High quality lens for interior -- architectural and real estate work

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by larry_johnson|6, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. I would appreciate any input and suggestions on what you've found that combines excellent image quality with utility for interior work. One of the lenses that keeps turning up is the 16-35mm f/4G AF-S VR. I'd like to work with a zoom rather than juggling a kit of three lenses, and I suspect while a group of primes might yield superior results, the cost might be twice as high. What do you recommend?
     
  2. Can you tell us whether you're DX or FX? It makes a HUGE difference at the wide end, especially in smaller rooms and buildings.
     
  3. Now-a-days zoom lenses come very close and can even surpass primes. Keep in mind perspective control lenses (expensive) that will give you control of straight lines in a tight area.
    (FYI, when you post a question, sometimes the system is very slow at receiving it, have patience next time after you click the Submit button, it will happen eventually.)
     
  4. Cannot think in something better than the 14-24. I`m using it for the very same task since its release.
    Perspective control lenses are nice, but not as wide, easy and fast to work with. Usually, I don`t need full sized quality pics, most are for documentation (big pics that almost never go out), advertising and web use (small ones are fine), so in my case, I can always crop, so lens shift, rise or fall is not at all a must have. And I also wonder about how useful is lens tilt in the real ("state") life with a FX camera.
    I`m also pleased with the f2.8 speed, many times I`m too lazy to take flashes and use it hand held at the widest aperture (available light). The VR in the 16-35 will be great here (three? stops gain), but you (actually, I) will miss the wide end at 14mm, and in this scenarios I don`t really need more than 24mm (well, for outdoor shots 35mm will be useful at small villas, though).
     
  5. The 14-24 is excellent for this type of work.
     
  6. The 16-35mm f/4G AF-S VR has some fairly high barrel distortion at the short end which might be problematic when used in architectural-type photography - it's higher at 16mm than the 14-24 at 14 (where it's fairly severe too). The Tokina 16-28 has less distortion but it's more wavy in nature and hence not easy to correct. The Tokina 17-35/4 also about the same level of distortion - both Tokina's suffer from rather high LoCA (easily correctable though). Both the Nikon 17-35/2.8 and the 18-35/3.5-4.5 AF-S display higher distortion than the two Tokinas.
    Quite frankly - given what some of these lenses cost - I would go with a D7100 and the Tokina 11-16/2.8 for that particular application. Low distortion and vignetting, and fairly even sharpness distribution over the entire frame once stopped down a stop or two. Typical for Tokina is the high LoCA - which is easy enough to correct for though.
     
  7. The only thing that would put me off the 14-24 (which I own, and I too have used it for what could generously be called architectural images) is the distortion. Well, and the price. That's on FX - you're paying for a lot of unused image area on DX. For a budget option, I'd just take a fish-eye, take several shots, de-fish the results, and merge them in software. If only we had a Nikon version of the Canon 17mm T-S...

    For what it's worth, the Zeiss 15mm (and maybe even more so the 18mm, though that's less sharp) seem to have less distortion.
     
  8. I'm with Jose and Ilkka that the 14-24mm is the right tool for the job - plus a high tripod to get you at half wall/ceiling height and prevent having to tilt the camera up. The barrel distortion, which can be quite noticeable as Andrew suggests, can be rectified in post-processing. And if you want to do exteriors properly, then the 24mm PC-E Nikkor is the right lens to get. It'll also do interiors very well if space isn't that much of an issue, or if you don't mind stitching images together.
    On full-frame, in a tight space you need a 17mm lens or shorter; then the >90 degree horizontal coverage can still take in a whole room if the camera is placed in one corner. With DX you're basically stuffed if you don't have anything shorter than 12mm - and there aren't that many good quality ultrawide zooms to choose from.
    I've used old 28 and 35mm PC Nikkors quite successfully on digital. They can be picked up reasonably cheaply and save a lot of post-processing in straightening up large interior shots if the trapezoid distortion got by pointing the camera up is objectionable to the client. They can be useful in places as big as a church, for example, but in smaller interiors you often need something a lot wider.
     
  9. What type of architecture? What end purpose at what size? ZDo you shoot raw (NEF) or JPEG? In the extreme wide
    angle range (below 21mm) the best choice is the 14-24mm f/2.8G .
     
  10. A non-trivial consideration is that the Nikkor 14mm and the 14-24 won't take filters so the huge front element is vulnerable to damage depending on how careful you are. Both the Zeiss 15mm and the 16-35 take filters though large ones. The 16-35 also has vibration reduction though a lower max f-stop. I've been agonizing over this choice for while and there are no clear winners, in my opinion
     
  11. Well, the Zeiss and the 14-24 are much sharper, at least at the wide end and wide apertures, than the 16-35 (or the old 14mm prime, which is not really competitive with modern designs). The 16-35 is pretty good, but more so at the longer end. The Samyang sharpens up well on stopping down, but isn't particularly competitive at f/2.8. You can filter the 14-24, but it's unwieldy, and I've never bothered (although I've had to get some of the Niagara river cleaned off it by Nikon). With the dynamic range of modern sensors, I'm not so fussed about filtering, although a polariser can make quite a difference to windows. A tilt-shift also means you can arrange not to be seen in reflections, though so does using a wider lens and cropping. No clear winners, indeed.
     
  12. One thing good about sticking with an OE manufacturer lens such as the 16-35 is the availability of lens specific distortion correction modules in software such as DXO. There seem to be less available correction modules with 3rd party lenses. Have not checked lately to see what is available.
    I don't spend a lot of time correcting WA lens distortion, but the DXO raw seems to do a good job with not much effort on my end.
     
  13. Architecture? Nikon 24mm PCE (shift lens.)
    Kent in SD
     
  14. I'm just starting to read the replies from overnight. Sorry for leaving out the key piece of info for you all. This lens will be paired with a Nikon D610.
     
  15. Technique is just as important as the lens choice, mainly positioning and leveling the camera, and most often using a camera support together with a higher f-stop to get some depth of field.
    A 4-segment leg Series 2 Gitzo carbon tripod and the latest Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED would serve you very well. If you must shoot handheld, the 16-35G VR you mentioned in the opening post would be better.
    Also, use in-camera distortion correction, it works remarkably well. And, don't be afraid of shooting JPEG-Fine, most likely plenty good-enough for real estate work.
    My 2¢
     
  16. Just read another timely question from the responses. I use a CF Gitzo four-section tripod that, when fully extended and on my Bogen 3047 head, puts the camera about 6'6" tall. I've shot a reflex Medium Format (6x7) for fifteen years so my technique is pretty solid. The interiors on my list range from nice residences to moderate corporate and commercial spaces. There have been a couple of church tasks, as well.
     
  17. The 16-35 is pretty good, but more so at the longer end​
    In terms of sharpness it's actually weakest overall at the long end - though I agree that at 16mm corner performance is a bit of a misnomer unless stopped down to f/11. Optically, it seems to be a wash with the less expensive AF-S 18-35 which isn't quite as good in the center but often better in the corners; one definitely pays a premium for two additional mm and VR. The 14-24 seems indeed to be the gold standard when even sharpness over the entire frame is desired.
     
  18. I second Kent's advice regarding the 24mm PC-E. It never leaves my D3S and I use it for 99% of all my work. For those times that I need a wider shot I use the 18-35mm on my D800. Its almost as sharp as the 14-24. However, it too has quite a bit of distortion. But now (from all the great advice I received on photo.net) I have been able to correct the distortion easily with a combination of DXO and LR.
     
  19. If you don't want distortion, the Nikkor 15mm F3.5 is your lens. Note that the link "Link" is for the Mir website on the Nikkor. The second link is for a prior PN thread on the 15mm.a

    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/nikkoresources/ultrawides/15mm.htm

    "Technical Highlights: * Panoramic 110° picture angle allows you to shoot in the confined space of cramped interiors; it also produces spectacular results in landscape, architectural or virtually any type of photography. * Straight-line rendition of subjects with virtually no distortion. * Immense depth of field practically eliminates the need to focus at smaller f/stops and moderate or greater distances."


    http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Km5u
     
  20. Jay, that old 15mm f/3.5 lens fetches around $1000 used. For a single focal length that's not much of a bargain compared to the extra flexibility of the 14-24mm Zoom-Nikkor. Also all the reviews of this lens are less than enthusiastic about its sharpness and being prone to flare. Even " the one who shall remain forever nameless on these pages" (K.R.) gives it a poor review, except for its lack of distortion, and he gives rave reviews to almost anything and everything.
    Yes, it would be nice to think there was a perfect lens out there that had no distortion or vignetting and gave a perfectly sharp image from corner to corner at maximum aperture, but unfortunately no such animal exists. (Apart from the distortion, the 14-24 comes pretty close though).
    You do your research, pays your money and settle for whatever compromises you think you can live with. If you're sensible, you also thoroughly check out the sample of lens you've just bought for decentring and other faults as soon as you get it as well. That's after buying from a reputable dealer that'll exchange the lens without question if found to be faulty.
     
  21. There's always the Samyang/Rokinon/Bower etc 14mm f2.8 for 300 bucks.
     
  22. that old 15mm f/3.5 lens fetches around $1000 used. For a single focal length that's not much of a bargain compared to the extra flexibility of the 14-24mm Zoom-Nikkor​
    If there is a 15mm that could compete with the 14-24 than it would be the Zeiss Distagon 15/2.8 lens - distortion is definitely lower on the prime. It certainly is no bargain though - costing about $1000 more than the 14-24. From the DxO testing it appears that the corners would be lagging behind the Nikkor at all apertures. The Samyang 14/2.8 seems to be doing quite well in terms of sharpness, but has much higher distortion and LoCA compared to the Zeiss.
     
  23. The Samyang has good sharpness at small apertures - not so much, wide open. That doesn't necessarily rule it out in this situation. My 14-24 seems to have quite severe field curvature despite Nikon checking it out, so I'm not holding that as perfection either. Not that I'm planning to sell it...
     
  24. Put me in the 24 PCE group. You are experienced otherwise I would not recommend it. It was designed to do exactly what you are doing.
    If you have shot 4X5 before you know what the experience is like.
     
  25. I find 24mm simply not wide enough. Many of my indoor pics are taken at 14mm (14-24/2.8).
    About distortion, if you look for distortion, no doubt you`ll find it. I don`t use to need straight leveled shots of squared walls at very close distances, the "box/frame type" kind of shot where distortion became specially obvious. Just shoot at an angle to make it much less noticeable.
    The 14-24 show hefty distortion at 14mm (just like most ultra wides), but at 18mm distortion is comparable to modern primes, and at 20-24mm it is even lower than many good other primes and zooms.
    I understand someone would want a straight frontal shot of a villa, so it is outdoors, simply use a cheap 50 or the 14-24 at 20-24mm, where distortion is at very low levels. If distortion have to be at an absolute zero level, use a short macro lens for the task (55, 60).
    For indoor, distortion free pics, the problem could be in the vertical lines (wall corners, door posts, etc.). Here simply set the 12-24 to 20-24mm, and if needed, apply distortion correction in NX2 to remove any trace of distortion. Mind you, the camera should be perfectly leveled here. Problem solved.
    I wonder if the pics will be used for art galleries (!), or for a real state agency (more likely, I think). If the latter, for advertising and promotional work, I things should be practical, comfortable and relatively fast to work with, so I`d try to avoid enormous complications and expenses.
     
  26. My experience with Samyang has been variable. The 85mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 lenses have proved brilliant, so I took a punt on their 24mm f/1.4, which proved to be not so brilliant. The first sample had ridiculously bad decentring and had to go back. The replacement is OK-ish. I tried the 14mm a couple of times, but only had about 5 minutes to play with it each time; indoors and without a tripod. Even so the corner sharpness looked OK, and that was wide open on a D800. Also the display sample of 24mm T/S I tried gave good IQ. Both the T/S and 14mm display lenses behaved suspiciously much better than review pictures posted on the web. So I fear that there's a lot of variability between samples.
    If you can find an understanding dealer that'll take returns without question, then you might strike lucky with Samyang and get a very good one. However your mileage will almost certainly vary.
     
  27. Thanks, RJ. I admit that I'm only reporting reviews when I talk of the 14mm; I've only got the 85mm - the first one arrived without working electronics, but the replacement was fine. Honestly, if I could trust the optics, I'd love their tilt-shift (mostly because of decoupled tilt and shift axes - I've been spoilt by a Hartblei). Still, there's an argument that, if they're half the price of the competition, it's sometimes worth the risk. Variability is a bit worrying, but then some of my Nikkors don't behave like ones others own either.
     
  28. The PCE or any rising lens is less useful in interiors than exteriors. The point of using rise is to eliminate what is commonly felt to be less interesting foreground (usually about half the image on the average exterior shot at a distance) in favor of building coverage. You want the foreground in an interior shot since it's part of the building - it's the same as if there were interesting gardens in the foreground of an exterior shot. There are other uses for tilting and shifting lens in interior architectural photography but less prevalent in small format where inherent depth of field is larger.
     
  29. My thanks to all who have (so far) contributed experience and advice to this thread. I'm coming into this new application (for me) from 16+ years of serious landscape work with a 67-MF film system and six primes. The majority of work, initially, is scheduled for real estate images which will serve fliers, brochures and website portfolios. There are a couple of commercial building projects on the horizon. I'm looking forward to some magazine spreads, too -- gotta have a growth path in mind, right? Many of you have mentioned distortion issues with several of these lenses, and I've learned of a number of effective fixes available with post-production software. Because I'll still be doing landscape shooting, I want glass which will let me produce sound, large (30x45) prints. Whether that means single captures or multi-stitches, the end product will need to compare favorably with my MF past. For the new work I'll be bringing along the big 4-section Gitzo, as well as an 8' step ladder, to help with more favorable perspectives. It would be great to add a 28 mm PC-E to the kit in a year, but that isn't good fiscal policy right now. So, I think I have concluded there are 2-3 viable solutions for me to concentrate on. Now, it turns on the shopping process: I'll aim for select pieces in the used/refurbished market over the next couple of weeks. I appreciate all the input from the Nikon forum. Thanks.
     
  30. I've had good luck with the 17-35 f 2.8d af-s (pre2004) some vertical distortion but easily correctable.
    Used for architecture , real estate, virtual tours, events, and weddings.
     
  31. Here's a sample

    http://www.photo.net/photo/5870797&size=lg
     
  32. Thanks, GJ. I like the coverage you showed in the interior shot. I mulled the idea of getting the Nikon 20mm and being able to have f2.8, but I know I'd sometimes need wider coverage, and even doing a two-shot stitch would present some issues in post: matching lighting and getting the alignment just right. Your lens features the 2.8 along with a good zoom range. So, I'm back to thinking the wide zoom is the answer. Actually, it would be really nice to have for some canyon shooting, too. Whatever I get will do double duty for my landscapes. [ larryjohnsonphotography.com ]
     
  33. Architectural interior images usually require straight lines to remain straight. Zooms can very rarely accomplish this, especially at the shorter focal lengths. I use an 18mm f/3.5 AIS Nikkor for all of my interior shots which require a broad field of view (or tight spaces) and it works flawlessly. It is razor sharp, usually more than wide enough and his NO perceptible pincushion or barrel distortion whatsoever. And they can be had used for around $500 in great shape
     
  34. Hey, Scott: I fully agree with the straight lines, especially if they're verticals. I know one can minimize a lot of the convergence issue by shooting "level," but that doesn't always produce interesting perspectives or emphasize the keys to a space. Your mention of the 18mm follows my musing about the 20mm, but I wasn't sure if it would have the field of view I needed. I'll look into the availability. One question: what is your feeling about subtly correcting verticals and horizontals in post processing?
     
  35. Larry Johnson, Jun 29, 2014; 06:43 p.m.
    Hey, Scott: I fully agree with the straight lines, especially if they're verticals. I know one can minimize a lot of the convergence issue by shooting "level," but that doesn't always produce interesting perspectives or emphasize the keys to a space. Your mention of the 18mm follows my musing about the 20mm, but I wasn't sure if it would have the field of view I needed. I'll look into the availability. One question: what is your feeling about subtly correcting verticals and horizontals in post processing?​
    Nothing wrong at all with fixing some minor perspective distortion in post processing. When I do interiors I have a little 3 axis spirit level I slide into the hot shoe to make sure that everything is level. You can get them on Fleabay for less than $10. They are essential if are going to do panoramas, interior or not.
    Regarding the 20mm f/2.8 AIS vs the 18 f/3.5 AIS, the 20mm does have some barrel distortion compared to the 18mm but it is really only noticeable if you were to compare images taken from the same vantage point with each lens. I have both lenses and love them both. Below is one I took with my 20mm. The skewed vertical perspective adds quite a bit to this image!
    <a href="http://smg.photobucket.com/user/stm58/media/Suntrustbank.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v138/stm58/Suntrustbank.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo Suntrustbank.jpg"/></a>
     
  36. It appears this thread is ready to be "tied off." Thanks for all the thoughtful input the past couple of weeks. I've investigated every suggestion and weighed them against my plans (and my budget) and feel content with my decision. Regards.
     
  37. Larry, let us know what worked for you, so we can all learn more.
     
  38. Final decision was to pair the Nikon 16-35 f4 VR II with the D610 body. The noticeable distortion from the ultrawide views is lessened by specific lens correction software and a bit of post production editing. It's great just leaving one lens mounted and being able to cover most of the shoot satisfactorily.
     

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