Architecture photography is a precise art. Not only are the lighting, angles, and time of day important, but also the type of lens. If you want to take your architecture photography to the next level, you have to invest in a lens that’s up to the task.
When choosing a lens, you need to consider lenses with the smallest aperture your wallet can handle. Beyond this, there are three main types of lenses that work well for architecture photography:
- Wide-Angle — these lenses have an aperture in the 15-35mm range and allow you to capture your subject entirely in frame. Wide-angle lenses are particularly good for interior shots as well.
- Standard — lenses with an aperture range of 24-105mm allow you to get up close to your subject and capture fine details otherwise missed from far away.
- Tilt-Shift — when you want to capture something too big for the frame, tilt-shift lenses come in handy. As the name implies, these lenses allow you to tilt and shift the focal plane, or the perspective, of the lens and reduce perspective distortion. This way you can straighten converging lines, minimize a large subject, and more!
Let’s take a deeper dive and see what kind of lenses for architecture the market has to offer:
1. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR (Overall Winner)
This model is famous for being the world’s first-ever wide angle-lens that comes with VR image stabilization. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR has an f/4 aperture within the whole zoom range and the focal length of 16-35mm. It comes with Nano Crystal Coating, which ensures that flare is taken care of.
This lens has a dustproof and waterproof metal case, making it possible for you to use it in all kinds of conditions and environments. It has a high-speed and quiet autofocus drive, ideal for those who are on the go. It also has an excellent image stabilizer and ensures that all images are soft on the edges. Another fantastic feature of this lens is that you can override focus manually, something that architecture photographers usually look for.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM is considered indispensable in the world of lenses for architecture photography. It’s a high-end ultra-zoom wide-angle lens, ideal for capturing buildings and monuments. This model comes with a very powerful zoom, and it also adds a fantastic amount of sharpness to the edges of the images it captures too.
This lens allows you to shoot under diverse lighting conditions and has also been designed for use in all kinds of weather conditions. Another great thing is that it’s compatible with Canon’s full-frame, such as APS-C, cameras.
This lens is protected by modern coating technologies, two Ultra Low dispersion glass elements, and three high precision aspherical lens elements, all of which minimize aberration and barrel distortion. The images captured by this lens are usually sharp both in the center and the corners too. It has a very smooth zoom ring as well, which offers a negligible amount of resistance.
The Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 DI VC USD is known for the decent focal range it can provide. Due to its constant aperture of f/2.8 over the whole zoom range, this lens is ideal for capturing images in low-light conditions. It has low dispersion elements that end up eliminating geometric distortions (for example, chromatic aberrations).
This lens has a highly accurate autofocus and is fantastic when it comes to outdoor shots. It can help you get wide angles while ensuring that it doesn’t look like you captured them with the use of the fisheye lens. This lens can provide you with excellent image sharpness too.
This ultra-wide lens is highly suitable for locations with little space. The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM has a constant f/4 maximum aperture ensuring that consistent performance is provided, and the lens coating deters flames from being formed.
The autofocus on this lens is silent and fast and includes a manual focus option. Using this lens, you can capture architectural photographs with minimal distortion. This Canon lens also comes with advanced optical designs. It’s Super UD, and UD high-quality elements provide exceptional sharpness for the entire range.
This lens is full-frame, and its focal range starts at 24mm and stretches out to 11mm. It is a versatile lens, making it a good option for creating dramatic perspectives of exteriors and interiors both. The focus ring turns very precisely and smoothly, making it really easy to use. The images captured by this lens are all extremely sharp, ensuring that the quality of the photographs produced is all excellent.
The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II is renowned for its extremely sharp tilt-shift lens and that it has an extensive image circle coverage too. This lens is known for being a bit complicated due to all the options it has to offer, but with practice, one can end up using this lens in a very creative way.
This lens provides you with the possibility to be able to capture architecture with the correct perspective. It has outstanding build quality, making it durable, sturdy, and suitable for all kinds of locations and environments.
The Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L is thought of as the best option among tilt-shift lenses for architecture photography. This lens ensures that there is minimal distortion in photos, even at the edges. It’s ultra-low dispersion and aspherical elements combined with other techniques ensure that any aberrations are minimized.
The Super Spectra Coating and SWS surface of this lens suppresses reflections and glares. It also has an internal floating mechanism that provides you with high-quality images across the whole focal range.
The Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L can produce perfect sharpness and optical quality in the photographs it captures, and it also has light fall-off control at all apertures and good vignetting.
The Fujinon XF-10-24mm f/4 R OIS is considered as the best lens produced by Fuji for architecture photography. It is very tightly assembled and is a smooth operator too with its built-in optical stabilizer.
While shooting indoors, this lens can allow you to go as wide as 10mm. Such focal length is good for the prevention of line distortion and makes it highly suitable for interior photography. This way, you end up with photographs that are incredibly sharp within the range with either just a little or no distortion at all.
The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM has a zoom range of 24 to 70mm, making it perfect for all kinds of outdoor architecture shots. Its f/2.8 maximum aperture allows for a lot of light, making it possible for you to capture shots in locations with low light.
The Canon EF 24-70mm is weather-sealed with a gasket surrounding the metal lens mount, ensuring that it is protected for all kinds of conditions out there. It also has full-time manual focus alongside autofocus, which is precise, fast, and quiet.
The Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM comes with a vast field of view of 114 degrees, which allows it to surpass the perspective of the naked eye itself. Its coating makes sure that the shots have accurate color balance and that glare is prevented. Vignetting is also significantly reduced.
To ensure optimal image quality, this lens has aspherical elements for correcting spherical aberration and Super UD elements eliminating chromatic aberration. This way, you can end up with high-contrast, clear images without any distortion throughout the whole range.
10. Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X PRO FX (Budget Winner)
The Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X PRO FX is one of the sharpest wide-angle lenses you can own, and it allows you to take some excellent shots. It is incredibly versatile, providing you with all kinds of options and adjustments to select from and decide accordingly. This lens is brilliant for you if you want to capture a wide area and try to fit the entire room into the frame as the widest angle of 103.9 can be found at a focal length of 17mm.
The constant f/4 aperture can be used throughout its zoom range, allowing for you to shoot even in conditions where limited lighting is available. It is compatible with both Canon and Nikon cameras and comes with a sturdy and robust case that provides a lot of protection. This lens also comes with an inbuilt autofocus system, ensuring that the process is a simpler and more convenient one for you.
Final Words on the Best Lenses for Architecture Photography
This list is a comprehensive collection of lenses for architecture photography. Each lens comes with its benefits and drawbacks. That’s why, in the end, it all comes down to what you are looking for.
Which lens above is the most suitable for the architecture photography you are trying to capture? That is the question you need to answer. It is all about finding whichever lens works best for you.