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Getting Started in Real Estate Photography – What Camera to Buy

This article is geared toward real estate agents and photo enthusiasts, not professional photographers.  If you are a realtor who would like to photograph your listings on your own, here are a few tips to choosing your camera gear.

  1. You can get by with a prosumer level camera if your goal is nice listing photos. If you want magazine-quality photos, you’ll need to invest in professional equipment.
  2. The lenses are where you should invest your money. You’ll need a good quality, wide-angle lens.  The most important thing to watch out for in a lens is distortion.
  3. You’ll need a sturdy tripod.
  4. You’ll need to learn a bit about editing. You can lease the Adobe Photography Plan that includes Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 per month or buy Photoshop Elements at about $80.00.  It should last you two to three years before you’ll want to upgrade.  Here is a link to Photoshop Elements 2020:   https://amzn.to/34Wtfck  
    It’s the latest version, however, it seems to have a lot of bugs.  You may want to find Photoshop Elements 2019 on eBay.  

Camera body
Remember this:  The camera is not as important as the lens.  If you already have a DSLR or equivalent, you may just need a new lens. Always double check to make sure the lens and other equipment is compatible with your specific camera before you buy anything! 

A few features to look for in a camera: 

  1. Ease of use. The latest and greatest camera might be so complicated that you will never use it.  Keep it simple.
  2. A flip screen would be nice but it’s not necessary.
    3.  Full-frame is best for real estate photography but the crop-frame sensor cameras will be sufficient for MLS listings. 

Please note we are an Amazon affiliate so we will receive a small commission if you purchase through our links.

Here are a few good choices for camera bodies: 

Canon Rebel.  A Canon Rebel EOS T6 is an inexpensive choice.  The option listed here comes with a lens, but the lens is not really wide, nor sharp enough for the high-quality images you want.  Keep reading to see our suggestion for a good wide-angle lens.  Canon makes several versions of the Rebel.  Choose the one that appeals to you the most.

                                                                                     

 Nikon D3500 

                                                                                   

 Sony:  a6000 
Has a flip screen lens 

                                                                         

 Lenses

 Avoid buying a package deal with your camera that comes with two lenses, since you’ll just have two not-so-great lenses.  Although if you can get a lens with the camera for the same price as the camera body alone, go for it.

 Remember, the lens is more important than the camera in most cases so look for a wide-angle lens with minimal distortion.  A zoom lens will give you the most bang for your buck.

 Here are my suggestions:

Canon 10-22mm 
You will have some distortion at 10mm so zoom a bit to 12-15mm when using this lens.

                                                     

Nikon:
                                                 

  Tamron 10-24 mm with Nikon mount 

                                              

Sony E 10-18mm f/4 OSS Lens with UV Filter Kit 

                                            

 Tripod:

Again, if a tripod comes in a kit with the camera, it’s probably not a good tripod.  Plan to spend at least $100 on a tripod.  It’s very unlikely you’ll find a steady enough tripod for under that price.  If you are a professional, plan to spend over $1000 on your tripod.  Yes, it’s that important for architectural photography! 

Things to consider:

Be sure the height is at least 60 inches. 

It will take you longer to set up and tear down with the screw legs rather than the clips.  But that’s not a deal breaker. 

Carbon fiber is lightweight and very sturdy depending on the thickness of the legs.  

Aluminum is also lightweight but can be unstable, again, depending on the thickness.  

Zomei Z669C   

                                  

 Manfrotto MKBFRTA4GT-BH Befree   

                                  

Remote Shutter Release Cable:  
A cable is less money and way more reliable than a wireless shutter release.  Be sure to purchase one that is specific for your camera:  

Pixel RC-201 E3 Remote Shutter Release Cable For Canon, Pentax, Samsung, Contax, Sigma, Digital SLR Cameras  

                                                          

For real estate agents who love photography and would like to take a shot at photographing their own listings, this is a good list for you to start with.  Take a real estate photography course or two and practice a lot, starting with your own house.  What seems simple is not as easy as it looks.  You’ll learn about the challenges of real estate photography as you actually do it.  If the challenge, time involved and cost to get started seems a bit much, it might be a better bargain to hire a professional!   

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Peggy Farren

Peggy Farren

Photographer, instructor and speaker.

Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, author, instructor and speaker. She’s been interviewed and featured on TV and in many national and local publications.

Peggy is the host of The Understand Photography Show, where we teach about travel, nature and fine art photography.  Subscribe to our Podcast or Youtube channel for new videos every Tuesday and Saturday!

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