What Is The Best Real Estate Photography Lens For Nikon APS-C DSLRS?

June 1st, 2015

Sigma10-20Don says:

I am currently exploring the area of real estate photography. I am shifting my business from weddings to real estate due to health issues. Weddings are just more of a strain on me than I can handle at this point in my career. I currently own Nikon gear and use a D200 APC format camera. From what I’ve been reading, I will need to purchase a wider lens than I currently own. My problem is that I would like to go to a full size sensor on my next body. The obvious issue is how much lenses cost that will cover a full frame sensor. I hate to purchase an APC lens and then have to buy another lens when I move up to full frame. In the meantime I may have to build some business and use what I have until things get rolling. What are your suggestions for a good lens in the APC format? I’ve been looking at Sigma, Tamron and Tokina as far as prices go. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

First of all, there is a summary of all your options on the PFRE lens page. The page also has a reader popularity poll of all the standard wide-angle lenses. While there are about 10 lenses that will work on your D200 (see the Nikon 1.5x section) and other Nikon APS-C DSLRs, the two most popular are the Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 and the Tokina 11-16 mm. They are both just over $400.

If you could spend more you could go with a Sigma 12-24 mm or the Nikon 14-24 mm that are both designed for full frames DSLRs but will work on APS-C DSLRs like your D200. While these would not be as wide on your D200 as a full frame DSLR they would be acceptable. These lenses are considerably more ( 2 to 3 times) expensive. However, if you intend to upgrade to a full frame DSLR in the future, you’re going to have to purchase one of these anyway.

What are other’s experiences with wide-angle lenses for Nikon APS-C DSLRs?

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13 Responses to “What Is The Best Real Estate Photography Lens For Nikon APS-C DSLRS?”

  • I’ve got the Sigma 10-20 mm f/4-5.6 for my Sony cameras and it’s been a real workhorse for the past seven years and still going strong!

  • I use the Nikkor 10-24 mm which is extremely reliable, has an excellent focus, almost sharp in the corners between f8 and 11 as well as low chromatic abberations. Maybe a little pricier but for my good old D300 it’s the lens of choice for real estate. Maybe five years ago it replaced my Tokina 12-24 (Version 1), which was excellent, too, but had much more problems with abberations.

    With 10 mm you are always attempted to get as much as you can into the frame, which is not alway necessary, and may result in strange distortions. If possible I try to raise the focal length above 13 mm and get excellent results because any flaws in the edges will be eliminated. But on the other hand it is always good to know to have some focal length reserve.

  • Does any one use polarizing filters? This may be a separate topic….

  • Polarizer from time to time when reflections are visible (windows, kitchens, bathrooms). Unfortunately even slim versions do not always prevent vignetting when using 10 mm focal length.

  • While researching this recently for a client that I am coaching I found out that Sigma has discontinued the 10-20 f/4-5.6 and replaced it with a f/3.5 version. The price is $500. Another lens that I think you should consider is a Tokina 12-28 f/4. It’s selling for $450 and appears to be the cheapest priced UWA zoom lens available for Nikon APS-C cameras.

  • I also use the Tokina 12-28 and like the lens. I formerly had the Sigma 10-20 and liked the lens but felt that the extra reach of the 12-28 would be useful.

    I am not sure about the distortion patterns and amounts on any of these lenses, but with the excellent distortion correction tools available today (such as Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, and DxO Optics Pro) distortion is no longer really an issue, in my opinion.

  • I’ve been shooting RE exclusively for about 6 years. I have never found a need for a Full Frame camera. I prefer the Tokina 11-16 due to the push / pull Focus Clutch feature. You can tell the lens to go to Manual by pulling back on the lens, Great Feature, especially when using more than One Lens. The depth of field is unreal.

    A D7100 shooting at Normal will produce all the sharpness and image quality you need for Real Estate Photography. Examples can be found at http://www.everittphoto.com

    You’ll have fun visiting the classy and non classy homes you shoot. Go for it… Tom Everitt

  • I would agree with Tom Everitt that the Tokina 11-16 is an excellent lens for crop sensor cameras. I shoot with a Canon t2i and it has been a solid performer. I bought my lens almost 4 years ago and paid $600. Never a complaint. It’s a nice workhorse and I use it for probably 80% of my images. I have a full frame 5D MarkII but haven’t purchased a lens yet because that darned Tokina keeps on producing. It’s reassuring to hear that other RE photographers are using crop sensor cameras with success. For the longest time I felt like a “junior” to the full frame shooters, but as long as my clients are pleased I haven’t felt the need to change–just yet.

  • Hear-Hear for the Tokina 11-16/2.8. Great lens, solid mostly metal body, crisp AF and manageable distortion. When shooting RAW, Lightroom has the lens profile already onboard which makes it even easier. I had the Sigma 10-20 (original version) and that lens has a big problem with copy to copy issues. I bought a second one and had to return it 3 times to get a different one that would focus even across the lens. The copy variations will have left or right side out of focus issues. No such problem with the Tokina. Nikon should make such a great lens at such a great price.

  • My vote goes to the Tokina 12-24. Used it on Nikon’s from D200, D300, D300s, D7000 and D5100 (not in that order.) I’ll argue you don’t need wider than 12mm (and shouldn’t use it if you have it) and 16-24mm can be useful, especially for exteriors. Also, the 12-24 can be had for under $300 now.

    One thing I’d strongly recommend to the original poster, is to upgrade to a body with a CMOS sensor. When I first started shooting RE I used a D200. I quickly changed to a D300 because as you work with RAW files, the shadow noise is WORLDs better on a CMOS, vs. the CCD of the D200. Doesn’t have the be the latest and greatest, a D300 or D90 or D7000 will be a big benefit to you.

  • I use the Tokina 12-28 almost exclusively in my work. I like it but I don’t have much to compare it to.

    I was in the same position as Don. I know I am going to go full frame one day, and I didn’t really want to buy the Tokina. But I just realized I’ll be able to sell the Tokina for probably 60 or 70% of what I bought it for, maybe more. I try not to let that mentality hold me back from making the right purchases. I just sold some SB-80dx flash units for exactly what I bought them for, so much of this gear holds up real well price wise.

    My last advice, is if you are going to for sure be sticking with RE shoots exclusively, I would just stay crop sensor no doubt about it and get the lens of your choice for it.

  • I started shooting digital with a Nikon D-70 and the Tokina 12-24 first version (couldn’t afford the excellent Nikon 12-24mm). Later, I went to the D-700 full frame and Nikon 20mm f-2.8 and a 28mm Tilt lens for hi-end homes ( exteriors and commercial buildings).
    Now I almost always shoot with a Nikon D-7000 /D-300……D-5300 for elevated images. I replace my old worn (but still sharp) Tokina 12-24 with the Tokina 11-16 which I sent back because the range was too short, and from 2.8- almost 11, image quality was terrible. I Replaced it with the Tokina 12-28 f-4 and find it is the only lens I use because of the range and sharp at f-8 (but find my older Tokina 12-24 sharper than the new one).
    If I want to compress a view to look closer, I use my Nikon kit lens 18-105, which feels plastic and cheap, but actually sharp, or my Nikon 80-200 f-2.8. I think the Crop sensor is an excellent choice for RE.

    I was in Savannah GA on vacation and saw a photographer shooting a building with a Digital Horseman WA medium format camera and 50MP back. He said he had about, $40,000 invested in his system. makes you realize what a bargain cropped sensor cameras and lenses are.

  • I use a Nikon 16-85mm DX (85% of the time) and a Nikon 10-24mm DX for when I really need ultra-wide.

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