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While working with a large number of photos in real estate photography, we often need to give the same editing effects to all of them. Doing so allows us to achieve a homogeneous look to a batch of photos. Let us walk through how to copy edits in Lightroom to process multiple images simultaneously.

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Real Estate Photography Camera Settings

Published: 11/03/2021

Even with the most expensive camera, you won't be able to maximize its abilities if you don't know how to adjust its settings. For this reason, we're going to discuss real estate photography camera settings to make the most out of your equipment and capture stunning images that can sell properties.

Real Estate Photography Camera Settings

Real estate properties have different sizes, layouts, and features, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach. However, a good starting point would be adjusting the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO depending on the available light.

Aside from that, you need to choose the appropriate shooting mode, white balance, focus, metering mode, as well as file type and size. 

File Type

Listings with images sell 50% faster than others, so it's important that you know the camera settings to take professional photos. Besides exposure, the first thing you need to set is the file type. Avoid changing it as you shoot so that you can have a consistent image quality.

Man photographing house exterior

Similar to other kinds of photography, it's best to use RAW because it doesn't compress any data, retaining all information for you to edit. However, RAW files are greater in size, so JPEG is a good alternative if you want to save up space.

Exposure Mode 

There are different kinds of shooting or exposure modes, and using the right one depends on the level of control you want. 

  • Automatic: This shooting mode lets the camera select the optimum aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and flash settings. This can be good if you need to shoot abruptly and can't think of the right settings.
  • Manual: This exposure mode is ideal for shooting real estate photos, especially when you need to capture bracketed images.
  • Aperture Priority: When it comes to real estate photography, the aperture is more of a big deal than shutter speed. Setting the camera to Aperture Priority enables you to assign an aperture while letting the camera change the shutter speed as you shoot.
  • Shutter Priority: Being the exact opposite of Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority allows you to control shutter speed while the camera manages the aperture.

Aperture

Setting the aperture is where things can get a bit tricky as this determines how much light can reach the camera sensor. Remember, you need a wider opening or a smaller f-stop to achieve brighter photos.

Even though lenses normally are sharpest around the aperture range's midpoint, there are varying shooting conditions in real estate, so you need different ways to adjust aperture settings.

  • Keep the range between f/2.8 to f/5.6 for a wide opening.
  • Select a narrow aperture value if the scene becomes too bright.
  • If you need to highlight the texture of a countertop or details of a cabinet, you can use a small aperture, like f/2, to blur the background.
  • Use larger apertures if you need to capture all details from foreground to background. This is helpful if you also need to focus on furniture on the floor.

ISO

You need to balance sharpness and light sensitivity while keeping the ISO range between 100 to 400 to get sharp and clear photos. However, increasing the ISO may result in image noise and grain.

Nevertheless, you can try different ISO settings to determine how far you can go without reducing image quality.

For example, raise the ISO to 320 when using a wide-angle lens with a fast shutter speed and flash. If you're shooting in a dark area with no additional light, you can boost the ISO to 400.

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed dictates how long a lens stays open to allow light to hit the camera sensor. Thus, the value greatly depends on the available lighting in a space. You can typically set the shutter speed after applying the necessary values for aperture and ISO.

  • If you would use Aperture Priority, the camera would automatically select the shutter speed according to the scene.
  • If you prefer to set the shutter speed manually, you can keep it between 1/60 and 1/2 of a second since the subjects are not in motion.
  • Use very slow shutter speeds to compensate for narrow apertures.
  • When you have a tripod, you can use a slow shutter speed to take advantage of natural or ambient light.
  • Choose a longer shutter speed if you're using a low ISO.
  • For HDR real estate photography, change the shutter speed for each frame to get different exposures.

White Balance

When selecting white balance, it's essential that you pick the one closest to what your eyes can see through the viewfinder. Generally, you can use Auto white balance for real estate photography because it can choose the appropriate color temperature in various types of light.

However, you don't have to spend too much time changing the white balance, as you can easily fix this aspect in Lightroom.

Interior dining and living space

Focus Mode

You can use both manual focus and autofocus when photographing real estate. Sometimes, it's just a matter of what works well in your situation or which one you're most comfortable using. 

For instance, manual focus is ideal should you want more control when determining the sharpest focus. If you need help focusing, it's ideal to shift to autofocus. However, the broad perspective of real estate shots can even confuse autofocus systems where to focus.

If you're going to use autofocus, set the camera into Single-Shot AF, which enables you to choose a focus point while the camera finds the contrast in the single focus point. In effect, you can lock the focus even if you half-press the shutter button.

Metering Mode

The metering mode indicates how your camera determines the exposure. There is no universal setting for the metering mode, as this depends on your style or the type of space. However, the best one should help you correct exposure and highlight details.

  • Spot Metering: This mode is commonly used for real estate photography because it evaluates the available light around the focus point while ignoring everything else, even if the background is dark or bright.
  • Matrix Metering: This metering divides the whole frame into zones, which it analyzes individually for light and dark tones. You can use this for your real estate shots when you're struggling with low to medium-contrast scenes.
  • Center-Weighted Metering: You can use center-weighted metering if you want the camera to prioritize the middle part of a frame. Hence, this is only suitable for real estate portraits of agents, or you want to highlight a space's particular feature. 

Flash Settings

Using a flash is not all about attaching a unit to a camera; you also need to adjust the camera settings. With the correct settings, a flash can further illuminate a scene and take high-quality real estate photos.

  • An aperture of f/6.3 to f/8 would be a good starting point to get a broader depth of field and lots of light. This level also ensures the shutter speed doesn't go beyond 1/200, preventing you from having overexposed shots.
  • Start with ISO 200 to 320 to guarantee image sharpness without image noise.
  • With a 1/200 shutter speed, the camera's shutter opens fast enough while being in sync with the flash speed.
  • Set the flash power to lower levels like 1/16, then increase if necessary.

File Size

Ideally, image file sizes should be between 3 to 10 MB because they are usually suitable for portals. Some listing websites may reject larger file types and sizes, so make sure to verify this with the portal or client.

Sample Camera Settings for Real Estate Photography

About 48% of real estate firms think technological changes are among the biggest challenges they need to face. Hence, it's your job as a real estate photographer to assist them in the aspect of visuals.

Now, it's time to combine the different camera settings and apply them in typical real estate photography situations. Note that the following samples don't apply to all cases, so use these as a guide when experimenting.

Well-Lit Interiors

When shooting interiors with natural or external lights, these settings can serve as your starting point.

  • Image Quality: RAW
  • Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/8 to f/11 for an entire room shoot, f/2 for detailed shots
  • ISO: 100 without flash, 320 to 400 with flash, or reduce to 200 when it's too bright
  • Shutter Speed: Determined by the camera
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Focus Mode: Single-Shot Autofocus
  • Metering Mode: Spot or Matrix
Room with office space

Dark Interiors

For darker rooms or spaces with a wide dynamic range, these camera settings can help you take well-exposed pictures with sharp details.

  • Image Quality: RAW
  • Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/8 to f/11 for an entire room shoot, f/2 for detailed shots
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter Speed: Determined by the camera
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Focus Mode: Single-Shot Autofocus
  • Metering Mode: Spot

Additionally, set the camera to continuous shooting mode if you'll be taking bracketed images.

Daytime Exteriors

Photographing daytime exteriors means facing either bright sun or overcast light, so the following camera settings are a good place to start.

  • Image Quality: RAW
  • Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/8 to f/11
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter Speed: Determined by the camera
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Focus Mode: Single-Shot Autofocus
  • Metering Mode: Spot

Nighttime Exteriors

When shooting outdoors at night, you may find it difficult to focus and get clearer details.

  • Image Quality: RAW
  • Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/8 to f/11
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter Speed: Determined by the camera
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Focus Mode: Single-Shot Autofocus
  • Metering Mode: Spot

Conclusion

Knowing which camera settings to apply in real estate photography significantly affects the overall quality of your images. It can be intimidating at first, yet you can overcome this with patience and practice, and the effort will be worth it.

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