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Author Topic: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please  (Read 15511 times)

ereka

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Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« on: December 26, 2011, 06:48:43 AM »
Season's greetings from the UK!

Given a full frame camera body, which lenses would you recommend for real estate interior photography? This is an area of photography that I've only recently become involved with, so I'm looking for some guidance here.

My kit currently includes a 24-70mm f/2.8L (my widest lens) but I'm thinking that 24mm might not be wide enough for all purposes e.g. small rooms. I'm considering the 14mm f/2.8L II but it is quite expensive and I'm not sure at the moment how much interior photography I'll be doing and the payback period might be rather long!

My brief is to use available light and avoid using flash wherever possible.

Any suggestions for an interior photography beginner that will get the job done to a professional standard but won't break the bank? If you're already involved in this type of photography, which are your 'workhorse' lenses?

Any and all advice appreciated!

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Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« on: December 26, 2011, 06:48:43 AM »

Flake

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2011, 07:18:02 AM »
Firstly you should be aware of the legalities in the UK which say that you must declare if you have used a wide angle lens (anything wider than 50mm).

17mm on the 17 - 40mm L should be wide enough and if necessary stitch a couple together, if rooms are very small then more stitching may be necessary, you might want to consider buying a Pano head.

Planning not to use flash is planning to fail!  You might even want to use multiple flash units with an ST-E2, certain rooms have dark areas which need bringing up, you can even use flash outdoors to mimic the sun streaming in.

Interiors is a discipline all of its own, and it's not simple stuff there are loads of free tutorials all over the internet, you should look at lots of them before you consider pressing the shutter.

Caps18

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2011, 07:51:19 AM »
If money is no object, the 17mm TS-E would be the way to go.  I am thinking about getting one next year for different tree photos I take.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2011, 09:25:30 AM »
If money is no object, the 17mm TS-E would be the way to go.

+1.  If in your budget, the TS-E will allow you to correct keystone distortion, 17mm on FF should be wide enough, and if not (e.g. small bathrooms), you can take 2-9 images that can be seamlessly stitched by using shift.

You're considering the 14/2.8 II, about the same price as the TS-E - of the two, I'd take the TS-E.

You mention available light - be sure you have a good tripod!  Don't worry about 'fast' lenses - you'll want to stop down a bit for DoF anyway. Thus, the tripod.  Assuming there aren't people walking around, you can use a longer exposure. 

One problem with no flash for RE photography is balancing indoor lighting with day-lit windows.  It can be done with flashes, but if that's out I'd recommend learning about HDR.
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awinphoto

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2011, 09:43:26 AM »
I've got lots of exPerience in this arena.  What body are you using?  17mm on a crop will not be wide enough for the most part but will be fine on a full frame. On a crop grab a 10-22 or 10-20. It's very wide angle so if you can, use a level, if you have the 7d, use those levels, or get a hot shoe level. The 17 will work for big rooms but small to medium you will need to do heavy post production work to stitch. Flash is good but use diffusion and use it sparingly.  They can become unwieldy and a bit much if You don't mask and or hide them well. Instead if possible, get cheap work lights at a home improvement store or even the round reflector lights that accept house hold lights. They plug in anywhere in the house, easy to hide and controll. Heck you can even get a lamp dimmer to soften the light if you wish.  Keep your verticals under control. I can't tell you how much bad architecture photography I see where in interiors the vertical lines on the wall cave in on you or bow out just because the camera was not level.
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

Orangutan

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2011, 09:46:20 AM »
Hopefully someone who has done a lot of this will chime in but here are some thoughts I've accumulated over just a few dozen interior photographs.

If there are strong light sources in the room (e.g. sunlight coming in a window, candles, accent lights) your available light photo will often cause these sources to blow out badly.  You want a flexible light kit that will allow you to balance the light in the room so candles still look like candles, and there's still beautiful sunlight streaming into the room, but also so that light sources don't blow out.  As Neuro said, HDR might do this for you as well, but you should spend the time to find out what works and what doesn't.  Also practice working with mixed light colors, e.g. fluorescent + incandescent

Also, edge-to-edge sharpness is important, so if your lens isn't up for it, either get one that is, or plan to crop and stitch.

I suggest you read some books on interior photography for more ideas; a quick search on Amazon.com shows a number of titles.  Remember that interior photographs are often scrutinized in minute & technical detail.

Good luck.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2011, 10:29:18 AM »
What body are you using?  17mm on a crop will not be wide enough for the most part but will be fine on a full frame. The 17 will work for big rooms but small to medium you will need to do heavy post production work to stitch.

OP's post started 'Given a FF camera...' Just to clarify, I think your statement about 17mm not being adequate for small/medium rooms applies to crop bodies, right?  It should be wide enough for most rooms on FF, IMO.

Great point about the hotshoe level!
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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2011, 10:29:18 AM »

awinphoto

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2011, 10:57:13 AM »
Thanks for the clarification neuro. In my experience, on crop, 17 mm will not be wide enough to get adequate ceiling and floor in your shot. In architecture you want breathing space... Area where the viewer can feel they can walk around the scene. To combat this a lot of photogs tilt down to show more floor than ceilings but then they get narly distortions.

Color balance is something that is overly overlooked by many photos. Mixing tungsten or strobes in fluorescent rooms or such can give ugly color and many photogs don't check. Try to keep all lights either tungsten or daylight and learning either to do hdr or balance light indoors with outdoors will be good skills to learn. The latter gives you the most control and hdr can look bad at times in architecture. To get great exposures on exteriors most hers will use lower exposures on the interior so it's somewhat proportional. If not corrected the room can look dark and unwelcoming. Always try to view the property before you shoot so you can brainstorm before you shoot, get the right lights for the scene, bring extra lights to replace the properties lights if needed to match your lights, and make sure it goes smoothly. Also bringing cleaning supplies is a good idea. No property manager/owner will object to having you clean/dust/etc as needed.  If you cannot use flash, perhaps they won't object to accent lights such as cheap silver reflector lights or even lamps you can Plug in and hide. Some properties for archiving purposes don't light flash because they are afraid of items aging quicker than normal, such as museums and castles, but if they are requesting for you to photograph, they tend to allow less powerful lighting gear that won't do as much damage as strobe. If that isn't allowed bring lots and lots of reflectors and learn to hide them from view of the camera.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2011, 11:04:16 AM by awinphoto »
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Policar

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2011, 11:51:45 AM »
I hate to be "like this," but if you're considering this field professionally and not just for fun, a 5DII, 17mm TS E, 24mm TS E, and a decent set of off-camera strobes and hot lights is the absolute bare minimum for the low end.

You can fake it with the widest available APS-C lens, photoshop to correct for perspective correction, and HDR, but that's a pretty bad fake.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2011, 12:59:58 PM »
As Arwin said, lighting is a huge issue, you need even color-balanced lighting, powerful enough to overcome outdoor liighting coming in thru windows.  I do a lot of natural lighting photography in theatres where I cannot use extra lighting, and do not get the results you'd want for interior usage.

A low cost lens is the Canon 15mm FE which can be corrected and still have a reasonably wide fov.  Its far superior ti the 14mm Samyang that I bought.  Rent a 17mm TS-E, and the other candidates and find out what works, but plan on another $$$$ for good lighting, don't get cheap junk lighting, you will just have to dump it.  You can rent good lighting until such time as you decide to buy it.

danski0224

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Something about TS-E lenses...
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2011, 01:28:33 PM »
I have a TS-E 24mm L, and while it is very nice, I can't focus it through the viewfinder, even with the EgS screen.

I rented a Zeiss 35mm, and I couldn't focus that one, either. Live view, yup. Viewfinder, nope.

An aftermarket split prism screen is something I need to try.

I would make sure that you can focus a lens with your eyes and camera before buying a TS-E lens.

I wear glasses, and my eyes aren't bad.
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alexanderferdinand

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2011, 01:52:15 PM »
After being not really satisfied with my 16-35/2,8II (to soft, not sharp in the edges, not even at f8; maybe a bad copy) I am very satisfied with my Tokina 16-28/2,8.
Versatile because zoom.
I was able to try the 14/2,8, very good, but expensive.
Not tried, but always recommenden are the Tilt- Shift. Good as they are you can also make a 2- shot panorama, stitching together horizontally 2 frames.
Have a nice pain choosing  :))P

neuroanatomist

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2011, 01:56:57 PM »
I have a TS-E 24mm L, and while it is very nice, I can't focus it through the viewfinder, even with the EgS screen.

The Eg-S screen would be of little benefit, given the relatively narrow max apertures of the wide TS-E lenses.  But...is your viewfinder diopter set correctly? 

Regardless, Live View is a far better way to use a TS-E lens, IMO.  It makes tilt much easier, since you can 10x zoom on different areas of the scene.  Also, the TS movements affect metering (differentially based on direction and magnitude), so with the VF you must meter at neutral then move, whereas with Live View the metering is taken from the imaging sensor so it's accurate with TS applied.
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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2011, 01:56:57 PM »

danski0224

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2011, 03:04:34 PM »
The Eg-S screen would be of little benefit, given the relatively narrow max apertures of the wide TS-E lenses.  But...is your viewfinder diopter set correctly? 

I think so.

I adjusted it until the viewfinder info was clearest, which puts me about 4 clicks away from the "-" endpoint.

I also tried it without a lens, adjusting until the AF points were sharpest. Seems to be about the same spot.

Right way? Wrong way?
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wickidwombat

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2011, 05:29:28 PM »
i have a friend that does this professionally and he swears by his 60D and 10-22 combo due to the 10-22 having less distortion than the 16-35 on FF, also since he shoots off a tripod at low angles he loves the flip screen so he has to bend down less

i would say save some money and just go with a 600D, same sensor, same screen you dont care about AF
cheap set up and he has more work than he can handle and has just put on another photographer to help him

he uses 5Dmk2 for other photography
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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2011, 05:29:28 PM »