18.2 THE CAMERA SYSTEM

In this post I will focus on the camera system with some thoughts I have developed in the course of my photographic career that could be helpful for the reader. I always like to remind myself and readers:

“Architectural Photography does require some specialized equipment but the art of photography primarily depends upon the artistic ability and skill of the photographer. Excellent tools are just that – they allow the artist to deliver even more excellent images. But make no mistake there is no substitute for the creative eye of the artist”.

There is no doubt about it anyone can photograph architecture with any half-decent camera. However, if you are serious about capturing the best possible images you need to look at purchasing good equipment that can give you some degree of perspective control. The development of digital photography has definitely transformed the equipment used, with far fewer photographers using 8×10 and 4×5 plate cameras today. Small format [35mm] camera systems have made amazing strides over the last two decades and produce some high-resolution cameras with tilt and shift lenses needed for architectural photography. Leica, Canon, Nikon, Sony and others are producing serious cameras.

Although the gap is closing, the higher resolution cameras are still in the medium format range and here we have fewer choices between the main manufacturers of Leica, Phase One, Pentax and Hasselblad. The more serious architectural photographers still choose to use medium format backs on technical cameras that allow maximum perspective control combined with the highest resolution. So there are lots of options out there depending upon budget and quality expectations.

Over the half century I have been fond of photography I have owned and used many cameras working my way up from the very bottom. By the mid seventies [before film became extinct] I finally made the transition to medium format selecting Hasselblad and a 4×5 Sinar large format equipment.

The digital revolution came along and I stayed faithful to both manufacturers – I now use Hasselblad [H4D/50] and a Sinar [arTec] technical camera. One of the reasons for staying with Hasselblad is that their medium format system includes a tilt/shift lens converter that can be used with most of the Hasselblad lenses. I also discovered that I am able to use the Hasselblad 50 MP back on the Sinar arTec, a technical camera specifically designed for architectural photography allowing maximum perspective control.

So there you have it: a medium format solution for architectural photography that satisfies all the various conditions. There is so much more that one can say about the selection of a camera system but the setup I now have is what I think is the ideal architectural photographic camera system should consist of.

I read an excellent article in a recent newsletter from Peter Lorber.com ‘Who Buys A Hasselblad’ that really explains rather well why photographers who won’t settle for “good enough” invest in the best equipment. I urge readers to read the article that compares the decision on purchasing a camera system to eating pasta made by a master chef who will only use the very best ingredients to delivery a really outstanding meal. A must read!