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What Camera Should I Buy for Real Estate Photography?

October 30th, 2017

Ally, who is getting started in real estate photography asked:

I’m getting started in real estate photography and am looking to buy a camera. What camera would you recommend? I know it’s more about the lenses, but I definitely need a good camera too.

You are right. In real estate photography, you will need a good wide-angle lens with the camera. The Sony A6000 is my top recommendation for someone getting started in real estate photography. See my Recommended Real Estate Photography page for more details. Also, see Wayne Capili’s post about the Sony A6000.

Although you can get by with the lens that frequently comes bundled with the A6000 (the 16-50 mm lens) the best lens for real estate photography is the Rokinon 12mm f/2.

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12 Responses to “What Camera Should I Buy for Real Estate Photography?”

  • The Sony could be a good buy, but if you have any friends that shoot professionally or are very good amateurs, you may want to consider starting with the same brand that they have. Having somebody you know to help with questions, tips and can recommend what to buy from first hand experience is a great place to start. Are you planning on doing other types of photography? If you need your camera system to do more things, you might find the A6000 too limited. I’ve test driven one and it makes excellent photos but it doesn’t fit my big hands very well so it would be tough to use when I’m photographing an event. Maybe in the next year I will have separate kits for RE and other work.

    It’s always good to have 2 bodies and a couple of wide angle lenses that will work for RE even if one lens isn’t as wide as you might use the bulk of the time. Stuff happens and if you are relying on your photography to pay the bills, not having a camera for a few days could be a real problem (maybe that friend with the same brand can lend you something for a few days in a pinch). If you need to send your camera in for service, a backup will keep you working.

    Remember that it’s more than just a camera and a lens. It’s also a fast computer, lighting, cases, spares, stands, software and all of that boring business backend that you need too. Maybe I need to clean out my front studio/living room and lay out all of the bit and bobs I consistently use on a RE job. Not that it’s all required, but each little item has been added to solve a problem or speed up my workflow and it fills a couple of cases.

  • Ally,
    I switched from Nikon DSLRs to the mirrorless Fuji XT-2 system with their 10-24mm f4 lens. I liked that Fuji is a hi quality camera (as is the Sony) and it was lightweight.
    But I also purchased the small Fuji X-E2 and a Rokinon 12mm f-2 lens for my elevated pole images.
    Even though this lens is inexpensive, the images it produced when stopped down 2 stops, was excellent.
    I have since replaced it with a Fuji 14mm f-2.8, which was about 3 times the price of the Rokinon, but the Rokinon produced some very nice images when stopped down.

    This lens far exceeded my expectations and is a great inexpensive lens to start with, weather you use a Fuji or Sony.

  • I think the Sony is a good choice. I personally would not recommend Sony as my number one choice because many times 3rd party lenses or apps aren’t made for the system, yet. The Camranger and a few very good crop sensor lenses are examples.

    Tomorrow sigma could come out with a wide angle zoom art lens that everyone has just got to have, and it’s doesnt have to be available for Sony. It probably would be, and things do seem to be getting better, but that would be my reason for steering people away, in any event.

  • Just a note,
    I just received an e-mail from B&H that the Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS Lenses (Sony, MFT, Fuji, Canon) just went on sale today for one day, ($279) should any of our fellow RE photographers be interested.

  • It seems like there’s been a lot of discussion in different forums about how an inexpensive camera will be fine for getting started, some going so far as to advocate iPhone’s as the future. What I find interesting is, those same forums are loaded with discussions on blending and how to best use bracketed photos to get the results we’re after.

    I have a Nikon D810, not for the 36 megapixels, but for the dynamic range and the fact that it’s full frame. The more dynamic range, the less need for bracketing. Although, I still bracket (never have too much). And I don’t want to start a Holy war, but full frame does wide angle better. I know there are some that say you don’t ‘need’ that wide of angle (14mm for me), but I’ve yet to have anyone complain that the room looks too big.

    I’m not saying Nikon, or any other brand is superior. I am saying I think the investment in good equipment is worth it. It’s tough when you’re first getting started, but good images will sell your business and result in a better ROI.

  • I’m in the same situation – just getting started in Real Estate photography. I spent a lot of time looking at various alternatives (and watching, and rewatching Scott Hargis’ Lynda.com tutorials) and I eventually chose the Canon 80D. I purchased three lenses; a 10-18mm, an 18-55mm, and a 50mm, all three EFS lenses. I chose the 80D mainly because it is; inexpensive, feature rich, 24mp, and I have been shooting with Canon cameras since my time as a US Navy Photographers’ Mate (1979-1985). My first personal camera was a Canon Ft-b, which I ultimately replaced with a Canon F1.
    I spent just over 18 months working (gratis) as a part-time assistant to a RE photographer in New Erlins (I’m located in Baton Rouge, 91 mile away) until I felt I could deliver professional quality photographs consistently.
    Still struggling with a website – using SmugMug month to month and having a site professionally built.

  • If you go the A6000 (I have one) and you bracket the shots, get the wireless remote. To continuous shoot brackets, you need to hold the shutter down for the 5 shots resulting in occasional movement. The remotes solves this. I use it aperture priority at 7.1, iso 320. For some reason, Oloneo builds a better fusion/hdr image from the ones taken with my Canon 5D mk II’s. Less manual adjustment for temperature and brightness.

  • I started with the Sony A6000. I used it until I broke the hot shoe in the middle of a shoot.
    I found a place close and bought an A6300. If you can afford it, buy it. It is worth the extra cash on several levels. It has a brighter viewfinder which allows you to see more detail. There is also a built in level in the viewfinder which you’ll wonder how you did without.
    In my view after doing this for a while, You don’t need a full frame camera for this kind of work. I continue to get very positive responses for my work with the A6300.

    PM

  • @ Bill Jones, Have you tried using the delay timer when shooting brackets? With the Canon, I can set the camera to take a bracket and when I put the 2 second timer on, it does all 3 in one press.

  • Sony cameras are very compatible with other brands (including Canon) with a metabones adapter or speedbooster(around $500 new). I think I’m about to switch from my Canon body to an a7III for the 4K abilities.

  • I ran my entire business for the first year and a half on a Sony a6000 with a Rokinon 12mm lens upon the advice I ready from Wayne here on this site. The quailty of images I was creating in 6 months was crushing most of the other shooters in Metro Detroit other than Andy Schwartz and a handful of others.

    The a6000/Rokinon is all you need to get started. It’s more about the techniques you use both on-site and in post processing that determine the quality…not the brand of camera or how much it costs.

  • @Brian – Well said!

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