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!