Any LF systems particularly well suited to architectural? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi everybody. This is a question for those of you who do or have done architectural photography to much of an extent. Considering all the different LF systems available today, I was wondering if any one in particular was especially well suited to or preferred for architectural photography. For that matter, how about lenses? Thanks.

-- Dave Munson (, January 28, 2001


Dave, I suppose you will get as many opinions as answers listed. Assuming for your application the weight of the camera won't be as big of a drawback as in other apps like backpacking, I think a Cambo 4x5 with a bag bellows would be an excellent possibility. They are inexpensive, can be assembled on a short rail, and the movements possible have almost no limits.

Movements are your first priority in Architecture because of the phenomenon of the center of your lens almost never being in the center of the desired picture layout. For that reason you will have to spend some $ on the lenses because you will need very large image circles. The Schneider XL series would be an excellent place to begin looking. 80, 110, and 150mm.

-- Jim Galli (, January 28, 2001.

Dave, one of the most versatile 4x5 cameras for architectural photography is the Ebony SW45. This is a light, compact non-folding field camera. Its standard bellows allow full movement with such lenses as the 35 Apo-Grandagon on a 10mm recessed lens board, 47XL Super Angulon on flat lens board. It has 60mm front rise, 25mm front fall and a back rise of 50mm. There is an extra bright wide angle fresnel for such super wides has an accessory. What I particularly like about this camera is its ready to use straight "out of the box". It can easily be stored with lens and Ebony's folding focusing hood attached. With a 75mm Granagon, the focusing hood, 67mm screw filter and lens cap, this set-up is only 145mm deep! Good luck,

-- Trevor Crone (, January 28, 2001.

Hi Dave

I prever a Arca Swiss F-Line because she is a light-weight und stable like a rock.A god lens combination would be 72 or 75 mm, 90mm and 210mm or 300mm! Good luck!

-- Armin Seeholzer (, January 28, 2001.

I second the Arca Swiss F line for architectural work. If you have extra $, the metric version is very nice particularly the geared rise and shift. The design allows lenses to at least 47mm to mount without a recessed lens board. I've also found the built-in levels to be extremely accurate.

-- Larry Huppert (, January 28, 2001.

Hi....I just join the "Toyo Club" with the almost new VX 125. Yes, some of you would say that this is an expensive camera. Yes, if you buy it new from dealers in US. I am located in Canada, and I got mine for less than I would pay the Arca Swiss F line 4x5. I use it almost only for architecture and interior shoots. Here is my lens line up: 47 XL, Fujinon SWD 90/5.6, Rodenstock 150/5.6, Rodenstock 210/5.6. I would like to get 75mm and 300mm at some point. The camera is so user friendly. Geared movements and all. Can be stored in the same Ligtware box as my previous AS 6x9 F line. And it is just 200 gr. more in bulk. I use it with roll film holders , too ( 6x9 Toyo and 6x7 Calumet C2 ). I keep it in "ready mode" in the box with Manfrotto plate attached, so the only thing I do prior to viewing is to unlock colapsible mono rail. I am used to seeing the up side down image, so I use the baloon hood all the time. Another great feature is the smaller lens boards from Toyo field line in combination with the adapter board for Toyo View. Again, the camera is so solid and nicely finished. By my personal standards, the finish is much better than AS cameras. As far as green paint finish: use it, don't abuse it. Movements: geard rise/fall is one hand operation. Fine focus on both ends.Locable rear standard in any position...List is so long. Great bellows. So, Dave: before You make the decision, see this camera.

-- Steven S. Miric (, January 28, 2001.

I'm in England, so availability may be different in different places, but I use a Sinar P2 with bag bellows for architectural work. Why? Because, every now and then I need a lens that just isn't worth buying, so I hire it, and I can always get lenses with Sinar panels. In addition to that, it is a very workmanlike camera and has ample movements for the purpose. It also moves on the lens axis, which can be a great help because it saves time.

Hope this helps.

-- Garry Edwards (, January 29, 2001.

the previous answer raises an important question - what do you need? is weight a major concern? will you need to rent lenses/accessories? if weight doesn't matter, and for commercial work where you can hire an assistant it shouldn't be the first concern, i would get a sturdy rail camera with base tilts and/or lots of direct shifts. if you are going to rent accessories i would get a sinar, either the x or p2. arca stuff is great but availability is a problem and good luck renting. if you are working alone and carrying stuff all over both the arca and ebony sound great. personally i use a linhof kardan bi and a technikardan depending on the situation, and rent the sinar x system.

-- adam friedberg (, January 29, 2001.

My primary use of a 4x5 camera is for photographing architecture for clients. Mostly I photograph either residential interiors or small commercial spaces like restuarants, nightclubs and bars. I've been doing it for sixteen years.

My general recommendation is to buy a camera that is a yaw free design as this makes the inevitable shot where you have to incline the angle ofthe bed or monorail of the camera, much easier to work with.

Weight and packed size is always a problem as someone has to haul the thing and the related pieces somewhere. I agree that the Sinar p2, C2, or X cameras are great, but I found them to bulky and heavy. But as was earlier pointed out renting accesories is much easier, and the built-in calculators for instantly determining swing or tilt angles and then determining hyperfocal focusing at reasonable f/stops (I consider f/16> f/32 to be a reasonable range) to be very valuable.

But I really don't like the Sinar F1 or F2 cameras.

After ten years of using a Sinar C (the Sinar C has the rear standard of a P and the front standard of a Sinar F) I spent a year of trying other cameras before deciding to switch to the ARCA-Swiss F-line. I really like the fact that , like the Sinar cameras the ARCA-Swiss cameras are yaw free designs, and because unlike the Sinar cameras I don't have to refocus after applying any rise or fall. The camera is also easier to use with lenses shorter than 65mm due to the design of the monorail. ARCA-Swiss claims that you can use down to a 43mm lens before having to resort to a special recessed board.

My kit of lenses is as follows: 65mm, 90mm, 150mm, 210mm & 300mm. For interiors I mostly use the 90mm, then the 65mm ad then the 150. For exteriors: the 90mm, then the 150mm, then the 65, then the 300mm, then the 210mm.

-- Ellis Vener (, January 29, 2001.

Hi all- thanks for the responses. All of this is just some early research into what I may need equipment-wise upon finishing college and entering the delightfully competitive world of commercial photography. Architectural photography is my main focus at this point, though this could shift at some point. I'm currently using a Linhof Kardan Bi, which I really like, but I've found that it isn't the most wide-angle-friendly camera out there. Since it's a number of years old, too, some of the original accessories are pretty hard to find (not to mention expensive when you do find them). Basically, I need something that I can use with shorter (47mm XL, etc) lenses pretty easily that wouldn't complain with a 300mm either. Weight really isn't much of a concern. I'll probably have to rent some of the more exotic optics, early on at least. Again, thanks for the responses.

-- Dave Munson (, January 29, 2001.

just curious - what trouble are you having with wide angles on your linhof? i have not had any problems. i use a 65 with a regular board and it should take a 35 with a recessed board. it is a very good camera for architecture. the base tilts, although not yaw free, will allow focal plane rise, and it can be made somewhat compact for transport by swinging the standards parallel with the rail. besides the lack of rental availability for accessories and the rail being out of production, i'm not sure what else one could need for architectural photography. but if you want a new camera ....

-- adam friedberg (, January 29, 2001.

I'm weighing in late but I would like to say that the Linhof Technikardan 45S is my choice. I have a Sinar C with 4x5 and 5x7 backs and use it for certain applications and when I must have a bigger chrome or neg. than 4x5, but I much prefer to use the Linhof. It is compact, light, accurate, has many accessories, and supports my lenses of 58mm to 14" (355mm) with no other rails or anything. I have made an extension back for it that accomodates a Speed Graphic shutter that will allow me to shoot up to 600mm barrel. It is an amazing little camera and I must say I have never had the difficulties many complain about...difficulty in folding with either the bag bellows or the regular accordian type, stiff operation in cold weather, or whatever. I just wish they made larger ones in 8x10 or 5x7.

With this camera I go on site with my large lens inventory of 58, 65, 72, 90, 121, 135, 150, 165, 180, 210, 240, 270, 305, 355, 18", 19", 20-3/4", 21-3/4", and 600, and I fit it all into a large lightware case and an adapted black plastic ammo case. I also have a 36" telephoto but it is huge and cannot be carried easily.

The Sinar C is very sturdy but it is harder to get that around on site. All in all I go with the Linhof, though I have heard great things about the Arca Swiss, which is certainly a much more modular system, like the Sinar but more compact. Pricey too.

-- Rob Tucher (, January 31, 2001.

I see an Arca-Swiss 4x5 Compact goes for the equivalent of about US$ 2000 plus shipping at these days.

I'm only a long-term prospective, not actual, user of large format but this sounds like an excellent price from a company that I've used a couple of times with total satisfaction.

-- Mani Sitaraman (, January 31, 2001.

I've been using a Sinar F2, and though it hasn't given me any serious trouble, it does seem more delicate, compared to my Linhof Master Technika. I'm planning to switch, and my choice would be the Linhof Technikardan. That would enable better integration with the Technika.

-- B.S.Kumar (, February 02, 2001.

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