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The Only Software You Need For Real Estate Photography

Published: 05/08/2008
By: larry

I talked about Lightroom 2 and PTlens last month just after PTlens came out but this combination is such a sweet combination for real estate photographers I need to say more.

The main point I want to stress is that if you are starting out in real estate photography and trying to decide what photo editing software is best for you, Lightroom 2 (or Aperture 2.1) and PTlens is all you need to do create great interior photos. Here's why:

  1. Lightroom and Aperture is all you need to quickly sort and adjust your images. The only thing they are missing for basic real estate image editing is a way to fix barrel distortion and create perfectly straight verticals.
  2. PTlens supplies these missing essential features in Lightroom and Aperture and it interfaces beautifully with both apps. Not only that but PTlens is available for both Windows and Mac and only costs $15. What more could you want?

Here are some of the things I like about using PTlens as an external editor from Lightroom or Aperture:

  1. Once it has verified the lens you are using, barrel distortion correction is automatic.
  2. After you've made fixes to the verticals and come back to Lightroom you can revisit any of the Lightroom image adjustments like exposure, etc.
  3. PTlens will repair chromatic aberration. This is important for Aperture users because for some reason Apple left out this essential feature from Aperture.
  4. PTlens will even handle adjustment of images created with a fisheye lens.

What about Photoshop Elements (PSE) and Photoshop CS3 (PSCS3)? I get asked this all the time and here's what I tell people: Photoshop evolved over the last 10 years or so as a photo-editor that does everything for everybody whereas Lightroom and Aperture were specifically designed in the last year or two just for photographers. They are really good at helping you catalogue, sort, select and adjust images from a photo-shoot. Yea, there are some things you may eventually want to do that you will need one of the Photoshops for like sky or window replacement, removing cars from driveways or using the photomerge feature to create panoramas but these things are in the advanced 5% of real estate photography post processing.

17 comments on “The Only Software You Need For Real Estate Photography”

  1. You mention PTLens 1.1 but I purchased it after you mentioned it last and my version is 8.7

    Are they the same or is there a difference in the versions. Maybe you just need to update your version. 🙂

  2. I recently purchased acdsee pro 2 after trying the free trial.

    It is easy to use, and has all the features you need and more. I even can correct lens distortion, fisheye and more. it is really worth checking out.

  3. Larry, I contacted Tom Niemann, author of PT Lens, last week to report a bug. (in 8.7, the Tab-key would not allow you to tab between entry fields in the perspective controls, unlike previous versions.)

    Tom responded very quickly and resolved the Tab-key bug with the release of PTLens 8.7.1 the day after.

    Can't complain about that service 😉

  4. Marcus- Sorry for creating confusion about the version of PTlens. My PTlens says version 1.1 because I'm using it on the Mac and PTlens only became available on the Mac this year so has a lower version number. As Adam points out, the Windows version is 8.7.1. PTlens has been available on Windows since 2002.

  5. I second Len you should try acdsee pro 2 it is unbelievable and it is so ease to use...............Larry you would not regret it

  6. Len & mr Robert- I went to download a trial of Acdsee Pro 2 and it's Windows only 🙁 Even though I have a Windows machine and I only turn it on occasionally. My interest in Windows only or OS X only technology is low. I think in this day and age the really great solutions work everywhere. The fact that Lightroom and PTlens run on both Windows and OS X is one of the aspects that I find exciting about this combination.

    Sounds like Acdsee Pro is an inexpensive easy to use app for PC users.

  7. Larry, - I don't own a Mac, but plan to within the next year...but it was my impression that mac now can run windows stuff with the addition of Parallels or equiv. That is what they are saying on their site, this not completely true?

    What I was hoping was that when I get the mac, I would be able to use ALL of my windows stuff and transition gradually without having to replace a bunch of software. As a mac user maybe you know more about how realistic my hopes are. Perhaps the parallel function is not as seamless as would be expected?

    Any advise would be helpful!

  8. Hi!

    What a great blog..! I blog about my home and garden..and I love to take photos..

    a.k.a Lilla Blanka of Sweden 🙂

  9. David,
    Ya, sure you can run Windows on a Mac (it's called BootCamp). But you've got to give up a big chunk of your hard disk to install Windows and you are running two operating systems on the same machine. An if you are transition to the Mac and need to run Windows apps that's something you can do. I just prefer to OS X to Windows. The only apps I moved to the Mac were PS CS3 (I moved when I updated to CS3) and Lightroom (the install disk for Lightroom will install on Win or Mac)

  10. Larry,
    In your Business Of Real Estate Photography ebook you mention LensFix for Mac. Is that the best software to use for perspective control on a Mac?

  11. Michael- Up until the beginning of July 2008, I think LensFix was the least expensive alternative to control converging verticals from Lightroom on the Mac (that's why I recommended it in my Business of Real Estate Photography ebook) but starting around the first of July PTlens is available on the Mac

  12. Thanks Larry!
    Is that the only software I'll need besides PS & LR?

    Another question please, I recently puchased your PDF ebook "The Business Of Real Estate Photography". I can't seem to find the PS template file to download? Would you please send me a direct link to the PSD files or point me to the correct location?


  13. Michael- My point in this post is that if you don't already have Photoshop, no need to spend $649 to purchase it for real estate photography... Lightroom and PTlens will get you by just fine. On the other hand, if you already have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, then by all means use them instead of PTlens... the Lens distortion filter in Photoshop or PSE does the same thing as PTlens.

    However, Photoshop and PSE don't do the barrel distortion correction automatically based on your lens.

  14. Hi Larry, you mention that the Lens distortion filter in PSE and PS do the same as PTLens. It's my understanding that PTLens is not only automatic [based on lens and focal length database] but also that it corrects complicated [moustache] distortion, it certainly does a good job of correcting my 18-200 images 😉 AFAIK the lens distortion filter can correct either barrel or pincushion distortion but not a combination of both.

    At the moment my workflow is LR then PS to apply PTLens and final edits, then crop.
    I haven't upgraded to LR2 yet. Does the PTLens integration with LR2 allow you to apply the PTLens correction and still maintain a non-destructive LR workflow?
    I read the 'external editor' post here:
    And it says you can, but it also mentions CS3 and smart objects in relation to using PTLens in LR2. Does that mean that this LR2/PTLens integration is only possible via CS3? [I'm running CS2]

  15. Marcus- Yes, I read the lightroomjournal post the talks about coming back to LR after correcting in PTlens so I tried to change sliders in LR after PTlens corrections and it indeed works well. I don't know the details of how it's done but it works. I'll ask Tom Niemann and see what he says about it.

  16. Question: Can you add or remove furniture from your images or change wall colorings like you can in Photoshop?

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