Originally Posted by p3ntuprage
for $600 he could get a second hand large format 4x5 camera and a flatbed scanner that can do transparencies.
the advantages are:
movements [tilts/shifts]- instead of expensive shift lenses [which are way over $600 on their own] you get all the movements on the camera. this is important for architectural photography because it means you can get all the parallel lines parallel.
resolution- a 600dpi scan will get a 7MP image. most scanners can easily double that. atleast.
for a 8x12" single page image he's going to need 2,400x3,600px [9MP]
polaroid film means you don't need to wait for developing to check for exposure etc.
resale- apart from the scanner, he'll be able to sell all of it for pretty much the same price as he bought it.
[relatively] difficult to learn
setup time- one photo every five minutes is probably doing well.
weight & bulk
expense of film
ask fugazi dave about large format, i think he did some stuff with it.
if your boss/teacher still has his heart set on digital, my brother uses a panasonic fz-something. leica lens, very quick, very easy to use. the reservations i'd have about it for architectural photography is that the lens isn't wide angle enough.
Your suggestion is right on.
I have 2 large format cameras in addition to a Nikon D70. The large formats are great for architecture (getting rid of converging lines, etc etc) though I use them more for nature and landscape.
The first one, a Crown Graphic I got off ebay for $300 (its probably about 40 years old but it works fine). It came with a 135mm lens that doesn't allow much movement (the image circle is not that large) but I think if you can get a used Crown Graphic and film holders, you will be good to go. I also have a Shen Hao Hzx with a 150 F5.6 Caltar Lens.
The only reason I bought the Shen Hao was that I carried my Crown Graphic + a 45 pound backpack on a 3 day hiking/camping trip in the White mountains only to find that since the camera was so old the shutter on the lens froze up in close to freezing temperatures. I have exactly one photo from that trip (my friend, who had carried his digital point and shoot, had lots of photos (including a few of me throwing a hissy fit and about to throw my Crown Graphic off the mountain. But that is another story....). I doubt that you would have the same problem unless you were taking photos in su-freezing temps.
Large format photography can be very challenging initially and is always slower but when you have static subjects (architecture, landscape) then it is definitely the way to go.
I scan in my film using an Epson 4870 flatbed scanner but considering that you are playing with a negative that is 4x5 inches any scanner that can scan negatives should be good. Alternatively, you can develop the film and scan the print on pretty much any flat bed scanner and be good to go.
In your price range, you can get a Crown Graphic with a few film holders or a fuji QuickLoader and unless you need extreme movements you will be good to go. Or you can look for a used Shen-Hao or Tachihara within that same price range (I should have never bought new).
If you have the time to invest in learning this is the way to go, if you just want to hit the ground running you can go digital.
However, even if you get a digital SLR in that Price range, for architectural photos (especially interiors) you need really wide angle lenses and those cost a bundle for digital SLRs due to the comparatively smaller size of the sensors compared to 35mm slrs. I have a Nikon D70 with a 12-24 Tokina Lens. If I was to go into architecture photography, I would probably use this for its ease of use and only use the Large format if I had to get rid of converging lines etc.
Regarding Lens coverage on the Crown Graphic, in this picture you will see some distortion in the corners (lower left, lower right). That is due to the fact that when I used camera movements I ended up moving part of the image out of the lens image circle). However, note that I was actually trying for the effect and really had to tilt/shift the lens a lot to get it.
[Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer, just a hobbyist.]