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Alexandru Molnar's picture

Full Frame or Not Full Frame

Hey guys, I have a question, just starting architecture photography and want to know if you recommend to buy a full frame camera. Now I have a Canon 60D with 18-135 lens. The real question is should I buy a wide angle lens like Canon 10-22mm and stick to the Canon 60D until I get better at architectural photography and get commission work or buy now a full frame and learn with that? Thinking of a Canon 6D or a Sony A7ii...

Thank you so much for your time and help, have a great day!

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Edward Porter's picture

Full frame is a game changer when working with Tilt-Shift glass, but a hefty investment not meant for starting out. So stick with what you got and master the basics. You can always rent on paid gigs until they become regular enough to warrant buying them. Many rental shops even allow the rental credit to be used as a down payment on the gear. All that said, I'd recommend sticking to DSLR vs mirrorless for optimal interior compositions.

Alexandru Molnar's picture

I was thinking the same but feedback always helps, so thank you Edward :)

Phillip Breske's picture

I'm curious as to why you would recommend against mirrorless for interior compositions? (FYI, I don't use a mirrorless camera.) Why would the lens mount have any influence on the composition quality or results? As far as I know, mirrorless cameras can use (with adapters) just about any lens made, including tilt-shift glass.

Edward Porter's picture

It has everything to do with the eye's superior dynamic range. Using an optical viewfinder allows basically a 30+ stop dynamic range viewing experience vs the 15 we get from the sensor. Next time look through the optical viewfinder and notice how well you can see the interior lighting and exterior view details. Then view the camera back in mirror lock up mode and you'll notice the windows are super blown out while the interiors still look dark - it's vastly inferior.

Phillip Breske's picture

True, but if you see with 30 stops of dynamic range and expect the camera to capture all of it, you'll be disappointed. With an electronic viewfinder, what you see is what you'll get. Or at least it will be closer to the final image than the 30 stops you see with an optical finder.

What you're really saying is that you prefer an optical viewfinder to an electronic viewfinder, not that you prefer a DSLR to a mirrorless camera system.

While I do not use a mirrorless camera, I do have an EVF on my Sony a99ii and it's quite good. It does require an adjustment in how I see the world through the camera, but there are some pretty incredible advantages. I can select a tilt and roll level indicator overlay, or a live histogram. One of the best tricks is the ability to zoom the live image for critical manual focusing. I use this all the time when shooting static subjects and it's perfect. I would never trust autofocus again for fine details, no matter how well it's been calibrated. I also set the EVF to display the image in B&W so I can better see what my final image will look like (I shoot exclusively B&W for all my artistic work).

If I were taking pictures with my eyes, I'd say you were spot on, but my eyes aren't making the photo, the camera is. My ability to control the camera is what allows me to use it to get the best shots I can, no matter what type of viewfinder it has.

Edward Porter's picture

I don't wish to discuss semantics much further but almost every DSLR (except Sony's line) uses an OVF while all Mirrorless uses an EVF - so I'm glad we're on the same page.

With a tripod and bracketing we can recover the dynamic range of what our eye sees. FStopper's Mike Kelley touches a little on luminosity blending, but Greg Benz' tutorials with Lumenzia are next level. Basically your final images aren't limited by the sensor's dynamic range, so you shouldn't have to compose with those constraints either.

If you want to compose in B&W, by all means knock yourself out! I work in the commercial world of architectural photography and that's 100% in color.

Phillip Breske's picture

So, you’re saying that by bracketing for an HDR composite, you can generate an image that captures all the dynamic range you see with your eyes. And if I were shooting with an electronic viewfinder, I would have to bracket multiple exposures for an HDR composite to generate an image that captures all the dynamic range I can see when I look at a scene with my eyes.

Which one of us was arguing semantics again?

Edward Porter's picture

The concept of manual blending bracketed exposures to increase the dynamic range of an image is discussed thoroughly by Greg Benz with his Lumenzia tutorials - I highly suggest watching his youtube channel for that. The whole EVF/OVF discussion is simply to point out that ultimately the final image can represent a massive dynamic range equaling to what our eye sees - so use an OVF and edit the raws until it represents what you saw.

The semantic thing has to do with DSLR/OVF & EVF/Mirrorless, but not of any value to the meaning being conveyed.

Josh Sanders's picture

Agree with what Edward said generally, though I don't shoot architecture so I can't speak to the specific needs of the field. I would also say that if you expect that you'll eventually upgrade to full frame within the Canon lineup then you can always buy a full frame lens and it should work perfectly fine with your aps-c camera (as long as you can get a lens wide enough for what you need taking crop factor into account). That way you get a lens that serves your needs now, but you don't need to re-buy if you upgrade later--aps-c lenses will technically work on a full frame camera, but you lose all the benefits of the larger sensor since the lens will only use a portion of it. Buying a full-frame lens for an aps-c camera isn't without it's downsides--full frame lenses are often larger and more expensive than their aps-c counterparts and can be a bit out of balance ergonomically with the smaller camera body, but functionally they should perform perfectly fine. I'm a Nikon shooter so I'm not familiar with the Canon lens lineup to give you specific lens suggestions, but I'm sure you can easily find some good options with a little research. Hope this is helpful!

Alexandru Molnar's picture

Thank you Josh, I just bought the 10-22mm lens for my crop camera and will use it for a while.

6d over A7ii

I started on a 6D. Half of my images here were shot on a 6D:

I had the 17-40mm at the start which will get you going. The 16-35 f4 (not 2.8) is tack sharp corner to corner, you'll find it in every architectural photographers bag. Along with the Tilt Shift lenses of course.

You have a better choose of lenses with the Canon system. Especially wide angle. Also cheaper.

You can also tether wirelessly with a CamRanger with the Canon system. You can not with Sony, I've tried and its a pain. Wireless tethering is a must for this type of work, speeds everything up and makes life a lot easier.

Once you invest in the Canon lenses you can also use them on the new mirrorless system once that evolves. They adapt perfectly to the Eos R

Adapting Canon lenses to a Sony - not the best, I've done it. I started on Canon, switched to Sony, but then switched back to Canon and the EOS R for the reasons mentioned above.

The Canon 6d is built better and will be more reliable than the A7ii in my opinion. You need solid, reliable kit when you shoot professionally day in day out.

Anyway, just my thoughts based on my own experiences. Everyone has different views so don't take any one persons word as gospel.

Willy Williams's picture

I'm using a M43 mirrorless Lumix G9 for RE photography and will stack it up against almost any DSLR for image quality. This camera will also do 80meg high resolution shots, should I need to use them. Check out the portfolio at https://sparkwerximagesllc.pixieset.com/sparkwerximagesllcportfolio/. The aerial shots were done using a drone.