Real Estate Photography: What's the best digital camera to use?

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Home2Market Real Estate Virtual Tours

Having shot several thousand homes here in Silicon Valley over the last four years, I'm often asked the same question by real estate agents and photographers alike: "What kind of camera do you use?"  The answer: I've used many cameras, all with their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.  From the Canon 5D to my Olympus C7070, I've experimented with tons of camera/lens combinations in the search of an affordable solution that I can confidently recommend to fellow photographers and real estate agents alike. 

The bottom line is that your choice will boil down to two types of digital cameras: "SLR" cameras are great and offer wide angle options, but the're expensive and require additional lenses to be purchased.  "Prosumer" cameras are quite affordable, however most lack wide angle lenses or manual shooting options necessary for shooting real estate.  There are a few key things I look for when purchasing a digital camera:

  • Wide angle lens (needs be somewhere between 18mm and 26mm in order to show interiors well)
  • Manual shooting features (needs to be able to control exposure time, f-stop setting and ISO).
  • Auto bracketing feature (this will allow you to shoot HDR photos quickly and easily).
  • External Flash shoe (nice to have but not necessary if you'll be shooting in HDR format, using natural lighting - I highly recommend learning to shoot this way)

Now, there are tons of SLR cameras that easily meet these criteria, however most agents I know don't want to shell out $2000 or more for such a camera and its accompanying wide angle lens.  Based on this, I'm recommending the following camera:

The Panasonic Lumix LX-3.  This is a great (and affordable: $399 on amazon.com, last I checked) little camera, packed with all the necessary features I listed above, and most importantly: it has a nice wide angle 24mm lens.  In case you're wondering, no, I don't get any kick-backs or payment from Panasonic for this, although if they offered...  ;-) 

07/29/11 UPDATE: CHECK OUT THE Panasonic LX-5

I hope you've found this information useful.  If so, please respond to this post and let me know.  If there is a strong demand for it, I will be adding more posts, including:

  • "Basic Equipment for Photographing Real Estate" (this will cover items like: tripods, tripod heads, panoramic heads and photo editing software).
  • "Real Estate Photography 101" (this will explain the basic do's and don't of real estate photography and will be targeted to the amateur photographer).
  • "Advanced Real Estate Photography" (this will cover more advanced techniques such as shooting in HDR format and camera settings like shutter speed, ISO setting, exposure time and white balance, and possibly night photography).
  • "Virtual Tour Photography" (this will cover panoramic shooting techniques including setup, shooting and photo stitching basics).   

The goal of these tutorials will be to set a photographic standard for our photographers to follow, and also to show real estate agents how they can shoot their own virtual tours.  Eventually, I'll most likely post these instructionals on the home2market website.  Please let me know if there are additional related subjects you'd like to see covered, and I'll consider writing about it.

Thanks for reading, and happy shooting!

Justin Adams

 

 

 

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Topic:
Real Estate Technology & Tools
Location:
California Santa Clara County Cupertino Monta Vista Area
Tags:
real estate photography
real estate camera
virtual tour photography
wide angle camera
digital camera
hdr photography
hdr
panoramic

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Show All Comments
Rainer
20,942
Justin Adams
Home2Market Real Estate Virtual Tours - San Jose, CA

Hi Wendy!  You're welcome - I'm glad you enjoyed the post.  Stay tuned as I'll be coming out with more soon..  I would give this one a try: EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Apr 15, 2010 01:22 PM #8
Ambassador
1,282,969
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Justin, Welcome to ActiveRain. This is an excellent post and one I appreciate. I would first like to invite you to join our ActiveRainPhotoBlogger group. I think with your particular photographic skill, we can all learn lots for your post. We do require photos in the posts as well as a story description, thus the name, PhotoBlogger, :-)

Secondly I compliment you on your talents and I enjoyed especially the photo tour link you provided. I am subscribing to your blog and look forward to your acceptance of the group invitation. Welcome again and if I can help you in any way, just let me know.

Jul 25, 2010 02:38 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,511,782
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate

Hi Justin - I'm still using an Olympus C700-UZ for all of my pics, but looking to update in about six months. I'll definitely be returning to your blog when it's time to buy.

Jul 25, 2010 02:53 AM #11
Rainer
20,942
Justin Adams
Home2Market Real Estate Virtual Tours - San Jose, CA

Hi William, Thanks so much for that - very kind of you!  I hope to add more posts on AR in the upcoming weeks, so I'll be sure to check out the PhotoBlogger group for sure. 

Jul 26, 2010 02:40 AM #12
Rainer
20,942
Justin Adams
Home2Market Real Estate Virtual Tours - San Jose, CA

John - great to hear you're still getting use out of your old C700!  I think Olympus did a great job with that line and in fact, I still keep my C7070 as a backup camera (I actually have a few of them)..  Please do come back when you get ready to buy - I'm curious to see what cameras you're considering and if you'll stick to Olympus or not..

Jul 26, 2010 02:47 AM #13
Rainer
31,555
Tim Derylak
Keller Williams Realty - Fort Mill, SC

Justin, tutorials would be terrific!  I recently purchased a Nikon D3000 with 18-55mm lens.  Its been amazing compared to my old point and shoot cameras.  I've enjoyed experimenting with polarized filters for exterior shots of homes.  The only problem, I've fallen into the trap of lens envy... 

Jul 30, 2010 10:25 PM #14
Rainmaker
86,561
Geri Doyle
Doyle & DeVoe Iowa Realty - Newton, IA
CRS, E-PRO Relocation 6415215678

Wow Justin great post. I'm looking into buying a new camera I'm so confused I'm going to be using it for Real Esate and personal use. I'm subscribing to your blog. Thank You for sharing.

Geri Doyle

Aug 11, 2010 10:03 PM #15
Rainmaker
206,086
Barbara Heil-Sonneck
Design2Sell - Atlanta, GA
Home Staging Atlanta

Hi Justin, I am in the middle of doing some more research on finding the right camera, thanks for sharing.

Aug 12, 2010 11:35 AM #16
Rainmaker
226,587
Joan Snodgrass
Midamerica Referral Network - Kimberling City, MO

Thanks Justin.  My Canon is about ready to bite the dust, so am investigating the wide lens cameras.

Aug 24, 2010 11:48 AM #17
Anonymous
Anonymous
kim miller

I've got a Nikon D3000 with the 18-55mm lens but it doesn't take any wider pics than my other camera.  Can you suggest a wide angle lens?

Oct 28, 2010 11:31 PM #18
Rainmaker
71,029
Nate Gerard
Keller Williams Premier - Stillwater, MN
CDPE, East Metro Twin Cities Realtor

Very useful post. I was thinking about a spendy body/lens combo since I have an old Panasonic Lumix TZ1 that isn't cutting the mustard but maybe I need to stay in the same family and get a model better suited for real estate.

Thanks!

Nov 22, 2010 11:48 PM #19
Anonymous
Anonymous
Jim DHaem

Just finished my web site www.realesatecamera.info which list current compact digital cameras with 24mm lenses and has a link to universal external flashes for digital cameras.

Jan 30, 2011 05:42 PM #20
Rainmaker
570,044
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos
Hi Justin, Upgraded my P&S to a Nikon D80, Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens and a Nikon strobe. That combination allows great indoor shots with enough lighting for great results.
Feb 19, 2011 01:38 PM #21
Ambassador
1,875,180
Judi K Barrett
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma - Idabel, OK
Broker/Owner, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDAB

Hi Justin,

I can see that your blog posts are going to be very popular here on AR.  Hope it turns out to be a beneficial relationship to both you and your company and to your readers.  I've learned to love my Nikon D90 and my Lumix.  Glad you're here.

Jul 24, 2011 06:34 PM #22
Rainer
20,942
Justin Adams
Home2Market Real Estate Virtual Tours - San Jose, CA

Seems like a lot of people are using Nikon here! I used to be a Canon guy (umm.. and Olympus too), however I switched over to the Nikon system because the D700 supported the HDR auto bracketing features I needed for doing HDR imaging - absolutely love this camera...

Here's my latest virtual tour I shot using it:

Play button linking to virtual tour.

Jul 24, 2011 10:47 PM #23
Rainmaker
160,070
Colleen McConnell
Tallahassee, FL
Tallahassee Retired Realtor

Thank you for the photography and camera tips. I would love to hear the tips you said you were going to post. Hopefully, they are on your website which I will visit next.

Jul 29, 2011 09:56 AM #24
Rainer
20,942
Justin Adams
Home2Market Real Estate Virtual Tours - San Jose, CA

Hi Colleen,

 

Thanks for your post. Lately, I've been allocvating all my time to my startup company: Home2Market.com, however I PROMISE there will be tips coming soon - please stay tuned! :-)

Jul 29, 2011 01:15 PM #25
Anonymous
Anonymous
Lisa

Justin,

 

Great information.  I bought a Nikon CoolPIX L110 last year and finding hard to get great interior photos for my staging business.  Love your blog and all the information about which camera you recommend.  Looking forward to reading more of your blogs!!!

Nov 14, 2011 11:54 AM #26
Anonymous
Anonymous
Jessica Sheppard

I would definitely be interested in more real estate photography related posts. ;)

Feb 20, 2012 07:02 PM #27
Rainer
333,112
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo
 

thank you very much for the informative and interesting post. I get so much out of the active rain network.

Mar 22, 2012 08:04 PM #28
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Rainer
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Justin Adams

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