What Kind of Camera Are You Using?

I’ve received a number of emails asking about my real estate photography.  I’ll start by stating that I am a fair photographer.  Most of what I’ve learned over the past few years is the result of spending time with and learning from professional photographers and graphic artists.  Many thanks go to Glenn Johnson for his personal guidance and mentoring.

Let’s start with my equipment.  My primary camera body is a Nikon D40. This is an entry-level Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) body.  It works fine but if I had it to do again, I would purchase a Nikon D80. The primary difference for me is that the D80 will do auto-bracketing for HDR. With the D40, you have to do it manually. 

The lens is the most important piece in my opinion.  The D40 kit comes with a Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm zoom.  The 18mm setting will produce acceptable photographs.  My personal choice is the Sigma 10-20mm Super Wide Angle Zoom.  The 10mm setting produces great interior photos. 

Next you need lighting.  The on-board flash is useless for any serious work in my opinion. You need a high-power flash unit.  My primary flash is a Nikon SB-600. It has enough power to fill most rooms without any additional strobes or lighting.  I do own a lighting set with 2 lights and umbrellas but it is not used often. 

When using the wide angle lens you will need a diffuser for the flash.  I use a $20 STO-FEN diffuser. It works like a charm spreading out the light and preventing hot-spots.

Post-shoot processing is done in Adobe Photoshop CS4 Professional.  In my opinion, Photoshop sets the standard.  It’s expensive at over $800, but it is simply the best. 

The photo below was a new construction townhouse we listed.  The construction crew dropped a Port-A-Potty in front of the house about 30 minutes before I got there.  I simply took the shot and removed the “potty” later.  This is not a quick task so try to get the best possible shots while you’re on-site.  I often take over 100 shots on each listing.  I’d rather not have to go back out later. Note I’ve provided both raw and post-processing images.

Since I don’t shoot HDR, I try to shoot on overcast days, just before sunrise, or just after sunset.  This allows me to avoid harsh shadows outside and blown-out windows inside.  The problem with that is the skies are not blue.  Not a problem.  I have several stock sky shots that I simply drop into the photo.

Want to capture a tall ceiling?  Lay on the floor with the camera at floor-level.  Tip the camera up to capture the ceiling.  The wide angle will produce a trapezoid effect that will have to be corrected in post-shoot processing.  The shot below was done with this technique. 

I’ve invested about $2000 in equipment and about $825 in software.  Each listing takes about 2 hours on-site and another hour or so in post-shoot processing.  Personally, I enjoy photographing my listings but it’s not for everyone. 


About Tom Branch

Tom Branch has written 597 posts in this blog.

Have you ever just met someone, but felt you like you'd known him for years? That's what most people experience with Tom. He has a knack for making folks feel right at home. After 21 years in the Air Force, loyalty and honesty are the foundation of everything Tom does. In addition to being a Texas Real Estate Broker, Tom is a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) and a Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource (SFR).