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Best Nikkor shift lens for architecture

James Tye , May 04, 2010; 03:36 p.m.

Just a quicky, does anyone have a favourite shift lens for exterior architecture photography? Architecture isn't generally my thing but a job requires it and I'd rather not have to stretch images in PS.. Preferably something that won't break the bank! Thank you.

Responses


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Matt Laur , May 04, 2010; 04:14 p.m.

It will help if you mention what camera body(ies) you're using, and just how big is that bank you don't want to break.

Hans Janssen , May 04, 2010; 04:17 p.m.

I bought for $125 a Nikkor PC 35/2.8, nothing on the camera mount, and it works perfect on a D700.

John A , May 04, 2010; 05:02 p.m.

Well, you can generally assume that if you were using large format, you would use something between a 120mm and a 90mm for most exteriors. That leaves you in the 20-30mm range on a full frame dSLR.

I actually stretch a lot of shots on my dSLR, but you do need MP to make that work if you have to do much. If you have a smaller MP camera, then a smaller shift or doing it from both ends, decreasing the bottom and widening the top would yield less stress on the pixels.

If you go with a TS lens and have a crop sensor, you will need that much more distance from a building, since the widest, 24mm, will need more room--of course, if it is a short building, then you could probably be fine with the 24 or just doing it in PS. (if PS, remember to leave plenty of room for cropping back to a rectangle!)

John Stockdale , May 04, 2010; 06:03 p.m.

I use a 28mm PC lens on full frame and it's very nice for architecture and for landscapes too (rising lens makes the top of mountains look more impressive because they don't taper away). However, it's often not wide enough. The 24mm would be nice but too costly for me.

I actually was tempted to buy second hand a Canon 24mm perspective control lens plus a Canon body to go with it, which would still be cheaper than the Nikon 24mm, but decided that it could be done without.

Clay L , May 04, 2010; 07:06 p.m.

I have the 28mm f/3.5 p.c. Nikkor on aNikon F2AS.
It is a nice lens but I use the tremendous depth of field more for nature shots and the
rise/fall for flower close ups.
Best regards,
/Clay

Eric Brody , May 04, 2010; 10:59 p.m.

Best and "not break the bank" are inherently contradictory, but I understand. Your best bet, if it's for a job, is to rent and the best lens then easily becomes the 24 PC-E. If you're going to buy and do not want to make the considerable investment in the 24 PC-E, then one of the older shift-only lenses already mentioned make the most sense. I'm fortunate to have the 24 and 45 PC-E lenses and they have become almost all I use but then, I'm an old 4x5 goat who just enjoys digital so I use the tilts more than the shifts, especially with the 45.
Good luck.
Eric

Lex Jenkins , May 04, 2010; 11:30 p.m.

I've been using the 28/3.5 PC Nikkor for several years. In fact, it was my first Nikkor when I switched from Canon FD gear. I bought the lens before I even owned a Nikon body to use it with. It served my needs for a particular project, mostly shot with slide film in an F3HP. But it's occasionally been useful with the DX sensor D2H, mostly for exterior photos where a "normal" focal length is adequate for the desired perspective.

I'm not sure what the going price is right now for a 28mm PC Nikkor (f/3.5 or f/4 version), but it's bound to be a bargain compared with the very expensive 24 PC-E.

Edward Ingold , May 05, 2010; 11:28 a.m.

I think a Nikkor 90/4 SW on a 4x5 camera is nearly ideal. Expensive in LF terms, they are half the price of a comparable shift/tilt lens for a small format camera.

If you can get far enough away, you don't need a shift lens at all. If not, a 24mm on a full frame camera would be nearly ideal, the equivalent to a 90mm lens on a 4x5. Even a 24mm is not particularly wide on a cropping DSLR, and a 28mm is merely "normal".

I would not shy away from making perspective corrections in Photoshop. There are a couple of basic "tricks" to observe. Keep the center of the field vertical when shooting. Then subsequent adjustments are symmetrical and the least amount of cropping is required. Secondly, in Photoshop, "squeeze" the bottom as much as you "stretch" the top. This maintains the proportions of the building, emulating a true rising front (but requires cropping to square up the image).

John Stockdale , May 05, 2010; 08:58 p.m.

"I'm not sure what the going price is right now for a 28mm PC Nikkor (f/3.5 or f/4 version), but it's bound to be a bargain compared with the very expensive 24 PC-E."

I don't know which camera you have, but the very early 28mm PC lenses don't work with some recent cameras. Your camera manual has the serial number ranges.


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