Architectural Photography: More on the Question “View Camera or DSLR?”

It occurred to me that, in my recent post titled “View Camera or DSLR”, I neglected two considerations of critical importance to architectural photographers.

1.) I neglected to mention that the Canon 5D Mark II, it’s successor the Mark III, the Nikon D800, the Lumix GH4, and a wide variety of other DSLR’s are capable of producing Full HD (High Definition) 1080/30p video. The Lumix GH4 now leads the pack with 4K 24p cinematic video capability. The view camera, of course produces only still images - very high quality stills, at that.

2.) I quoted the retail price of approximately $48,000 for the Phase One IQ180 digital back, the 645DF camera body, and a single lens, sold as a package. What I didn’t say (and should have) was that this system has no perspective correction capabilities - whether camera or lens shifts (and will not produce high definition video) - something of critical importance to architectural photographers. For more on perspective control in architectural photography, see my blog post: “Architectural Photography: Tilt-Shift”, at:

On the other hand, the Sinar arTec medium format digital camera system, shown here, does have full perspective correction capabilities, much like the traditional view camera. But like the view camera, of course, it is not high definition video capable. It will accept the Phase One IQ180 digital back, among others. The Sinar arTec with digital back and a full complement of specialized digital lenses, will retail for something in the range of $60,000 to $70,000 - a guess based on past experience in a workshop sponsored by Calumet Photographic in Chicago. I asked for a quote on the arTec system from Sinar and one other source, but none was forthcoming as of this writing.


This of course begs another question: Sinar arTec system at $60,000 to $70,000 - or, maybe a stretch - the brand new Porsche 911 Carrera 4 at $78,000?


Tough choice, for the serious and well-healed architectural photographer!
I exaggerate, but not much. You get the point: The very best tools come at a very high price. And, the tools need to be matched carefully with the application - if even with inevitable compromise and premiums, whether quality, capability, or cost.

Bottom line: the DSLR wins. It is cost effective, highly versatile, and produces high quality images. When used with tilt-shift lenses for perspective control, it is particularly well suited for architectural photography. The view camera, with it’s exceptional creative controls and high quality image capabilities, comes second, but is still tops when it comes to making mural sized images.

Read the previous post: Architectural Photography: View Camera or DSLR?

For more on the Sinar arTec, see:

For more on the Porsche 911 Carrera 4, see:

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Now read this

Architectural Photography: Tilt-Shift

I’ll admit it. How shall I say it? I’m obsessed with the notion that perspective must be accurately rendered in architectural photography. For years I watched the architectural magazines featuring the work of my heroes: Balthazar Korab,... Continue →