Last week after I did a post on THE Best Lens/Body combination for real estate photography I got questions and comments like, "What if you don't have a $4,500 budget... whats the best low-end combination?" Well, here's my thinking on the low end choices:
- If you sell real estate photography services you need a DSLR. Yes, you can usually get the job done with a non-DSLR but quality and credibility suffers.
- Think glass first: As with the upper-end you want to base your equipment choice around the glass. Decide what the best lens is for you and then go from there.
- Canon 10-22mm: I think right now the best ultra-wide angle lens for low-end DSLRs (APS-C sensors) is the Canon 10-22mm. It's roughly half the price of the Nikon 14-24mm yet gets a overall 8.96 out of 10 rating instead of the 10 out of 10 rating that the 14-24mm gets. This lens is designed for low-end DSLRs (with APS-C sensors).
- Canon Rebel line: Which Canon body you use the Canon 10-22mm on is less important than the lens. Canon's Rebel line (350D, 400, 450D, XTi, etc) has been the top selling low-end DSLR line ever since there's been one. The reason is you get a lot for your money. You can get 350D bodies for under $500. Oh yea, don't bother getting kit lenses (18-55mm or whatever) unless you intend to use it for something other than real estate photography.
- Upgrade Warning: Don't expect to use the Canon 10-22mm on a full frame body some day when you upgrade your body to a full frame body because the 10-22mm is a APS-C only lens. The only lens wide enough to work for real estate shooting on both an APS-C sensor and a full frame sensor is the Sigma. It is rated lower in quality than the Canon 10-22mm but sometime down the road, when you decide to upgrade to a Canon 5D or it's successor, it will work on full frame bodies.
- High-end Lens/Low-end body Strategy: I discussed another interesting strategy recently with a reader who fell in love with the Nikon 14-24mm lens and was going to use it on a Nikon D40. This way you use the perfect lens on a body that you know you are going to upgrade some day. This is about $800 more expensive at the beginning than a Canon Rebel with a 10-20mm but saves upgrading the lens later on if and when you upgrade your body.
I didn't say this was going to be an easy choice. Which of these choices you make all depends on if you think of your budget as short term or long term.
- Canon Rebel + Canon 10-22m = ~$1,200 No upgrade. Highest short term quality.
- Canon Rebel + Sigma 12-24mm = ~$1,200 Lenses work with upgraded full frame body are but lower quality.
- Nikon D40 + Nikon 14-24mm = ~$2,000 Top quality lens now and in the future if you upgrade body.
Update Apr 2010: Be sure to see the update of on this subject here.