What is The Best Lens For Real Estate Photography

May 6th, 2008

Canon10-22I get asked this question all the time and there are an amazing number of Google searches this site catches with these question as the search term.

Of coarse there is no simple answer. The answer depends on your budget and what kind of DSLR body you have.  I’ve built a list of DSLRs and a list of wide-angle lenses. In keeping with my theory that your wide-angle glass is the most important piece of equipment a real estate photographer owns I’ve started to build a wide-angle lens table first.

Each lens has a link to check the price and I’d like to give the lens a rating link in the center column but I have to find way to give all the lenses in the list a rating. This may be a mixture of lens rating sites… haven’t decided yet. My goal is to bring together all the information one needs to know to make an intelligent decision on which wide-angle lens to buy.

The poll that I have on the lens page indicates that the most popular lens with PFRE blog readers is the Canon 10-22mm.

11 Responses to “What is The Best Lens For Real Estate Photography”

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  • Great list Larry. I’m pretty sure the Nikon 17-55 is NOT a full frame lens though.

  • What about Canon 24mm f/3.5L tilt shift, anybody has experience with it?

  • Peluso- Yes, indeed the Canon 24mm TS is an awesome lens and works well for real estate photography (as long as you are using it on a full frame body). I have it on my lens page: http://photographyforrealestate.net/lenses/
    I didn’t talk about it in this post because it is more expensive than most real estate photographers are going to purchase. It is tack sharp and 24 mm is wide enough for most

    If there is any downside of this lens it is there will be some situations where you want to go wider than 24mm.

  • Thank you Larry, but what happen if I do not use a full frame body?

  • I use a Tokina 11-16 on my DX Nikon and I find that I am at 11 quite often and sometimes wish I could go just a touch past 11. I think the new nikon 10-24 would be a little better, but, you lose a little low light performance – I haven’t needed the Tokina @ 2.8 as much as I would like to have the extra mm down at 10 on the new(ish) Nikon lens. Mostly tripod shooting in a home any way -plus the Tokina won’t autofocus on the D40/60/5000 models.

  • Have seen some 10mm wide photos and whoa (grabbing hold of room doorway to steady self) cartoon proportions. Makes it get noticed but you feel like Alice with one of mother’s little helper pills the Stones sing about.

  • personally im a big fan of the canon 10-22mm wide lense for my 60D. cant go wrong for real estate, you dont need better equipment than that for real estate in my opinion.

  • I use the Tokina 11-16mm with my D7000 and find the 11-16mm range to work great for the majority of my shots. And I can see about 9.63% of real estate photographers agree…

  • The best lens for real estate is the one that helps you create the image you envision. In other words, there isn’t one lens that’s going to do everything.

    A UFWA (UltraFrickenWideAngle) lens is going to be expected in any interiors photographers kit and the exact focal length is going to depend on whether you are using a full frame or cropped sensor camera. A 10-20mm lens is going to be in the range of UFWA on a crop camera and not likely to be able to be used on a full frame camera. A 16-35mm lens will be the UFWA choice for full frame bodies. I would suggest that they get used sparingly since the images do come out Cartoonish as Andrew pointed out above and take more work in post production. There can also be some strange distortions of foreground objects that can’t be fixed in software with any degree of believability. If you want to make an image that gives the impression that a 50sqft room is 200sqft, the UFWA is the lens to use. The downside is that buyers are going to be disappointed if they come to view the property and the agent is going to take some heat for misleading pictures.

    A wide angle lens (17-40mm range on a crop sensor, 24-70mm on a FF body) is my workhorse for most of the listings I shoot. It’s wide enough for useful compositions and a good compromise on geometric weirdness. Telephoto lenses can be handy for some images, especially detail photos and for distance compression on “view” shots through a window. The last lens in a basic kit is a fast prime for capturing details with a shallow depth of field. I use a 50mm F1.4 and love the results.

    Buying fast lenses for real estate photography is a waste of money except for where you will want to use the lens for shallow DoF images. It’s always best to shoot from a tripod and the subject should be motionless. Most homes don’t normally move very fast, so a longer exposure is not a problem. Since you are going to be trying to get all of a room sharp, you’ll be shooting at f8 on up for most of your photos anyway.

    The quality of your lenses will be a big factor. You get what you pay for and the best lenses retain a large portion of their original price for a long time if they are well maintained. You may change out bodies every couple of years to take advantage of new features, but a good lens will last a decade or more. Spending more on lenses and saving a little on bodies yields the best results if you are trying to stay on a budget.