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Update On Compact Camera’s For Real Estate Photography

December 12th, 2008

My friend Sabrina Huang who is a Realtor in the San Jose, CA area and teaches real estate photography classes to Realtors convinced me last summer that I needed to maintain a list of compact, point-and-shoot cameras that are suitable for real estate photography. Sabrina’s prodding led me to do this post last July on compact cameras and adding a list of compact cameras to my camera list.

There have been several developments on the compact camera front recently that I want to pass on to those thinking about a compact camera for real estate shooting:

  • The Canon G10 was announced: Despite generally positive reviews of the G10 and the fact that it’s lens is significantly wider than the G9, it’s 28mm lens is not wide enough for real estate work. Further, it is not clear whether or not there is or will be a quality wide-angle adapter for the G10 that will get it to 24mm or wider. If anyone has hands on experience with a good quality wide-angle converter for the G10 please let me know. The big downside of using any kind of wide-angle converter is it degrades the image and adds more to the cost.
  • Reviews of the Panasonic LX3 are extremely positive: This appears to be a pretty amazing little camera with a f2.0, 24mm Leica lens! Michael Reichmann has an excellent review of the LX3. The only strangeness  about the LX3 is that Panasonic has not yet released the RAW file specs, meaning you can’t work with Raw images in Lightroom, Aperture or Photoshop yet. You must use Panasonic’s RAW processor. Many seem optimistic that Panasonic will eventually release the RAW specs. Apparently all this has something to do with the fact that Panasonic has decided to fix barrel distortion in the camera or in the RAW processing. Update on 12/15/2008: Adobe Lightroom was updated today for the Panasonic DMC-LX3 so Panasonic apparently released the specs to Adobe sometime ago.
  • Michael (at the very bottom of the LX3 review) claims that the LX3 is in fact a Leica D-Lux 4 with Panasonic branding. You just pay another $400 if you want this same camera with Leica name. For this reason I’ve taken the D-Lux 4 out of my  recommended real estate camera list.

I’ve had questions about purchasing accessories like a tripod and external flashes for use with a compact camera that can be used when you move up to a DSLR. Here are my suggestions:

  • Tripods: A good tripod can easily cost as much as a compact camera. If you plan to use a tripod for a long time just get the sturdiest one you can afford. Eventually you’ll want a ball head but that’s not essential to get started.
  • External flashes: Built-in flashes are not very useful for lighting interiors since they don’t have much power. However, they can be used to optically trigger other flashes. If you’ve ever been to a Scott Hargis and Thomas Grubba lighting workshop you will appreciate the simplicity of working with flashes that have a built-in optical triggers. Examples are SB-80, SB-26, SB-800 or Sigma EF-530. The beauty of these flashes that have built-in optical triggering is their simplicity. No extra triggering equipment, or extra batteries, they just trigger when they see a flash of light. Even though, some compacts like the LX3 have hot-shoes I think it makes more sense to keep flashes external and trigger them optically with the light from the built-in flash. Note that this same optically triggered approach works nicely if you upgrade to a DSLR.

In summary, if I were purchasing a compact camera right now that I wanted to use for real estate photography it would be the Panasonic LX3. Even if you don’t intend to use it for real estate photography these little high-end compact cameras that have manual operation, create beautiful RAW still images and even shoot HD video are great to have in your pocket all the time. I’ve gotten so I can’t live without my G9.

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14 Responses to “Update On Compact Camera’s For Real Estate Photography”

  • can you show us what the images look like? with barrel distortion and cleaned up, processed with their program?
    Peter

  • Peter, Yes, there are some LX3 images in the Michael Reichmann review I cite and there is more images on the dpreview.com site at:

    http://www.dpreview.com/gallery/panasoniclx3_samples/

    The dpreview examples have some shots that have buildings so you can look for barrel distortion… I don’t see any. Taking out the barrel distortion in the camera is controversial to some that think this is something that should be done in post processing.

  • G’day mate!

    I’m pretty set on getting this camera but now you’ve thrown another curve ball .. I didn’t realize that the RAW files were not supported by Lightroom .. how will this affect workflow?

  • G’day Richard- If you just shoot JPEG this whole issue goes away because the internal camera processor will do what is done by external RAW processing software. If you use JPEG files from the LX3 you’ll still be able to use Lightroom to make adjustments… Lightroom will work on JPEG files.

    As I referred to earlier many industry watchers believe Panasonic will eventually cave in an release their RAW file specs to Adobe and others. If so, Lightroom, Aperture and Photoshop will be able to process the RAW files, in the mean time using JPEGs from the LX3 is the easiest solution.

    If you want to dig into this LX3 camera RAW controversy you can see:
    http://www.seriouscompacts.com/2008/10/is-panasonic-hindering-third-party-lx3.html

    Or google the phrase “Panasonic LX3 RAW”.

  • We recently bought a Panasonic Lumix FX-35 for testing purposes. I took it out on a shoot and made all the same shots as I did with the Nikon D-80 and 12-24mm Nikkor. Of course, there is a noticable difference in the width of the shot, and the little tiny onboard flash can’t come close to the SB800 Speedlight with the Nikon. But, for the typical agent, we believe this camera is a fairly decent option.

    You can find the FX35 new for $349 or less. It’s shirt pocket sized, 10.1 megapixel, with a 25mm lens (unusually wide for this type of camera). It is also capable of recording 720p Hi Def Video If you find one significantly cheaper than that, be concious of what your getting with it.

    To see comparison shots between the Nikon D-80 Digital SLR and the Panasonic Lumix FX35, click this link: http://buildatour.com/Home/Forum/tabid/123/aff/1/aft/4/afv/topic/Default.aspx

    For Overview, Tech Specs, Accessories, and reviews, click this link: http://www2.panasonic.com/consumer-electronics/shop/Cameras-Camcorders/Digital-Cameras/Lumix-Digital-Cameras/model.DMC-FX35S.O_11002_7000000000000005702#tabsection

  • I love my Ricoh GX-100, but the Lumix LX3 is really tempting. I wasn’t at first, because I thought it was lacking a wide angle converter.

    But it isn’t the case : Panasonic makes a .75 converter, for the equivalent of a 18mm lens, great!
    http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/compact/lx3/optional_accessories.html

    And there is also a really cute 2*AA flash, with a bounce head 🙂
    http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/popup/pressrelease/dmw_fl220.html

    Mmmh. Panasonic is gaining points.

  • Hi Marc- Long time, no hear. Thanks for the links.

  • […] Source and Read More: photographyforrealestate.net […]

  • Yay! Thanks for the update. I also saw this just now on http://luminous-landscape.com/whatsnew/#322 that there is a new version of lightroom which adds raw support for this camera. I’ve just installed it & it opens the .rw2 file just fine!

    If you could help me with one more thing please, just so I get the right/newest model number, it’s the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, right?

  • […] This is a free update that includes the long awaited Panasonic DMC-LX3 Camera RAW support that I talked about a few days ago. Click here (Tom Hogarty’s blog) for all the […]

  • Today I set off with every intention of buying the Panasonic, no-one at my nearest huge shopping mall had it in stock.

    I came back home & cup of tea in hand started phoning around, several cups of tea later I had discovered a pattern …

    there was a waiting list for this camera at most stores but it seemed as if no-one in Melbourne actually had one, I could have got what may have been the last one in Sydney sent overnight though!

    The pattern I discovered though was that most retailers seemed to like the camera they were very peeved with Panasonic & felt very let down, especially as most could not give a firm delivery date & could not promise to have it before Christmas, a few muttered things like “typical Panasonic behaviour” … so, this got me-a-thinking … what with the debacle about the RAW support & what seemed like poor retailer support I decided to come back to this site & have another read.

    I am now the proud owner of a Ricoh GX-200 EVF Kit. This camera feel beautiful in the hand & evrything you touch feels well made. The removable tilting electronic viewfinder is great to use when wearing my glasses. The automatic opening/closing lens cap reminded my Son of an episode of Doctor Who, it’s very cool 🙂 http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/gallery/s1_07gallery/800/20.jpg

    The only thing I thought long & hard about pre-purchase today was the poor range for Auto Exposure Bracketing: +/- 0.3/0.5 EV. As I have been trying out some HDR techniques lately I still believe that I can pull this off if I shoot in RAW .. by the way DNG so no worries there!

    Well that’s my tale & after dinner I sat down & looked at all the pieces & started reading the fine manual. I’ll report back in a few days, if you don’t mind, with my first shots.

  • Oh, nearly forgot! I was very impressed with the 2 year standard warranty, plus the ectra year the camera shop threw in PLUS Ricoh have a 3 Month unconditional guarantee .. I can chuck it off the Eureka tower & just go & get a new one if I want!

  • […] 12/16/2008 – An article on the Photography for Real Estate Blog was interesting – Update On Compact Camera’s For Real Estate Photography. […]

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