Best Lens For Architectural Photography

Mar 10 2011

So what is the best lens for architectural photography you might be thinking? This depends on a number of factors.

How wide do you need to shoot?

Can you get horizontally level?

How much light is available?

Generally speaking for architectural photography you are going to need a wide angle lens, as buildings are a lot bigger than us it is harder to fit them in to the frame without being far away from the subject. By having a wide angle lens this can cause problems in it self. Including chromatic aberration which causes a colour fringe around objects in your image. This is caused by the lens failing to focus all the colours to the same convergence point. See example below, you can see a red fringe around the ceiling window installation.

Best Lens For Architectural Photography 1

Now lets take another look at the questions I asked at the beginning. How wide do you need to shoot? Are you going to be photographing architecture in tight interior spaces or architectural photography exteriors? If shooting interiors you are going to need a much wider lens than if you were just shoot exteriors. You usually have a lot more flexibility when photographing architectural exterior and you can move about, but with interior photography you are generally very limited in movement. So shooting interiors go really wide! Such as 10-20mm. Shooting exterior and have that extra flexibility? Go a little longer with your lens at 20-30mm. Every situation is going to be different how ever so make sure you choose wisely. Even if you are photographing on a wide lens and you need to move forward you can do, or alternatively you can connect a teleconverter to your camera body and lens.

Another great consideration for picking the best architectural photography lens is converging lines. Do you need a lens with tilt and shift adjustments? If you have to tilt your lens/camera up to capture the architecture you are going to get something known as converging lines. Look at the image below to see what I mean by this.

Best Lens For Architectural Photography 2As you can see the objects toward the side of the image are being pulled in to the center. To get rid of this your lens need to be horizontally level with the building. There is a feature in Photoshop to remove this but it only works so far so it is better to get it correct in camera.

The best lens for architectural photography for me is any of these two below with teleconverters.

Best Lens For Architectural Photography 3

Best Lens For Architectural Photography 4

These lenses are the Canon 17mm ts-e and the Canon 24mm ts-e. If you are not clear about anything I will try and clear it up for you! Purchase the below.

2 responses so far

  1. I found your website whilst looking for a camera and I very much like your work.

    I have a cheeky request I’m afraid and wonder if you can help.

    I run a small architectural practice in Teddington that predominantly does small extensions and refurbishments. Quite often we have to wait quite a long time before we’re allowed access for a professional photographer to go in. I’m looking for a camera that I can point and shoot but would still give results that I can use on the website until we are allowed to arrange for professional photography.

    I would like to say that we’d then use you for the professional photos that follow, but at the moment I don’t know your fees compared to other photographers we’ve used. If they are comparable we’d be happy to use your services.

    In my search I’ve come across recommendations for the Canon 60D or 1100D with a Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 lens. This is around the same budget and I already have a Canon Powershot SX10 IS and wondering whether I can just buy the lens to fit this body.

    I do apologise for the ignorance displayed in this e-mail – even though i’m always on site with a camera I set to Auto and point and shoot!

    If you are able to help I’d be very grateful, if not thank you for posting such lovely photos anyway!.

    kind regards
    Sam Kamleh
    architecture wk

  2. Hi Sam,

    I am not so sure on compact cameras but pretty certain you can’t change the lens on a Canon Powershot. If you are going to get a DSLR go for a 40D they are older but cheaper and just as good it just lacks video compared to the 60D. You can also change the lens on them so you can get a wide angle lens so you can fit more in your image as architecture is usually big you need a wide angle lens.

    Have fun.


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