Shooting in low light can be tricky, as the lack of illumination makes it difficult to balance the exposure. That’s why we're going to give you several options for the best lens for low-light real estate photography, as well as help you choose the right one according to your cameras, needs, and budget.
Whichever focal range you prefer, these are the best lenses that can help you turn the darkest of scenes into well-exposed indoor and exterior real estate images.
A wide-angle lens is a must-have for real estate photographers because its field of view can make a room look as open and large as possible while capturing everything in a single shot. These are the top wide-angle lenses with low aperture values that work well in low-light photo sessions.
Whether you're taking pictures or videos, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G excels in low light and nighttime real estate shoots. If you're struggling with focusing due to dim illumination and lack of flash, its ability to capture more light supports selective focusing.
You would want to keep a wide aperture and low ISO for twilight real estate photography and interior shoot. In most lenses, shooting at the maximum aperture creates a slight distortion at the edge of the frame.
The good thing is that this lens has a fast maximum aperture of f/1.4, which allows more light to enter the camera. As a result, this is a great lens that produces evenly lit photos with corner-to-corner sharpness even at a slow shutter speed and low ISO value.
The 58mm may not be the widest angle of view, yet this focal range provides a balance between a standard 50mm lens and a medium telephoto 85mm f/1.8 aperture lens. When connected to an FX-format DSLR, the realistic perspective exaggerates the depth of field without sacrificing exposure.
A popular lens because of its outstanding performance, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is another go-to lens for real estate photographers who want a balance between image quality and affordability.
Low lighting sometimes prevents lenses from focusing on all colors to the same point, producing chromatic aberrations. Fortunately, the aperture of the 50mm f/1.4 and the latest optical design gather more light. In effect, it minimizes color blurring and controls flaring.
Being an update of the Canon L-Series, its focusing on low lighting is quick and accurate. Even as you stop down the aperture, you can retain corner-to-corner sharpness.
Moreover, this Canon telephoto lens allows you to capture details in available light without a flash or maximum ISO values. Thus, you can avoid background noise for night photography.
Related: Read our review of the best low light lens for Canon cameras.
Affordable yet high-quality, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art DC HSM is an excellent lens for real estate photographers using Canon EF and APS-C cameras. Despite coming from a third-party brand, it boasts superb center sharpness for vast interiors and low light conditions.
If your style involves using interior lighting for a dramatic effect or your client wants you to highlight the fixtures, its maximum aperture of f/1.4 creates a shallow depth of field. As a result, you can focus on certain features of a property, even on dim lighting.
Being an HSM lens, this Sigma lens has a quick, smooth, and responsive autofocus in all lighting conditions. Despite dim environments, a multi-layer coating reduces ghosting and flare to recover details from shadows.
Its 30mm length equates to a wider perspective than the Nikon and Canon lenses, although its field of view is somehow similar to 45mm on crop-frame cameras. Despite the perspective somehow close to that of human vision, the effect on photos enlarges spaces without distorting lines.
A zoom lens is a good backup lens for real estate photography as it provides quick and easy reframing on your current spot. Now, it's time to pick your zoom lens for low light that has versatile focal lengths.
With a lot of light-gathering capabilities, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM guarantees sharpness throughout the zoom range. Even on dark exteriors, the focal length and maximum aperture of f/2.8 help the lens hunt for focus points from foreground to background.
If you are new to real estate photography and you can't still settle with the appropriate focal range for your style, the versatility of the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L is a good way for you to practice.
Despite the focal range, the image quality is best at 24mm f/2.8. The results are still impressive as you zoom in through f/4 and f/16, although narrowing to f/22 may create some diffraction.
It can be quite challenging to find focus points when shooting wide and in low light, yet the autofocus of this L-series lens has a fast and quiet USM system that locks on both moving and stationary targets.
No matter how dark the property is, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM Art produces excellent quality at the widest aperture. Even though it doesn't have the widest focal range, using the f/1.8 aperture throughout the barrel length makes it a consistent arsenal for low light shooting.
The fast aperture of the Sigma 35mm f/1.8 means you don't have to compensate for low light by increasing ISO, thus preventing you from introducing image noise. Still, moving up to 35mm f/16 for a great depth of field retains center-to-edge sharpness.
For undesirable lighting and high-contrast conditions, you can use the center focusing point to achieve sharper quality. If you want to capture properties with the night sky as the background, the opening of the Sigma 35mm f/1.8 enables you to gather more light to emphasize background details.
Since real estate and indoor photography captures stationary subjects, optical stabilization enables you to shoot handheld on lower light levels. Being an HSM Art lens, the compact motor system improves focusing efficiency.
A lightweight lens with an innovative optical design compatible with Canon EF and APS-C cameras, the Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 is a fast lens that boasts excellent sharpness across the entire frame at all focal ranges.
The fast constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the entire focal and ISO ranges minimizes illumination loss at the frame's edges. In effect, it helps suppress chromatic aberration at difficult focusing points.
The f/2.8 aperture also keeps sharpness at a slower shutter speed even when shooting without a tripod. However, you might notice some diffraction between f/11 to f/16 and corner softness at 50mm.
Aside from that, this lens features a vibration compensation that lets you control vignetting and chromatic aberration, bringing out contrast for both stills and motion shots.
The only drawback is its noisy internal autofocus motor because of its old AF system. However, since manual focus enables you to focus aim for the bright spots in low light situations, the AF system won't be much of a dealbreaker.
The right lens for low light shooting must have the appropriate focal length, aperture, and image stabilization to counter dim environments. Let's go deeper as to how these functions can make a lens more effective.
Zoom, wide-angle, and prime lenses serve different purposes, so understanding their differences in focal range and angle of view is a good starting point in choosing a lens.
A wide-angle prime lens has a fixed focal length. However, this constant focal length means you have to physically move when you want to change the field of view, composition, and framing. The Nikon 58mm, Canon 50mm, and Sigma 30mm all have single lengths.
Meanwhile, a zoom lens includes a range of focal lengths that allow you to change the field of view. By adjusting the lens barrel and focus ring, you can optimize the various optical ranges of the Canon 24-70mm, Sigma 18-35mm, and Tamron 17-50mm.
The aperture controls the amount of light that passes through the image sensor of a lens. In effect, it influences the brightness of your pictures, whether it's for indoor events or exterior shots.
A higher f-number corresponds to a smaller aperture, and consequently, less light passing through the lens. The zoom lenses above have an aperture range of f/1.8 to f/2.8.
On the other hand, a lower f-number denotes a larger aperture and more light for the scene. As you can see, the wide-angle lenses all have a wide f/1.4 aperture.
Real estate photography requires all shots to be perfectly sharp and on the right shooting level. However, a slow shutter speed and camera shake can ruin an otherwise beautiful photo. This is why lenses feature built-in stabilization features to counter undesirable lighting conditions and still guarantee sharpness.
Suppose your camera doesn't have image stabilization, or you need to use a slow shutter speed. In that case, you need to support your setup with a lens that has image stabilization or vibration reduction. The same goes when using zoom lenses as the focal length is prone to movement.
All of the lenses mentioned above have image stabilization abilities. While this extra feature can add to the cost of a lens, optical stabilization is a valuable feature to have to improve a real estate photo's overall clarity, especially for the details, color, focus, and contrast.
The construction of a lens is the sum of its parts, including the focal length, aperture size, and image stabilization controls. It also features a focusing ring, manual and autofocus switches, depth of field indicator, distance indicator, and lens mount.
It's also worth noting that most professional real estate photographers use metal lenses as the material is sturdier than plastic. While this also adds weight, the heaviness helps reduce camera shake.
The more complex construction and systems, like using an HSM Art motor, the bulkier and heavier a lens becomes. Some lenses also have weather-sealing and UV coating that serve as extra protection.
Lenses with a wide aperture are ideal for low-light photography because they would have larger optics and more accurate focusing. They should also let you increase the ISO and focus manually. Lastly, lenses must have optical stabilization to support a slow shutter speed.
While all of the lenses above are fantastic choices for low-light shooting, the best lens should still depend on your situation, setup, and budget. When shooting in low-light real estate properties, make sure to consider the compatibility to cameras, focal length, wide aperture, image stabilization, and construction.