Must-Have Gear for Real Estate Photography [Expert Guide]
When starting your very own real estate photography business, you would have course want to invest in only the best real estate photography gear. Having a great set of gear with you not only helps make your job faster and smoother to accomplish, but it can also make a great impact on your output.
Imagine only having to focus on your skill and creativity because you have total trust in the equipment you are using? We’re here to tell you that is totally possible, and you do not have to break the bank for it either!
Check out an expert guide featuring our list of top 5 must-have gears for real estate photographers below:
The Right Camera Body For Real Estate Photography
Real estate photography does not require too many functions from the camera body, it is really more in the lens you choose and the shooting technique you possess. Picking a mid-range camera body with a good set of fundamental features should suffice.
The three main factors that go into choosing a camera body for real estate photos are:
- A camera that shoots well in low ISO
- A camera with good bracketing features
- A camera with a flash hotshoe
Even basic or beginner cameras can have these features, so if you are a little tight on budget, there is not much need to invest big right away.
However, if you do have the extra wiggle room, higher end professional cameras usually have the better resolution options, a greater dynamic range, and more functions. What is most important is to consider the types of photography you will be doing most of and prioritize your camera’s features to cater to those.
Keep in mind that whichever camera body you opt to invest in, you are committing to that brand’s entire system of tools and equipment. Each of the well-known brands have their own advantages and disadvantage that center on their specs, compatible lenses, compatible accessories, and customer support.
Cropped Sensor Cameras vs Full Frame Cameras For Real Estate Photography
One of the main considerations with modern cameras is if you should get a full frame camera or a cropped sensor. Generally speaking, full frame cameras have much more to offer and work in a variety of photography genres compared to cropped sensor, but they do cost more.
Both types of cameras have their of pros and cons, and deciding which one is best for you boils down to the scenes you will most likely be shooting and your personal preferences.
Full frame cameras offer more megapixels and therefore higher resolution photographs. Whole real estate photography does not necessarily need the highest pixel count since your photos will most likely be posted online, you still want a considerable amount to work with.
These cameras also have more focal length flexibility since there is no cropping involved, giving you wide-angled photos that capture all the details you need in one frame. Lastly, full frame cameras work well in low-light conditions, which is perfect if you intend to shoot dim interiors or at night.
The advantage that cropped sensor cameras have is that it is more affordable, while still doing a decent job capturing images. Though limited in focal length capabilities, the quality of photos you can capture using a cropped sensor can still be excellent if you pair it with the right lens.
Lenses for Real Estate Photography
If you were to have only one set of lens within your real estate photography equipment, then it has to be a wide-angle zoom lens. Ask any professional real estate photographer and they would advise that wide-angle lens is almost always the perfect tool to use for both interior and exterior real estate photography because of the adequate coverage it offers. Getting one with zoom capabilities just makes it more versatile.
With real estate, you do not want to leave much to the imagination of the potential buyer. You are here to impress and to showcase, not to tease and be mysterious. In order to show off the beautifully staged room, you will need glass that is wide enough to capture the details and offer little to no distortion.
A good wide-angle lens would be somewhere in the range of 16–35mm or 14–30mm. There is also little to no need to splurge on cameras with f/1.2 or f/2.8 apertures since you will want most of your image to be in focus anyway.
What About A Secondary Lens?
A good lens to consider if you have more budget for a second one is a tilt-shift lens. A tilt-shift lens has optics that can be manipulated in relation to the image sensor. They rotate and allow the lens to be positioned in different angles and directions.
This means that you can make your vertical lines look straight when in reality, they would otherwise look distorted on camera. Some exterior shots make the subject look like it is leaning upwards (or downwards) when you angle your camera – a tilt-shift lens can fix that easily.
Of course, there are photo editing tools that you can use in post production to fix that, so it is not an immediate need – but if you can get it in the shot right away, why wouldn’t you?
The Right Tripod For Real Estate Photography
A durable and sturdy tripod is one of the most important tools you can invest on for your real estate photography. It has the ability to help you achieve sharp, clean, and perfectly lit images no matter the lighting condition.
While it may be tempting to opt for a tripod that is lightweight and portable for your travel necessities, we recommend getting more solid ones on the heavier side. Flimsy tripods will most likely not hold the fort in the long run, and if you have been investing a lot of time, energy, and money on your camera body and lens, you might as well get a reliable support system for it. After all, a good tripod can last you decades if not your entire photography career itself.
Solid and sturdy tripods will require less adjustment; keeping your frames perfectly aligned no matter how many shots you need of the same angle. This will save you time and energy when editing, and also when you need to create an HDR image.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, heavy-duty tripods do not always equal a hefty price tag. You can find high-quality affordable ones for as low as $100 – $200! We recommend looking into the following:
- Manfrotto 190X series
- Manfrotto 055X series
- Slik 500DX
- Silk 700DX
Silk also has their Lite series for those who travel a lot but still want a quality tripod. These go for about $200 – $300, but only weigh about 2lbs!
Which Tripod Head Is Best For Real Estate Photos?
More often than not, tripods come in pairs: legs and head. However, in the world of professional photography, it is not too uncommon to also buy them separately.
While we have already covered what your tripod legs should be – durable, sturdy, heavy-duty, can withstand weight of your equipment, and the like – we have yet to discuss what the most ideal tripod head is in the industry.
There are numerous kinds of tripod heads on the market, but they all fall under three main categories. Each type of tripod head has their own advantage over the other and choosing one best for your needs depends on the type of scenes you will most likely be shooting.
A. Pan-tilt head: The pan-tilt head option is a fluid head and is built to support both vertical and horizontal manipulation. You can find this on almost all tripods within the affordable range.
B. Ball head: The ball head option is a flexible head and is known to be much smoother compared to the pan-tilt alternative. The ball head features a control mechanism that allows you to tighten or loosen the grip as you please; giving you a good angled shot each time.
C. Gimbal head: The gimbal head is more ideal for long tripods and heavy cameras. This kind can be positioned in almost any direction with little to not tightening or loosening needed.
Wireless Flash for Real Estate Photography
If you have never tried working with an external flash before, it could seem a little daunting. However, with just a little practice and a lot of experimenting, you can soon find yourself loving the results working with a wireless flash can bring to your real estate images!
We recommend bouncing the light off a ceiling or wall, or you may directly illuminate the subject while using a diffuser. These techniques help prevent harsh light and shadows from forming in your image, and giving a more smooth transition on the objects and/ or spaces you want to light up.
If you are looking for recommendations in varying price ranges, here are our top picks:
Beginners or Limited Budget: Good options for those who want something affordable and very simple to use are Yongnuo 560III, or 560IV hotshoe flashes, to be paired with a Tongnuo 560TX radio transmitter / controller.
This is an all-manual flash system that allows you to wireless control the brightness and makes for an easy set up.
Amateur or Medium Budget: Flashes from the Godox AD-series make for a great mid-range tool, such as the AD200, AD400, or AD600. They all offer much more flash power in just one flash.
Professional or High-End Budget: Profoto is a well-known brand that is regarded to be one of the best in business. They are very reliable and extremely durable, with much more power than any other hotshoe flash on the market. They do come with a price, but it is well worth the investment known how much you get from it and how long it is built to last for.
Other Lighting Equipment You Will Need:
Other types of equipment you will need to pair with your chosen flash are:
A light stand. Either a heavy-duty or lightweight option will work well since it will not be carrying too much weight, unlike the tripod.
Light stands are much better alternatives to just setting your wireless flashes down when shooting flambient images. If you are able to find inexpensive ones that you are happy with, we suggest getting two!
A shoot-through umbrella. This would come in handy when needing soft and diffused light in your scene.
When Do You Need To Use Wireless Flash In Real Estate Photography?
Using wireless flash can be very beneficial in times of need, but it will add a little more time and effort for both your shooting and post-production periods. So it may not be the most ideal set-up for when you only have a few minutes to shoot multiple photos with a rapid turnaround deadline at hand.
However, there will be a few situations wherein you can’t shake it. Some of the most crucial times to use wireless flash are:
- When there is a dark patch or area of the otherwise well lit room.
- When there is too many shadows, or the shadows are too contrasting.
- When you are photographing hallways and other narrow areas.
You Will Need a Simple Remote Shutter Release
Getting your image as crisp and well lit as possible also relies heavily on how well your camera stays in place. Apart from the tripod doing most of the heavy lifting, a simple remote shutter release plays a big role in this process as well.
By allowing yourself the possibility of taking images without having to manually press down on the button on your camera, you greatly reduce risk of shakes and blurs occurring. Many modern cameras even support mobile apps for this exact purpose so you will not have to purchase it.
While You Are At It, Get A Wireless Image Review Tool
Using a tripod and wireless flash while shooting can sometimes mean having to talk around the space to get the lighting just right. To prevent having to walk back and forth just to capture one final image, invest in a wireless camera control tool, or if your camera has a built-in wireless feature, try pairing it with certain camera control apps through your phone.
These allow you to review photos and even make a few adjustments such as exposure levels from afar. This is also very helpful during situations wherein the room may be too small and you have to back your camera up all the way to the last inch of the corner.
A Secure and Convenient Way To Carry It All Around
Real estate photography will require you having to go to and from a lot of places, so best believe you need an easy way to pack your gear, keep it secured, and bring it to the next spot.
We recommend getting a heavy-duty, hardbound case for your expensive tools. You never know what kind of travel situation and weather conditions you will find yourself in for the next project, and it is much better to be safe than sorry.
For your lighting accessories, a lightweight carrying bag will suffice, but we recommend getting one that is waterproof or at least easy to wipe liquid off of.