How to Choose a Camera for Real Estate Photography

Discovering the ideal camera for real estate photography involves assessing factors like image quality, wide-angle lenses, dynamic range, and build quality.

What to Look for in a Camera for Real Estate Photography

When choosing a camera for real estate photography, there are several factors to consider. Here are some of the most important features to look for.

Note: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. 

  • Image Quality: High-quality images are essential for real estate photography. Look for a camera with a high megapixel count, good low-light performance and low noise at high ISO settings for dark rooms and twilight shoots. Cameras with full-frame sensors will offer better image quality than cropped sensor cameras and perform well at high ISO setting with minimal ‘noise’.
  • Lens Selection: A wide-angle lens is essential for real estate photograhy, so you will need to check that the camera is compatibale with a wide-angle lens, either in the same brand as the camera (i.e. Nikkor lenses by Nikon), or with one of the more lens brand options such as Tamron or Sigma. Look for a camera with a good selection of compatible lenses so that your setup is more verstatile.
Camera for Real Estate Photography
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
  • Dynamic Range: A camera for real estate photography with good dynamic range will be able to capture details in both bright and dark areas of the image. Cameras with full frame sensors will offer the best dynamic range, however these are also the most expensive cameras. I spent my first few years of shooting real estate using a cropped-sensor and then upgraded to a camera with a full-frame sensor.
  • Battery Life: Real estate photography can be time-consuming (especially if you book a full day of shoots), so look for a camera with long battery life unless you have the budget to buy a couple of spare batteries. I carry one spare battery with me as a back-up but rarely need to use it, even on a full day of 5-7 real estate photo-shoots. Battery life is more of a concern if you are shooting real estate video or are using a budget-friendly mirrorless camera.
  • Build Quality: A sturdy build quality is important in a camera for real esate photography, as this type of photography can be tough on cameras. I have accidently dropped Nikon DSLR camera a few times over the years and it is still working fine.
Camera for Real Estate Photography
The Sony Alpha 7 is a powerhouse full-frame mirrorless camera. Photo by Michael Soledad on Unsplash

Sensor Size: Cropped vs Full-Frame

When it comes to sensor size, there are two main types: cropped and full-frame. Cropped sensors are smaller than full-frame sensors, which means that they capture a smaller portion of the image. Full-frame sensors are larger and capture more of the image (depending on the lens you are using).

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Cropped sensors, typcially APS-C sensors or DX (Nikon) sensors, are smaller than full frame sensors and are commonly found in entry-level to mid-range DSLR and mirrorless cameras. They are generally less expensive than full-frame sensors, but they also have some disadvantages and are still suitable as a camera for real estate photography. They have a smaller field of view, which means that they are not as good as full-frame sensors at capturing wide-angle shots. They also have less dynamic range than full-frame sensors.

the best camera for real estate photography
The X-T3 was the world’s first mirrorless digital camera with a cropped sensor capable of 4K/60P (4:2:2 10bit HDMI).
Photo by Mulyadi on Unsplash

Full-frame sensors are more expensive than cropped sensors, but they also have some advantages in a camera for real estate photography. They have a larger field of view, which means that they are better at capturing wide-angle shots. They also have better low-light performance and more dynamic range than cropped sensors.

best camera for real estate photography on a budget
The Sony Alpha 7 is a high-end full-frame E-mount mirrorless camera. Photo by Charles Fair on Unsplash

Mirrorless vs DSLR Cameras

When it comes to choosing between mirrorless and DSLR cameras, there are several factors to consider. Mirrorless cameras are generally smaller and lighter than DSLR cameras, which makes them more portable. They also tend to have better autofocus systems and faster burst rates.

DSLR cameras, on the other hand, tend to have better battery life and more lens options. They also tend to be more durable than mirrorless cameras. Both mirrorless and DSLR cameras can be used for real estate photography, so it really comes down to personal preference.

best camera and lens for real estate photography
Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

Which Brand of Camera is Best

Although it is hard to say which brand of camera is the best for real estate photography, the most trusted and well-known brands of digital cameras in the field of real estate photography is Nikon and Canon. The latter is renowned for its durability and speed, and Nikon is praised for its user-friendly design and affordability. Other major camera brands such as Sony, Pentax, Panasonic and Fujifilm also produce great cameras for real estate photography, but their range of camera bodies available is smaller compared to Nikon and Canon.

best camera for real estate photography 2022
The Canon EOS 7D is a semi-professional cropped-sensor DLSR camera.

How Much is a Camera for Real Estate Photography

In my opinion, you do not need the best camera on the market to start a real estate photography business. A low to mid-range DSLR will be perfect if you have the correct lens and apply a good technique.  Expect to pay between 400-1,000 USD for a low to a mid-range camera body and from 350-2,000+ USD for a quality wide-angle lens. 

The most significant difference between a low and mid-range DSLR is the sensor, where an image is recorded and transferred to the camera’s memory card via the processor. Entry-level or low-range cameras will have an APS-C sensor also known as a cropped sensor, and a mid-high range camera will have a full-frame sensor. The full-frame sensor is equivalent in size to 35mm film, and the smaller sensor is a cropped version of this at 1.5-1.6x. A full-frame sensor will produce less ‘noise’ at a higher ISO setting (ISO 800>). However, in real state photography, you don’t need to shoot at high ISO’s when using a tripod. You can use longer shutter speeds with a low ISO setting (ISO <400) to retain image quality. Other differences between the upper and lower range cameras are maximum shutter speed, touch-screen technology, build quality, Wi-Fi connectivity, etc.

good camera for real estate photography
Photo by Thom Bradley on Unsplash

If you have a limited budget, it is better to save money on the camera body and invest more into the quality of the wide-angle lens you purchase for the camera.  If you have never used a digital SLR or mirror-less camera before and are in the very early stages of starting a real estate photography business, I would recommend visiting your local camera store and asking if you can try different models from a variety of brands before purchasing a camera for real estate photography. You’ll be able to establish which camera feels the best and which is most comfortable to use. Remember that your camera body and lens will be the most essential piece of equipment for your business, so make sure you do your research and try plenty of cameras before you invest in one.

Note: This article is an extract from the resources on the Education page on this website. 

how to start a real estate photography business

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