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Photography and Real Estate (Part 1 Cameras)

November 2, 2009

With the game changing faster than ever and literally 5 times the amount of places to market and promote your listings on the internet, one would think that real estate photography would go hand in hand and evolve with it. This isn’t the case. Looking through the MLS and various websites it becomes obvious, the photographic aspect of real estate is generally lacking. Your photos and their visual impact that is created , from the angles selected, lighting, and choice of equipment, matter more today than ever. When we posted a comment on our Facebook page, we were excited to see how many people actually use a professional photographer to paint their listings with the best light possible. Why not? Photographs are absolutely crucial for buyers in deciding if they want to see a home or not. Looking for a home myself, right now, I realize the importance of good photos more than ever. The homes I am most attracted to are generally the ones that have the best photos.

Here at Tech Savvy we recommend the use of a professional photographer to give your listings the best possible chance to succeed in these trying times. There are more agents now than ever hiring a pro, to come in and get the photos their clients deserve. The agents we talk to, use it as an excellent closing tool and a huge value added service that they provide, to justify that 6%. Judging from our experience here at Tech Savvy, (some) of the most successful realtors and teams offer this. If you are not offering professional photography, you better have the photographic prowess to back up your decision for not hiring one.

Again, we would recommend a professional but, if you insist on doing it yourself, here are some basic tips. We will break this down into two categories. Going over the equipment in this post and covering techniques in the next, to keep the information digest-able, in bite size portions.

Equipment

Honestly, a proper camera is crucial to today’s internet marketer. Photographing a $500,000 home, with a $199 point and shoot isn’t going to cut it. These little cameras cannot photograph a “true wide-angle” and won’t display too much more, than a small portion of even a large room. You will not be doing a home justice by photographing a property with one of these. There are some new, point and shoot (compact) cameras out there, that claim to have wide-angle capability and some get pretty close, but still fall short of a DSLR camera. For example the new Canon SD 940IS is supposed to have great wide-angle capabilities but, still only goes down to 28mm, falling way short of a DSLR 10-22 mm lens (16mm equivalent Canon body) on a DSLR. You can also buy small, magnetic snap-on wide-angle lenses, for a compact camera but, are not recommended due to the huge amount of distortion involved in these budget devices. When someone looks at a picture, they unconsciously process that picture in their head and awkward angles and lines in cabinets, tables and furniture, due to distortion of a lens, can actually cause someone not to like a home. Don’t believe me? There is a reason companies spend millions of dollars in marketing and appealing packaging for their products. How are your listings packaged?

What’s a DSLR? A digital single lens reflex camera allows the user to shoot with less distortion due to the construction of a larger lens and can shoot with a great wide-angle view. DSLR camera’s used to be really expensive but have come down in price drastically, in the last few years. Now you can pick one for as little as $500! These cameras offer the highest optics and will serve you well in real estate photography. Make sure you buy a wide-angle lens, like the Canon 10-22 mm for Canon cameras or the 12-24mm for Nikon cameras. Check out this review of the Canon 10-22mm lens review and look at the difference between the ultra wide 10mm view and the semi wide 22mm view of this lens, also shown below.  BTW, these photos are  from www.the-digital-picture.com and it is the best website, in my opinion, for evaluating Canon gear.

10mm

10mm

22mm

22mm

What a difference the 10mm perspective can make, in showing all of small room or making a larger room seem expansive.  Do you see why a 28mm simply does not cut it?  These wide-angle lenses are crucial for your business.

You probably have another question….Canon or Nikon?  Ahh, the age-old debate.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter.  They both provide excellent cameras and you will most likely be happy with either of them.  Don’t worry about the brand that much.  I happen to be a Canon shooter but Nikon has wonderful options available too.  A great place to go to get camera reviews, for any brand, is www.dpreview.com.  They have pretty much everything there and also great forums to talk to other camera users as well and to ask questions.

Now buying of these cameras isn’t an instant solution for you.  Time will have to be spent learning how to use them too!  They are not as easy as a compact camera to use but, the results speak for themselves, if used properly.  In the next “photography post” we will go over some tips and tricks on ow to take better photos.

Stayed tuned for the technique section next….

We are also creating an album for our Fan page in Facebook so send your pictures and website info to:

techsavvylocalagent@gmail.com so we can put a face to our fans!  It is “Face”book right?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2009 5:29 pm

    More important than your equipment is having a little knowledge on photography. I can get good shots from a 1MP camera that is about 8 years old and could be found at a junk store, that can compete with those from my $1,200 DSLR. Equipment is the least important component to a quality image. Composition, and understanding how your camera thinks can compensate for 80% of the poor images out there.

    I think people can better spend that money on taking some photography classes where they can learn how a camera works. Knowing what you camera is doing can help you frame the image appropriately to maximize it’s capabilities regardless of how “good” that camera is. A camera at its core is just a light tight box with a shutter and a lens. Without you guiding it, it doesn’t capture anything of value.

    A quality wide angle lens for a DSLR will cost you more than the camera, in some cases, twice what the camera costs and you should have a quality bounce flash, which can run you the cost of the camera. It can get very expensive, and all that will do you no good if you don’t understand the basics of photography.

    Build a foundation first, then upgrade the equipment as your skills outgrow your equipment’s capabilities.

    • November 2, 2009 9:20 pm

      Absolutely! That is why we strongly recommend the use of a professional to take photos of each and every listing!

      In fashion, wedding, children’s and mostly any other form of photography the tool between your ears that matters the most. People spend years at photography school to learn their craft, this writer included. Some real estate agents won’t spend a couple hours reading a manual for their camera. However, my suggestion of buying a low end DSLR and one wide angle lens will improve their photos instantly, without them putting an ounce of extra effort or time in learning the camera. There is no substitute for a wide angle shot, so the buyers can see more of a room than just the front wall. You could have Cliff Mautner photographing and if his camera doesn’t have wide angle capabilities then it won’t matter how “artistically” he shoots the wall, it’s still only a wall. If the buyer can’t see the rest of the room, than a novice with a wide angle lens, that shows the entire room, WILL do a better job of selling the home! Especially in small rooms where a true wide angle is a must.

      We appreciate and thank you for your response, you obviously know what you are talking about and we are glad you contributed to this post!

  2. November 3, 2009 2:16 am

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  3. November 3, 2009 2:57 am

    Excellent blog post.

    I’m glad you re-iterate that the professional is truly the ‘answer’ to great real estate photography. While an amateur can learn some of the basic points of imaging, the real estate professional that uses a pro photographer will always have the advantage over the agent that doesn’t.

  4. December 9, 2009 3:42 pm

    I use a professional on my higher priced listings, but if I’m listing a $70,000 house, it really doesn’t require hiring a professional. I have an older Konica Minolta camera and am considering spending the $1200 (body & lens) on a DSLR, but I think I may have found an alternative. the Panasonic LX3 has a 20mm lens and goes down to F2.0 which is quite rare in a point and shoot. Its about $450, so its quite a savings over the DSLRs. Anyone have any eperience using this camera for in-house photos?

  5. December 9, 2009 4:06 pm

    Thanks for pointing out the importance of using a professional photographer … so many agents think their pictures are “good enough”. Would you go to a brain surgeon who is “good enough”?

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