So that you aren't too confused by the way I have structured this article, I thought it would be fitting to add a little bit of context in regards to that.
Here is how the article will be structured. You can use the table of contents at the top of this article to navigate through its entirety. I will do my best to keep this article as short (while still informative) as I can.
The sections going forward will be:
Combining these topics will leave you with a great idea of what the best real estate photography equipment is - while recommending affordable options that will work for you just as well as top-tier equipment (which you don't need, especially getting started).
We always recommend a full-frame camera for all work. If full-frame isn't something you're interested in, that's not an issue. You can achieve similar results on a crop sensor (like the Canon 80D). You will have to use either crop sensor lenses or be OK with using full-frame lenses. You'll have a crop (directly related to the crop factor of your camera), but it'll work just fine.
Check out the video below for a deeper explanation of the difference between full-frame and crop sensor cameras.
Over 80% of all my equipment is used - and it yields the same results as equipment that's purchased brand new.
Now, there is a time and a place for new equipment, but that's another article.
From this moment forward - I want you to forget about eBay and the used Amazon marketplace.
This is for both buying and selling. There is entirely too much risk, especially on eBay when everything now has a 30-day return policy... regardless if you honor it in your listing or not.
KEH specialized in used camera equipment and had been doing so since 1979. They offer a wide variety of camera bodies, wide-angle lenses for real estate, tilt-shift lenses, ultra-wide lenses... basically anything you need; they've got you covered.
The point of all of this is to encourage you to think about purchasing used (if you don't already) - and to do it with a safe and trusted company like KEH. This is the main reason why we have partnered with them - to save creatives their hard-earned money - all while doing it safely and honestly.
Just so this article isn't too long, we will recommend a series of cameras from different brands. These cameras are about the same in price and performance. The only difference is the brand and whether you prefer one over the other.
As far as the megapixel requirement for real estate photography - it's a lot less than you may think. Theoretically, you could get away with an 8-12 MP image. The majority of cell phones and monitors don't benefit from an image much higher than that when looking at it full screen.
With that being said - we don't recommend 12 MP or anything around there. There may be a time when you need to shoot a property, and those images need to be printed. You'll be SOL if that's all you have.
So, we recommend anything between 18 and 24MP. This ensures you're getting images you can easily work with while editing while still being covered if someone wants to print your work.
As you can see, the difference between used and new can be up to 3x.
Again, these are excellent cameras for all skill levels. They will get the job done and done well if used correctly. If you feel you'd like something newer - go for it! This is just an excellent place to start.
I'm sure you know already, but your lens is actually more important than the camera body.
It's the lens that captures the light and funnels it to your sensor. It's in this 'funneling' phase that determines ~85% of your image quality. Very few changes between camera bodies... Your camera body does afterward is one thing - but the first thing to capturing a great image is the lens.
We recommend a 16-35mm (of any brand) as the go-to lens for real estate. To save a little dough, go with the f/4 version. You'll shoot above f/4 99% of the time anyway - no need to double the cost for something you'll rarely use. The lens can be pricey, but ~$800-$1000 lens has made photographers hundreds of thousands of dollars off their investment. If taken care of, they can last you your whole career.
Notice how the Sony version is very inexpensive, and it's the f/2.8 version (used from KEH). It's an A mount lens - you would need an A-to-E mount adapter. You'll still save over $200 and have a better lens for it!
A tripod is a must in the real estate photography game. I mean, some shoot handheld HDR all day long... and great for them. But trust me, their editing work is 2-3x longer than someone who uses a tripod (and they usually outsource their editing).
Feel free to read our related article, Best Tripod For Real Estate Photography, where we discuss everything about the best tripods in great detail.
Those are tripod legs by Benro. It's a solid tripod and very affordable compared to those in its space. Check it out and/or check out the article linked above.
A tripod head is equally as important as the tripod legs (of course, right?) There are two main types, a geared head or a ball head.
Head on over to our related article, Geared Head vs Ball Head: Full Comparison, where we discuss the pros and cons of each in great detail.
But, we generally recommend geared heads to real estate photographers. Vertical lines and maintaining them are critical. A geared head allows you to do just that while creating muscle memory so you can do it over and over again very quickly.
A geared head will save you heaps of time during editing - which, as a result, makes you more money.
We recommend the Benro GD3WH as a starter and eventually moving up to the pinnacle of geared heads, the Arca Swiss D4.
You don't need a flash for real estate photography. If you take HDR and aren't interested in blending ambient with flash shots, that's fine! There isn't anything wrong with that. But, if you're interested and want to get into it... that's great too.
Flash real estate photography makes for some of the most unique photos out there. However, you can easily tell the difference between HDR and flash - and usually, the flashed shots are favored over the HDR.
As far as the flash goes - we only recommend one. The Godox 200AD Pro. It's a very affordable 200 w/s flash that comes with a brand-specific trigger. So you get all of that for just over $400. This combo cannot be beaten... trust me.
This flash will be more than enough power to light 90% of all homes on the market today.
Assuming you read the last section - we recommend Godox flashes.
With that being said, we recommend that Xpro flash trigger. It's a great trigger, batteries last forever in it, and it's backlit. It comes with most wireless flash kits too.
The trigger communicates with any Godox product. The brand 'flashpoint' is a sister company, and it works with their equipment too.
It can control 5 flashes independently from one another; each flash can be set at a different power level before firing.
I can't beat it. Stick with Godox.
Be sure to check the make/model of the trigger before you purchase one. They're camera-specific.
You'll want a circular polarizer for real estate. It's going to cut down on reflections quite a bit. This is reflections on anything, including floors, windows, countertops, water/pools... you name it. I'm sure you can see the benefit in that.
As far as brand goes - We recommend both Hoya and Moment. They're both excellent brands where Moment is a bit more affordable than Hoya.
Remember, lens mm size matters - and I don't mean your focal length - I mean your thread size. Check that before purchasing.
After shooting real estate for years, I never noticed how many other photographers didn't use a remote trigger until I started looking and was curious.
Well, not very many people do, and I'm not sure why! Most complain about having something else that can break... but it can make your workflow so much faster and easier.
Usually, they set a 2-second timer and hit the button, wait 2 seconds, and move on to the next one. With a trigger, you don't have to wait. Instead, get your comp exactly where you want it, take your hands off the camera, and hit the button on the trigger. Boom - done.
Now, this is assuming you didn't handle the tripod like a crazy rabid beast - in that case; you would have to wait for the camera to settle before taking the shot.
All major brands have their own wireless trigger. They're usually very inexpensive ($15 for Sony) and can save you a bunch of time when shooting.
**As of revising this article (January 20th, 2022) - Sony has discontinued the RMT-DSLR2 trigger. Linked below is the 3rd party version. It is exactly the same minus the Sony logo at the bottom of the remote.**
First off, this is only assuming you're new and need a bit of a recommendation for software.
If you're even intermediate, I'm sure you won't get anything out of what I'm saying.
So, for those who're new... I only shoot flash/ambient real estate. So, I don't know what the latest and greatest is for stacking HDR frames.. but you can do that in the software I'm recommending (it just may not be as effective as other software).
The real estate editing software I recommend is, you guessed it, Adobe lightroom and photoshop.
Lightroom is pretty decent and works well with photoshop. I would recommend it if there were anything better for real estate editing (like Capture One is to portrait/landscapes). There are Lightroom alternatives on the rise - and I might not be saying the same thing a few years from now...
I mean, yeah, it takes a little bit to get used to it. Once you do, though.... the sky really is the limit.
I will continue to add and adjust this article over time through the years, but you have a great foundation and understanding of what equipment is needed for real estate photography.
Honestly, you only need a camera, memory card, and a tripod to make great money in the real estate photography game. Real estate photography equipment may be the least expensive to get started and start making money.
Take advantage of it, read some of my other articles about real estate gear, and go from there!
Until next time, be safe and keep creating!