Best Affordable Lens For Real Estate Photography [Expert Guide]

The lens you utilize for real estate photography is one of the most crucial tools in your gearbox. This piece of equipment is what dictates how much of your field of view gets into the frame, how much light can enter the sensor, how precise you can capture your angles, and so much more.

Because it is such an important element in every photo shoot, you will understandably have to invest a little more than you’d like if you want quality build and exceptional performance. However, spending on a good lens does not mean having to break the bank, we simply mean to say do not go for the cheapest option or for brands that no one has ever heard of.

There are many affordable lenses in the market today that do a fantastic job, some of which can even compete with top-tier models. Below, we give you a detailed guide as to choosing the best affordable lens for real estate photography, and a few of our top picks!

What lens do realtors use?

Real estate photographers, home sellers, and seasoned real estate agents alike use lenses that capture the most of the property and in the best way possible. More often than not, this means investing in a wide-angle lens.

Wide-angle lenses are the industry standard when it comes to capturing the most detail within one shot, a factor that is most crucial when selling properties online. It is important to be able to provide enough information and display as much of the space as possible when publishing images of your property. By leaving nothing to the imagination, you offer your potential buyers a better opportunity to envision living within the spaces of the house and further convincing them to invest in you and your space.

In today’s digital age, you stand to lose your audience’s attention just as fast as you gained it. To ensure that you keep them on your listing, provide great looking images with sufficient data that bring your property to life. One of the best ways to achieve this is by utilizing a wide-angle lens.

What size lens is good for real estate photography?

There is an overwhelming amount of options on the market today, with many of them varying in sizes or focal lengths. Before investing in your own lens, you must first understand what a focal length is and how it impacts your images.

A focal length is what dictates just how much field of view gets included in your shot. For wide-angle lenses, focal lengths can vary anywhere from 8mm all the way up to 40mm.

Smaller numbered focal lengths like 8mm have a much wider angle of view. In fact, they are unrealistically wide that they end up distorting images. An example of this type of lens are fisheye lenses. Any focal length below 12mm is considered ultra wide and should not be utilized for professional photography unless you are purposefully going for that aesthetic (which you shouldn’t when it comes to real estate).

Bigger numbered focal lengths such as 12mm up to 40mm have a narrowed down field of view and do not distort the image.

However, focal lengths are also impacted by the type of camera body you have. By choosing full frame cameras, you get to maximize the lens’ size with little to no adjustment. However, if you have a cropped sensor camera, you will need to do a little math to get the right shot.

Here’s a quick guideline for that:

The Focal Length Multiplier

As mentioned, full-frame cameras are pretty straightforward and you can experiment with your focal lengths depending on the scene at hand.

When it comes to crop sensor or APS camera, you will be essentially working with a much smaller sensor size, and will end up zooming into your scene. To balance this out, you will need to multiply the given focal length by a focal length multiplier.

If you are using a Nikon or Sony, the focal length multiplier is 1.5, and if you are using a Canon, the focal length multiplier is 1.6.

To make things clearer, let’s try it out with an example. For instance you utilize a 12mm lens on a cropped sensor Nikon camera, simply multiply the given 12mm by the Nikon cropped sensor multiplier, which is 1.5.

12 x 1.5 = 18

The effective focal length on this specific pair is now 18mm.

The Focal Length Sweet Spot

The focal length multiplier may seem tedious but not only do you have to calculate every now and then, but it also means you have to be more strategic with how you invest in your arsenal.

To keep your choices narrowed down, many professional real estate photographers found that the sweet spot of focal lengths is between 16mm to 24mm, most especially if you will be shooting interiors. In fact, we suggest getting a zoom lens to cover this range and enjoy more flexibility during your photo shoot.

Do you need a wide-angle lens for real estate photography?

Wide-angle lens is by far the most recommended type of lens for real estate photography. Whether you are working with an APS camera or a full-frame camera, a wide-angle lens can help you capture the most of your listing, making it easier to display a spacious, breathable, and lively setting.

Of course this does not mean to say that it is against any industry rules to shoot with a standard lens, but if you want your images to pop, be more aesthetically pleasing, and look much more professional, wide-angle is the way to go.

As a supplementary lens, you can also invest in a tilt-shift model. These are specialized lenses that help reduce the amount of distortion when shooting properties with vertical lines. These are best used for exterior real estate photography and while it serves as a great extra tool, it is not a necessity.

How can I make my real estate pictures look more professional?

Real estate photos require three main things in order to look their best, namely:

  • The right set of quality equipment, which consists of a durable camera body, a wide-angle lens, a sturdy tripod, a flash, lighting equipment, and remote triggers for both the camera and flash.
  • A good editing software that caters to both fundamental adjustments and advanced tools.
  • Photography skills, motivation to learn more, and being able to think on your feet.

The following are some of the best practices that seasoned real estate photographers adhere by in order to get vivid, detailed, and professional shots:

Always Come Prepared

The two main things you need to prep before the actual shoot are:

  1. Your shot list consists of the standard photos you need to take plus any extra features you want to include that are specific to the listing. Having this on hand can help you focus more on shooting the scene than trying to recall what angles you need to get.

Some of the crucial shots to take for every listing are:

  • At least 2 shots of each main room or space in the house such as bedrooms, kitchen, living room, etc.
  • At least 1 shot of the bathroom.
  • At least 2 shots of the backyard.
  • At least 2 shots of the front of the house.
  • At least 1 shot for each of the features such as the gym, laundry room, garage, pantry, etc.
  1. Your gear is best prepared the day or night before the shoot so you greatly reduce the chances of forgetting something on the day. Be sure to also pack extra batteries, memory cards, and a charger!

Declutter The Space Or Use Virtual Staging

If you are shooting the listing on the spot, ensure that the space is cleaned out and there are no personal items left lying around. We also highly suggest keeping the furniture to only the essentials to ensure that the rooms look spacious, breathable, and free of distractions.

However, if your property is only semi furnished or not furnished at all, we suggest virtual staging instead. Virtual staging can save you time and money by turning empty or dull spaces to lively images in just a few clicks. What makes this method even more beneficial is that you have the power to showcase a single room in a variety of ways, which guarantees you can reach a much wider target market.

Compose Each Photo Mindfully

Before taking your final photos, be sure to study the space and all its potential angles. Each room has its own set of features to highlight, and its own reaction to the ambient light. Being able to maximize these and translate them well in a photograph and add a lot of value to your listing.

Moreover, capturing images from the corner of the room usually makes the area look more spacious. Just ensure that you rearrange the furniture in such a way that creates a breathable flow all throughout the frame.

Use Landscape Orientation

Listing in landscape orientation displays the images better because of its wide angle. The composition is more balanced, the lighting is well exposed, and it is overall, more aesthetically pleasing for those viewing the property digitally.

Apart from keeping your photos landscape, we also suggest angling your camera straight in order to reduce chances of skewing and distortion within your images.

Make photos interactive through current technologies

If you want your listing to stand out, don’t just stick with still images! Add in videos, virtual tours, drone photography, 3D images and the like.

These are much more engaging, attractive, and can help your potential buyers imagine themselves living within the property.

Plan Around the Weather & Natural Light

Lighting plays a major role in how good your real estate images turn out. While this is a factor that even the most professional of photographers has no control over, there are a few things you can do to ensure the situation still works in your favor, such as:

  • Stay up to date on the weather conditions around your property
  • Study how natural light hits the different parts of the house at varying times of the day
  • Invest in external lights to have better control over the shoot in case the weather suddenly gets dim and rainy.

Utilize Editing Presets

One of the most convenient things when it comes to quality editing software is having access to a library of presets that you can easily apply on your images. You may still have to tweak them a little bit afterwards but presets definitely offer a boost that saves you a lot of time in post production.

Moreover, if you are using Adobe Lightroom, you can take advantage of the bulk-editing feature wherein you can copy the adjustments you made on one image and paste them to the rest of the batch with similar lighting.

What should my camera settings be for real estate photography?

Your camera settings will have to be adjusted based on the lighting conditions on the day of your shoot. What remains constant however is that you should always shoot in RAW format to get high quality images, and use Aperture Priority to have better control over your exposure levels.

Below is a quick reference guide for camera settings that you can easily adjust on the spot when necessary.

For Interiors That Are Not Dark

  • Aperture – f/8
  • Exposure Mode – Aperture Priority
  • ISO – 400
  • Shutter Speed – Determined by Camera
  • Metering Mode – Matrix
  • Focus Mode – Single-Shot Autofocus

If your image is underexposed: Widen aperture to f/7

If your image is overexposed: Narrow down aperture to f/11 or reduce your ISO level.

For Interiors That Are Dark

  • Aperture – f/8
  • Exposure Mode – Aperture Priority
  • ISO – 400
  • Shutter Speed – Determined by Camera
  • Metering Mode – Spot
  • Focus Mode – Single-Shot Autofocus

The main difference here is the spot metering mode, which allows your camera to measure the amount of light within the environment and set the exposure based off of that.

For Exteriors Taken During The Day

  • Aperture – f/11
  • Exposure Mode – Aperture Priority
  • ISO – 100
  • Shutter Speed – Determined by Camera
  • Metering Mode – Matrix
  • Focus Mode – Single-Shot Autofocus

If your image is underexposed: Widen aperture to f/10 or f/9, or increase ISO around 200 – 400

If your image is overexposed: Narrow down aperture to f/13 or f/14

For Exteriors Taken During The Evening

  • Aperture – f/8
  • Exposure Mode – Aperture Priority
  • ISO – 200
  • Shutter Speed – Determined by Camera
  • Metering Mode – Matrix
  • Focus Mode – Single-Shot Autofocus

If your image is underexposed: Widen aperture to f/7 or f/6, or increase ISO around 400

Things to consider before buying lenses for real estate photography

There are 5 main factors to weigh out when purchasing a lens for real estate photography, namely:

Factor #1: Wide Angle Focal Length

The first factor to consider for your wide-angle lens is its focal length. We’ve already discussed this in detail above, but so long as you stick to the recommended 16mm to 24mm, you should be good to go in this section!

Factor #2: Aperture

You want to get a lens with a wide aperture in order to capture vibrant images no matter the lighting conditions of your photo shoot. The best lens is one that reaches at least f/4 through all of its available focal lengths.

Most affordable cameras have variable aperture, which will adjust each time you change the focal length. However, if you have enough resources, we suggest investing in a lens with constant aperture regardless of the focal length used to ensure you enjoy high quality results each time.

Factor #3: Crop Factor (Crop Sensor vs Full Frame Sensor)

We have also already mapped out the differences between a crop sensor camera and a full frame sensor camera. Either body type is perfectly fine so long as you get the appropriate set of lenses to utilize it.

However, if you have the choice, a full frame camera is more convenient and may produce better quality images overall.

Factor #4: Zoom or Prime Lens

The main difference between the two types of lenses is:

  • Prime lenses have one fixed focal length, which makes it the more affordable option 
  • Zoom lenses offer a full range of focal lengths, which makes it the more versatile option

Either type is fine to use, what matters most is whether or not you plan to shoot a lot from a distance. If so, you may want to invest in a lens with better zoom capabilities. It is overall more convenient and practical because of the range of projects you can utilize it for.

Factor #5: Chromatic Aberration and Distortion

Lastly, take into account the chromatic aberration and distortion that your lens may have. Options manufactured with lower quality tend to have more visible flaws; however, many DSLR cameras have a built-in feature that could easily remedy this.

Just ensure that the amount of distortion your lens offers does not result in unrealistic property listings or loss of data within your image.

Here are our top 3 picks for the best affordable lenses for real estate photography

Best For Sony: Sony FE 28mm f/2

This is a fast and compact wide-angle lens that is compatible with full-frame E-mount Sony cameras.


  • Impressive image quality
  • Linear autofocus motor for accurate, quick, and silent autofocus
  • Ultra quick wide aperture
  • Dust- and water resistant structure
  • Add-on conversion lenses available
  • 3 aspherical elements, including 2 extra low dispersion elements



  • Risk of noticeable distortion and vignettes
  • Close focus is limited
  • Soft edges when using wide apertures
  • Lacks optical stabilization

Best for Nikon: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

This is an exceptional lens that packs a lot of advantages even when sized up to its pricier counterparts.


  • Sharp photo rendering
  • Smooth and silent autofocusing
  • Free of lens chromatic aberrations
  • Features aspherical elements
  • Perfect focal length
  • Color Corrections
  • 2.4x zoom ratio
  • Ultra-wide field of view


  • Edges of the frame lose a little detail
  • Noticeable distortion in 10mm focal length

Best For Canon: Canon EF–S 10–18mm f/4.5 – 5.6 IS STM

This is best for crop sensor cameras and compatible with all of Canon’s EOS range.


  • Impressively sharp
  • Advanced autofocus
  • Ultra wide angle field of view
  • Image stabilization
  • STM focus motor


  • The lens mount is made of plastic
  • Limited zoom capabilities
  • Barrel distortion at 10mm
  • Traces of color fringing
  • No lens hood included

You’re All Set!

Knowing the ins and outs of choosing the best affordable lens for real estate photography can really help you kick start your business the right way!