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What Would You Recommend As A Real Estate Photography Camera?

Published: 22/11/2016
By: larry

SonyA6000Curt in WA asks:

I have been doing real estate photography for 2 years after 13 years of portraits.

Quick question- I have a 5D MkI. For my next camera, would you recommend mirrorless?

Yes absolutely in the last year my top recommendation for real estate photographers just getting started is the following:

  1. Sony A6000 - $478
  2. 12mm Rokinon wide angle lens - $315
  3. YN-560-III Strobes - $69 each (you need from 1 to 3 of these)
  4. YN-560 TX controller - $39

Some time back Wayne Capili did a post on this bunch of gear and I've heard from many real estate photographers that are using this combination and are quite happy with it.

It's worth mentioning that since Wayne's post on the A6000 there have been two other camera bodies that have entered the market. The A6300 and the A6500. Both are more expensive than the A6000 but the new features they have are more for video than for still photography. The A6000 is still the best body in the A6xxx line for still real estate photography.

13 comments on “What Would You Recommend As A Real Estate Photography Camera?”

  1. The a6000 is now $398 brand new.

    A question I have is what is the shutter life on these bodies? I'm currently shooting a D3s which goes forever. I shot around 300 orders this past year of 12 to 20 images using 5 and 7 shot HDR. Thats about 30k shutter actuations a year. Can the A6000 handle that volume? I know the D3s can.

    I might just pick up the a6000 anyway to replace my back-up D700 and use it for my travel set-up and pole photography.

  2. It's always hard to answer this type of question without knowing if somebody is doing other types of work, are invested in a bunch of lenses or other third party/brand specific equipment.

    Bottom line, if you switch body companies, how much other equipment are you going to have to replace to keep your workflow? A 5Dmk1 is still a good camera for RE work where the final product is usually viewed online in a not too critical environment.

    Sony is making some darn good stuff now and there is an adapter to use Canon lenses. There is still the issue of not having as much third party accessories as Nikon and Canon, but that has been changing.

    While I love prime lenses, I do not recommend them for RE work. Photographers have very little control over the settings and moving furniture to locate the camera in the optimal place for a prime lens is a waste of time or may not be allowed by a home owner. With all of the pixels available to throw away some might think that it's easy enough to shoot wide and crop later, but it's faster to get the framing done in camera. A zoom lens will easily replace 3 primes.

    Depending on how much work you are doing, I might recommend getting another 5D so you have a pair of camera bodies that are the same and waiting to update until you can afford two replacements.

  3. @anyone...

    Not to hi-jack this thread (Sorry Curt!), but I shoot with a Canon 6D and an L lens. I also have as many as 6 YN's 560 IV's with a RF controller on the 6D's hot shoe. I too am considering going with the Sony. However, I thought there was something proprietary about Sony's hot shoe and not compatible with any other name or off-brand name flash. So, will my existing gear carry over to Sony's A6xxx? I am aware of the lens adapter, but I am more concerned about my flash gear. Any feedback? Thanks.

  4. @Moreno...Your YN560's, flash unit and controller, will fit. I personally use the Nikon version as that is what I came from and had some SB flashes which have now sold, and Yonunou doesn't make a Sony version. The confusion on shoe relates to the older, and arguably better/more secure, Minolta hotshoe which Sony acquired as used for years. They switched to the "ICO" standard about the time the a6000 was introduced - and with poor timing, Phottix introduced the TTL/controller Odin on the old Minolta standard which for some reason they have never updated the shoe and requires an adapter. For manual flash, like the YN560 (and 560 TX controller) it only required the single firing pin. No problem with my A7rII, but on wife's a6000, initially didn't fire until Google/YouTube to the rescue. Don't know if still today but apparently at the factory there was paint overspray that kept the shoe connection from acting as a ground. A little fine sandpaper on the underside of the shoe rails corrected it.

    That $398 for the a6000 body only is the current sale. Don't know the expiration - Black Friday or through the holidays - but just started yesterday so suspect through the holidays as authorized sales (Canon, Nikon, Sony etc.) usually are not short term. That sale also reduces the Sony 10-18mm by $100 to $798. With lens, be aware that it is the Sony E (or full frame FE) mount for the a6000 camera, not the older Sony/Minolta A mount. Both the a6300 and just released a6500 are NOT included in the current sale.

  5. @Ken.... you mentioned there are adapters for canon lenses on sony mirrorless bodies... I am wondering were I can get more info on that? I currently have rebel t5i and need to upgrade to a full frame camera... I have been divided between the sony mirrorless or an upgraded canon body. I would have to purchase new lenses anyway because my lenses I have will not work on the full frame canon bodies. But was curious about the adapter.

    Thanks in advance!

  6. I tried the above combo and didnt like it at all. Hated the fixed frame and lack of autofocus. Then I tried using adaptor so i could use canon wide angle lens on the sony body. Adaptor ruined the lens. I use my a6000 for fun, travel and its great, though battery life really is bad. I Bought canon 6d and while heavy, always using tripod anyway and i like it a lot.

  7. I made the switch from a lifetime Canon shooter to Sony almost 2 years ago and it's the best move I've made. I have a full frame A7II, as my goal was to move from APS-C to full frame. I use the Sony 16-35 f/4 lens and a tiny Nissin i40 flash. My rig weights less than half what the Canon weighed and that makes a difference over the course of a day's shooting. I went from 18 megapixels to 24, that made a difference, and the noticeably improved image quality and dynamic range of the Sony sensors has definitely made a difference. My on-property time has been reduced by about 1/3 because of the electronic monitor/viewfinder. When I look at the monitor I see exactly what the sensor sees so no guesswork before the shutter is pressed. My post processing time is down too about 1/3 as the images are so darn good. My real estate agents are delighted with the photographs. Next month I'm buying the Sony A6500 as my fun camera for travel, birding and possible backup to the A7II.

  8. I failed to mention one really great benefit of my Sony camera, the adjustable LCD monitor. My camera sits on the tripod at least one foot below my eye level. Before the adjustable monitor I had to bend over for every setup. Now I just flip it up and look down. It's a big relief to my back and I move around the house much quicker. I do recommend a LCD magnifier and hood. I have one hanging around my neck at all times. With interior shots I can easily see the room setup and determine if the camera is properly aligned horizontally and vertically so there is less time taken in post to straighten walls etc. With exterior shots, the hood blocks out sunlight and I get a clear view of my setup and camera alignment. Before the magnifier and hood I struggled to see the electronic level built into the camera.

  9. I am primarly a Canon shooter. I use the Canon 6D full frame with the 16-35 f/4 IS lens with a tripod and geared Manfrotto head. I shoot 3 shot HDR's (bracketed 2 stops) for interiors and single shots for exteriors. I keep it simple and use all natural light. Simple setup that is lightweight and covers all my shooting needs. In an average day I do 5-7 shoots, over 1000 clicks/day and my Canon is at over 200,000 clicks and still going. You can possibly get a 6D used and also save some money by using the 17-40 lens.

    My local camera store is quite amazing and they let me test out different brands but I always come back to Canon.

  10. I believe the quality of a real estate photo is governed by lighting, composition, post processing technique, and then the quality of your lens and then perhaps the body. In that order. I actually don't even think the body matters at all unless you're not lighting things, which many people don't of course.

    I'm a Nikon shooter so I get kinda lost in canon and Sony land, but I feel the d7000 is the optimal camera body for real estate. It's got a manageable number of megapixels that aren't going to waste your time with downloading and raw processing etc, and it's just a solid camera.

    I would liken comparing these more or less professional grade camera bodies to something like baseballs manufactured by Major League Baseball. That is, they are all pretty much the same and the true greatness, or lack thereof, in the final result is going to be totally dependent on the user who is holding it.

  11. I'm using the Canon 7DII after moving from the 7D two years ago, I am also using the 10-22mm and (3) 600 EX-RT flashes.
    I generally don't use a tripod unless I have to paint with flashes or I'm shooting in a basement.
    In my opinion using flashes along with a proper mix of ambient light gives me the best results, radio slave flashes are a must for me so whatever system I use I have to have that bit of kit.
    After asking the Nikon folks at a trade show last year I found out that you can set the newer Nikon cameras to program the flash to fire a particular amout of times. i.e. the flash will fire on every exposure or only one exposure if needed. This ability to program the flash will allow someone to set the D500 to 10 frames per second burst speed but only have the camera limit itself to a short burst of 2-3 frames. This allows you to take your first exposure at lets say 1/30th of a second and a bracketed exposure at 1/320 for the window views. (no tripod) Photoshop scripts do the rest of the work.
    Switching to Nikon would be pretty tough because of the $$8000 bill.

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