What Lens Should Real Estate Photographers Use On APS-C DSLRs?

November 28th, 2014

sigma10-20Several readers have already asked if the 18-55mm lens that came with that dirt cheap DSLR that they just picked up at a Black Friday sale will work for real estate. So my guess is there are others that have the same question.

The answer is no, not completely. The 18-55mm kit lens that usually comes with low-end DSLRs is not wide enough for shooting interiors, but it will be fine for shooting exteriors.

First of all, when talking about shooting interiors to make sure that everyone is talking about the same thing we talk about 35mm equivalent focal length. This is because the angle of view of lenses depends on the sensor size of the camera it’s used on an there’s no standard convention for digital sensor sizes. So there’s a focal length multiplier for each kind of DSLR that converts the focal length to 35mm equivalent focal length:

  • For Nikon DSLRs that are not full frame (also called APS-C sensors) you multiply the focal length by 1.5 to get 35mm equivalent focal length. So the 18-55mm lens on APS-C Nikon body would be 27-82.5mm.
  • For Canon DSLRs that are not full frame (also called APS-C sensors) you multiply the focal length by 1.6 to get 35mm equivalent focal length. So the 18-55mm lens on APS-C Canon body would be 28.8-88mm.

The general rule of thumb for shooting interiors is you need at least a 24mm lens and most real estate shooters use a zoom lens that can get in the range from 16mm to 24mm. This is why tilt-shift lenses are frequently 24mm and the popular lenses for full frame DSLRs are 16-35mm  or 17-40mm. 24m is kind of the sweet spot for interiors.

Here are the best choices for Nikon and Canon APS-C DSLRs:

  • Canon: Best – Canon 10-22mm $649, Cheapest – Canon 10-18mm $299, Good – Sigma 10-20mm $379
  • Nikon: Good – Sigma 10-20mm Note that there is a different version of the Sigma 10-20mm for Nikon and Canon because the lens mount is different.
  • For other DSLRs look at the PFRE Lens page that gives recommended lenses for real estate photography and shows which are the most popular with PFRE readers.

Oh, yeah, it’s not likely you will find wide-angle lenses on sale because they aren’t high volume items.

 

 

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14 Responses to “What Lens Should Real Estate Photographers Use On APS-C DSLRs?”

  • I’ve been using the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 (first version) coupled with my Canon T3i with pretty good results, though I’ve been tempted to give the newest 10-22 a try.

  • I shoot with Nikon and used the Tokina 12-24 AF (old version) on DX for many years which was very sharp but had some heavy CAs and PF in the edges. A few years ago I changed it into a 10-24 Nikkor which is sharp from edge to edge, while the CA/PF problem is minimal and can easily be corrected in LR. And I have 2 mm more just in case I might need it. But I recommend to zoom in the extrem wide angle zoom lenses by about 25 per cent to avoid heavy distractions. Thus you end up at around 16 mm on DX as a starting point.

  • I purchased the Sigma 10-20mm for $265 on eBay and it’s been a reasonably good lens when I need to go really wide. I have been tempted to pick up the new Canon 10-18mm, but the ratings on dxomark.com are holding me back. There just isn’t much of a difference between the two lenses and the Sigma might have a razor thin edge over the Canon. I use my Canon 17-40mm as my first choice interiors lens on my Canon 50D when ever possible and I’ve had great luck with it.

  • I’m using an EF 17-40mm f/4.0 L (next to 24mm TS-E) on my 5DIII for the more important jobs.
    But I always have a 100D (Rebel SL1) with the new EF-S 10-18mm on in my trunk and I’m very happy with this combination. I can’t see much of a difference to the EF-S 10-22mm which I own as well.
    On my carbon fiber painter pole the light weight 100D with the plastic EF-S 10-18mm is much easier to handle than the “brick” (5DIII and L lens). And the combination works perfectly with the CamRanger.

    My personal (!) suggestions to start from:

    1. Step: If you start from scratch and on limited budget, I can highly recommend this cheap combination (EOS 100D /Rebel SL1 and EF-S 10-18mm).
    2. Step: Canon EOS 6D or 5DIII with an EF 16-35mm f/4.0 L IS USM
    3. Step: Additional TS-E 24mm
    4. Step: Additional TS-E 17mm

  • I have been using the Tokina 12-24 on my Nikon D-300/D7000 for years which never let me down. But, the rubber had worn down so I sent it to Tokina for in for cleaning and overhaul. while it was out for repair, I started using my Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 10-24mm lens and fell in love with the entire system (except that flash synch is not high enough). The Fuji is lighter and I love viewing through the large LCD screen for low and hi angle shots, and this lens is the sharpest zoom I have ever used. The problem with a 10-24, is that you are tempted to shoot at the 10mm wide, and realize when you are processing that things look too wide and distorted and have to be cropped.
    But because of the Fuji slow flash synch (1/160s) issues I went back to shooting with the Nikon D-7000/300 with the Tokina. But since Tokina sells Refurbished lenses directly, I gave my old 12-24 f-4 to a friend and purchased their 11-16 f-2.8 which is not bad. I heard the 2.8 is great for video, which I am not shooting yet.

    if I had to do it again, I would stick with the Tokina 12-28mm. it gives about the same wide view as the 11mm, but extends to 28mm which is very helpful when using one lens.

  • Check out Tokina’s website for refurbished (from the factory) lenses.
    you can get a great deal. But, I had to go through 3 different lenses before getting one acceptable.

    2 12-28 f-4 which were very soft (out of focus and color fringing) on the edges, but liked the focal length best
    and my last was the 11-16 f-2.8, which is fairly sharp.

    Tokina is a wonderful company to deal with and has great customer and tech support.

  • I use a Nikon D700 (full frame camera) with a Nikon 17-35mm 2.8 lens that I’ve had for years.

  • It is a shame really that to many that enter the field of photography for profit, find out that there is a difference in sensor sizes and the consequences of each. They have already invested money into a system that they think will let them grow unimpeded and now find out that either they stick with a system that is limited or they have to re-invest with a whole new system.

    Not to say that it can’t be done, just that had they known the details, they might have gone another way in choice.

    It used to be a different world where when you brought out your Hassleblad, you knew and everyone else knew it was a medium format system that needed 120/220 film, the Grafleck system that used sheet film and then the 35mm camera that used 35mm roll film. Just like the film, it was obvious that the lenses would be different too. Now you have what looks like two identical cameras that WILL accept both types of lenses, yet are miles apart technically. It is no wonder that there is confusion out there for those that are starting out.

    When I mentor, one of the first conversations I have with them is the foundation of their equipment. So many variables to consider that it can be a lot harder to make a choice than they thought.

    Bottom line, they need to understand the difference right from the get go…

  • @Jerry Miller. For traditional real estate work, APS-C and Full Frame are NOT miles apart technically. In fact, APS-C cameras are perfectly suited to the task of real estate work. I always contend that shooting real estate for profit is a far different proposition from what most people think. Shooting real estate profitably about clean images, timely availability, fast turnarounds, and helping agents bring people to showings.

    I think that, given some time in the business, many real estate shooters often become interiors shooters, and they can confuse the equipment needs of the two. Shooting for AD is not the same as shooting for MLS. If you aspire to shoot for AD, then investing in APS-C equipment today isn’t what will hold you back tomorrow.

    Interestingly, I have two friends that are full time commercial interior photographers, working in different parts of the country. Both have switched to medium format from Canon FF DSLRS. Both will tell you it has more to do with them separating themselves from the flood of real estate shooters who are now shooting interiors — their customers like the cachet of the “big gear” My point being that soon even a FF frame sensor may not be enough.

  • Each to their own opinion Ty, nothing to get worked up about…

  • I’ve been shooting with a Canon 50D and (usually) a EF-S 10-22. I am very pleased with this set-up and my business and client list is growing. I just bought a new 7D MkII but haven’t used it on a job yet. I considered a FF camera but didn’t want to sell the 10-22 to get 17-40 or 16-35. Maybe next time.

  • I use two lenses for real estate photography, a Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6, for houses with small rooms and a Sigma 17-50 F2.8 for houses with larger rooms. Many houses under 1700 SF have small rooms and most houses over 1700 seem to have larger rooms. With the Sigma 10-20, it’s usually set around the 14-15mm setting and the 17-20 almost always is at 17. Of the two lenses the 17-50 is much sharper and brighter and I use it in about 90% of the houses.

  • Larry I really like your blog but all your canikon advertising is just extremely annoying. I don’t know what you have against other brands.

    Sony SEL-1018 E 10-18mm f/4 OSS
    Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS
    Samsung 12-24mm f/4-5.6 ED

    don’t forget the upcoming:
    Samsung 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S ED OIS

  • Hi there, I have a 5d Mark II and I am planning to get a lens for interior photography, can you all help me to decided???

    1. Option 16-35 F2.8
    2. 16-35 f4
    3. 17-40 f4

    Tks in advanced.

    Pedro

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