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Author Topic: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please  (Read 16071 times)

ereka

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #30 on: December 27, 2011, 05:53:50 AM »
usually this site gives pretty good advice however this thread bucks the trend. whats with all the recommending super expensive ts lenses? its REAL ESTATE photography, hardly fine art, the pictures will only ever be viewed online i would be surprised if ever at a resolution greater than 1024x768. maybe some might be printed on a sign at the front of the house, also the shoots do not command alot of money so investing heavily in equipment to shoot real estate does not make business sense.

See my previous response to what my friend uses for this exact type of photography.

Wow! Thank you to EVERYONE who has taken the time to reply - I've been off visiting family since my original post and to be honest wasn't expecting such a quick and extensive response.

In clarification, the commission that prompted my post is photographing short-term lets. Insofar as I'm aware, the images will just be used online to promote the lettings. However, the client has specified that they want images at least 4200 pixels wide. Also no fisheye lenses, flash only if necessary and preferably no HDR.

wickidwombat is correct that each individual shoot does not pay much, so it's the case that I'm struggling hard to let my head rule here, which is why I mentioned payback period. My heart tells me I want the very best equipment available so that I can achieve (with study and practice of course) the best possible results - that's just my nature as a perfectionist. However, my head is nagging me to look more at the business aspect and acquire equipment that will be 'good enough' to get the job done to the client's satisfaction and that will pay for itself in a reasonable period of time. There is a certain tension between the two extremes though, just because of the low-paying nature of the commission i.e. time is money and therefore I don't want to be spending hours in post production.

I currently have a 1D MkII but because of the client's 4200 pixel specification and also the wide angle requirement for these real estate assignments, I'm thinking of buying a 5D MkII (new bodies seem to be at rock bottom price at the moment) and considering all of the advice offered here, possibly a 17-40mm f/4L to start off with - I already have a sturdy Manfrotto tripod with level to keep everything straight. I also have two speedlights and radio triggers as well as a range of Elinchrom studio lighting but I'm only expected to spend 30 to 40 minutes at each property to photograph several rooms so I'm thinking there wouldn't really be sufficient time to set all this up. Quick 'in and out' seems to be the name of the game on these assignments. It seems from what has been said that the 17-40mm might be 'good enough' and it would pay for itself in less than ten shoots. If I could get away with using the wide end of my 24-70mm f/2.8 so much the better! The 5D MkII would in any event come in useful for my general photography and in particular for stock images. It would also be useful as a second body when my 1Dx eventually materialises :)

Am I thinking along the right lines here? Any more thoughts or suggestions?


 

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #30 on: December 27, 2011, 05:53:50 AM »

danski0224

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #31 on: December 27, 2011, 06:16:19 AM »
Exactly the right way.  So, I'm not sure why you're having difficulty with MF... ???

Me neither.

Could be as simple as more practice.

I'm probably not the only one that has difficulty focusing on these matte screens. The DSLR viewfinder is so much different from my plain old EOS 620, and I never had any issues with that- despite never owning any L or fast glass.

Maybe an aftermarket split screen is the answer, or a viewfinder magnifier. I have spent a lot of time researching both from a couple of screen vendors and the Nikon magnifier adaptation vs the commercial aftermarket product, and the results are inconclusive for the screens and magnifier. Each seems to add some solutions and new quirks.

Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to buy it and try it.

As I mentioned earlier, I rented a Zeiss ZE 35mm f1.4, and I could not focus it unless I was in live view. I had it only for a few days and this was my first real effort at a manual focus lens.

The other possibility is the 20+ year time span between my EOS 620 and now, and maybe my eyes suck, even with glasses.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2011, 06:21:06 AM by danski0224 »
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Nick Gombinsky

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #32 on: December 27, 2011, 06:32:21 AM »
Hey there! I do that exact same kind of real estate photography. On-line only, for an agency that sells and rents all over my city. The pay is not much, and for the kind of time and dedication the pictures are gonna get after they go on the website, I don't think I need to be THAT serious about it.

What I use, is a 7D with a Samyang/Rokinon/Bower 14mm f2.8 @f4 (Manual focus lens, but with the same optical quality as Canon's 14mm f2.8L, at a third of it's price). I have a hot shoe flash which I use in manual mode, bounced to the ceiling, to balance the light coming from the outside and inside (making it look like it did come from the outside, but at the same time, the outside isn't overexposed).

No tripod, shutter speed is usually 1/50 or 1/100. I was told when I was hired, to use a good tripod. I sent them the pictures of my first property, in three sets: One in which I exposed the interiors correctly, blowing away the exteriors, another one exposing the exteriors a bit better, but showing a gloomy interior, and another one using my style, filling in with the flash and no tripod.
They told me to ditch the tripod ;)

On full frame, I'd say the 17-40mm is a good choice.

This way is very easy and fast and I get good pictures for the use intended.
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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #33 on: December 27, 2011, 07:05:27 AM »
You consider also  that, optically speaking, their focal lenghts are very much shorter than the nominal focal lenght, with all the related optical problems.
I think you have it backwards - a nominal measure is a by-the-numbers measure, whereas on APS-C DSLRs (NOT full frame cameras) the "equivalent" focal length is longer - not shorter.  On full-frame cameras the lenses act as normal.
Edwin, here I'm not speaking about APS-C crop, but about T&S lenses design. A T&S lens design is nothing more than a super wide angle with a huge image circle, larger than required by the sensor, allowing the image to 'float' inside it by means of the lens groups mechanical shifting or tilting. The TS-E 17mm, for instance, has a 67.2mm image circle, far larger than a standard 17mm. So, a 17 mm T&S lens has an optical design typical of extremely wide angle or a T&S 24mm of a super wide angle, hence the huge price to get a good quality.

awinphoto

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #34 on: December 27, 2011, 10:10:14 AM »
Ereka, Good luck with your venture... I used to do real estate photography almost full time before the economy went to the shitter and real estate agents decided it was more cost effective to do their own photography rather than paying a pro to do it... Pictures aren't nearly as good as they could be with me shooting them but with a slumping real estate market and commissions not where they used to be, they cant justify splurging on photography...  For those who aren't sure about Real Estate Photography, depending on the client, how much they want the photography, and what you are given, you can be paid as little as $100 per house for single snap-shots or as much as a few thousand a picture depending on how they depending on using it, it its being published in magazines, websites, etc... Those are few and far between.  I never used TS lenses when I did the Real Estate Photography because for what I did, I couldn't justify the cost and to go in photoshop, throw in guides and do a quick distortion fix took me like 1 minute so it wasn't that worth it to me... It i was doing the architectural digest style shots day per day, then hell yeah, I would have plunked the money down, but for this temporary gig, unless you become one of the select few to be deemed worth to do the high end gigs full time, it really is one of those things where you dont NEED it but WANT it... there's a big difference there.
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ereka

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #35 on: December 27, 2011, 02:44:23 PM »
Thanks - some great sounding advice here! I've also considered going even cheaper e.g. 600D with 10-20mm but something is telling me I'd be better off with a 5D MkII (or III ???) and winging it with my 24-70L. Decisions, decisions! :(

Policar

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #36 on: December 27, 2011, 03:50:06 PM »
It sounds like you've got the right attitude and I'm sorry for my critical tone, but it really is foolish going into this without appropriate gear.

I would skip the 17-40mm zoom (the 24mm-70mm, which is excellent, covers most of that range already) and get the 17mm TS/E.  I'm a total amateur at photography but the pros I've talked with who've done this professionally and with success wouldn't consider doing interior photography with anything less and even I don't like shooting landscapes without a view camera, not that I get the chance to use mine much anymore.  Remember, you absolutely need to correct for perspective and if you don't use a tilt/shift lens or tech/view camera that means the horizon will be dead-center, which is a very ugly way to compose in general.  In a pinch the zoom will pull it off so long as you compose wide with the aim of correcting/cropping in post, but the correction in Photoshop will show up at 4200 pixels wide.  The 5DII sounds like an ideal camera for this purpose, however.  The other advantage of tilt shift lenses is you can stitch geometrically seamlessly so the focal lengths are a little "bendable" in post if you will...

If you really want to cheap out, a 7D type camera and very wide zoom will work, just make sure you correct for perspective in photoshop and bring your off-camera strobes.  Your client's aversion to strobes and HDR implies that he's worked with some untalented people in the past.  As much as I hate HDR (even in a lot of professional real estate photography), it can be used seamlessly on interiors to recover blown out windows, etc.  Also carry around a set of color corrected practical bulbs at lower wattages to avoid blowing out highlights too strongly and a set of color correction gels for your strobes (CTO of various strengths at the very least).
« Last Edit: December 27, 2011, 03:54:17 PM by Policar »

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #36 on: December 27, 2011, 03:50:06 PM »

kirispupis

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #37 on: December 27, 2011, 04:21:24 PM »
In clarification, the commission that prompted my post is photographing short-term lets. Insofar as I'm aware, the images will just be used online to promote the lettings. However, the client has specified that they want images at least 4200 pixels wide. Also no fisheye lenses, flash only if necessary and preferably no HDR.

To be honest,  from my experience this would make me a bit nervous.  When I discuss RE photography with new clients I send them my portfolio, recent properties I have photographed, and often agents I currently work with.  The agent's job is to sell the house and my job is to portray that property in the best possible way.  There is no discussion of HDR vs. flash.  I do not tell them how to sell the house and they do not tell me how to photograph. Often agents will tell me that they want particular angles or shots, but in terms of post processing + lighting they will receive similar shots to those I sent them.  With agents I have worked with for some time there often isn't even a discussion on angles - they know I know which angles they want.

Personally, I use exposure blending in all of my RE shots.  I tried going the multiple lights approached and found it took forever to get the lights in the right positions.  I found that by using exposure blending the shots come out brighter and look nicer.  There isn't really a right vs. wrong of exposure blending vs. multiple lights, but both I and most of the agents I know prefer blended shots.

In terms of time to shoot a property, it takes me about 45 minutes to shoot your average 1-2 bedroom condo and about an hour to shoot a normal sized house.  Very large properties may take up to three hours over multiple visits.

In terms of post processing the average property takes about an hour.  I use batch processing in Photomatix, do some color correction in Lightroom, replace the windows in Photoshop, then use the Nik suite + Photoshop to do some final changes.

If you are just starting out plan for about an hour and a half photographing the property and 2-3 hours of post processing.  As you photograph more properties you will become much quicker.  Plan for more time at the property if you are using lights as you'll have to experiment a bit to get them right.
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awinphoto

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #38 on: December 27, 2011, 05:20:32 PM »
It sounds like you've got the right attitude and I'm sorry for my critical tone, but it really is foolish going into this without appropriate gear.

I would skip the 17-40mm zoom (the 24mm-70mm, which is excellent, covers most of that range already) and get the 17mm TS/E.  I'm a total amateur at photography but the pros I've talked with who've done this professionally and with success wouldn't consider doing interior photography with anything less and even I don't like shooting landscapes without a view camera, not that I get the chance to use mine much anymore.  Remember, you absolutely need to correct for perspective and if you don't use a tilt/shift lens or tech/view camera that means the horizon will be dead-center, which is a very ugly way to compose in general.  In a pinch the zoom will pull it off so long as you compose wide with the aim of correcting/cropping in post, but the correction in Photoshop will show up at 4200 pixels wide.  The 5DII sounds like an ideal camera for this purpose, however.  The other advantage of tilt shift lenses is you can stitch geometrically seamlessly so the focal lengths are a little "bendable" in post if you will...

If you really want to cheap out, a 7D type camera and very wide zoom will work, just make sure you correct for perspective in photoshop and bring your off-camera strobes.  Your client's aversion to strobes and HDR implies that he's worked with some untalented people in the past.  As much as I hate HDR (even in a lot of professional real estate photography), it can be used seamlessly on interiors to recover blown out windows, etc.  Also carry around a set of color corrected practical bulbs at lower wattages to avoid blowing out highlights too strongly and a set of color correction gels for your strobes (CTO of various strengths at the very least).

The 24mm on the wide end would be similar to the 17-40 on a crop... the problem is in rooms such as lets say bedrooms, they are medium sized rooms, but 24mm will on average get you a wall and a half to 2 walls in the shot... sometimes you will get floor, sometimes not... It is not wide enough... The 17TS, I would NOT recommend unless you start really getting paid decent money for the investment... The 17-40 does just fine for this application... Using the lens corrections in camera with the 5d2 AND using the lens correction in photoshop, you should be just fine with that set up... and once the big jobs start flowing in, set up a slush fund to pay for the 17TS... It's just a lot of lens that you dont know if you will really need...

kirispupis,  I've been in the industry in California and Nevada... I've got competition for $300 they not only will do HDR photography and have a turn around time of less than 24 hours and have full resolution files on a CD and website page, but they also will rent a helicopter to provide arial shots... RE photography in my experience, until the economy recovers is dying a slow painful death with cameras getting better and better and a realtor can get their own gear and take their own shots... I had a real estate agent try to buy my 7D so they can do their own stuff... If your working for real estate agents, it really isn't worth the fancy lenses or upselling to higher packages because in my experience, the agents just aren't buying... I live in the foreclosure capital of the world but the agents just wont spend the dough... I had to all but stop my RE photography in favor of commercial photography for the time being.. 
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wickidwombat

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #39 on: December 27, 2011, 05:46:30 PM »
Thanks - some great sounding advice here! I've also considered going even cheaper e.g. 600D with 10-20mm but something is telling me I'd be better off with a 5D MkII (or III ???) and winging it with my 24-70L. Decisions, decisions! :(

Seriously have a look at the 600D and the 10-22

total cost for the above is around $1300 thats half the cost of a 17mm TSE the 600D will do absolutely everything you need it to for interiors

My friend that does this all the time with the 60D swears by the 10-22 due to lack of distortion
I also just got my mum and dad a 600D for xmas and its a pretty impressive little camera for what it costs
the flip screen and built in flash control is excellent i set it up and had it driving all my 580II flashes in about 30 seconds. Even the image quality off the 18-55 kit lens was better than i expected. It makes me want a 7D even more now.

Another thing you should consider is 2 exposures expose the interior and the outside and just mask the exterior exposure over the blown out highlights, its not HDR and looks good and its not very hard to do, I use topaz remask to speed up the process of maskingbecause you dont have to spend alot of time geting the edges correct as it can calculate it all pretty well

good luck
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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #40 on: December 27, 2011, 06:03:04 PM »
Thanks - some great sounding advice here! I've also considered going even cheaper e.g. 600D with 10-20mm but something is telling me I'd be better off with a 5D MkII (or III ???) and winging it with my 24-70L. Decisions, decisions! :(

Seriously have a look at the 600D and the 10-22

total cost for the above is around $1300 thats half the cost of a 17mm TSE the 600D will do absolutely everything you need it to for interiors

My friend that does this all the time with the 60D swears by the 10-22 due to lack of distortion
I also just got my mum and dad a 600D for xmas and its a pretty impressive little camera for what it costs
the flip screen and built in flash control is excellent i set it up and had it driving all my 580II flashes in about 30 seconds. Even the image quality off the 18-55 kit lens was better than i expected. It makes me want a 7D even more now.

Another thing you should consider is 2 exposures expose the interior and the outside and just mask the exterior exposure over the blown out highlights, its not HDR and looks good and its not very hard to do, I use topaz remask to speed up the process of maskingbecause you dont have to spend alot of time geting the edges correct as it can calculate it all pretty well

good luck

If you dont have the 5d2 all ready and are looking at making the camera and lens purchase, the 60D and 10-22 would be a fine recommendation for most people getting into RE photography... If you already have the 5d2, then the 17-40 or 16-35 II are great options... When you first get into this sector of photography, keep your overhead low and build up a clientelle... assuming your market is in better condition than my market..
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.

kirispupis

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #41 on: December 27, 2011, 06:09:20 PM »
kirispupis,  I've been in the industry in California and Nevada... I've got competition for $300 they not only will do HDR photography and have a turn around time of less than 24 hours and have full resolution files on a CD and website page, but they also will rent a helicopter to provide arial shots... RE photography in my experience, until the economy recovers is dying a slow painful death with cameras getting better and better and a realtor can get their own gear and take their own shots... I had a real estate agent try to buy my 7D so they can do their own stuff... If your working for real estate agents, it really isn't worth the fancy lenses or upselling to higher packages because in my experience, the agents just aren't buying... I live in the foreclosure capital of the world but the agents just wont spend the dough... I had to all but stop my RE photography in favor of commercial photography for the time being..

$300 is very cheap if aerial shots are included.  My rates are between $150-$300 which is a tad below what other photographers charge.  The main reason I charge a bit less is I do not depend on the money for income.  I use it only to pay for more equipment.  However even though I am not a full time RE photographer I have photographed over 100 homes. 

If I depended on this for a living I am sure I would have a different view.  It is a pita for the money and if I can ever get my print business going someday I will not hesitate to drop most of my RE clients.

Actually my biggest client sells almost exclusively foreclosure (REO) properties.  She has found that by using professional pictures her homes tend to move quicker.  The best agents out there realize that a small investment in quality photos make a big difference in the number of people that view the property. 

I have yet to see a realtor who truly knows how to take RE photos.  It is not as easy as it looks.
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wickidwombat

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #42 on: December 27, 2011, 06:10:35 PM »
why would you use a 60D and not a 600D? I cant see a single thing the 60D has for this type of shooting that the 600D doesn't? just wondering if there is something i dont know about thats all
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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #42 on: December 27, 2011, 06:10:35 PM »

wickidwombat

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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #43 on: December 27, 2011, 06:14:54 PM »
I have yet to see a realtor who truly knows how to take RE photos.  It is not as easy as it looks.

Oh so true. Its funny how people assume the quality of images is more about the camera and not the person driving it :D then they wonder why the expensive DSLR they just bought isnt taking any better photos than their point and shoot
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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #44 on: December 27, 2011, 06:43:00 PM »
kirispupis,  I've been in the industry in California and Nevada... I've got competition for $300 they not only will do HDR photography and have a turn around time of less than 24 hours and have full resolution files on a CD and website page, but they also will rent a helicopter to provide arial shots... RE photography in my experience, until the economy recovers is dying a slow painful death with cameras getting better and better and a realtor can get their own gear and take their own shots... I had a real estate agent try to buy my 7D so they can do their own stuff... If your working for real estate agents, it really isn't worth the fancy lenses or upselling to higher packages because in my experience, the agents just aren't buying... I live in the foreclosure capital of the world but the agents just wont spend the dough... I had to all but stop my RE photography in favor of commercial photography for the time being..

$300 is very cheap if aerial shots are included.  My rates are between $150-$300 which is a tad below what other photographers charge.  The main reason I charge a bit less is I do not depend on the money for income.  I use it only to pay for more equipment.  However even though I am not a full time RE photographer I have photographed over 100 homes. 

If I depended on this for a living I am sure I would have a different view.  It is a pita for the money and if I can ever get my print business going someday I will not hesitate to drop most of my RE clients.

Actually my biggest client sells almost exclusively foreclosure (REO) properties.  She has found that by using professional pictures her homes tend to move quicker.  The best agents out there realize that a small investment in quality photos make a big difference in the number of people that view the property. 

I have yet to see a realtor who truly knows how to take RE photos.  It is not as easy as it looks.

It isn't as easy as it seems but yeah... I used to have a handful of realtors from Dickson Realty and Coldwell Banker.. Coldwell Banker bought out dickson realty in my area and then provided all their realtors software to create their own tours... In one swoop I lost all those clients...  REO realtors I've talked to either are putting little to no money in advertising which means no professional photography, or are moving them too quickly to see a need for advertising... which is a double edge sword for me... Where I live, the running joke is Realtors all have part time jobs somewhere else because there are so many realtors and so few houses selling unless they are REO will little commission going to the realtors... During it's hay-day in 2006 I shot a good 100 properties and such but can count on one hand how many i've shot since 2009..

I'm sure once the economy and unemployment and people start buying and agents start feeling the need to advertise, then I'll be able to get going again in that area, but until then...  $300 for what photographers here offer are a heck of a deal, especially for arial photography... Hard to compete with that unless I start offering that and targeting the high high end clients... but then it gets even more competitive... I predict once the RE market turns around still photography will be a thing of the past with RE tours... it will have moved to video... hence I'm learning how to use my video on my 7d's and 5d2's better...
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Re: Lens recommendations for real estate interior photography please
« Reply #44 on: December 27, 2011, 06:43:00 PM »