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What Real Estate Photography Software Do PFRE Readers Recommend/Use?

Published: 17/05/2012
By: larry

For those getting started in real estate photography in many ways the software tools you use are every bit as important as the gear tools you use. I get many questions about what software to use for real estate photography. While there is diversity of opinion of what you need I think it is valuable to look at what the PFRE readers use and how they vote with their money and actions (for details see the polls here). Here are the types of real estate photography software and what is used by readers:

  1. Workflow: The hands down winner here is Lightroom. You can do 95% of real estate post processing in LR the only things that you need to leave LR are to do sky replacement, manual blending/layering and bracket processing. For managing your workflow and making the myriad of touchup and adjustments you need to do LR is the fastest and easiest way to get the job done.  For Mac users is Aperture 3 will do almost the same job as LR4 but you will have to leave Aperture to remove lens distortion and straighten verticals in either Photoshop or PTlens. 50% of PFRE readers us LR and 5%, Aperture and 45% don't use workflow software at all.
  2. Pixel manipulation: By this I mean those things like sky replacement and layering (as in window masking). The two major choices here are either full Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. For someone starting out most will not say you need to need the full $670 version of Photoshop CS6. You can easily get by with Photoshop Elements for $79 which does a major part of what full photoshop does. At the same time I need to also point out that 66% of PFRE readers use the full version of Photoshop  either by itself or along with Lightroom or Aperture. The reason is that it's a professional product. Photoshop is the gold standard for pixel manipulation. 66% of PFRE users use some version of full Photoshop and 12% use Photoshop Elements.
  3. Bracket Processing: This type of software is only for those 52% of real estate photographers that are shooting brackets rather than using lighting. The following is what PFRE readers use for processing brackets.
    • Photomatix - 49%
    • LR/Enfuse - 20%
    • Photoshop -13%
    • EnfuseGui - 4%

Conclusion: So the recommendation of PFRE readers (based on what they use) is as follows:

  • Workflow software: Almost half of readers (45%) are getting by with no workflow software. For those that use it, the majority use Lightroom.
  • Pixel Manipulation: The majority of readers use it and use the full version of Photoshop.
  • Bracket processing: 52% of readers shoot brackets and Photomatix is by far the most popular processing software.

10 comments on “What Real Estate Photography Software Do PFRE Readers Recommend/Use?”

  1. Another class of software is pano stitching. Technically, you can do it in Photoshop, however the two preferred (and easier) programs are PT Gui, Autopano and their versions with more features. The one I use - because I am cheap - is Hugin. It is an open source free software that is not as polished as the others (who may actually use it as their underlying enfuse engine) so you have to flounder around getting to know it. Can't beat the price though.

  2. We love OnOne Perfect mask for replacing skies - it is worth the price of the entire suite - which adds layers to lightroom for those who don't want to use photoshop. We use PTGui for stitching and when we have to stitching and blending. We bring back tonality and contrast, etc. after we have blended and stitched using lightroom with Nik Filters or OnOne Filters. In this order we like Nik best - there is no pixelation and you never have to worry about problems. We next like OnOneSoftware - there are so many built in presets that there is always one that works just by clicking on it. Finally we use Lightroom or Photoshop, but feel these are the last of our choices. Our workflow so much faster with Nik and OnOneSoftware.

  3. @Geoff- Yea, I was pretty surprised by this too. I'd never studied the numbers in the polls very closely until I started to write this post and decided to use the reader poll numbers.

    I've talked to many readers that are not using workflow software. My take on this group is that there are a bunch of old timer Photoshop users that just have never been convinced that workflow software is important. Then there's a second group of folks that are just starting out and want to get by with the absolute minimum so they go with Photoshop Elements only. I never would have guessed that this combined bunch not using workflow was as high as 45%.

  4. I am one of the persons that use Elements 9 and remask from Topaz Labs. And I am in the process of buying the whole bundle.
    Following one of the webinars let me buy the bundle with 30% discount.
    Bracketing is one of my favorite procedures with the Canon.

  5. Very interesting stuff for sure!

    I was an early beta tester for Lightroom and haven't looked back. At all!

    I still have Photoshop and I signed on for Creative Cloud when that came out. I still do a fair amount of website development and am quite pleased with the news tools in my toolbox that Creative Cloud brought to me! Add in Premiere Pro and its associated support apps and the Creative Cloud is one sweet deal!!

    I too am a big fan of Nik Software's package of plugins! Although I don't use them all that much for my Arch/RE shoots.

    I tried to get Photomatix to give me satisfying results but I eventually gave up and stayed with my tried and true LR/Enfuse. Nothing else works as well for my end goal of images that show no sign of that smokey brassy HDR uckiness.

    I'm using speedlights a lot more in my shoots (thank you Scott Hargis for both the book and the videos!). I can now knock out the smaller rooms in a home a LOT faster with speedlights. This gives me more time to spend on the beauty shots of the common areas. These I now approach with a hybrid of LR/Enfuse and speedlights. It's really nice to have the option of either/or or both!

    All of the above is all about having robust tools in my toolbox. I like to approach each shot/problem with a very open mind and lots of options. Fixing a car with just a crescent wrench and a screw driver really sux (yes I've been there done that...). I feel the same way about photography. And man is this an amazing time to be a fotog or what??!!

  6. I believe I may be on my own little island with my workflow. I import into Bridge, adjust my raw files, make my selections and then fuse them with Photomatix. I then open the folder with the fused images and make quick adjustments once again with Bridge. I'll leave Bridge only for any masking work.

  7. After reading this post I downloaded a trial version of Lightroom4 a couple of days ago and I must say, I am very impressed. All the controls that I've used in my (admittedly short) real estate photography career are there and sooo much better and easier to use than the ones in Elements9. I especially like the sharpening and noise reduction tools in this program and the perspective control tool is superb. And one of the main reasons for using it is to be able to shoot tethered when the need arises.
    I will still be using Elements if I need to do some layer work etc. but once I learn my way around Lightroom, it will definitely be my go to program.
    Thanks for the enlightenment Larry.

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