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Real Estate Property Photos: Property Photography 101

August 10 2017

chime property photography 101

Whether it's services or goods, an aesthetically pleasing picture will attract more eyes and drive more leads. Real estate property photos are no exception to this rule.

If you're starting out and don't want to invest in a professional real estate photographer, or are looking to cut some costs, we've put together a beginner's guide you can use to create compelling real estate photos for your own listings. With this guide and practice, you can create better listing photos that will grab the most eyes!

Beginner tips for taking real estate property photos

Before we get into the different cameras and lenses available on the market, let's go over some photography terminology and tips.

Aperture, ISO, and Shutterspeed

The bread and butter for all things photography. All the cameras listed in this guide below will allow you to change these specific settings. Each of these settings control how bright or dark your image is. However, each setting does something a little different. Every real estate photography situation is going to vary, but mastering these three settings will set you apart from the competition and drive more leads.

Aperture controls your depth of field, meaning how blurry a background becomes when you focus on something in the foreground. If you are shooting indoor property photos, you'll be showcasing a room and you'll want most things in relative focus. When shooting indoors, keep your aperture around 8.0. This is most lens' sweet spot for hitting super sharp indoor property photos.

ISO controls how sensitive the camera is to light. Unfortunately, shooting with an entry level DSLR and raising its ISO has its disadvantages. The higher the number you choose for your ISO, the 'grainier' your end product will become. For now, try to keep this number as low as possible for a less noisy and sharper image.

Shutter speed controls how long the camera allows light into its sensor. If you're shooting hand-held, the lower the shutter speed, the more apparent the camera shake will be. If your hands aren't stable when you press the shutter button, your image will be blurry! For real estate photography, shooting on a sturdy tripod is highly recommended. This allows you to let more light into your camera with a very low shutter speed while eliminating camera shake at the same time. A low shutter speed on a sturdy tripod will allow you to keep your ISO lower. You'll have a super sharp image without any handshake translating into the final photo!

Shooting Tips

After practicing with these settings and correctly exposing to have sharp and clear images, you're on your way to shooting proper real estate photographs. Here are some more helpful tips to keep in mind during the shooting process:

  • Have a wide lens (10-22mm for an entry level DSLR) to maximize first purchase.
  • Purchase a sturdy tripod. You don't have to go crazy and shell out big bucks for a carbon fiber tripod, but make sure the tripod is immune to jiggling.
  • Keep your verticals straight. When shooting on a wide lens, lines begin to distort. To help with this problem, try shooting a lot lower than eye level.
  • Shoot your camera at doorknob level and make sure you're shooting level with the ground. Avoid using any crazy angles!
  • Remove distractions out of the room. Make sure the room is uncluttered and neat.
  • Lighting is important and window light is your best friend. Come at the time of day where the room is being evenly lit from the windows.
  • Shoot in RAW format. This allows you to edit your photos more freely. If you messed up the exposure, you can still tweak it through post-processing programs.
  • Be patient while editing photos and don't feel rushed. The post-processing can often take longer than the actual photoshoot.
  • When shooting outdoor property photos, shoot on an overcast day. The clouds act as a giant diffuser and offer well-rounded lighting.
  • Learn to use the timer on your camera while using a tripod. This is the secret way to eliminate camera shake altogether.
  • Study other real estate photography photos. Imitate what works and aspire to produce similar quality photos.

Picking a camera to shoot property photos

When receiving recommendations on the best products to buy, we're often told to stick to the top brand names. Sometimes, though, that's difficult to do. Figuring out which brands are actually trustworthy can be a challenge.

Fortunately in the world of advanced digital cameras, finding great brands is relatively easy. For the most part, the best brands from film photography a couple of decades ago have made the successful transition to digital photography. The best advanced digital cameras all come from brand names you already know well, whether it's for cameras or other consumer electronics.

To help further with your advanced camera purchase, we've put together a list of the best camera models within each camera brand at budget, average, and advanced price points. You're sure to find an advanced camera to meet your photography needs here!

Defining cameras

We're defining advanced digital cameras as those that make use of interchangeable lenses: DSLRs and Mirrorless ILCs (interchangeable lens cameras).

DSLR: Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras have maintained a similar design from advanced film cameras, resulting in bulky camera bodies. DSLRs generally can produce better image quality with a stronger feature set than mirrorless cameras. And DSLRs tend to have more options for purchasing lenses than mirrorless ILCs. The advantage DSLRs have over mirrorless is time on market: DSLRs have a wider range of lenses and accessories, as well as a larger used marketplace since DSLRs have been around for much longer.

Mirrorless: The interior of mirrorless cameras represents a different design from film cameras. The mirrorless camera's interior is a bit more like thin point-and-shoot digital cameras, allowing the mirrorless camera to be smaller in size than a DSLR. And although they cannot quite match the image quality of a DSLR, the image quality of mirrorless cameras is plenty good enough for most beginner and intermediate photographers. The advantage mirrorless have over DSRLs is their weight: with fewer parts, mirrorless cameras cut down on weight.

With that information in mind, let's take a look at the best advanced cameras from each brand name. One final note: The prices listed below are for the camera body alone with no kit lenses included.

Best Canon cameras for real estate photography

Budget: The Canon Rebel T6i DSLR is one of our favorite advanced cameras. You'll find it for around $600, and its strong image quality makes it a bargain at that price. The T6i has an APS-C sized image sensor with 24.2 megapixels of resolution. This Rebel DSLR features an articulated LCD screen, which produces extremely sharp and bright images on the display. Additionally, as has been the case with the entire Rebel line of Canon cameras, the T6i is very easy to use.

Average: A mid-range price point highlights the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, which is one of the fastest performing DSLRs in its price range, regardless of manufacturer. It can shoot at a maximum speed of 10 frames per second. The 7D Mark II has a 20.2 megapixel image sensor, which is plenty for most photographers. Finally, we really like the LCD screen on this model, which is sharp and bright. It's perfect for reviewing photos immediately after shooting them.

Advanced: The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a great DSLR camera, providing top-flight image quality with a full frame image sensor and 30.4 megapixels of resolution. (A full frame image sensor will yield extremely good photos in low light conditions versus DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with smaller image sensors.) It even includes 4K video recording resolution, which is not a common feature in DSLRs. The 5D Mark IV will work extremely fast, so you won't miss a spontaneous photo. This excellent Canon camera does carry a nearly $3,500 price tag, though.

Best NikonNikon cameras for real estate photography

Budget: One of the best values in a DSLR camera is found with the Nikon D7200. It will only cost about $500, but it offers plenty of really nice features, including 24.2 megapixels of resolution in an APS-C sized image sensor. APS-C isn't a professional-sized image sensor like full frame, but it's more than large enough for most real estate photography. It also has a really sharp and bigger-than-average LCD screen.

Average: It's not common to find a full frame image sensor in this price range, yet, the Nikon D750 DSLR camera does fit in here, with a price tag around $1,600. The D750 has 24.3 megapixels of resolution, so it lags behind some more expensive models in resolution. But that full frame image sensor makes up for the lower resolution setting. It has a large, tiltable LCD screen, which is handy for shooting odd-angle property photos.

Advanced: The Nikon D810 is one of the best DSLRs in the entire market, regardless of price. It has 36.3 megapixels of resolution and a full frame image sensor, which is the largest you'll find in a digital camera. Full frame image sensors work great in low light conditions. Its display screen is larger than average and produces very sharp images, which is great for reviewing your photos after you've shot them. However, it will set you back almost $3,000. If you are just starting to take property photos, this camera may not be the best investment.

Best FujifilmFujifilm cameras for real estate photography

Budget: Fujifilm's mirrorless cameras are extremely stylish models with a great retro look. But don't let that fool you. They have plenty of modern features and perform at a high level. The X-T10 fits in this category, with a sleek silver and black design. The X-T10 offers 16.3 megapixels of resolution in an APS-C image sensor. It also has a tiltable LCD screen, which is great for shooting property photos from tough angles. Not bad for a mirrorless ILC with a price tag around $800.

Advanced: The X-T2 from Fujifilm has a few upgrades from its predecessor, including a new autofocus system, meaning the X-T2 can focus faster and more accurately than the X-T1. The X-T2 has an APS-C sized image sensor (which is a common size for mirrorless cameras), offering 24.3 megapixels of resolution. The LCD screen with this model is sharp and can tilt away from the camera for odd-angle photographs. You will have to pay almost $2,000 for it, which is $1,000 cheaper than the Nikon D810.

Best OlympusOlympus cameras for real estate photography

Budget: The Olympus OM-D E-M10 II has quite a few sharp angles in its camera body design, which gives it an interesting look. Regardless of whether you like to frame photos using the viewfinder or the LCD screen, the E-M10 II has excellent components in both areas. The LCD even tilts away from the camera. Its resolution count of 16.1 megapixels ranks below some of its mirrorless competitors, but the E-M10 II's image quality would work well for most beginner and intermediate level real estate photographers, especially considering its $550 price point.

Advanced: At 20.4 megapixels, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 II doesn't offer quite as much resolution as some other high-priced models on our list. But the E-M1 II is a fast performing camera, thanks to its 121-point autofocus system. With so many AF points, the E-M1 is able to lock into the subject in a hurry, meaning you'll almost never miss a spontaneous photo. This model also has a tiltable LCD screen, which is handy for odd angle photos. But it does come with a hefty price tag of $2,000.

Best PanasonicPanasonic cameras for real estate photography

Budget: At a price tag of around $600, the Panasonic Lumix GX80 is one of the lowest priced mirrorless ILCs in the market. It can shoot video at 4K resolution, which is a great feature. You'll be able to record still images at 16 megapixels with the GX80, and you can shoot at up to eight frames per second, which is great for photos with fast moving subjects. It also has a tiltable LCD screen with a very sharp display.

Advanced: The Panasonic GH5 mirrorless camera was just announced by the company. And it has quickly risen to the top of the heap for Panasonic's high-end mirrorless cameras. It offers 20.3 megapixels of resolution for still images and can shoot 4K resolution video. The GH5, with a price tag near $2,000, also offers an above average sized LCD screen that produces sharp images. And it has something rarely found in a mirrorless camera – two memory card slots – which means you'll almost never run out of storage space.

Best PentaxPentax cameras for real estate photography

Budget: The silver and black Pentax K-70 DSLR has a blocky design with a big right hand grip, making it comfortable to hold and use. You'll find an APS-C sized image sensor offering 24.2 megapixels of resolution with the K-70, which should meet the needs of most beginning and intermediate photographers. This model, which carries a price tag around $600, has an articulated LCD screen for shooting odd angle photos.

Advanced: The Pentax K-1 DSLR camera is an impressive model, offering 36.4 megapixels of resolution in a full frame image sensor. The K-1 excels in low light photography. And if you end up shooting photos in outdoors situations where the weather can be poor, Pentax gave the K-1 DSLR a weather sealed body, meaning it can stand up to poor weather for a couple of hours. It even has a bit of a discounted price, compared to some of the other advanced DSLRs on our list, at around $2,000.

Best SonySony cameras for real estate photography

Budget: Among the low-priced Sony mirrorless camera options, we like the Alpha A6300 for around $900. It has a great viewfinder and a tiltable LCD screen, making it easy to frame the photos however you want. The A6300 includes an APS-C sized image sensor with 24.2 megapixels of resolution, which provides solid image quality versus others in its price range. It also can record 4K resolution video, which is nice to find in a budget mirrorless ILC.

Advanced: The Sony Alpha A7R II mirrorless ILC carries a high price tag of nearly $3,000, but there's a good reason. The A7R II is one of the few mirrorless cameras that contains a full frame image sensor, which gives it an advantage in low light photography versus other mirrorless ILCs—and even some DSLRs. The Alpha A7R offers an impressive 42.4 megapixels of resolution and a tiltable LCD screen that displays sharp images. It also can shoot 4K video resolution.

Best lenses for real estate photography

Before looking at our list of the best DSLR and mirrorless ILC lenses, understand that the lens and camera body you select must be compatible or the lens will not work with the camera. This narrows the list of lenses you can pick from, but there are still plenty of great options on the market for every camera listed above.

The other thing to remember is that many DSLR and mirrorless camera bodies ship as "kits" or "bundles," which means there's a starter lens sold with the camera body. Although kit lenses don't meet the feature set needs of experienced photographers, for many beginning and intermediate photographers, these kit lenses are perfect options initially. Most kit lenses have a zoom capability, which is nice. You'll save quite a bit of money purchasing a kit versus buying the camera body and extra lenses separately.

But when you're ready to gain some more features, better image quality, or a bit more versatility than the kit lens provides, the following list of add-on lenses will give you an upgrade over the kit lens.

Canon: Our favorite add-on lens for a Canon DSLR is the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4. It's not cheap at about $1,000, but it has a nice wide angle capability at 24mm, which is great for shooting photos indoors, where it can be difficult to fit an entire room in the frame. And with a slight zoom capability, the 24-70mm has just enough versatility.

Nikon and Pentax: We really like the third-party Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro lens that's made to fit both Nikon and Pentax DSLR cameras. (This lens also has a version made for Canon DSLRs.) This lens has a price tag of around $500, and it provides a good wide angle capability, which is great for indoor photos. Its zoom range is handy too, as long as you aren't looking for a huge telephoto capability.

Fujifilm: The Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens will fit X mount Fujifilm mirrorless cameras. It has a small zoom range, but we really like the wide angle capabilities of this lens for shooting indoors. It's offered at a price of around $700.

Olympus and Panasonic: Olympus and Panasonic mirrorless cameras use Micro Four Thirds lens mounts, so many add-on lenses will fit both brands of cameras. We'd recommend the Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 interchangeable lens for both brands at a cost of about $1,000. It has a bit more of a wide angle capability than some other lenses and a little less telephoto capability, but you may not notice the difference when shooting primarily indoors.

Sony: One of our favorite Sony mirrorless lenses is the Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 lens, which carries a price tag of nearly $1,000. It has a great zoom range, and its wide angle capabilities are strong enough to work well for indoors photos.

Thanks for reading our guide on real estate property photos and picking the right camera!

To view the original article, visit the Chime blog.