Due to the challenges of photographing tall buildings and large structures, architectural photographers understand the need for the right lenses. That means a range of considerations such as focal range, aperture, and other qualities. We rounded up the top lenses for architectural photography based on these features, among other things.
Since there are various lenses for architecture photography, we're giving a shortlist of those we found as the best 3 categories. This includes the Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G wide-angle, Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 tilt-shift, and the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L zoom lenses.
After plenty of research and factoring in features such as lens type, aperture, focal distance, autofocus, and image stabilization, we found the following lenses to be the best for architectural photography.
|Product||Maximum Aperture||Image Stabilization||Format Compatibility|
|Canon EF 14mm||f/2.8||Yes||Full-Frame and Crop-Sensor|
|Fujinon XF 10-24mm||f/4||Yes||X-Mount (Crop-Sensor)|
|Canon TS-E 90mm||f/2.8||No||Full-Frame|
|Canon EF 24-70mm||f/2.8||Yes||Full-Frame|
|Canon EF 50mm||f/1.4||No||Full-Frame|
Wide-angle lenses are those with a focal range of less than 35mm. They make a subject easier to fit more into the frame.
Therefore, they are suitable for capturing bigger architectural sites or cramped interiors.
Ranging from ultra-wide to wide-angle, the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens is the ultimate lens for architectural photography. With this lens’s focal distance and aperture capability, you can easily zoom images without distortion.
The 10mm lens is very wide for capturing unique perspectives that you cannot achieve with longer lenses for architecture photography. Furthermore, its aperture of f/3.5 is similar to the Samyang lens. While this isn't the biggest f-stop available, this is still wide enough to gather lots of light.
The Nikkor 10-24mm lens uses an automatic focus to override for greater control of your images quickly. This makes the lens perfect for different light conditions, including structures’ interiors.
Compared to the Canon EF 14mm lens, the Nikkor 10-24mm lens lacks weather-sealing. However, you can still mostly use this lens for interiors.
Finally, this lens also sports a special multi-coat design that prevents flares and ghosting effects. This allows you to capture crisp images at different times of the day and from almost any position.
The Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM is another one of the best lenses for architecture photography. Despite the almost fisheye field of view, its rectilinear optical design ensures verticallines and horizontal lines remain straight while still giving a dramatic perspective.
An Ultrasonic Motor drives the rear focusing system for a fast yet quiet autofocusing. It even provides a minimum focusing distance of 8 inches, which is perfect for including foreground elements in a shot.
With that said, this can be your go-to lens if you like shooting nearby, low, or geometric subjects.
At f/2.8, it has a bigger f-stop than the Nikkor 10-24mm Fujinon XF 10-24mm lenses. Center sharpness is excellent at f/2.8, although you may experience some edge softness when using crop-sensor cameras.
However, you can still shoot around f/8 to f/11 when you want to deepen the depth of field and increase sharpness. This also helps record high-contrast architecture images with minimized chromatic aberrations and controlled distortion.
Considered as one of Fuji's best lenses for architecture photography, the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS is perfect for a photographer looking for a compact lens that records excellent image quality.
On a full-frame camera, the focal range provides a similar perspective to 15-36mm. This provides a broader angle of view even when you're shooting in cramped streets, tight interiors, or tall structures. In effect, you still achieve an enhanced perspective without image distortion.
At 0.90 pounds, this Fujinon lens is more lightweight than its Nikkor counterpart despite having the same focal distance. This makes it the ideal gear for photo walks and street photography.
At half the cost of Canon lenses for architecture photography, you get extra-low dispersion elements that control chromatic aberration and color fringing. Even if you're a beginner, you can practice taking architecture photos with incredible sharpness and accurate color production.
Moreover, it has image stabilization like the Canon EF 14mm. This design enables you to eliminate motion blur, especially when you're shooting inside a moving vehicle or using slow shutter speeds.
Tilt-shift lenses have a more complicated learning curve than other types of lenses architecture photography. However, they will be worth your money as you can tilt and shift the focus to remove parallel lines or minimize a prominent subject in architecture photos.
The Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED is the best tilt-shift lens for architecture photography that lets you shoot the entire plane of focus while focusing on both nearby and farther subjects.
Its tilt-shift motion provides exemplary control over the image plane and lens optical axis. So, you can capture the actual field of view whether you're photographing the grandness of the Taj Mahal or the sky-high beauty of the Burj Khalifa.
You would want to avoid convergence of lines when shooting, and this usually happens in this kind of lens. Compared to other lens types, the Nikon 45mm enables you to tilt the lens up to minus 8.5 degrees and revolve up to 90 degrees in either direction.
Like the Canon 90mm, stopping down to the maximum f-stop value provides a deeper depth of field. However, this may sometimes result in optical diffraction and affect image quality.
The Canon TS-E is a mid-range, tilt-shift lens that lets you adjust architectural images manually so you can refine shots to your preferences. This results in sharp photos, especially when capturing the tiny details of buildings.
The Canon TS E lens is pricier than our first Canon recommendation, the Canon EF. However, it has a longer focal distance which means higher image magnification than the Canon EF. This makes it an ideal option if you are planning to capture building exteriors and tall structures.
The tilt and shift feature gives your photographs a nicer perspective regardless of their height.
The Samyang SYTS24-N 24mm f/3.5 is among the best tilt-shift lenses for architecture photography. It corrects convergence of lines within the frame, which is particularly useful when taking interior shots. In effect, your images don't look as if buildings are falling backward.
With f/3.5, this Samyang tilt-shift lens has a narrower maximum aperture than the Nikkor 45mm lens. The 6-blade aperture does affect image quality when tilting excessively. However, you can always use f/3.5 when you need a boost in exposure.
The optical tilt mechanism offers control of the depth of field. It allows 8.5 degrees of tilting and 12mm of shifting, ensuring you can get the most of cramped spaces. Like the Canon TS-E 90mm lens, this lens can rotate up to 180 degrees from left to right.
You'll be paying significantly less money with this lens. However, the cheaper price is a tradeoff for the absence of weather-sealing and image stabilization.
Despite that, this remains to be a budget-friendly option should you want to start practicing using tilt-shift lenses architecture photography.
Zooming lenses range around 24-105mm, giving you a closer view of a subject. These lenses are good for getting detailed shots that viewers may miss in wide-angle architecture shots.
Bragging the broadest focal distance of any lenses in this guide, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM gives you the ability to shoot architectural shots from different distances and ensure impeccable image quality.
This lens serves as an alternative to the Canon 16-35mm, especially if you want to frame a subject tightly. This is still a better option than the 16-35mm lens if you need a longer focal range with wide angles for interior shots.
This kind of lens tends to have several spherical elements inside to ensure magnification. Because of this, it's easier for this lens to introduce motion blur when you move its rings or even yourself.
Like most Canon lenses, this lens uses vibration reduction. You can take advantage of this feature even if you would most likely shoot with a tripod.
Finally, it features 3 Ultra-Low Dispersion glasses that narrow the distance between the color layers as light hits the sensor. In this way, the lens helps reduce chromatic aberration and distortion to improve image quality.
You might think there's no place for a prime-zoom lens in architecture photography. However, combining a fast aperture, compact size, and low price point makes the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM one of the best lenses for taking architecture shots.
This lens may not have a long focal range, yet its level of quality is at par with the others. The field of view of this lens gives that 'zoomed' effect or magnification.
More than that, since the 50mm lens has fewer moving parts, it beats the other lenses by having an ultra-wide f-stop of f/1.4.
As a result, you can rely on the 50mm lens if you usually shoot in low light. The same applies when needing a shallower depth of field to increase image sharpness.
Like the 24-70mm lens, you can use the 50mm lens to emphasize the details of a structure, even those on doorknobs and light fixtures.
Like real estate photography, your primary equipment should be a camera body, a wide-angle lens, a tilt-shift lens, a zoom lens, and a tripod. You can also invest in an external flash, filters, and cable release. If you're editing, you may also need HDR and image retouching software.
It's crucial to plan your shooting time, lighting, and angles to capture a professional architecture image. Take advantage of a building's lines, shapes, and textures. You'll also need to modify menu settings to ensure you're using the right focusing points, white balance, and exposure settings.
Finding the right lenses for architectural photography may seem daunting. However, you can choose from our top picks for each category. That should make your buying process easier, in addition to helping you find the right lens without having to sift through tons of options.