Real Estate Photography - Equipment List

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Jon_Are, May 25, 2009.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    I'm wondering what gear would be essential for a real estate photographer. I think I have an idea, but I'd be interested in others' input.

    I would especially like information about lens requirements (indoor shots in particular).

    I shoot with a Nikon D80.

    Thanks!

    Jon
     
  2. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I would assume that the most important things would be a good tripod and a good wide angle lens.
     
  3. Steamy-Lens

    Steamy-Lens TPF Noob!

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    A good Fisheye lens.
     
  4. twozero

    twozero TPF Noob!

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    I wouldn't think a fisheye would be ideal, the curvature wouldn't be too appealing.

    my guess would be a nice wide angle (possibly ultra-wide), a few strobes/flashes, wireless triggers (pocket wizards or the like), a nice tripod and some patience with PS. of course you will want more than JUST a wide angle, but a wide angle is a must.

    then be ready to get up early or work late (depending on the season, i suppose). let the sun be your friend!
     
  5. WTF?

    WTF? TPF Noob!

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    yeah, fisheye wouldnt be the best idea, you want things to look like what they look like.
    wide angle lens is your #1 thing to get, then you just need some lighting equipment i guess, strobes, softboxes, etc...
     
  6. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    A wide angle zoom with a full frame equivalent of 28mm to 75mm would do the job. Too wide an angle and you will distort the house which is not what the real estate company would want.

    skieur
     
  7. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I think the fisheye is a bad choice.

    I guess my biggest question is with regard to aperture requirements.

    Here's what I have now:

    Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
    Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5


    Getting very soon:

    Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8

    Will these suit my needs (at least for now)?

    Jon
     
  8. twozero

    twozero TPF Noob!

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    speed won't really be an issue. you are going to want to shoot around f/11 (or there about). since everything is static, you can shoot at whatever shutter speed necessary.

    for interior shots, make sure to expose a few for the outside, that way you can layer in a correct exposure of whatever is viewable from the windows.
     
  9. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Yes, they will certainly suit your needs. You should watch your camera angle for outdoor shooting, since shooting toward a bright sky will considerably darken the house exposure-wise. I would probably go with an ISO of 200 or so and darken a bright sky with a graduated neutral density filter.

    skieur
     
  10. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    I appreciate the replies and good advice.

    It didn't even occur to me that a fast lens is not really a requirement, particularly since I'd want some decent DOF.

    As for lighting, I suppose I'd need some supplemental flash in some shots? I have an SB-600; would I need a second? How about an umbrella(s)? Light stand for sure. Pocket wizard??

    Despite spending some time lately at thestrobist.com, indoor lighting is my big weakness (just 'cause I haven't done much of it).

    Anyone own a huge house I could practice in? :D

    Jon
     
  11. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    *Chris rubs his hands together in glee...*

    Hi Jon. I do quite a bit of this so I can help out here. I agree with what a lot of people have said, but I'm going to get a bit more specific, particularly since you have a Nikon and I shoot with Nikon.

    Some of this varies a LITTLE depending on commercial or residential, but not too much. Just be aware as you shift from one to the other that requirements may change a bit. This also assumes more mainstream real estate. Pricier residential places would justify more equipment, more setup, etc. Standard RE is gonna be shoot and move, shoot and move.


    The following are the core things:
    1. Flash - You need at least one flash. I have an SB600 and an 800, but I actually use the 600 more. It's a workhorse and it recharges quickly.
    2. Wide Angle Lens - 18mm is NOT going to do it on a partial frame camera... not even close. You need the Sigma 10-20mm 4/5.6. It's the widest angle lens availabel for partial frame cameras without going fisheye. This is going to be your primary lens for 80-90% of your shots, interior and exterior. This is a MUST HAVE. It's also the most expensive thing in your must-have kit at ~$500.
    3. Tripod - You can initially probably get away with anything reasonably sturdy... just don't buy some $50 best buy special. There are a number of threads on here about good less expensive alternatives to the usual Bogen/Manfrotto.
    4. Mid-range zoom lens: usually 20ish-70ish is about what you need. There are a variety of options available.
    5. A circular polarizer and any adapters you need to fit to other lenses. (Generally the 77mm thread on your 10-20 will be the biggest so you can usually step down from there) You will need the cpol for a lot of your exterior shots to cut down glare and bring out those nice blue skies.
    6. A cable shutter release. Gotta have it. A -lot- of your shots will be tripod-mounted, slightly longer exposure with a flash fill bounced off the ceiling wall BEHIND you. Gotta have it. Don't buy the cheap-ass ones... they break.
    7. Keep your lens hoods on-hand (be aware the CPOL adapter may interfere)
    8. I highly recommend a shoulder bag that you can access gear from without taking the bag off. Don't get one too big- the key is to be mobile.
    9. A screwdriver and a roll of duct tape. Odd, I know, but I can't tell you the number of times I've had to remove things or tape something up and out of the way temporarily. (always put stuff back!!!)
    If you have everything listed above you can pretty much survive without any issue on any shoot you will ever do. Now on to some of the more advanced stuff:
    1. Graduated ND filters... you need these when the sun is positioned such that the sky gets overexposed and turns white when your subject (house) is exposed properly. The truth is that most RE agents won't notice or care that you had this problem and you can generally maximize your skies by planning the shoot when the sun is positioned properly relative to the house- that being said, a couple extra ND filters isn't all that expensive, so you could easily slip this up to the required kit.
    2. A second flash and remote triggers. (Sb800 and cactus triggers, likely) Remember the key is to be mobile and fast and while occasionally a second flash will be handy, you're not going to have the time or patience for anything more than that flash and MAYBE a small light stand to put it on (generally just the stand they give you with the flash will be fine... stick it behind a plant somewhere) No umbrellas or any of that craziness. Keep in mind cheaper remote triggers are less reliable, but you're NOT going to use these that often, and when you do an occasional misfire will not be a big deal. Stick with the cheap.
    3. Deeper zoom lens. A 80-200ish range lens will come in handy if you want to get finer details that are further away from you. Generally speaking (particularly in residential) this lens will rarely get used.
    4. Higher quality glass. While fast glass isn't necessary, the effect of higher quality glass tends to be noticable. Since this also tends to be fast, you wind up with F2.8 lenses. The very first one I would buy would be the 24-70mm 2.8. A wider one would be good, but the Sigma is a pretty solid lens and you're not likely to get any better at that width, esp. since super wide lenses also suffer all kinds of quality issues by their very nature.
    That's the bulk of it. As you shoot more, you'll tune your needs a bit, but I would bet you money that this will be pretty damned close to what you'd wind up with on your own over time.

    Good luck with it!
     
  12. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    I checked out your website, Chris; stunning photography (not just the properties, but the artsy-fartsy stuff as well).

    I've read about the Sigma 10-20mm, and have considered getting it instead of the Tokina 50-135mm I was set on (not necessarily for RE, but just because it would fill a gap in my arsenal). Bonus: The Sigma is actually less expensive.

    I hope you don't mind if I pepper you with questions for a bit, either here or via email. I recognize your username as one I've come to respect around the forum.

    I've got a million questions, but I'll try and take it easy on you. Here are two:

    1. I was under the impression that only higher-end real estate would even consider hiring a pro photographer; I would think that the average listing would not budget for that. I figured I would concentrate on a nearby market, maybe targeting only realtors who work with homes selling for around 400k and up. Am I correct?

    2. I assume I would need to create a portfolio. How in the freak can I accomplish this without access to a couple of gorgeous homes? I know it is said to not "give it away", but I'm wondering if my best bet is to offer a free shoot of a nice home to an agent. Any thoughts?

    Thanks again, Chris.

    Jon
     

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