How To Take Good Pictures, SHARE them easily, and key features for cameras for listing photos - View The Free Realtor Magazine Webinar In This Post!

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Eastman Kodak Company

Hello Everybody,

This post is about taking good listing pictures!  As we all know, bad pictures make for bad listings, and cause your listing to get overlooked.  This past Thursday I had the privilege of being a panelist on the "LISTINGS THROUGH A LENS" seminar for NAR's Realtor Magazine. Over 700 agents from around the country joined me, my colleague Brian Fox (Kodak's Photo Training Manager), and Erik Grammer (Erik Grammer Pro Photography) to learn how to take good pictures of homes, and learn the basics of what kind of camera functionality they need to do it well.

I give you below the free Webinar archive where you can watch and learn about the kinds of cameras you should buy, and the actual photo techniques to get the most out of your listing photos. It's a 1 hour recording of a great Webinar!  One of the great things about today's cameras like the KODAK EASYSHARE M580  is that you can get great wide angle shots with awesome quality, and really take great pictures of your listings with some basic tools!  What was great is that this Webinar features TONS of great actual photo tips and techniques for agents.

https://realtors.webex.com/realtors/lsr.php?AT=pb&SP=EC&rID=46131402&rKey=3af7ff65e919fe60.

If you're in the market for a better camera, or just looking to learn how to take better pictures, this is a "Must Watch" link - Enjoy!

Below, I call out a few of the "need to have" features that your camera should have that we covered in the Webinar and why those are important. 

Now if you're looking for a wide-angle camera, I'd like to recommend our KODAK EASYSHARE M580 Digital Camera for $135.96, with free shipping in the continental USA.  As the name implies,  Kodak cameras have an important feature for easily tagging and sharing images and video for social media - it's called the SHARE button.  Once you take an image you can tag it on the camera, then plug it into your computer.  The camera software will auto-download the pictures, and recognize which ones you "tagged" for upload to Facebook, Kodak Gallery, Flickr, and other sites and it will automatically post them to those sites for you.  You control which ones you want to send!  It also has 720p HD Video, not quite as a good as our Zi8 camera with full 1080p, but great for most situations you'll encounter!

This SHARE feature is unique to Kodak cameras, and a "must have" feature for those who engage in social mediamarketing.  The M580 is also a high quality 28mm wide angle, featuring a Schneider Kreuznach lens with an 8X optical zoom.  It features PANORAMA stitch mode as well, which is a key feature that I think all agents need.

 

The Webinar highlighted tips for shooting in various challenging light conditions commonly encountered in listings.  There are obviously advantages to hiring pro photographers for certain situations and listings as well.  But what about everything else? Let's face it, it's difficult for a lot of agents to hire a pro for a lot of listings.  That's where the right camera can help you - and as my colleague Brian Fox would say, "If you use Photo 101 and today's 'point and shoot' cameras, you can really go a long way and take some great photos". 

So here are some of the key features you need in a point and shoot camera and your basic photo kit, regardless of the model you buy!  The images were taken on the KODAK EASYSHARE M580 Wide angle camera.

  1. At least 12 Megapixel Resolution - Often marketed as "image quality", this actually has less to do with image quality and more with how "big" you can blow the shot up without distortion or pixelization.  For example, most 5 to 7 Megapixel cameras can take an image that can be printed with great clarity on an 8.5" X 11" piece of paper, or display as a 5 or 6 inch picture just fine on a computer screen.  So why do you need the higher megapixels?  The answer is for cropping, or blowing up the details.  Watch the webinar for a detailed explanation and examples, but the basic answer is that if you take shot of a house and you want to blow up a particular detail like the 2nd story window shutters, you can easily do that by zooming in and cropping that portion of the shot after the fact, and with a high resolution, you can do that without distortion or pixelization. See the example below:



    In the above example, a picture was taken of the front door and porch area and then we were able to zoom in on the shutters and window above afterward and crop the picture to highlight just that area without pixelization.

    High Resolution also helps if you want to print these pictures in large format or a poster. So remember to take a picture in high resolution if you intend to print it.

    (By the way - What Is Wrong With The Picture Of The Windows Above? Take a stab at it by posting back to me in the comments section)

  2. Auto and Program Modes:  Today's cameras usually have both.  But getting to know and use the Program Modes of your camera allow you to take better shots in low light conditions, and also to override the flash and increase or decrease shutter speed and aperture of the camera (called exposure control).  This helps you get better saturation and take advantage of natural lighting conditions to show the room in its true colors.  Often times, when we use the auto flash, it washes out the room, or we focus on the wrong things so the camera exposes the room incorrectly in Auto mode. Watch the webinar for a lot of helpful tips on when to use and not use the flash, and when to override the automatic settings (which can be quite often when shooting listings).
  3. At least an 8X Optical Zoom and 28mm wide angle Lens- So optical zoom means the zooming is done with lenses.  The higher quality the lens the better the quality of the shot too.  Pick a camera with a great lens like a Schneider Kreuznach, a Carl Zeiss, or similar lens.  The big advantage of having a large zoom is that you have the ability to really get in on the details easily.  The advantage of wide angle is that it helps make smaller spaces look bigger, and allows you to take more of the room with a single shot. Lenses that have a wider angle than 28mm are also available. Once you get past 26mm and go wider, you'll typically start seeing a "bowing" effect where the shots start bowing out at the edges.  In fairness to the companies that manufacture these cameras, they often come with software on the cameras that try to compensate for this.

    For those looking to go a bit wider today, we have a camera called the EasyShare Z981. This camera has a 26mm wide angle with a 26X (676 mm!) Optical Zoom, featuring a Schneider Kreuznach Variogon lens!  It's a great digital ZLR, and a high performance camera with HD Video too.  Check it out and be sure to use the www.kodak.com/go/redeal site to get 20% off and free shipping on these cameras!

  4. Flexible Tripod:  Having a tripod gives you the ability to take pictures using the Program modes. When you are using the "no flash" and manual exposure modes, you can't have any camera shake!  A tripod will enable you to use these modes and eliminate the shake.  There's another advantage to the tripod.  Sometimes you cannot get into a corner or far enough back to take the whole room. Let's say you have a large piece of furniture that prevents you from getting back far enough to get the whole room in the shot.  Well, the tripod and self-timer feature of your camera will help take that room!  In the example below, there is a large piece of furniture in the room, and unless you put a tripod into the corner, you just wouldn't be able to take this shot unless you have ample room to work with, even with a 28mm lens. The tripod enabled us to get this image in a place that no person can get to.

  5. Panorama Mode with "On Camera Stitching":  Panorama helps you take shots of large spaces.  The M580 can shoot a room 30 feet wide by 9 feet high with it's wide angle lens and 3 shot Panorama feature as in the example below.  It's easy to use, and once again, use a tripod to get the best results!  The EASYSHARE M580 will stitch the pictures right on the camera for you.  Note that this is the same room as the previous shot, but we were able to capture a sense of the space with a few stiched photos.

 BEFORE:

AFTER:

 

6.  Creating a virtual tour out of still pictures:  This is my own tip for some great companies that can help you "stitch" together a wonderful tour out of just the still photos quickly and easily.

a. Do it yourself:  Animoto - www.animoto.com

b. Assisted tour building along with ability to demo different color, floor and wall schemes automatically on your pictures:  OBEO - www.obeo.com   Check these guys out, this software is just amazing!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the nice to have or "highly recommended to have" features of a point and shoot and your basic photo kit,  but these are definitely things you would absolutely want to have if you're an agent looking for a camera! 

I hope this post was helpful in getting you started on taking better photos, and selecting the right equipment.  I'm aware that some of you out there are incredible photographers, and have a lot of great pro photo tips of your own to share!  I hope you do share them here, and certainly look forward to interacting with you.  Please let me know what you think of the Webinar as well - NAR worked really hard to get it together and it got a lot of great feedback as a very helpful and informative Webinar.  I hope you feel the same, and have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

 

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Rich Levin 11/22/2010 11:57 AM
  2. Carla Harbert 11/22/2010 12:15 PM
  3. Roy Kelley 11/22/2010 01:55 PM
Tags:
listing photos
listing picture
listing through a lens
wide angle cameras
how to take good pictures

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Ambassador
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Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Bookmarked for my weekend study time. . thanks! 

Nov 30, 2010 05:45 AM #21
Anonymous
Martin Dorgan

Great article with good information,  Too bad you didn't write this earlier or I didn't read it earlier, as I just purchased a Canon 50D.

Is the issue with the windows, the curtains not being matched?

Nov 30, 2010 10:00 AM #22
Ambassador
811,682
Russ Ravary
Keller Williams Commerce - Commerce, MI
Metro Detroit homes - Michigan Real estate & Mortg

Thanks for the great information but unfortunately I too just bought a new camera not too long ago.

Nov 30, 2010 10:56 AM #23
Ambassador
811,682
Russ Ravary
Keller Williams Commerce - Commerce, MI
Metro Detroit homes - Michigan Real estate & Mortg

Thanks for the great information but unfortunately I too just bought a new camera not too long ago.

Nov 30, 2010 10:56 AM #24
Rainmaker
91,716
Stephanie McCarty
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Snellville, GA
REALTOR, Snellville, Loganville, Grayson, Monroe

great article.   I like to take pictures of exterior with all window screens removed also.  

Nov 30, 2010 11:32 AM #25
Rainer
53,113
Eric Lee
Realty Executives - Phoenix, AZ
e-PRO, SFR - Phoenix, AZ

Mark - Thanks for posting her on Active Rain but I have to say that at least some of your information is misleading.

Resolution- megapixels for the most part don't matter. I suspect 99% of real estate photos will never be printed and instead only shown online. You say 12MP is a bare minimum and 5-7 MP images will show as 6" on a computer screen. That's hogwash - monitors themselves are only 1-1.5 MP. A 5-7MP image could display at 100% resolution over 4 typical monitors, not the 6" you state. Image presentation software and all websites actually have to reduce the size of the typical image to make it fit on your monitor. Megapixels are something that camera companies use to sell more cameras to consumers, not to make better images. As for cropping, I don't know that I've ever shot a real estate photo that needed such significant cropping that ultra-high resolution was necessary. Real estate needs wide angle lenses, not telephoto. Megapixels don't matter.

Lens - I agree that one needs 28mm minimum and frankly wider than that is much better but I have to disagree that 8x zoom is required. Real estate needs wide angle and high zoom has nothing to do with that. (THat said, most realtors are likely to use their camera for more than just real estate so there may be added benefit to getting greater zoom depending on the individual's needs.)

Panorama - this is a great feature but has severe limitations. Before I got a true wide angle lens I learned to shoot my real estate photos photostitching so I know the limitations of stitching. First, panorama shots are wide but they lack the corresponding increase in height so, for example, you can't see the 2nd story balcony in your example photo. I used to get around this by shooting 2 photos in portrait orientation and stitching those together to get a better aspect ratio but no camera does that in camera. Second, because of the tight nature of shooting real estate, it is very difficult to get lines to line up leading to odd disconnects in your photos where walls or furniture don't line up. Third, stitching causes gross barrel distortion that cannot be easily corrected even with advanced software. In your example photo, you can see how the far wall, which is straight, curves to the point where the wall looks like it has a 90* bend. Fourth, panos have weird aspect ratios that don't always display well on certain websites since some websites force all images into a certain aspect ratio, usually 4:3. That means your 12:3 pano gets squeezed and scrunched into a 4:3 box making it look like your image is being displayed in a fun-house mirror. On the websites that don't compress the image, your image still gets displayed in a 4:3 box which means it is displayed as a thin ribbon with empty space above and below the image. This makes the image so small that it loses detail. Real estate needs wide angle lenses, not panoramic stitching.

Nov 30, 2010 01:29 PM #26
Rainer
39,098
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Kieran - Thank you for commenting - glad you liked it

Fernando - Nice seeing you as always - enjoy!

Martin - Your Canon is a fine product, the important thing is that you take better pictures regardless of the camera you have, and I'm glad this post helped!  Yes, you are correct, it's the curtains that are the problem.

Stephanie - Thanks for sharing the tip on the screens - we didn't explicitly mention that but it's a good one!

Hi Eric - Thanks for your comments!  You know, I don't think we actually disagree very much, so let me clarify my comments, and thanks for the info you provided as well, I think it's very valid!

1)  I did not say that MegaPixels is image quality, I said in fact that it has to do with image size, not quality.  It's absolutely true that a camera with a great lens that shoots 5MP could render you a better picture than a 12MP camera with an inferior lens.  The lens provides most of the initial quality, and resolution is just size. Hence, my examples...

2) My comments on image size were EXAMPLES, not catch all statements.  I did not say that your 5 MP picture can ONLY display on an 8.5 X 11 piece of paper or a 6 inch photo,  I just gave EXAMPLES of why that "smaller" file would do just fine in the web environment, and frankly even most print environments.  You can print up to a 30 inch by 40 inch photo in great quality at 5 Megapixel in my experience.  Remember, the seminar was targeted at the average usage of most agents, and frankly most clients.  When you pull up a listing on MLS (at least in the several I've used), you don't get a full screen picture of the image,  the image displays on about 3-6 inches of the screen.  Similarly, most printed flyers don't have an 8X11 photo on them, the actual ink on the page is 3 or 4 inches in the photo.  My only point here is that the 5MP would be just fine for 99% of the situations.  So we don't disagree here, I think you just took my statement as an absolute with limits when it's merely an example.

3) 8X Zoom and 12MP minimum:  Here's where we diverged I think, and this is a subjective discussion so I'm not invalidating your point. I'm merely pointing out that in my opinion and the opinion of the pro photographers with me, the advantage of the higher MP cameras is that you can take a single shot, and if you know how to use Adobe Photoshop or similar software, you can pull out detailed closeups and blow them up to create additional images without distortion if you didn't take additional pictures (which is what we demonstrated in the images provided). 

If you listen to the webinar,  one of the points made over and over was "why do that anyway when you can just take good shots of what you want the first time out with no editing".  I think this is what you are saying, and I'd agree with you, you don't need the 12MP to take good photos, you can easily zoom in or walk closer to the subject and take your close up with no editing on a  lower megapixel camera, with just as good a result.  We included that 12MP for the following reasons:

   a.  High res is pretty much all that is available now, so get a higher resolution as an upside.

   b.  It will help reduce pixelization if you choose to crop and zoom in or blow up images rather than go take the additional photos of the stuff you want to highlight.  Some people just have time to go and take a few shots of the outside and each room.  If you're a on a time budget, then you can use editing software to do the cropping/blow up shots necessary to get more photos out of the few shots you took.

   c.  You are right when you added that having the zoom is also nice for recreational photography etc.

4)  I agree with your points on Panorama.  It should be used judiciously, and agents should always test the output in the MLS listing before they publish it for the reasons you stated,  and not necessarily use this in place of not being able to take good wide angle lens shots.  One of the points we made in the Webinar was in fact that if you could not get a good shot of the room itself or the room wasn't attractive,  then zoom in on a feature of the room that is really attractive  (like the fireplace), and just post that as it would be better and more impactful than a lousy picture of the whole room. 

One point I will make as a consumer is that I use Panorama shots recreationally, and most people use it in some fashion if they have a digital camera.  It's a cool effect, and one that people relate to, but I'm with you on the funky rendering issues some MLS may pose, and I'm not sure I'd want to view a listing that had tons of panorama photos.  I think one or two might be the maximum per listing if used at all.

Cheers!

Nov 30, 2010 05:48 PM #27
Rainer
39,098
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Russ - no worries,  please think of us the next time you are in the market or looking for a gift!

Thanks!

Nov 30, 2010 05:58 PM #28
Rainer
38,445
Rebecca Diamond
Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach Bryn Mawr - Bryn Mawr, PA
Main Line Homes for Sale

Thank you Mark, for your great content and your recent message to me re: wide angle cameras. I've bookmarked the webinar to review this weekend. I always get white dots of glare in my photos so I'm anxious to learn how to avoid them! As for the photo of the windows - one has curtains open, one has curtains drawn; they should be uniform. Also, the picture itself doesn't really "show" much; it'd be better to show a longer view of the home, in my opinion.  I look forward to more great content from you. Thanks again! 

Nov 30, 2010 07:38 PM #29
Rainmaker
713,607
Cindy Edwards
RE/MAX Checkmate - Johnson City, TN
CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677

Very good post and very good comments.  I did enjoy reading all points!

Nov 30, 2010 07:40 PM #30
Rainer
33,194
Kate Reilly Lund
RE/MAX Diamond, Realtors - Edison, NJ

Wow, very powerful posting. I love photography myself and I enjoy enhancing my ability. I'll take the time to watch the video.

Thanks for great information.

Kate Reilly Lund

Nov 30, 2010 08:48 PM #31
Rainer
6,599
Matt Johnson
Home87 - Bellevue, WA

Hi Mark, 

Great tips. Does Animoto actually allow you to Stitch pictures? Obeo cost money so I think another alternative people would appreciate is the software built by microsoft called Ice

Nov 30, 2010 09:15 PM #32
Anonymous
Anonymous

Mark this looks like a very good camera.  I have been reading lots of review and this is very helpful.. How do you think this camera does in rooms with little light?

Nov 30, 2010 10:29 PM #33
Anonymous
Anonymous

Om my Goodness - this is great information. Thank you. Most of it is over my ability - hey, I can point and click, but pushing all those buttons?? ... One of my New Year's resolutions this year is to become more photo-techie! So thanks, again!

Nov 30, 2010 11:04 PM #34
Rainmaker
161,150
Ryan Case
SCA Real Estate - Anaheim, CA
877-828-0710

Looks like a great camera, thanks for posting this informative blog !

Nov 30, 2010 11:15 PM #35
Rainmaker
558,671
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Lots of good info here Mark.  Since photos online are essentially the 1st showing a seller has, it's beyond critically important to get it right.

Nov 30, 2010 11:16 PM #36
Rainer
39,098
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Rebecca and Cindy - Thanks for the comments! 

Rebecca, the cameras Program mode can be adjusted to shoot better in lower light situations.  The Webinar does go into detail, let us know if it makes a difference or if we can help.  Feel free to post a picture too, maybe all of us reading can help you adjust what went wrong.

Kate - I'm glad you enjoyed it - happy shooting!

Hi Matt - Animoto does not stitch pictures currently, but ICE and other software can and then you can certainly upload it.  That's a great suggestion, I'll pass it onto them.

Low Light Question - The camera does have a larger aperture which helps, but the real way to shoot low light is to put it on a tripod, and increase the ISO Speed in manual program mode to 800 or 1600 ISO.  This would give you great results.  Most cameras today can give you great low light results as long as you can control the ISO speed.

"Over my ability"  -  Glad you found it helpful, and don't be intimidated.  I'm no pro, but I love to dive in and try stuff and that's how you get good.  Today's cameras are so advanced that you can do a lot anyway with just Photo 101.  Good luck!

SCA and Chris - Thank you, glad it helped!

Dec 01, 2010 03:57 PM #37
Ambassador
800,108
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise in NE Philadelphia & Bucks County

My camera is on the blink and i was looking at this camera .. What about the battery ???  thanks for all the great info

HelpfulHannah

Dec 02, 2010 10:49 AM #38
Rainer
39,098
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Hi Hannah,

The battery is rated at about 2 hours of continous use.  Real world,  I charge mine once every 2 or 3 weeks, because you almost never use a camera like that.  Regardless, you can actually get an extra battery because it's a removable rechargeable lithium ion.  When  you buy it at www.kodak.com/go/redeal, you can also get 20% off the extra battery and other accessories to.

Hope that helps and let me know if you have any further questions.

Dec 02, 2010 04:26 PM #39
Rainmaker
1,455,016
Rebecca Gaujot, the GO TO REALTOR
Coldwell Banker Stuart & Watts Real Estate - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV Real Estate, Greenbrier County

Great information and I am looking to buy a new camera.  When does the 20% off end?

Dec 02, 2010 06:36 PM #40
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