As a Marietta, GA Real Estate agent and Atlanta Real Estate Photographer, I take my listing photography very seriously. Actually, too seriously. Considering that most of this Atlanta Real Estate Photographer's work is generally viewed at 800 x 600 pixels or less, there is a point in which striving for incremental improvements is probably time spent in vain. Having said that, its hard to tell a true connoisseur or perfectionist, "that's as good as it gets". Nope, there is something inside of them that tells them there is always room for improvement. It's those fine details where perfectionist really get to exercise their handiwork.
Recently I was in the market for a new lens for my Canon DSLR. If you are looking to buy a new lens you have already noticed there are plenty of options to choose from. Depending on what you need the lens to do, there may or may not be a clear choice for the best buy. It just so happened my search left me with no less than ten lenses all of which would do what I needed. With such a wide range of price and features I did what any self-respecting perfectionist would do, scour the internet for every piece of info I could find to help me make my decision. Along the way, I stumbled on a very helpful site. Enter The-Digital-Picture.com.
Before I go any further, I want to say that anyone serious about photography needs to have this site bookmarked. Aside from the wealth of information on just about every DSLR lens made, the author has a tool to help compare sharpness, distortion and Chromatic Abberation of DSLR lenses. This tool is based on the ISO 12233 Resolution Chart (see image) and allows you to compare two lenses head to head. After you have read all the reviews and ratings, I highly recommend you take your prospective lens out for a test drive and see how it compares against some of the other lenses you might be considering. You can find this valuable tool here.
This might be an appropriate time to add that this sort of meticulous inspection is not necessary for the good majority of those looking to take pictures solely for the purpose of posting on the MLS. My goal as an Atlanta Real Estate Photographer, however, is to deliver the best possible images I am capable of and the last thing I want holding me back are poorly informed buying decisions on equipment. So as you research what will be the best choice for your next lens, here are a few things to consider:
1. For Real Estate purposes, test your lens with apertures ranging from f8.0 to f11.0. These are the apertures most lenses you will be considering will obtain critical sharpness throughout the image. Consequently, if you want sharp real estate pictures this is the aperture range you will most likely be shooting at. If you like to handhold your camera as opposed to using a tripod than test the f4.0 to f5.6 apertures as well.
2. If you are using a Full Frame Sensor camera, pay attention to the corner sharpness and CA. One advantage crop sensor cameras (like Canon's EOS line) has over FF is the fact that the sensor effectively crops the edges of the image leaving only the center of what the lens "sees". The reason this could be considered a good thing is that the corners of the image are generally the most difficult to keep sharp and free from Chromatic Abberation. If you use a FF camera, the corner sharpness results should be something that you consider carefully.
3. Select a lens where the focal length you will use most is not at the lens' extremities. It's not uncommon for a lens to hit its sweet spot somewhere in the middle of its zoom range. The extremes are usually where you will find the most pronounced distortion and CA. I have found that it is generally better to have a little extra length (or width if you are shooting wide-angle) and avoid hanging out at the longest or widest end of a lens. For example, if you need a lens that can cover the 24mm range well, you may be better served with a 17-70mm lens as opposed to a 24-70mm. Of course there are other factors to consider aside from focal range alone, just know that having that extra range lets you avoid shooting at the extremities where rarely the best performance is found.