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What Is a Good Camera Body for Getting Started in Real Estate Photography?

January 6th, 2019

canon11-18mmKevin in Arizona asks:

I’m just getting into real estate photography and love your website. I’m deciding on a low cost entry level camera. Canon has the SL2 refurb on sale for $400, which is the least expensive camera they have in stock that is sufficient and has good Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) features. My main question; is it worth spending an extra $300 to get the T7i refurb that you list on your Cameras page as the most popular real estate photography camera?

First of all, beginning real estate photographers should think more about which lens they are going to use than the camera body.

That said, here are some general things to think about when getting started:

  1. Yes, the Canon Rebel line is a low-cost way to get started. It doesn’t make much difference which Rebel body you choose. Your choice of wide-angle lens is more important. Choose the newest body you can afford. The newer bodies have more convenient features but the image quality isn’t all that different.
  2. If you are going to use any Canon Rebel body the Canon 10-18mm lens is a great choice because it is high quality and very low cost.
  3. You’ll need other gear besides a wide-angle lens and body. A sturdy tripod, flash and trigger, and a Photoshop/Lightroom subscription. See the Getting Started page for a summary.
  4. Don’t forget, if you are charging $150 or more per shoot, your gear will be paid off very quickly.
  5. What shooting technique are you going to use? That will drive what other gear and software you need.

I’m sure readers will give you plenty of other good advice.

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8 Responses to “What Is a Good Camera Body for Getting Started in Real Estate Photography?”

  • For around $500 you can find a good used 5DmkII. That will blow the doors off of the SL2. Start off with a 17-40mm F4L lens and you will be in a good position to start learning. The setup will also have far better resale value. That SL2 will hold you back before too long and won’t be worth anything second hand.

  • Kevin, here is my 2 cents worth of advice:
    Since you are just starting off, it is very important to buy the best lens you can afford, (no matter what system you get involved with) as you will be upgrading your camera bodies more often than your lenses. Before you decide on a system, go to a camera store and feel the different cameras and see what feels best to you and what cameras, lenses and accessories are available. You should also think of your purchase as an investment into your future and what you might want to also do besides real estate photography.
    If you stick with Nikon or Canon, you will find that many 3rd party companies make many flash units, radio triggers, lenses and accessories for these two companies. it will even be easier to find used equipment. I would suggest, depending on your budget, to purchase a used top of the line wide angle lens, than a cheap new one. Also, and this is just my experience and feeling, I want a body that has a tilt screen, as I tend to shoot a bit lower than normal on occasion, or I am backed into a corner or tight space and want to be able to see my screen.
    I was a Nikon user before changing to the Fuji X system which I have a love / hate relationship with. I love the quality of the images and the way the bodies are more retro and feel like film cameras. But the Fuji system is not always supported by 3rd party companies and have some very strange idiosyncrasies that can be quite challenging.
    There are a lot more investments you will be making on hardware besides the camera and lenses, (tripods, heads, flash units, radio triggers to name just a few, but this is defiantly the right blog to get feedback and hear what we all have experienced and need when shooting real estate photography.

  • Kevin,

    I am beginning my 4th year in Real Estate photography. I cannot recommend enough using a Sony A6000, A6300 or the A6500 if you can afford it. the A6300 is much better than the 6000 so i would aim for that one.
    All you have to do is look at the posts by Wayne Capili or myself to get an understanding of the quality. Wayne has a lot more gear than I do but the image quality from the camera is superb.
    Real Estate photography does not need a full frame camera in order to get started. You get the full frame camera when you get involved in the big jobs involving multi million dollar homes.
    As someone above stated, the next thing you need is a very wide lens. Wayne and I both use the Sony 10-18mm lens. This lens is expensive but pays for itself quickly.
    Lastly, When you buy a Sony Camera, you get a free sample of Capture One for Sony. This is the beginners edition. the upgrade to the pro version is about $50.00. This software is a kin to Lightroom by Adobe. Many people prefer it to Lightroom because of it’s speed and color.
    Do the research on the camera, lens and software. good luck to you.
    PM

  • I will put my vote with Ken. The 5D mk II is older, but a solid camera. It does everything you need and you can afford to get a backup camera, which is vital once you get your business rolling. And having a back up camera the same as your main camera makes it seamless to change over when your primary breaks down. No sweat, pull out your back up and continue, use the back up while canon fixes the broken one (or you decide just buying another 5D mk iii from ebay is cheaper.

  • There’s a llot of Canon shooters here. When I started I could chosen between Canon or Nikon. The big piece of advice I had was to look at the quality of the lenses. This is why I went for a Nikon. I still love my Mikon lenses, but if I were looking for a camera body, I would lean toward the Sony mirrorless line. I cant tell you which one, but they are ahead of Nikon and Canon right now in the mirrorless world. Naturally, just starting out, you can but a really dependable used camera body for less than $500. Focus in on the lenses though. Check out dxomark.com to do so.

  • Browse through the Flickr pfre group photos. Most are great. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to tell which camera ws used, or, whether it was full frame or aps-c.
    For example, Trace Tague is still using a Canon 60d, about $225 used, and the Canon 10-22 lens. The money saved purchasing these used or refurbished can be used for other essentials.
    Andrew Pece has done a couple of youtube videos on gear when just starting out.
    I like his idea about “return on investment.” Keeping costs low translates to more profit.
    With only two years under my belt, my opinion is the lighting and post processing is what separates the men from the boys.

  • I used to be a Canon shooter but switched to Fuji several years back. I love my X-T3 and 10-24…great combo! If you wanted to go mirrorless Pete made a great suggestion, the Sony A6000 is a good low cost entry camera for real estate. Pair it with a Rokinon 12MM and you will be off to the raises. A used Fuji X-T2 will also be a solid choice! If you want full frame Ken hit the nail on the head with a 5DMKII.

  • Thank you for the great replies everyone. I really appreciate it. After my original post I did more reading and had been leaning the Sony route. The 50-50 Sony versus Canon replies here aren’t helping me decide! 🙂 I also had a good intro session with my photographer friend that was very informative. Was great to see the shots and editing done and everything come together. And then compare to the same shot taken on a smartphone. What a difference! Amazing!

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