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What Is the Best Real Estate Photography Lens for Canon Full Frame DSLRs?

Published: 15/05/2018
By: larry

A while back, Erin in New York asked:

I just upgraded to a Canon 5D MK IV, and want to get into real estate photography in the NYC area. I have a background in videography, but real estate photography is still relatively new to me.

I am trying to figure out the best lens to get for my 5D MK IV, as a lot of your recommendations only work on APS-Cs. I've read going too wide can lead to distortion so I am considering getting either a 16-35mm or a 24mm prime.

Do you have any thoughts on which of these two options would be better for real estate photos? Would you steer me away from both of these? In real estate, is there still an advantage to shooting prime or would you recommend zoom? I'd like to stay under $1,000.

When shooting real estate, you can get by with a prime (24mm) but it is much better to have a zoom that will allow you to shoot between 17mm and 24mm effective focal length. So there are a number of natural choices for your 5D MK IV:

  1. Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L - Good, but overkill for real estate and above your price limit.
  2. Canon 17-40mm f/4L - Around $750
  3. Canon 16-35mm f/4L - Around $1000
  4. Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 - Around $1100

I would suggest either #2 or #3 above. The last three lenses are reviewed in the above video.

What do readers recommend for Erin?

14 comments on “What Is the Best Real Estate Photography Lens for Canon Full Frame DSLRs?”

  1. I would recommend the Canon 16-35 f4 or the Tamron 15-30.
    Both are excellent lenses that will offer solid performance that will deliver for years.

    I use the the Canon 16-35 f4 and it is a superb performer. I have really stopped using my 17TS-E except in the most extreme perspective-challenged situations.
    It's flexibility and quality get me through the job quickly and with quality.

  2. I've tried #1, #2, and #3 above, as well as the 24-70/2.8L, 24/1.4L, TS17 and TS24 lenses, and honestly, I have chosen the 16-35/4L to be my workhorse the past 5 or 6 years. You don't need speed like the 2.8s provide. It has some amazing optics that limit the flaring and ghosting fairly common with the others. You can photograph a home exterior with the sun peeking above the roof line and still manage to get a usable shot (and that's on my super-old Canon 6D bodies).

  3. I’ve been shooting abd building my business with a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 17-40 mm F4L for the last five years and it has never let me down.

  4. Not sure if this is appropriate and trust that Larry will delete it if it is. We recently changed camera platforms from Canon to Nikon and have both the 17-40 and 16-35 f/4 on the shelf, waiting for me to get around to putting them up on Ebay, etc. Feel free to contact me through our web site if you are interested in either of those lenses or other Canon 5DMkII and MkIII equipment.

  5. I have just ordered myself a Canon 24mm Mk II tilt and shift. It is the only way. When funds allow, I shall order the 17mm version.

  6. As a REALTOR, I recommend you stay away from the Prime, you need some flexibility, some thatrooms in particular will need a wider than 24 lens unless you are only in the $1m market. I use the canon 17-35 on my Mark III and get excellent results. The tilt shift isn’t necessary thanks to Lightroom and photoshop for correcting verticals.

  7. I personally tested the 16-35 f2.8II Canon against the 16-35 f4 Canon and the f4 lens was sharper overall than the more expensive f2.8. Plus I liked the image stabilization on the f4 lens.
    Since then I have switched to Fuji X-H1 (awesome video) and the X-T2. More dynamic range than Canon and the glass is super sharp. Battery life is the only downside but I shoot with the grip and the 3 batteries will last on an all-day architectural shoot.

  8. I love my 16-35 2.8 because of the amazing lens flare you can get out of it. But I had the 17-40 for a long time and that lens is great too...I'd go back to it in a heartbeat if I had to.

  9. I picked up my 17-40mm used for around $450 and it's been a great lens for me. I echo the admonition about getting a prime lens. You need the flexibility of a zoom lens and don't need the image quality edge a prime lens can have. If you buy a clean Canon L lens used and take care of it, it will retain much of its value over time if you decide you want to sell it at some point in the future. This also means that if you see one being offered for a very low price, be wary.

  10. I use the 16-35/f4 and remember that when I researched it a couple of years ago it apparently produced noticeably better images than the other two Canon lenses mentioned. It's as sharp as my 24 TS-E although it gets a lot more use for RE. I've no idea about the Tamron.

    The best difference for me, when I switched from the 50D and 10-22mm to the 6D and 16-35/f4, was the problem of window bloom seemed to disappear overnight, and I'm fairly sure that's down to the lens.

  11. I attached a 24mm tilt/shift 2 years ago and now I rarely use anything else unless it's 50mm+. I don't agree with the cons that a TS-e adds time to your shoot. And I've done many 'tiny' homes with it. A bit pricey but will definitely separate you from the pack - highly recommended. I also shoot a 17mm TS-E but that must be used v-e-r-y carefully 🙂

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