Question: Is it necessary to have specialized equipment?

The short answer: no! Today, digital technology has greatly expanded the photographic capabilities for the non-professional. Even an iPhone can produce reasonable images and offers creative possibilities that never existed before the last decade. The enhancements that digital photography has brought to the general public places even greater demands on the professional architectural photographer to deliver higher quality images. Advances in software have also narrowed the gap for needing specialized equipment. A certain amount of perspective control is now available within Photoshop and other sophisticated applications can provide solutions that expand the dynamic ranges and depth of field again narrowing the advantage of specialized equipment. For the untrained eye it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish the quality of photography and the need for specialized equipment.

The long answer: it is necessary to use specialized equipment to deliver high quality architectural photography. Without intending any insult it’s a bit like trying to justify the difference between a Kia and a BMW car when the digital features of low priced cars continue to improve at impressive rates. But returning to the subject of photography, it is clear that the top professionals and publishers with a discerning eye continue to demand higher quality standards. In the case of architectural photography building commissions are becoming larger, more lucrative and more competitive such that architects themselves understand the need for the highest quality images of their work. A single image could lead to an architectural commission that might keep a firm busy for a decade. Penny pinching on images of architecture that takes millions of man-hours to produce makes no sense and some might say is shortsighted.

Conclusion: Creative talent plus ordinary camera equipment will probably produce mediocre images, but with specialized talent and cutting edge equipment could produce stunning images; images that could win a new commission, an award or published in an international architectural magazine.