Real Estate Photography — Camera Choice

(Editor’s note: In striving to mix things up a bit here on Rain City Guide, I’m excited to introduce Mark Reibman as the newest contributor. Mark is a Seattle-based real estate photographer who has agreed to post advice directed at improving the state of real estate photography. His first post is geared toward real estate agents, but the advice he gives could be useful for anyone interested in taking better photographs (and who isn’t?). To see more of Mark’s photos, check out his website at Blue Light Imaging or email

How important to you are great photographic images for marketing your listings? Are ‘okay’, somewhat blurred or dark images acceptable to you? Would you like to take better images of your real estate listing? Over the past few years we have seen the dramatic changes the digital age has brought to the Real Estate industry. With this recent technology, a real estate listing can be photographed, images transferred to a web page on the internet, and flyers printed all within hours. Today’s listings are almost immediately available to other real estate agents and buyers anywhere in the world who have access to a computer. With the increasing use of high speed internet connections, the internet is fast becoming a critical marketing media. The value of great looking images as a marketing tool should not be underestimated. Whether it’s a low end ‘fixer’ or a multi-million dollar luxury home, great images are important and are going to help sell your listings.


The intended purpose of this article and future articles is to provide advice and general interior/exterior photography tips for the realtor who would like to take better pictures and improve their marketing presentation. The topics to be covered will include: Camera choice, required and optional accessories, photographic techniques and tips for taking good images and post processing of images with image editing software.


A good quality digital point and shoot camera with a hot shoe attachment will do the job, but most important, it must be wide angle or accept a wide angle teleconvertor. A camera with a 24mm lens is minimum for photographing interiors. There are a few cameras like the Nikon Coolpix 8400 that have lenses that are sufficiently wide angle (24mm). But most point and shoot cameras are too narrow for real estate interiors so the alternative is to choose a camera that can offer the wide angle option with the purchase of a separate wide angle tele-convertor. Converters adapt to the camera lens to extend it’s wide angle range to at least 24mm or less. In addition to having the capacity to accept a wide angle convertor, a hot shoe attachment is a must in your camera choice. This feature will allow you to use an external flash attachment because the camera’s on board flash is going to be too weak to be a any value when the use of a flash is desired.

And although shooting with available light is an option, in many cases an external flash will be very helpful to deal with the tricky lighting situations you will encounter. The cameras that I prefer are principally the Canon powershots (G series, Pro 1) or the Nikon Coolpix line. You can inquire at a camera store about these cameras or shop for them online. Another option would be to go the ebay route and pick up a used camera. As an example, an ancient (two year old) model Canon Powershot G3 with a wide angle teleconvertor is going to be much more reasonably priced than the current Powershots. Going the eBay route can produce some great deals but requires a certain knowledge and time to play the game. A new Powershot G6 or Pro 1 would be a great choice as well. I’m not as familiar with the Nikon line of cameras but there are some excellent cameras among the higher end NIkon Coolpix cameras. These are my suggestions for cameras but a knowledgeable salesperson at a camera store such as Glazer’s Camera, Kenmore Camera or any one of the Ritz camera stores, can offer you a lot more advice and guidance than I can in this article. Also ask about the availability and price of the tele-convertor and an external flash when shopping for a good camera. There are certainly other excellent choices from other camera makers, Sony, Kodak, Konica, and either you can research these yourself via the internet or at your local camera store. I should add that although I’m suggesting digital cameras, film cameras with the wide angle capability and external flash attachments will work just fine if the film is scanned to a CD when it is developed. It’s simply not as convenient as a digital camera and also lacks the option of on-site review which is a huge advantage of the digital cameras.


A decent tripod is next on the list of necessary tools. Because the camera shutters speeds are much slower when shooting interior photography, your images will be blurred without the use of a tripod. It should be reasonably sturdy and come up to your eye level. If your camera does not include a remote, buy one. This would be an item to inquire about before a camera purchase. Does it accept a remote? I use one that attaches via a wire and there are also wireless remotes. You can do without a remote and use the time delay on the the shutter but a remote is so much more convenient.

And as mentioned above, an external flash is going to be necessary in many situations where there is simply not enough light and/or high contrast lighting, so finding the proper external flash for your camera should be part of your research.

A step above the moderately priced point and shoot cameras are the digital SLRs. These are cameras that allow for interchangeable lenses. This can get expensive and probably beyond the needs of most real estate agents. A basic dSLR like the Canon xt or Nikon D70 with a good quality wide angle lens and external flash and tripod will entail an outlay of close to $2000. Definitely not something everyone will run out to purchase, but it is an option for those who are so inclined. And, of course, you can spend a lot more.

In future articles I will give some advice on working with the variations in lighting, image editing software tips, composition ideas and more.

I would be happy to answer any questions related to Real Estate Photography. Keep in mind that the preceding suggestions are some general guidelines for real estate photography and there is no single best way for shooting interior images. I continue to learn and refine my own process. Practice and experiment on your own home and/or at a friends home and see what works best for you.

32 thoughts on “Real Estate Photography — Camera Choice

  1. Pingback: Digital Camera Tracker

  2. I’m working in my real estate office in Nantes, France. I’m happy to read your insights, and share mine.

    I always watch the markefor my specific needs. In compact cameras, there is only two 24-mm equivalents: the aformentionned nikon 8400 (360 €), and the kodak P880, (400 €). The kodak is better suited to other uses with its manual, longer zoom; but the nikon got a flip-out screen which is a killer feature, cramped in the corner of a room. Plus it accepts a wide converter, getting to 18mm equivalent (90° of horizontal fov), but it’s pretty expensive (270 €) and is impractical.

    The only other, more SLR like, is the Sony R1. But prices are SLR-like too: 600€, 275€for the 19mm converter. The Sigma 10-20mm (15-30 mm equivalent in a nikon!) is starting at 410 €, a naked D50 is 460 €. See Ken Rockwell’s wide angle zooms comparison:

    For small needs, I gave my co-workers cheaps Ricohs (150€ each), the only compacts with a 28mm with the fuji E500. Shots can be stiched after with Hugin or Autostitch.

    I’m waiting for next articles 🙂

  3. Real estate photography is my profession, and I can confirm many of the views above. I would add that I do not use a tripod, as my style is free flowing. I like to shoot at an expected eye level, that is seated in the living areas, standing in kitchens, over dining room tables etc. This gives a natural feel.

    Turn on the house lighting to supplement light, the colours will shift and that is a slight problem at times, as you have outside, tungsten and bounce flash light all mixed. learn to master software, Paint Shop Pro is recommended unless you already know your way about Photoshop which is a bear to learn.

  4. Pingback: Seattle’s Rain City Real Estate Guide » The Importance of Using the Digital Darkroom…

  5. Hi.

    • Hey whats up

      I’m interested in knowing more about photography’real estate’ im heading for africa soon and there’s this great posiblity for a side line job/i’d like you to show me yhe rope ,would you be kind to call me 561 7233365 or email me @… im willing to pay you a cool $150 ,for the 20 most important things i should learn/
      im in west palm beach.



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  9. Hi – Your website is amazingly informative – question: I purchased a Kodak ultra-wide dual lens sx – as a result of on-line research & recommendations. The photos are fuzzy & not crisp. Can you explain why & make a recommendation for a high quality, wide angle digital camera – I am a top listing agent & find the photographers often take inferior photos to mine but they have a better camera. The Kodak cost 350. I wonder if I am operating it wrong for the fuzzy pictures. Thank you, Laurel

  10. I have the Kodak V705 and sometimes the pictures come out a bit fuzzy. Make sure you press the shutter half way down and give it a few seconds to focus. There is also a sharpen mode in the menus you can turn on.

  11. I’d like to start a Real Estate photography business. Any advice? I have my digital SLR, wide lens, tripod etc. What next? business lic? who do i contact? Is there a large co. i can work for to gain experience? etc.

    Thank you for your time.

  12. Hello,

    I have been noticing ads on craigslist for real estate photographers and I’d like to know what the rates are for real estate photographers? One of the business’s is ObeoPics and they let you come up with your own rate. Here’s the time frame they also suggested: Drive time: 5-15 minutes each way, Shoot time: 30-40 minutes, Photoshop/stich time: 15 minutes. Does this sound realistic? Thanks for any feedback.

  13. Heidi:

    Real Estate Photography time estimates are close…. Drive time and shooting time are realistic. Phtotshop time is too short. I take an average of 30 – 50 shots, and spend about 30 – 60 minutes with Photoshop after the shoot (to address lighting, cropping, sharpening, etc), to come up with 20 good shots.

  14. I’m a new agent who has just started shooting homes for an area realtor and I have a basic question no one in the office knows the answer to. I’m doing photos for both the brochures and the MLS listings.

    So, to put the listings on the local MLS, the photos need to be sized at 640 x 480 or 512 x 400, with a resolution of 75 or 96. I know how to set the resolution on PhotoShop Elements, but what exactly am I setting on image size?

    Is it inches, pixels, cm, mm, or percent?

    Sorry to be so dumb, but I really don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to be processing the photos at.

    Many thanks.

  15. I’m a Photo Student and I’m interested in going into real estate photography. I’m moving to Hawaii in 4 months and planning on starting my business there. What advice can you give me on starting and what equipment to get. Should I work for a realtor or freelance to more than one? Is it better to finish school before i start or will they look at the quality of work over my resume. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • yo Dustin im Ricardo’ and have the same plan in mind,im heading for africa in just 2 months.please let me know how thing are going with this brilliant idea/im in west palm at this time so call me if you can…. 561 723 3365

  16. I only have one question….how do you take a shot that displays a nice bright interior while also being able to clearly see through the windows? Is this a photoshop trick or do I need to be experimenting with certain settings?


  17. Hi Tyler,

    The author of this post isn’t a regular participant. Before your comment drops off the sidebar, I wanted to acknowledge it.

    I asked this question in a post once before and th best answer was that they used digital editing methods that cut out the window and replace it with the view portion. So it ends up being an overlay of the view shot into the room shot.

    After receiving that answer…I hired a professional photographer. I will send a link to this and your question over to Harley (the photographer I hired) and see if he can stop by and give you some pointers.

  18. Thanks Ardell!

    Tyler there are several methods you can use to get great results. Each have some trade-offs.

    The first method is HDR or (High Dynamic Range) imaging. This consists of taking multiple pictures, usually 7 -9, at increasingly darker to lighter exposures. You then purchase HDR software that allows you to combine these pictures producing some decent quality pictures that will highlight both the interior and exterior well. The trade-off is that you generally have some “fuzziness” to the pictures and often high-end magazines and photo editors will not accept them. They almost appear slightly “fake” and results can vary wildly. The technology is getting better though.

    For Ardell, I used a stacking method in which I took two pictures. One to properly expose the interior and the other to expose the exterior. I then combined the images in Photoshop.

    Here are some links to an example of the pictures I took for Ardell:

    The trade-off with the stacking method is that it takes time, but results are great and will pass muster with the photo editors of magazines.

    The last option is to purchase and use professional studio lighting and soft boxes. It is possible to use multiple strobes and soft boxes to properly illuminate a room and capture both the interior and exterior. The trade-off is that you need to purchase upwards of $10,000 in lighting equipment, pocket wizards, light meters, and be well trained in the use of them all. The setup and tear down requirements are overwhelming especially when you need to bring them to each room.

    Regardless, you will likely have to do some editing in Photoshop and the time required to set-up, tear-down, and process the images will require you to charge a lot more than many real estate agents are willing to pay. If it is a $1,000,000 plus listing it may not be as cost prohibitive.

    I hope this helps answer your question. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

    I wish you the best!

  19. Thank you for your responses!

    I do have Photoshop CS2 so I will just have to play with it and see what I can do. Thank you again and have a great day!

  20. Mark, I appreciate a lot the desire of so many ppl to raise the awareness of the real need of better photography for Real Estate Purposes. Your article is a breath of fresh air in the storm of horrific pictures I see on daily basis on the MLS systems.

    But from desire to really good results the path is not short. My point is that no matter what camera system you have, more important than the equipment are other things, like composition and understanding light and what is shown in the image. The image has to talk and describe what the original picturetake saw or wanted to transmit. A picture is thousand words, yes, but those words have to tell the right story.

    Congratulations for your article, it’s been a great read! More to come?

    Michael Asgian

  21. My husband does our photography – he tells me he needs and uses a tripod when doing photos of our listings. And he says it is not just using the tripod but the image needs to be set up correctly in the view finder before shooting the pictures. Otherwise seem to curve and narrow or expand at the top/bottom of the picture. Look in the view finder, adjust so that it looks correct and THEN shoot.

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