Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Shooting Real Estate Photography

January 1st, 2018

Sandy in Vermont asked:

I am considering purchasing a lens for real estate and architectural photography. I am wondering if someone might be able to make a recommendation? I am considering a Tokina 11-16mm 2.8. I was looking at a Sigma 14mm, but find it could be a disadvantage using a fixed focus lens; it is more expensive. I could really use some assistance. The cameras I presently have are the Nikon D600 and the D7000.

The ideal effective focal length for shooting real estate interiors is between 16 and 24mm and since the D600 is a full frame body and the D7000 is an APS-C sized sensor and has a 1.5 focal length multiplier on the effective focal length, it is impossible to get a lens that is ideal for real estate photography on both camera bodies.

I would not recommend the Sigma 14mm. It is too wide (14mm effective) on the D600 and just barely wide enough (21mm effective) on the D7000. The Tokina 11-16mm is ideal on the D7000 but not designed for a full frame body like the D600. Reports are that it will work on full frame bodies at 15 and 16mm but that it has soft corners. A much better choice for a real estate photography lens for the D600 would be the Nikon 14-24mm.

For a more complete list of options for lenses suitable for real estate photography see my lens table at

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10 Responses to “Choosing a Wide-Angle Lens for Shooting Real Estate Photography”

  • Sandy I shoot with a D810 and D3s and I most often use my 14-24 and 16-35. Both are designed for full frame sensors. At 14mm I get a little distortion at the edges so I usually choose a longer focal length. If you are going to shoot with D7000 I recommend you purchase a wide angle DX lens that is not going to give you vignetting.

  • Can’t go wrong with either of these two:
    Tokina 11-16 or Tokina 11-20 (both 2.8)
    and for the FX:
    Tokina 16-28 2.8
    All three are very affordable and are great lenses. I have the 11-16 & the 16-28 and love them. I would like to have had the opportunity to get the 11-20, but it wasn’t around when I got the 11-16.
    On B&H you can get the 11-16 for $399 or spend a little more to get the extra headroom of the 11-20 for $569. For the 16-28, it’s $569 as well. You can get either of the DX lenses and the FX lens for less than half what you would spend on the 14-24 and for the vast majority of your work, have just as good of results.

  • I would suggest the Tokina 12-28 for the DX camera. It is a constant f4 and since you will be shooting on a tripod the necessity of paying extra for a fast, f2.8 lens is not really necessary (I don’t have a suggestion for FX since I don’t shoot FX).
    This lens really covers the range for interior photography on a crop sensor camera better than any other lens that I am aware of. 12mm is as wide as I ever want to go and the ability to zoom out to 28mm works very well with large, open spaces.
    In my opinion, the 11-16 is much too limited on the long end. The 10-20’s are a little wider than needed on the wide end and not long enough on the long end.
    If you look critically at the images on the Flickr PFRE forum, you will see that wider is not always better. Many of the best interior images on the site were shot at 16mm FX (24mm DX) and longer.

  • I agree that a fixed lens isn’t ideal. I shoot with a Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 and use the full range of focal lengths depending on the situation. It’s not cheap and I can’t compare it to less expensive lenses… but I’m a believer that good glass is the most important tool. I use it on a Nikon D750 (can’t rave enough about having the flip up/down rear display).


  • I went from shooting Nikon F2’s and F2As’ film cameras (many years ago) with all Nikon lenses … to; the Nikon D90 to start my digital shooting, back when it first came out. From there, I went to the D7100 & D7200. For real estate interiors, I shot the 10-24mm lens and for most of my exteriors, I shot the Nikon 18-105mm. I ended up buying 9 DX lenses, which I no longer use. I still felt my images were missing some serious details with the DX cropped sensors based on what I was used to as a film photographer. I decided to step up to the Nikon D610 and I found the details that I was missing with the DX camera bodies. Within 2 weeks, I picked up the Nikon D750 and the D810. It was like I opened up to a new level of images. It brought me back to my film days and working in the darkroom for professional images. Of course, seeking for the best images and in order to take full advantage of my new camera bodies, I could no longer use my DX lenses. I picked up a Nikon 16-35 so that I could use my LEE Filter bellows hood and filter system for my twilight images, along with a Tamron 15-30 2.8 for when I needed speed. That took care of my interiors and some of my landscape images. I also picked up the Nikon 24-85 and a Nikon 24-120 for the bulk of my exteriors. For my longer shots; such as “across the lake” images, I bought the Tamron 150-600mm and a Nikon 70-200. For stability, I use a Manfrotto monopod or a Manfrotto tripod, depending on the situation. For my Prime lenses, I went to the Nikon 20mm, 50mm, 60mm, 85mm and 105mm. I already had the Nikon 300Ai prime (and others) from back in my film days and they work great on my FX camera bodies. However they work solely in full manual mode; which is not a real issue when used properly. It’s important to have good lighting also. For that I use a Nikon SU800 flash transmitter with 3 SB700 flash heads. For editing, I use Lightroom 6. This program really brings out the details in the shadows and allows me to make the images snap with color and clarity. It’s more about the glass in front of your camera and controlling the light, than anything else. I’ve been shooting Nikon’s for over 40 years. They’re great tools to start with. You can buy a used D610 or D750 camera body relatively cheap on Amazon (under $1,200 to $1,500 for either of them) and most of the lenses can be purchased for under $1,000 each. Remember, this is a Professional Industry. It requires a professional level of investment. I’m a retired Builder/General Contractor and I can assure you that my construction tools were much more costly. Good luck with your real estate business and your photography. I hope this has helped. Good Glass, Good Lighting and Good Luck!
    Wes Brooks

  • I have the Tokina 11-16 (for my backup) & the 11-20 for daily use.
    The 11-20 is better simply because you can get tighter for the average room, but still have the ability to go wide for bathrooms and such.
    While many shooters still like to go as wide as possible for everything, I like to start off at 20mm and open up some (as needed).
    I believe when a prospective buyer comes into a listing and immediately says “this is smaller than we expected”…it’s getting off on the wrong foot.

  • I should have mentioned that I shoot with the Nikon D500 & the D7100 (cropped sensors)

  • To be honest , the question of having an Ideal “lens” for real estate photography is a bit unfair to answer,
    i personally carry my beloved Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 when using my Nikon gear, for Landscaping and Hospital spaces photography, but for Architecture work and interior design shots, i carry a sony Alfa A7rii with Canon shift 17mm and the 24mm these 2 are a must in such situations, you never know what you will need!
    Like John said, you do not need an ultra wide angel lenses for Interior shots, “not wider than 16mm, they just exaggerate the space you are shooting , a small room would look like a football field , sometimes you cant even hide you tripod out of the view, all objects nearer to the lense, would look very much distorted
    if you listen to larry lohrman in his excellent Enfuse Vid,Scott Hargis and John mcbay, they will all tell you “Never shoot wider than 16mm” when you observe the sciene make it look realistic and not exaggerated.
    i see some Tubers shooting RE with a Fix 12mm ! it is way too wide ! never do this mistake.
    one thing i must mentioned, i never in life used 2.8 aperture for neither AR+RE projects, you almost always use around f7.5 to f 8
    Tamron ,Tokina and Sigma make a excellent alternative lenses which are much affordable than Originals

    Good luck and happy new year to all RE photographers.

  • my apologies , the author of Enfuse is Simon Maxwell.

  • Although I’m on the Canon crop side, the 10-18 or 10-22 range is ideal for me.
    18 is long enough to give me just a touch of a bold look when doing exteriors, but of course something in the area of 35 mm would be ideal when you want to do those far away exterior shots giving that hero look. Heck, i’ve been known to go a few thousand feet away and shoot a house at 150mm!

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