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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.