Not to long ago a I was interviewed by an editor from The Residential Specialist magazine which is a magazine for the Council of Residential Specialists (CRS as it's known by real estate agents). I feel honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the article they were doing because my wife Levi has had a CRS designation for many years and CRS is a very respected organization. I've been to many of their courses with Levi and they are always top quality.
After the initial interview the editor ask me for a list of do's and don'ts for taking real estate photos with smartphones. Initially I was a bit stunned that some how I'd not communicated that smartphones weren't the best choice for real estate photography. But after thinking about it I realized that with all the hype about the recent leap in quality of smartphone cameras it is understandable that agents may not understand the short comings.
I have to say that I am daily blown away by the quality of the images that my iPhone 4s turns out. I absolutely love it! Also Scott Hargis recently had a stunning comparison of a front-shot he had done with his iPhone 4s and the same shot he'd shot with his 5DMkII. Scott challenged his blog readers to identify which was which... I got it wrong! As Scott points out, "good light trumps everything else".
So Scott's example illustrates that it's possible to take a good exterior shot with a smartphone. But on most interior shots you have to be creating good light and you need quality wide-angle glass and you can't do either with a smartphone.
So here's what I told the editor from The Residential Specialist:
I do not recommend trying to use any smart phone to shoot real estate photos because the two most important factors that contribute to quality interior photos are:
- A quality wide-angle lens with effective focal length between 16mm and 24mm.
- Good lighting with small flashes... even quality HDR/EF images need some small flash lighting to look good.
It is impossible to do either 1 and 2 above with a smartphone.
To me the show stopper for acceptable smartphone video is number 1 above. Sure there are clip-on wide-angle converters for smartphones (I have one for my iPhone) but in my opinion they are all very marginal quality.
So as Scott's example illustrates, you may be able to get a great front shot with a smartphone, there's much more to real estate photography than the front shot. It's a whole different ballgame when you get inside. For now at least, Realtors are doing their home sellers a disservice by shooting stills or video inside with a smartphone.