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Which Lens to Use for Real Estate Photography if You Have a Canon Rebel?

March 3rd, 2019

canon11-18mmLast week, I got a question from Suzanne who is just starting out in real estate photography. Suzanne said:

“How do I know if my camera is a full frame DSLR? I have a Canon Rebel XSi. I am wanting to get a wide angle lens for shooting real estate but I don’t know what to get.”

A quick way to know which Canon cameras are full frame and which aren’t is to look at the Dpreview.com page for Canon cameras (all the Canons made) and look in the text just above the green price. Full frame cameras say “full frame”. The Rebel XSi is not full frame. It’s called an APS-C or cropped sensor DSLR.

We have talked about the best choices for real estate photography lenses on Canon cropped sensors many times over the years. Probably the best choices are the following:

  1. Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
  2. Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6

Most of the reviews conclude that #1 above is the best choice for the money ($279 USD). To see a list of all of the possibilities see the PFRE lens page in the section titled “For Canon 1.6x DSLRs“.

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5 Responses to “Which Lens to Use for Real Estate Photography if You Have a Canon Rebel?”

  • Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6

    i love the widest angle option, then if theres distortion i just touch it up in LightRoom. I dont always use it on 10…. often 14, 16. But it’s nice to have the 10 option for those tiny rooms.

  • I used a Rebel to get myself established in RE photography back in 2011 with the Sigma 10-20mm and did just fine with it. Upgraded it with the next model out until a couple of years ago I upgraded further to the 80D. Mainly for the video ability.

    For photography aimed primarily for Internet use which does not use high resolution, it’s just fine. I found it falters for high resolution print however so if your clients want to have glossy brochures made or buy full page ads or covers in local real estate magazines, you can squeek through but not with much cropping so be sure to shoot verticals as well as horizontals if the images will be used for print in a vertical format. Most print work is done at 300 dpi.

    The Sigma lens I bought slowly began to loose sharpness on the left side with use. But I know others have had great and dependable success with it. I then bought the Tamron 10-24mm which I love and has been serving me well with the 80D for both stills and video. I keep the Sigma in my back up case just in case.

    So you can do a lot in RE with some fairly basic equipment. As long as the equipment works properly and you have a wide enough lens, and I usually start a shot at 10mm even if I then zoom in a bit, it is more about how you use the equipment than the equipment itself. It is your eye that counts, your framing, your recognition of lighting and how to work with it and finally with the digital darkroom abilities. You can have the very best of equipment but it’s not the camera that takes the picture, it is the photographers inner eye. The camera simply records the image. So take the photograph in your head before taking it with your camera.

    Many here swear by using a flash in combination with the ambient exposure and others like to light the whole scene with flash. Personally I seldom do, but everyone works in different ways. Who cares how the image is achieved just as long as it is achieved and is satisfactory to your clients. They are the ones who write the checks.

    But I have heard great things about the Tokina 11-16mm I believe it works well ffor both stills and video as well. I am sure there are other’s here with experience with other brands to help you pick. All uber-wide angle lenses will have some distortion to deal with so do learn to use Lens Correction in your post processing.

  • Peter makes some good points. The XSi should be ok to get started with if you can learn to maximize it’s strong points and avoid situations where it is weak. I also suggest that you don’t get too invested in accessories for the camera that you can’t keep if you decide to upgrade. Used gear from a reputable dealer can save you some money and at this juncture, realize that Canon is migrating from DSLR to mirrorless so support may fall off in a few years. Third party accessory companies will also start changing over their product lines as Canon shifts more of their product line to mirrorless bodies and the new format lenses. The 5D and 1D series bodies and L series (pro) lenses will still be viable for many more years, but the consumer (XSi) and Prosumer (80D) will be getting left behind much faster. If you can build your business to the point where you are consistently staying busy, gear upgrades shouldn’t be a problem if you are charging enough for your work. Be sure to put gear purchases, upgrades and maintenance in your annual budgets that you are using to calculate your Cost of Doing Business.

  • The Canon 10-18 lacks a distance scale. The Canon 10-22 includes the distance scale and can be purchased refurbished for about $40 more than the Sigma.

  • Go for the Canon 10 – 22. Excellent lens for cropped frame cameras.

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