What Size Photos Should Real Estate Photographers Deliver?

August 25th, 2015

RMLSLast week Tom ask about the size of photos he should deliver to his clients:

I have been uploading photo files to my agents at the guidelines recommended in the September 9th, 2009 article you posted titled “What You Need To Know About Uploading To MLS” . Yesterday I had an agent tell me the 800×600 pixels are too small. Up until now no one really complained about it. He also said the minimum should be 1600×1200 but prefers 2048×1536. What is the NEW standard everyone is using today? Is there a new standard?

The problem with recommending a specific size is that MLSs run a wide variety of system software. Because of this there is no such thing as a standard. Some MLS software does a good job at downsizing if you give them a bigger size than they like but in the past MLS downsizing has been notorious for mangling photos files so the theory has always been that if you give them the exact size they want they end up not touching the files during uploading. Here are my updated recommendations for figuring out what size photos to upload to your MLS:

  1. Call your local MLS(s) and ask them what size (pixel dimensions) they recommend for photos that are uploaded to their MLS.
  2. Try to get them to tell you what pixel dimensions to use rather than a file size because it is the pixel dimensions that trigger their downsizing.
  3. For photos that will be displayed online, always deliver in the sRGB color space because this is the color space that all browsers use.

Some readers have told me that when they call their MLS they have trouble getting photo specification information. Be aware that MLSs are set up to support their members (agents that pay them monthly fees) so explain that you are a photographer that supplies photos for their members and you are inquiring so you can better serve their members.

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9 Responses to “What Size Photos Should Real Estate Photographers Deliver?”

  • Also consider what the intended use if for. I will send to sets, one for the mls and so marked and the other for marketing print, etc. at a higher resolution. Your agent may have been trying to use your low res images for print, in which case they could look very bad.

  • I send two sizes as well.
    1600 pixels (long edge) for ‘prints’ or other uses where high res is needed, and 800 (again, long edge) for the rmls images.
    Most photographers I’ve seen send smaller (around 640) for the rmls, but knowing that rmls will re-size an image if needed makes me feel secure in the knowledge there will be no ‘white space’ around the image because they shrink it to fit.

  • I deliver up to about 7 sizes now. With Lightroom it is very easy to set up presets. LR will multi-thread so you don’t have to wait for one size to finish processing before starting the next one.

    Many of the agents put their listings on two MLS’s as we are up against a boundary. I output a size specifically for Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com’s maximum display sizes for upload directly to those services. I output a set at maximum dimensions for printing and finally a set sized for an agent’s web page if they have one. It’s made a huge difference in picture quality across all of the different sites for very little extra time on my part.

    If an agent only wants a set for the local MLS and large files for printing, I’ll only output those to keep their downloads quick.

    Larry’s comments are spot on. It’s often hard to get the MLS pixel dimensions. Most of the time they don’t have anybody that knows what they are. You will get answers from their support staff to just upload 640×480 or 800×600 when the system will resize them to 767px wide or something equally strange. Sites like Trulia take the 480x images in syndication and blow them up to fit their pop-out window that’s 2048x (??) making the pictures look very “crunchy”. The first customer I worked with to upload directly to Trulia was floored by the improvement in the images. Now they upload to all of the major sites individually and their listings really stand out.

  • I took Larry’s advice and emailed my local MLS support. They responded back quickly with this answer:

    “The best sizes for photos would be a minimum of 1600 x 1200 pixels in size. Matrix displays up to 2048 x 1536 pixels in size. Note: Max file size: 5 MB for any photo type. Upload photos that are at least 1600 x 1200 to avoid a white border around your photos on REcolorado.com and other sites.”

    For now on I am uploading the 2048 x 1536. So far it’s worked without a hitch.

  • Tourbuzz.com will let you upload final pix and set up an agent dashboard. My agents can then download pix in whatever res they like – MLS low res, print quality or even produce a nice 1 page handout.

  • I mostly shoot with my Nikon D-7000 and a 12-24mm lens. But also used an Olympus 4/3ds DSLR 510 (now use a Fuji X-E2 w12mm lens) for elevated images from my 45ft mast, and a GoPro for the aerial images.

    After processing I tried resizing the images to 1600×1200, but the Nikon images looked distorted and “squished” (for lack of a better term). But when I re size to 1800x 1200 the Nikon images appeared normal as they did in camera.

    So Now I resize all of the images, Nikon, GoPro and Fuji to 1800×1200 to keep the files the same. I don’t mind if the GoPro or Fuji elevated images are a little out of proportion, as these lenses are super wide and have a different perspective than the ground level Nikon, and give a bit more impact.

    Not being a Canon shooter, I was wondering if the Canon cameras are a different proportion than the Nikons.

  • For those among us who are working with agents not able to justify the cost of high service photography but want good quality at a low price, this method of sizing may be useful.

    I process images full size, then sharpen and save a cropped jpg image in an MLS file. Crop is 4×6 inches @ 300dpi which results in a 1200×1800 dpi image that displays well on the mls and prints well up to 4×6 which is plenty large enough for brochures and postcards. 200 dpi prints surprisingly well and allows larger results for some purposes. In 3 years, I have not had a request for larger print quality images, though I keep the full size images on file in case they do.

    I used to add the “save for web” step in an older version of PS because earlier versions of the MLS could not handle the image size otherwise. But now the crop method saves time and effort.

  • I send my clients 2 sets of files. 1) full size images 2) 720 x 540 for MLS. I’ve never had a complaint or even a comment on the size of the files before.

  • “Matrix displays up to 2048 x 1536 pixels in size. Note: Max file size: 5 MB for any photo type.” But our Maine Listings MLS MREIS that uses Matrix get throttle back to 800×600. Frustrating!

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