective onsite is always better than in post/Photoshop or DXO software.
    Canon 70-200 F4 USM for zooming into farther details up on roofs etc.
    Sigma 12-24mm F4 Art, when I still need 'even wider'…
    Canon 50 F1.4 for details.
    Canon 40mm pancake for fun. 

    Tripod: Manfrotto. Go carbon fibre. It is lighter than metal, but more importantly – it isn't so cold to the touch in sub-zero conditions when you have to take off your gloves!
    Tripod Head: Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head. Fast and highly accurate.

    Lighting: (3) 600EX-RT flash units. Controlled with ST-E3-RT. (3) stands and (3) combo black/silver interior umbrellas. (1) crappy LED light with gels (turns out to be useful for longer exposures and changing the lighting in location rather than in photoshop later).

    Useful accessories:
    Mount ARCA-Swiss attachments on ALL your gear to make camera swapping easy and fast. 
    Mount Arca-Swiss compatible "L" brackets on the camera bodies to make going from horizontal to vertical orientation fast and easy without altering the tripod head.For me, this also meant some additional mods were required to take off the Manfrotto mounts to make way for the Arca-Swiss ones.
     Software:
    Adobe Creative Suite – online. Photoshop/Lightroom etc. 
    DXO – nice program for a lot of typical architectural corrections to your photos. I think Lightroom probably does all this too, but I'm a fan of DXO – particularly for perspective and horizon corrective work.

    At the end of the day – this is quite an expensive gear list (and there are other lenses I have for travel etc. not listed here), but it was all acquired over 4+ years, so there were few big hits all at once to the bank account!  Work with what your budget allows, and think about what your requirements are. Are you shooting for large format hardcopy prints? Then full frame with really good glass is required. Small prints or document/CAD support photos – then APSC, mirrorless and even a good point and shoot will do. A lot of a good photo comes from the photographer, and not the gear. Learn your gear inside and out so you are confident with it — good photographs will follow.

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