Wide-Angle Lenses For Real Estate Photography: How Wide is Wide?

December 31st, 2007

I’ve talked to several Real Estate Photographers recently in the process of purchasing new DSLRs and noticed that there is a misunderstanding about what lenses are appropriate for real estate photography on the new DSLRs.

First of all there are two types of DSLRs:

  1. Full frame DSLRs that have digital sensors the same, or nearly the same size as a 35mm frame of film. Examples of full frame DSLRs are Canon 1Ds, 1Ds-MkI, MkII or MkIII, Canon 5D and Nikon D3.
  2. APS DSLRs that have sensors smaller than a 35mm film frame. Examples of APS or small sensor DSLRs are- D300, D200, D40, D80, D70, D50, 40D, 400D/Xti, 30D, 20D etc.

What does this have to do with wide-angle lenses? Everything! When you mount a lens, say for example a 18-55mm, on a full frame DSLR, it’s a 18-55mm lens just like you expect. But when you mount the 18-55mm lens on a APS DSLR the lens doesn’t act like a 18-55mm it acts like a 28.8-88mm lens! This is because the smaller sensor size of APS cameras have the effect of multiplying the focal length by a focal length multiplier (1.5 for Nikon and 1.6 for Canon). The term used to refer to the the focal length after the multiplier is 35mm effective focal length.

This focal length multiplier is a big deal for real estate photographers because this means the standard kit lens that comes on most DSLRs (18-55mm) isn’t optimal for real estate work. You may be able to squeak by in big rooms but as soon as things get tight you’re in trouble because you won’t be able get the shot because your back is against the wall.

Real estate photographers find the effective focal lengths between 16mm and 24mm to be the “sweet spot” for shooting interiors. It’s best to have a zoom that covers this whole range between 16 and 24 but at a minimum you need to work at 24mm or below. This is why the Sigma 10-20mm lens (available for both Nikon and Canon) is so popular with real estate photographers, because with a 1.6 multiplier it allows you to work between 16 and 32mm effective focal length and it’s an inexpensive alternative. For full frame DSLRs the Canon 17-40mm, Canon 16-35mm and Nikon 17-35mm lenses are popular choices for interiors.

What are the wide-angle alternatives for APS DSLRs? I’m only going to cover Canon and Nikon because I recommend that you stick with these two manufacturers. It will make your life easier and give you more flexibility and alternatives in the long run because 3rd party vendors provide accessories for these two brands.

Notice that I put the Canon 14mm fixed lens on the Canon list. This lens is legendary for it’s lack of barrel distortion. It is pricey but as high a quality as you’ll find. Zoom lenses all have varying degrees of barrel distortion that can be removed in Photoshop or other photo-editing software.

The bottom line here is that you need to pay careful attention to which lens you choose for real estate work. It maybe the most important equipment decision you make for real estate photography. It’s way more important than which camera body you choose.

124 Responses to “Wide-Angle Lenses For Real Estate Photography: How Wide is Wide?”

  • I think the sweet spot varies around the country and by price range. I’m shooting using 28mm and still getting occassional complaint that I’m “faking that the room is larger than it is”.

    Still a great post though, I’d hate to misspend the money on the wrong gear.

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  • Athol,
    Wow, that’s interesting! I’ve gotten complaints at 16mm, which is understandable, but complaints at 28mm is surprising.

    I think you are right what looks strange is dependent on what you are use to seeing. Until you see a few sub-24mm shots they can look exaggerated. I had one client call my 16mm shots “cartoon like”.

  • It’s a minor thing, but the focal length multiplier for Canon is actually 1.6 and Nikon is 1.5.

    Nice article for people looking for wide angle solutions.

  • Brad,
    Oops, you are right, I got it backwards. I’ll fix that. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Great post, Larry!

    I’d also add that Tokina is supposed to be releasing an 11-16mm f2.8 lens sometime in 2008. (Japanese press release is at http://www.tokina.co.jp/news/4961607atx116news.html ) Given Tokina’s good reputation w/their 12-24mm lens, I suspect this new lens will become a favorite amoung RE photographers when it finally comes to North America…

  • Just a quick note, it appears that you have the same link for the Nikon 12-24 as the Nikon 14-24. Not a big deal, thanks for the information.

  • rd3,
    Thanks. It’s fixed now.

  • I’m an Olympus guy… always have been… How bout making those recommendations include Olympus! :-)

  • Myles,
    For the Olympus 500 DSLR the wide-angle lens you want for re photography is the Zoiko 7-14mm which gives you a 35mm equivalent focal length of 14-28mm. See the following for more details: http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/OlympusE714mm/

  • I have used a 14mm on my Canon Rebel XT for some time, and have had good feedback. Sellers and buyers seem to both appreciate that you can see more of what a room has to offer than with a narrower lens.

  • I use the Canon 10-22mm with my XTi.

    It is truly amazing how much of a room can be captured with the lens, and the distortion or barreling is minimal. Great shots of a master suite’s bathroom were never easier.

    The lens costs as much as the body of the camera, but it’s worth it. Now, I just need to master the art of lighting and finding a flash (the pros call them “strobes” I think) that can cover the tremendous angles captured by this lens.

  • Personally love the sigma 10-20mm for wide angle shots – but I can see why clients may think the 10mm end is a little ‘too’ wide.

    Still, I love it for allsorts of shots, not just the real estate ones.

    Thanks
    Chris

  • Chris – I use the Sigma 10-20mm as well and try to avoid the 10mm end. FWIW, I’ll try to compose and shoot at 12mm or higher, which reduces the “bowling-alley” effect from this lens when it’s wide-open.

    Dave – You make a good point about the lens being as important (if not more so) than the body. I’m a Nikon guy but have heard great things about this lens!

  • I shoot with the Canon 10-22mm, also. I traded in the Tokina 12-24 for it. The Tokina had quite a bit of noticeable barrel distortion and bowing on the left side when it was wide open, and I was tired of fixing it in every image. When I was shopping, I did some comparison shots with the Sigma, Tokina and Canon lenses. The Canon was the clear winner, and I like that I have the extra 2mm when I need it…for instance when all of the corners in a room are stuffed full of junk, or furniture. I rarely have to fix distortion with the Canon, and I like that it has a little cooler color than the Tokina. My White Balance was always too warm with the Tokina. If you are shopping and can afford the Canon 10-22mm, it is an excellent choice. BTW, I think that Canon is offering Instant Rebates on it this month. I bought mine for $799, but I saw it on B&H for around $659…They also have a rebate on the Canon 580EX II Speedlight, it’s $359.

  • Nice writeup, but I HIGHLY recommend that people avoid Ken Rockwell’s advice. Sometimes his advice is correct, but only because the advice that will make him the most money happened to also be good advice. Usually he’s just wrong. The real clue is that he doesn’t earn a living with photography. He even quit his dayjob because he makes enough from advertising on his ridiculous site.

    Stick to http://www.bythom.com for Nikon, and http://www.robgalbraith.com and http://www.fredmiranda.com for better (though still sometimes biased) advice for all makes.

  • Ken is funnier and almost everything he writes is OK. I learned a lot on his website, I’m glad he could live with it. At least he recognize earning something with.

  • Great post! Our company, Video Openhouse (http://www.vopenhouse.ca) provides photography services to Realtors in Vancouver, Canada. We have been regularly using a Nikon D50 with a Sigma 10-20mm lens. Despite the occasional complaint that the rooms are smaller than they appear in person, our clients have been tremendously happy with their photos!

  • It’s the first time I’ve been on this site, and I’ve found the articles & comments to be quite interesting. I would like to get into the Real Estate Photography field & was wondering if you had any suggestions, tips, advice as to how I would go about this? I have a Pentax 35mm but have been wanting to sell it for a better camera. What so you think about the Pentax cameras? I would be doing this in New York (upstate) & Honolulu, Hawaii. Adivce?? Any books, dvd’s, etc to learn on. Much appreciated.

  • Marlene,
    Tell me which specific Pentax you have and I can help you with specifics. Send me e-mail at larry@lohrman.com

  • It’s my first time on this site too. I would also like to get into Realestate photography, I have a Nikon D80 with a 18-135mm lense and a tripod, is that sufficient. i will look into the elevated side of things once I progress, or should I have that before I start. Also I do not have a remote flashgun, do I need one?

    Are most RE photographers qualified or can you just be a good at what you do?

    I have a company wanting to use me for their clients holiday rentals but as I have never done this in a professional capacity before am a little worried that I won’t be operating under a business name. That is something for the future, so will it look unprofessional at this tage?

    So many questions, I will be truly grateful for anyone’s advice.

  • [...] estate photography than the typical 18-55m kit lenses that come bundled with low end DSLRs. See my Wide angle lens post for advice on what lenses are suitable for real estate [...]

  • I use the Sigma 10-20mm on my Canon XTI with a Canon 430EX Strobe and a Gary Fong Diffuser. Love the setup. I remove all of the Barrel Distortion and what not with DXO Optics Pro 4.5. This software makes every single image POP and if you compose your shot correctly it will make most all horz. and vert. edges straight. I use this same lens for my panoramic photos on a Kaidian Spherical tripod head.

  • Hi there, really desperate for some good advice from a professional.
    I can’t decide upon the 10-22mm canon or the 14mm L canon for property shoots on a 40D. I’m not sure if the 14mm (will become 23mm) will be wide enough, but I really would like that quality and sharpness. Will 23mm be sufficient? Is the 10mm-22mm a better choice? Would be most grateful for a reply.

  • I just want to report that the second iteration (Mark II) of the 16-35 from canon (Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM) is excellent! Very sharp even wide open. I was an original Canon 16-35 lens user and was disappointed by it’s performance. For Full Frame cameras the New 16-35 Canon Lens is the perfect choice.

  • I’ve been a Pentax user for years now. I still have a lot to learn about real estate photography, but I have had a lot of very happy clients. The Pentax K10D (which I have) is also an APS frame camera, and so is the Pentax K20D (which I have ordered recently). I currently use the 18-55mm Pentax DA lens and I have been very happy with it, but I do find that I’m restricted with some smaller rooms, so I tend to not bother with those rooms.

    With my order for the K20D I also ordered a Sigma 10-20mm lens among other items (totalling AU$ 3950). I will likely only use it at 12mm or thereabouts as I am aware of the distortion.

    In saying all of that, I occasionally use a Canon 350D with an 18-55mm lens, I’m not sure if it’s a full frame or APS camera, but I always find that I achieve a wider angle with the Pentax than I do with the Canon.

    I also recently had a client use a professional take her photos (I don’t classify myself as a professional, I just take photos for the office I work in), he used what seems to be a fish-eye lens. I still cannot understand why, as it made the rooms and outside areas seem weirdly proportioned. I have since retaken all the photos and the client is now very happy with the end result.

    Hope that helps some of those looking for Pentax information.

    I’d be happy to share more, contact me david.ucyurek@gmail.com

  • Got some great advice from here not long ago and am sold on getting the Canon 10-22 lens. Was trying to find a Canon 40d to match lens and missed out on a couple of buys on Ebay. Will the 10-22 lens work with Canon 450d and what would I lose by downgrading from 40d. To be used purely for Real Estate only.

  • Michael- Yes the Canon 10-22mm lens will work fine on any Canon DSLR, except the fullframe DSLRs like the 5D or 1Ds series because the 10-22 is made specifically for the smaller APS-C size sensors in the lower-end DSLRs.

    The Canon 450D (also called Digital Rebel XSi some places) is a perfectly good alternative body for real estate shooting.

  • The canon 14mm 2.8 L is a champ on the 1ds mkii. Slight distortion on the edges that should be cropped. Great sharpness and a huge improvement in chromatic aberration over any zoom I’ve used (the tamron 11-18 on a crop body was brutal for distortion and CA) which is critical for the inevitable strong back-lighting in socal interiors. The canon 24mm 1.4 L is also great for crisp exteriors without a lot of space to work with and interior detail shots.

  • The Sigma 12-24mm is another alternative at the cheaper end of things. Its actually compatible with APS and full-frame (though you wouldn’t want to use at 12mm on full-frame for real estate!!).

  • Larry,

    I will be attending your workshop in Chicago. I am looking at buying a new lens since I don’t have any that fit the bill for this type of work. I shoot with a Nikon D3. For real estate photography which lens would you recommend for my camera?

    Since there have been a few new lenses introduced since your article was written would you be a fan of the new Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 over the 17-35 f/2.8? Is there any one particular prime lens that you prefer or is zoom the way to go.

    I have gotten a lot of good ideas from the other posts here. I just want to put the question out there one last time before I add to my collection.

    Thanks!

  • Hi !

    I’m new to this website as well as cameras.

    I want to equip myself with good gear to shoot mostly real estate.

    What would be the best choice, money wise, at this time ?

    I’ve checked the combo Nikon D300 with a 14-24 Nikkor, would that be okay ?

  • I am a realtor that takes my own real estate pictures. I have a Fujifilm S 5200 and it’s not getting the job done in bathrooms and other tight spaces. I want to invest in a wide angle lens something preferably under $500 any suggestions?
    I just attended a class that recommended taking all of my shots in 2m so I won’t have to resize to put the pictures online. What do you think about that?

  • Eve,
    Here is a wide-angle converter for the S5200:

    http://www.amazon.com/Opteka-Angle-S5500-S5200-S5100/dp/B000BY9CFE

    Most high quality converters cost much more than this (usually around $150) so it’s quality is probably not good! But for this price it would hurt to try it.

    On photo sizing, when uploading to most MLSs the upload severely changes the photos so what you upload usually doesn’t matter. I resize all my photos to 800x600x72 before uploading to the MLS and they turn out ok. Problem is that most MLSs vary quite a bit. Having bad, small photos on the MLS is the main reason for a virtual tours or slideshow… you get to show higher quality photos to people.

  • Our MLS has some catching up to do. Even shooting at 18mm (28mm after crop factor), our MLS makes the thumbnails of photos look tall, skinny, and out of proportion. It’s not till you click on the thumbnail that you get the photo in its native format. This has caused some of my clients to complain about my wide angle shots when I am not even going as wide as I would like to. I am trying to encourage the MLS to fix this as more and more agents are getting DSLRs with the 18-55 kit lens.

  • I tend to find that with the Sigma 10-20mm, 14 mm is about right for interiors its just a shame its not f2.8. I thinking about a D700 with the 14-24 lens, my only worry is its size and the potential for damage. It would be great to hear from anyone using this combo.
    I would like to know the difference between the latter and the 17-35mm f2.8 which I think is a more useful zoom range

  • I’m a real estate agent who takes photos of my wife’s listings using a Nikon D70, Nikkor 12-24mm (35mm equivalent 18-36mm) and SB-800 Speedlight. Love the combo! Specs say 99° angle of coverage at full-wide. Use Photoshop CS2 with PTLens to correct barrel/pincushion distortion. Panorama Factory for easy 1-button stitching. 3:2 (640×426) D70 format allows two slightly-cropped portrait images (12/18mm full-wide) of bathrooms to be shown side-by-side in one 4:3 (640×480 or 400×300) MLS photo. Please view listing photos in virtual tours at http://www.ruthmather.com/homesava.htm. Each virtual tour begins with the comment ‘Our wide-angle lens makes rooms
    appear wider than they are.’

  • I would agree with Steve about the camera and lens. The D700 is a lot of camera to use just for real estate photos. A cheaper one like a D40 and a Tokina 11-16 would be great but it would not focus. An excellent camera is the D90 withe the Tokina and you would be in business for a more reasonable cost. Be sure to buy and SB800 and SB600 to have plenty of light in rooms. I use the SB800 on camera as the commander and an SB600 on a stand with umbrella to give lots of light. Check out the Strobist blog for lots of information on lighting. Here are some samples of my work.

    http://albums.phanfare.com/7552734/3645854#imageID=64281039

    Good luck.

  • The best thing about a wide angle lens is that you can shoot wider than your final crop, so that you can re-align the vertical and horizontal lines. So remember to allow room for what will be removed from the final picture when initially framing in the viewfinder, and shoot diagonals as much as possible in the framing. A lot of my shots are with Canon’s EF-S 10-22mm (16mm at the widest in 35mm terms); though I’ve experimented with stitching two vertical shots together with “normal lenses”, and I’ve had friends use the 15mm Canon fisheye, “undistorted” with DxOptics. That works great as long as you are dead center on what you’re framing (‘true in all cases, actually). Lastly, some of us are drooling over the 17mm Tilt-Shift lens that Canon just put out. Anyone use it yet ??? Cheers !

  • Hello I need some help. I need to know what lens to purchase for real estate photography. I have a Nikon D40 with just the standard lens18-55mm. I just got in the field and need to get the proper equipment to make it work. Please give me some advice. I have read the previous comments and gain a lot of insight but I need to make the right choices.

  • I shoot with Nikon D90 and the Nikkor 12-24 f4 lens.
    I found that once you correct the lens distortion and straighten out the lines the photo is no longer ‘cavernous’ which is good in some cases because it looks more real and you wont get any “where’s the rest of it” comments from people that see the actual property. but sometimes in super tight situations like cramped bathrooms that have walk through between 2 different bedrooms the photo becomes a bit of a challenge to take. and Ideas ?

  • Hi Larry – I am about to get my first wide-angle lense (Tokina 11-16) and am wondering if you or your readers have any experience with filters for super wide angle lenses? Specifically, polarizers to prevent washed out skies etc & UV filters for physical protection. I don’t have any experience with ND filters, are they worth thinking about too? I cant find any comments on the blog or in your eBooks on the advantages/disadvantages for real estate shooting using filters (other than the high 77mm filter costs). Any insights from some real estate pro-shooters?
    Thank you!

  • @Andrew- Great point! I did a post on polarizers over two years ago. See: http://photographyforrealestate.net/2007/05/08/dont-forget-about-polarizers-when-its-sunny/

    I should do an updated post on this subject. Yes polarizers are fantastic for many outdoor exterior shots and occasionally they are useful inside for glare off hardwood or other reflections. I’d say a polarizer is essential.

    I thought I talked about it in my PFRE e-book, but you are right, I can’t find it. Some times what’s in the book and what’s on the book gets all blurred together in my head

    Whether or not you need to use ND filters depends on your photoshop/lightroom skills. I never use ND filters because I always do those adjustments in post in LR or PS. Although, many photographers would rather do the same thing in-camera. It kind of depends on your philosophy on post processing.

    Thanks for raising this point!

  • Hi there from Australia !! I have just discovered this site & seem to be spending way too much time on it :)…Anyway..I have been a semi-professional photographer for some years – mainly portraits & weddings etc & are thankfull for the many happy & satisfied clients over the years..but I must admit to be a little jaded about the whole happy smiley face thing now it seems ! I really enjoy the slower pace & creativity of landscape/architectural photography of which has kept my sanity (mostly) after the chaos that is wedding photography, & just recently have started taking notice of the real estate industry’s need for photography.

    I have seen premium type properties photographed horribly, just technically so far off the mark – you know the ones, single on camera flash with WB set to daylight (cold room brrrr) but have also seen others which are a fine piece of photography & must surely make a difference in the presentation for sale.

    I live in a relatively small place but have been experimenting madly for the last few weeks with lenses & multiflash setups..I currently use a Nikon D300 with my widest lens being the Nikkor 12-24mm f2.8.. 3 Nikon speedlights (SB900, SB800, SB600) & various brollies, softboxes etc…I now realise the gear I have been accumulating has indeed been for real estate photography all along ! The Nikon CLS is problematic at times (as was written above) So what are my other options to wirelessly fire these speedlights ?

    I would seriously like to get into this market & will soon be taking over some of my friends houses to get a small portfolio together. Any other suggestions as to how I might approach real estate agents to make them want me to photograph their properties for sale would be greatly appreciated.
    Also, is there a standard approach to pricing, ie. hourly rates or fixed price packages etc ? How are the final images normally presented to the clients ?

    Thankyou in advance
    Steve

  • I am relatively new to Real Estate photography but I am loving the challenges and the results! I am using a sigma 10-20 lens and I am able to fix the verticals in Photoshop CS4…but not all of them. When I concentrate on fixing the verticals on one wall in a room it seems to make other objects in the room have off-kilter verticals. Any suggestions?

  • Hi Laura- Have you watched Scott Hargis’s video tutorial on straighting verticals?
    See: http://photographyforrealestate.net/2009/10/11/scott-hargis-nobody-will-take-you-seriously-if-your-verticals-are-converging/

    Basically as Scott shows you have to straighten both sides of the image because the vertical convergence is on both sides of the images. Scott’s video is worth the 8 min to watch. I think it will answer your questions.

  • Thanks for the tips…helpful links, super reviews, short and sweet run down on what works, why. Money has been invested so happy users help others in the market for new real estate cameras well versed on mistakes to miss making. Video is a whole other animal and just bought a new Sony HD that is incredible. Green screen is the next puchase for that part of the real estate video marketing. Thanks again to everyone.

  • Hey there! I have been shooting real estate in Montana for several months. I shoot with a Canon XSi and had to use the kit 18-55 for awhile…obviously didn’t produce the results. I am fortunate that my clients were happy with the work, but I knew that i needed to do something. I didn’t have the $$ to go out and invest in the Sigma, Canon, or Tokina wide-angles, so I tried a different route. I purchased a .45 wide angle converter. I was VERY leary until I got it…WOW! It turned out to be a great alternative for the time being, and I spent less than $16 delivered after purchasing it on Ebay. It’s the real deal: made of metal – not plastic, the images edit beautifully, and it allows me to use the 18-55. With the 1.6 adjustment, I can go all the way back to 12.96mm (although you get the black corners if you do this). The verticals correct nicely in CS4, as well.

    Just thought I’d throw that out there for those of you trying to make an economical improvement.

  • Bill – What make/model? I’m always afraid of buying something that won’t end up being compatible, but it sounds like what you bought would work.

  • I bought a .50 converter for my 18-70 minolta lens. I find that by the time you crop out the vignette and the soft edges, that you are
    back to the 18 mm that you started with, but with a degraded image due to the added glass.

  • Gerry raises a good point! When you use a wide angle converter you typically take a big hit in quality.

  • I am using a Lumix (Panasonic) GF1 that comes with a 14-45 lense. I take pictures mostly of apartments – what wide angle do you suggest? I am thinking the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14 mm lens (not cheap!) – would it better to get a fish eye or wide angle?

  • @Joan- The crop factor of the Lumix GF1 is 2x so your 14-45 mm lens is effectively a 28-90mm focal length… not ideal for interiors. My rule of thumb is that the ideal focal length (35mm effective) for interiors is between 14 and 24mm. So yes, you are right, a 7 to 14mm (14 to 28mm effective) would be more appropriate for shooting real estate. Note, the 7-14mm lens is not a fisheye, it’s rectilinear.

  • I am a Real Estate agent who shoots my wife’s listings. Larry gave me some good advice some time ago. I had been using Sony’s with Raynox fisheyes but spent so much time in post production trying to straighten curves. Last year picked Canon D40 and Canon 10-22mm lens as way to go. Chose Canon for lens as I liked the reviews best. I shoot wide as I can go and the camera is so easy to use. (Love that little sucker) I use Adobe lightshop for post production as I only have on camera speedlight at present (although am looking in to multiple triggers for external flash.) I still keep Sony and Raynox fisheye for 360 shots. With fish eye only need 3 shots at 120 degrees set by camera on tripod. Even though I have used Open2View for an elevated shoot (and while there a regular shoot) I like to control the photography and to be able to go back and retake certain images. Sometimes the pro’s make the home look very artificial. I have just purchased 3dVista’s full screen 360 virtual tour software also Fresh Flash Catalog to turn photographic brochures into online e-mags. In this area of Australia where 80% of homes use professional photography, 360 virtual tours are being replaced by Video tours. Although it will never replace basic photography, will photography for Real Estate be including help for this technology.

    Love my Canon
    Mike
    Queensland, Australia

  • Hi Larry, what lens do you recommend for wide angle real estate photography to suit a Canon 50D, thanks in advance,
    Kind Regards,
    Jess

  • @Jess, I still highly recommend the Sigma 10-20mm for the 50D:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007U00X0?ie=UTF8&tag=phoforreaest-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0007U00X0

    It has excellent quality for the price. Consequently, it’s one of the most popular lenses used by real estate photographers.

    For more options see my real estate photography lens table at:

    http://photographyforrealestate.net/lenses/

  • Larry, please tell me what wide angle lens will be ideal to work with a Nikon D-70 for interior shots ? among the many type of lenses available other than the Nikon ( which is good but also expensive ) obviously I would not go with a converter, I would like some type of lenses that will do the work with the D-70 between budget, any sugestions ? Thank you in advance for your answer.

  • @Abe- I recommend the Sigma 10-20mm for your D70. It is good quality for great price. This lens is one of the most popular lenses for real estate photographers using bodies like the D70 with cropped frame sensors. It is effectively a 15mm effective lens at the widest.

  • Hello all,

    I am a photographer, but new to the Real Estate Photography market.

    Just recently I made a photo of a design loft:

    http://www.hermandesmet.be/test.jpg

    I was wondering: can such an image be used for real estate photography, since there is a lot of deformation because of the wide angle lens I used? Is there a sort of unwritten rule that says that it is not done to use fish eye-kind of images for real estate?

    Kind regards,
    Herman

  • @Herman, While you’ll occasionally see these kind of images used real estate photography it is generally not aesthetically acceptable to have images where straight lines are rendered as curves just as it is not aesthetically pleasing to have verticals in interiors images converging. The only reason you see these kind of images at all in real estate is there are all to many real estate agents that are aesthetically unsophisticated.

  • I tested the Sigma 10-20, briefly. I think it should only be sold bundled with DxO or some other profiled distortion correction software. Between 13-20mm it’s well-controlled, but below 12mm, it turns into a semi-fisheye. That doesn’t seem to disturb other photogs, and I wonder why. Maybe it’s their first ultrawide, and they believe “they all do that.” But I’ve used better UWAs (much better, like the Vogtlander Heliar 15mm), so I know that “ain’t necessarily so.”

    I returned my Sigma promptly and went back to the Tamron 11-18. With that lens, I frame room walls near the edges and use them as levels. They turn out straight, every time. The 11-18 can produce some barrel distortion at close range, in the center third of the frame, but that’s a rarer situation. I for one, am not willing to pay $500 for a lens and have to correct its inherent flaws with every picture I take.

  • Hi All, I have a Nikon D200 old but much loved! what do you recommend as a wide angle please as I am getting confused !!!
    Also what flash unit do you think as the one you rave about isn’t available, what is the next best thing?
    cheers.

  • I have a Nikon d3000. I’m trying to find a good wide angle lens to use when shooting interior photos. Any suggestions?

  • Seems that a lens like the Sigma 10-20mm may be overkill for interiors. Something like the Tokina 11-16mm or 12-24mm is probably more of a true practical sweet spot.

    MDV

  • I have been shooting real estate photography for a few years. Last year I did a significant review of lenses and came away with a different take that many of the photographers listed above. I use an EOS30d Canon camera. For the lenses I have both the 17-55mm f/2.8 Canon lens and the 10-22mm Canon lens. I have found that I rarely use the 10-22mm lens on anything other than small bathrooms and yards that I want to look bigger. The distance between the foreground and the background is greatly exaggerated. On occasion I have frustrated my clients with this. Now the San Francisco Bay Area doesn’t have the extensive number of large houses that you see many other places in the country where I may be more compelled to get a wider shot but I don’t think my clients would appreciate the short comings of this lens on a consistent basis. With that being said, the 10-22mm lens is a remarkable lens when used properly.

  • Thats a great point about the 10-22 lense. I use the Nikon 12-24 on a D300 and find that I could use the extra 2mm quite often. I’m not sure if the side effects of going the wide would be worth it though.

  • Great post, Larry. Very helpful. I have a Sony A55 and A350 (with 18-70mm kit lens). What lens would you recommend for these cameras? Thanks in advance.

  • I have found this article about what equipment to buy for real estate photography. I have a Nikon D300 and I’m considering buying the Sigma 10 – 20. If anyone thinks I should look at something else then please post. I have the website online http://www.housephotos.info/ and plan to have some of my portfolio uploaded soon.

  • Hi everyone, I have a Canon XSi (with the “crop factor”) and I constantly come across small bedrooms. Right now I’m using the basic kit lens (18-55). I end up with what looks like a picture of a corner, especially when there is no furniture in the room and nothing for scale showing how big these “corners” really are.

    What I am looking for is a lens that will allow me to take a wide enough angle with minimal distortion and preferably at a lowish price (aren’t we all?). I don’t want to do any photoshopping to these photos and am ready to accept some distortion.

    Thanks in advance for any input.
    God bless!

  • Katie,
    I use a nikon 12-24 lens and that works very well for me. With any wide angle you are going to have a noticeable distortion. I use a program called PTlens, which I believe costs about $15 to correct for the distortion and only adds a few seconds to my processing time. I think this is a critical step in the process for any professional. It’s certainly the first thing I notice when I see pictures with curved cabinets and walls, definitely not the impression you want to leave.

  • Hello,
    I was so happy to find you site. I am new to photograhpy and have been taking classes. Also reading what ever I can get my hands on. Realestate photograhy is much bigger then I thought. I am very interested in starting a business doing this. I own a Nikon D40. How do I go about jumping into this. What is the best lens. What is the best approach to find the clients. Someone told to to charge $50 to shoot. That just seems way to low to me. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • Having used the sigma 10-20 for well over years i am ready to change to the Tokina 11-16 which from my research has little chromatic problems and virtually no barrel distortion…tired of fixing warped walls. The reviews have it as the best wide angle as well as the sharpest.

  • @Steve- The Tokina 11-16mm may well be better chromatically and be sharper but I’m skeptical about it not having barrel distortion. All wide angle zooms have barrel distortion even the lenses like the Canon 16-35mm and Nikon 14-24mm that both cost several times what the Tokina 11-16 costs. I have a Canon 16-35mm and it has barrel distortion. The only ultra wide lenses that don’t have barrel distortion are ultra-wide primes like the Canon 14mm.

    Besides, taking out barrel distortion is much less time consuming these days than it use to be do to Lightroom 3 and DxO that will quickly take out barrel distortion from a whole folder of shots all at once.

  • Hi there… the problems with very wide angle lenses are dependent on the final user really. Many real estate agents (in the UK we call them just estate agents) probably like the fact that a very wide angle ‘gets the whole room in’ and are not so worried about the actual ‘look’ of the image. However, if you work for the magazines (which I do), many of them really hate the wide angle look… the image can appear to be ‘zooming away’ and sloping at mad angles… 28 mm (on a full frame sensor) seems to be the maximum we can get away with… I have been asked to rehoot images that were shot with my 24mm shift… one has to be careful! cheers, Mark

  • Larry,
    Can you recommend a wide angle lens for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2?
    Thanks!

  • @Krysten- Here is a list of all the “wide angle” lenses available for the GH2:
    http://lenshero.com/lenses/panasonic-dmc-gh2-wide-angle-lens
    Note because the GH2 has a crop factor of 2.0 (it has a sensor half as large as a full frame camera), only #1 and #2 are wide enough for real estate where you need an effective focal length between 14mm & 24mm.

  • Hi Larry,

    I run http://www.photoplan.co.uk in the UK and we use the 10-20m sigma everyday as well but have also been working with the Tamron 10-24mm which I find produces slightly better images. Great Post keep up the hard work I will be back to read up on new developments.

    All the best…

  • Love this site, lot of useful information, thank you
    I need to rethink myself and ask this of you, Is there money to be made in real estate photography, not a fortune but some good extra $$$ to be made.
    Thank You

    Matt

  • I have a Nikon D70s, SB600 flash, 18-70mm and a 55-200 vr lens

  • I love the Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 lens for Nikon. I promised myself when I bought Nikon I would only use their lenses. After all I bought the camera body for the glass… Someone told me that the Tokina was glass and metal and had great optics comparable to the Nikon 12-24 mm f/2.8 at over twice the price. I have found it, Tokina, works great for interiors. I use it with a D-90 and I also have a D300.

  • Larry, I have been selling real estate for 16 years. I was voted “Most Creative” in my graduating class in HS, and have a good artistic eye. I take great “regular” pics with my (don’t laugh) Kodak M1033, but can no longer compete with these exaggerated photos my peers are using. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Right? What would you recommend as the most affordable and basic solution to my situation? I am a do-it-your-selfer, so hiring it out is not an option. The market isn’t so great, so keeping it affordable is a must. Thanks! Rod

  • I’m just getting started in real estate photography and already own the Tokina 12-24mm. In the past I’ve shot a lot of landscapes and abstract work and love this Tokina lens. I get very little distortion from it wide open, but I do get some small shadows in the corners.

    In any regard, I shot my first home last night and found that the 12-24 wasn’t wide enough for bathrooms, the entry way and the laundry room. I was thinking I’d need to go into something wider, but I’m very cautious of distortion and really don’t want to. I guess I’ll make due with the Tokina 12-24 for now. Thanks for the article.

  • Hi Larry, I shoot with a Canon 10D, the oldest EOS. I want to shoot some photos of our yacht, very small space, to publish on a charter site. I also want to take some shots of our real estate to advertise. Any suggestions on which wide angle lens I should buy? I really don’t want to spend a ton on Canon brand name, so any suggestions would help.

    Thanks in advance, Michelle

  • I am thinking about switching to a Canon 5D Mkii and I was wondering if the 16-35mm or the 17-40mm would be wide enough. I am currently using a Nikon D80 with 12-24mm.

  • I currently use the Canon EF-S 10-22 for almost all my interior and exterior shots, but end up having to correcting verticals in lightroom. I just can’t always have the camera level and get the shot I want. I was thinking about getting the EF 17mm T/S. Does anyone have any experience with it? I’m currently using a 7D but will probably get a 5D mk III when it becomes available.

  • Dustin, either lens will be wide enough since the 5D is a full frame. 16mm on the 5D is equal to 10mm on a crop body. If you always use a tripod you may as well save the money and get the 17-40.

  • I’m a bit tight $ wise can I get a way with a 18-35mm 3.5 on a d90 and d700?

  • I work with a Nikon D700 (full frame) and Nikon 14-24mm lens and this lens is amazing. I don’t think real estate photographers should worry about the odd person who complains that you have made the room look larger than it is. Your job is to make the vendor’s house look amazing and you need the best equipment possible to do this. The Nikon lens mentioned has very little distortion and is very sharp. The D700 is a beautiful camera for twilight photography. Get down low when taking the photo to avoid sloping and don’s get too close to a bed or table and you wont have any problems.

  • I am relatively new to real estate photography. I shoot with a 50D and a 8-15mm fisheye for it, and correct the curves in post production. I am looking at the Sigma 10-20, as the fisheye lens gives me too much distortion when i use it below 15mm, and i am after that little bit more room to be able to do some wider shots.

    I will be upgrading to full frame soon, but i will obviously need to keep my 50D for interiors as the 10-20 is specifically for crop sensors.

    Would experienced real estate photogs suggest i make do with my 8-15 fisheye instead of spending on a 10-20? I’ve read a few comments here that have said using the 10-20 at its widest is too wide. I don’t want to purchase a lens and find it being similar to my 8-15mm.

  • I have a Nikon D90 that I plan on using for my real estate photography. If money is no option, what lens would you recommend as the best one to use?

  • I have used the Sigma 10-20 for years and it’s perfect for the job. I have a rule when shooting rooms–only show 2 walls. While there will always be critics, I belive the job is to help the agent get the most exposure, most showings. The purpose of a tour is not to rule out a house, but to be inviting enough to see it in person.

  • At wits end: Nikon…

    I have pulled all of my hair out looking at wide lenses. I am upgrading to FX. BOTTOM LINE… Will the “Holy Grail” Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 be wide enough for 90%+ of the shots??? I have all of the upper focal lengths covered. I am only worried about less than 24mm. Remember, this will go on a FX, so I will get the full 14mm. Thanks!

  • @Mark- Yes on a Fullframe body the 14-24mm is ideal for interiors. You can’t do any better. around 20mm to 24mm effective focal length is the sweet spot for interiors and the 14-24mm is probably the highest quality lens on the planet.

  • My question is more about flash luminance. I would like to know what flash is appropriate for a canon d40 using a 11-18mm Tamron lens? I shoot a lot of architecture and real estate but am finding that my images are only partially illuminated and dark. It makes me not want to shoot with a flash at all and only use available light. But that is too time consuming. Any ideas on what type of flash I could purchase that is best suitable for that lens and interior photography?

  • @Tracy- a single flash will only be good for lighting small rooms… typically you’ll need multiple flashes to light medium or large rooms.

  • Thank you Larry. I think certain on camera flashes are capable of evenly shooting enough fill light with available light in any size room. I just don’t think many flashes sensor under 20mm. I guess I need a powerful enough flash that I can bounce off of a card to eliminate direct center point luminance. When I used to shoot film, I used a powerful strobe system and bounced off of walls, but with digital it doesn’t seem to produce the same affects. I’ll work it out. Just another thing to problem solve. Thanks for your input though.

  • Hello Larry, I understand most photographers carry their DSLRs all over the place but I dont have that luxury. I am a real estate agent and must carry something small enough to fit in my pocket so clients dont think they are with a wedding photographer instead of a real estate professional. For that reason I need the widest possible lens that can help me take room and bathroom pictures but that comes standard in a compact camera. Which would the best one be?

  • @Ian- I was a realtor in the Seattle area and worked with my wife who was a top listing agent on Seattle’s Eastside since the mid-1980s. I never found carrying a DSLR to be a negative. In fact, the reverse was true. Our listing clients sought us out and hired us to sell their home because because we were serious about great marketing photos and the difference between what other Realtors were doing and what we did was noticeable.

    The reason everyone that is serious about shooting great marketing photos uses a DSLR is that it’s the only way you can use a quality wide-angle lens. All these little gadgets that screw on pocket cameras and cell phones create crappy results.

  • Hey all! Quick question… I’m getting into shooting Real Estate and am purchasing a new lens. I’m having trouble figuring out which would be better for my needs. I’m stuck between the PC-E 24mm from Nikon and the 14-24mm. I’m using a D800, so I would use the full frame. I want the PC-E for vertical corrections and shifts in the filed, but I’m drawn to the 14-24 for the range f/stop and sharpness. Any advice? Thanks!

  • @Josh- If it was me and I had to choose one between the PC-E24 and 14-24mm I’d go with the 14-24mm just because it’s a zoom and if you are shooting real estate there will be some situations where you will wish you had 16mm or 20mm. I hear the PCE 24mm is a great lens and for many years I got by with a fixed 24mm and 24mm is where you should shoot most of the time, but those few times you want to go wider a zoom would really be nice. You really need both;)

  • Thanks, Larry! That’s pretty much what I was thinking. My only real concern was whether or not the Perspective Control was worth losing the zoom feature. I know correcting perspective in Lightroom and/or Photoshop is pretty easy, but I thought the PC-E would save time and provide a more realistic visual of the composition in the field. And yes, BOTH would be nice. ;)

  • Hi! It’s my first time on this site…very thankful that I came across it! I’m a realtor in Manitoba Canada – I have a Canon t3i and need a wide angle lens. From the info and comments above – I will buy a canon 10-22mm. I’m not sure though what to do about low lighting in the homes and when the light from the windows makes the pic dark? I don’t understand the language but can you give me some suggestions…pretty please? Is there an external flash for dummies out there? I am not a “photographer” would just like some decent pics of my listings. I don’t know what speedlight is or how to use umbrellas etc. as per some of the comments. I also don’t know where the recommended list for flashes are on this site. Another question, I have seen lenses (.45 x wide angle for 58mm canon) what is that? Is that actually a wide angle lens. They’re on ebay for like $30 the descriptions indicates it’s for wide angle pics? I’ve come a long way from my Canon Snap and Shoot lol…will look into a phography class for realestate when I slow down in winter! I appreciate anything you can tell me :) Regards, Tammy

  • I’m a big fan of the Sigma 10-20mm lens for RE interiors and exteriors. I don’t usually use the low end (10mm) unless I’m in a really tight space, but 12mm seems to be my sweet spot. I’ve found optimal sharpness to be at f/8, but this makes things a little challenging when working with interiors (flash is a must!).

  • I use a Nikon D3x with the 14-24mm lens. I bring a tripod with me and never find the need for flash.

  • @John- I’d tend you to believe you more if I saw a bunch of knockout interior shots in your portfolio but there are none so I’m skeptical.

  • i dabbled in Real Estate shooting with a Canon 40D and the Sigma 10-20. I recently moved over to an MFT kit with an OMD-EM5 and a Panny 7-14mm (14-28 equivalent on full frame)

    i find the shots quite good, and with the better sensor and built in IBIS of the OMD body, the shots are much cleaner and sharper than with the 40D kit. on my website the first page of photos is show with the OMD, the rest are with the Canon.

  • I’m just starting in Real Estate photography. Has anyone used the Tokina 16-28? I have a Nikon D600 and am looking at the Nikkor 17-35 f2.8, 16-35 f4, or the Tokina 16-28 f2.8. The Nikkor 14-24 is out of reach at the moment. The Tokina sweet spot is 20mm. Any opinions on these three lenses?

    Thanks

  • Hi guys,

    I recently replaced my Canon 17-40 with a new 16-35 II, and im not impressed at all, im actually disappointed!
    I shoot mostly on apperture 8.0 and i often find the edges very smudgy compared to the 17-40, is it just me, or does anybody else experience the same?

    Best, Chris

  • Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG Mk II

    Hi, Does anyone used the new Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG Mk II for Canon as as I understand it will fit both the FF and the crop cameras.
    Only down side as far as I can see is the F4.5-5.5 but on a tripod not to much of a drawback I would assume.
    Thanks
    Russ

  • Chris

    I shoot with the 16-35 II as a full time real estate tog and honestly its clarity is outstanding. You dont say if you purchased new maybe it could do with some calibration

    Mike

  • canon 10-22mm all the way with a canon 60D, cant be beaten and better equipment not needed in my opinion for R.E.

  • What would you recommend for a good exterior shot lens for canon cropped sensor ?
    Thanks!

  • @ Chris D.

    I also use the 16-35 on my 7d and find the sweet spot outside is f11.
    for interiors, i’m good at f6.3-8.0, f11 on a tripod.
    iso 400 – mostly ambient light with one off camera speedlight.

    http://www.motorsportspassion.com/RealEstate

    all of these homes were shot as mentioned with the exception of “Babylon” – here i used a tokina 11-16 II for the first time keeping same iso and f-stop.. While i like the extra width of the lens, I ‘m not overly impressed with image quality.

    i will get my hands on a full frame body to use with my 16-35 on the next interiors shoot. I absolutely love that lens and find i use it for almost everything standing still that is non-portrait.

    I am still learning. :-) My next challenge is getting comfortable with using two lights.

  • @ Joe

    16-35 on the 7d is my favorite.

  • I shoot with a tamron 14mm on a mk2 almost exclusively. I find that I can shoot in the tightest rooms. I will be upgrading soon to the canon 14mm

  • Still using Canon 50D and made the mistake of buying the 18-135mm per Ken Rockwell’s recommendation… (grin) the CA is horrendous…
    Until I can budget a full-frame, what wide-angle lens(es) are recommended for the smaller sensor? From what I’ve read, the Canon 10-22 & 14mm are best but can I get away w/ Sigma, Tokina or Tamron and still capture good quality images w/o the annoying CA? Thanks in advance for the help/suggestions!

  • @Robin- You’re right, the Canon 10-22mm is the best, the Sigma 10-20mm is probably the second choice. For a full and specific summary see my lens table (http://photographyforrealestate.net/lenses/).

  • Thank you, Larry, appreciate the link!

  • Larry, you may have already made this distinction, if not I think it’s worth pointing out, when talking about the difference between crop sensor and full frame focal length it’s not the focal length that is important. The important fact is “Field of view” or “angle of view”, Nikons 14-24mm lens on a crop body has the same effective field of view as roughly 20-35mm on a full frame body. Thus for a crop body camera, the Sigma 10-20 has an full frame effective field of view as roughly 15-30mm (the magical sweet spot in full frame).

  • Great discussion. Our MLS resquires photos be in a 4 x 3 ratio and they say photos should be 640 x 480. Does this mean a wide angle like the Canon 10-22 will be useless?

  • Wow. This thread has been going for quite some time, but I can see why. Great post. I’m newer to real estate photography, and have been struggling with what to use when doing interiors. Some of the most useful info I’ve found thus far. Going to take a look at a few 14-24 lenses.

  • I have canon d7 with standard lens 28-128 I think anyways I want to do interior wide range shots of houses since I sell real estate what do you recommend to shoot wide range?

  • @Alma, What do you mean D7? No such thing! D70, D7000, D700? a 28-128 is not a wide-angle lens for any of these. It’s close if you have a D700 but if you want to shoot interiors with a D70, D7000, D7100 you need a Sigma 10-20mm, if you have there are more choices… like Tokina 16-28.
    For complete choices see my lens table here.