Canon T3i - The Perfect Camera for Real Estate?

By
Real Estate Agent with Georgia Elite Realty

March, 2011 Canon released its newest evolution in its EOS line with the T3i.  As an Atlanta Real Estate Photographer, I have always been a big fan of the EOS line.  Not only do they deliver just about every feature a real estate photographer really needs, but they are affordable as well.  What surprised me about this new model is how fast it followed on the heels of the popular T2i which was released barely a year ago.  At the time it was being touted as the new king of cheap HD DSLR video even though the camera itself is a direct predecessor of what has traditionally been Canon's entry level still photography cameras.  So its not surprising that many of the new features appear, at first glance anyway, to cater to those that intend to use the camera to shoot video.  Upon closer inspection, I'm finding that these new features, in addition to all the improvements made since the T1i, are making this model more and more attractive for those that photograph real estate and/or have the desire to move into video.

 

Canon T3i for real estate photography

  Before I get into the new features added in the T3i model, I want to mention some of the others that made the T1i and T2i so popular.  Here is a quick rundown of what you need to know as someone looking to shoot home interiors and other listing photography.

  • 18 Megapixels - Way more than you will ever need for real estate work.
  • ISO Range 100 - 6400 (expandable up to 12800) -  Better performance at higher ISO means better low light and handheld capabilities.  Although most of real estate photography is done on a tripod, this will come in handy when you want to shoot detail shots handheld or doing night and twilight shots.
  • CMOS image sensor - This sensor is rumored to be the same sensor used in the 7D, Canon's mid level pro-sumer model.  Even if it is not identical, most of the test are showing that it is capable of coming very close to the Image Quality of a camera costing almost twice the price.
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) -  This feature allows you to take three exposures of a scene that you can then later blend together in post or simply select the the best exposure from the bracket.  I'm still waiting for Canon to up the brackets to at least five exposures.  I gave up on thinking they would get closer to Nikons ability to bracket nine exposures at a time a long time ago...  Either way, three exposures is enough to get your feet wet with HDR and exposure blending.
  • Live View - Those that have made the leap from Point and Shoot models to a DSLR a few years ago may have found yourself longing for the convenience of being able to see the scene on the LCD screen on the back of the camera as you are taking the picture.  Having used a XTi for the last 5 years, I honestly have gotten use to using a viewfinder (again).  Many others, on the other hand, prefer seeing the scene as it looks before the picture is taken.

Basically your bases are covered for a still photography body.  Where things really get interesting is the fact that it shots HD Video at 1920 x 1080 (otherwise known as 1080p) at 24, 25 or 30p.  In other words, the camera is capable of producing that "cinema" look.  Of course resolution and frame rate are one thing.  Where I feel that this camera, and video capable DSLR camera's in general, are game changing is that fact that you can utilize all of the good lenses used for still photography.  In order to match this feature set in a bona fide video camera, you would have to spend thousands...  Being able to bring this level of creative videography to the masses is going to change the way the average person shoots and thinks about video.  For those that are truly inspired you could just about produce a short film about a listing, or a professional looking video bio, or a community tour...  The possibilities are endless, just take a look at this promo video.

 

 

Of the new features to the T3i, one of the ones I find most interesting is the articulating LCD screen.  This flip out, rotating screen is the same screen on the 60D and will undoubtedly make shooting video a little more intuitive, especially when using the camera at odd angles or perspectives.  I also see a use for this new screen in photographing real estate, specifically interiors.  Having shot literally thousands of images of homes for sale in Atlanta, GA there have been several occasions where my best shot was one in which I could not physically be behind the camera.  In most of these situations I either guessed at my composition or made a compromise and quickly found myself in an some awkward position trying to look through the viewfinder with the camera shoved into a corner.  It may not sound like much on the surface, but being able to move the camera back  an extra foot or two, or being able to shoot at a few mm longer on a lens can make a noticeable difference when you are working with ultra wide angle lenses.

T3i LCD Screen - Photography for Real Estate

But wait, there is more! Along with the T3i Canon also announced two new speedlites, the 270EX II and 320EX.  While the lights have some impressive stats, what makes the package complete is that the T3i can control the flashes wirelessly.  Instead of spending extra money on triggers and receivers, everything can be done through the camera.  If that wasn't enough, the 320EX also has a LED continuous light function that makes these strobes a possible solution to off camera lighting for the purpose of video.  A T3i with three or four 320EXs could easily double as a still photography and video rig.  Of course there is always the question of battery drain and no doubt you would have to have a bag of rechargeable batteries on hand, but according to Canon these lights can last up to four hours on a fresh set.  I'll believe it when I see it...  If in fact the T3i proves capable of triggering up to four lights for stills and then having them double as supplemental light for video, that is worth something right there.

 

Everything considered, I'm impressed. The T3i is loaded with features that a real estate photographer, listing agent or home stager can appreciate.  The ability to do both still photography and video in one package frees up the photographer to branch out into the world of video while simultaneously covering all the basic needs of still photography.  Now there is also the option of triggering multiple strobes from the camera and in conjunction with the new 320EX speedlights, supplemental lighting for video is also possible.  All of this, and more, and still costing less than $900 with the kit lens.  Now I'm not the early adopter type, so I will wait until that price drops another couple hundred dollars and Canon has a chance to do the obligatory firmware update.  For those of you that are ready to take the plunge now, I can't think of a better camera to get you started in photography and video for real estate.  

This blog was originally posted 03-04-2011 at iranwatsonphoto.com

Learn more about Atlanta Real Estate Photography services here.

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Tips and Techniques for Better Real Estate Photography
Tags:
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Rainmaker
125,653
Iran Watson
Georgia Elite Realty - Marietta, GA
Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer

@ Pam - The T3i also has a new Scene Intellignet Auto mode that promises to make point and shooting as easy as... well a point and shot.  I shoot in manual mode 90% of the time but there are times were I need to pull the camera and get a picture fast.  For this auto mode, and seemingly the new smarter version in the T3i, should prove to be very useful.

 

@ Lee - I know Nikon has just as good, if not better cameras than the T3i.  I have never used Nikon so I couldn't tell you first hand.  Feel free to offer up any advice on a similar model from Nikon if you are familiar with one.  You are right though, with either camera the technology is no longer a barrier to entry.  Some people have an eye for it others don't, but you can get amazing results with just the technology side alone if you are adept at it.

@ Douglas - Everything will eventually be cheaper but by then a new model will have replaced it...

@ Lydia - I tried out the articulating screen and I admit it was pretty cool.  The only quirky thing is that the image only flipped when the screen was completely locked in the next position.  Unlike smartphones where the image will change orientation about half way, letting you control when the image flips with small adjustments.  Oh well, it still rocks.

@ It would be a nice gift that's for sure!

Mar 09, 2011 03:53 PM #6
Rainer
57,450
Jody Moore
Blue Shirt Photography | SendOutCards - Lexington, KY

I'm looking to upgrade soon. It's kinda like shooting shotguns once you get used to one you hate to change.

Mar 11, 2011 03:36 PM #7
Rainer
20,346
Christopher Johnston
The Johnston Team - Metairie, LA

I have the Canon 7D and you have to be really careful with those ISO numbers. I've found anything above 1600 to be really noisy (digital noise). I took one pic at 12,800 and 2 or 3 at 6400 and they were virtually useless. The one thing that will help you get good pics in low light is good glass (read"expensive lenses"), a slow shutter speed, and a rock solid tripod(again expensive). If you expect to take handheld shots in low light with the kit lens you would be better off using a point and shoot. 

My advice is if you want to use an HDSLR to take pics of your houses your going to need to learn how to use it and get some good gear. I would take some time to learn about HDR. If done well it can mkae some incredible interior images. Check out Michael James images at digitalcoastimage.com. He also has a blog at hdriblog.com

Mar 12, 2011 01:40 AM #8
Rainmaker
841,108
Joshua Zargari
MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating - Lynbrook, NY
MJ Decorators Workshop

Looks very promising.

Thank you.

Mar 27, 2011 01:01 PM #9
Rainmaker
1,942,335
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Like the gunslinger who's life depends on his performance at high noon, on main street under a hot sun, you should have more than one shooting iron. And getting very very talented with all of them. Video cameras designed for the purpose I find are so much more suited to the shooting of full motion. Have to have more than one. To stand part from the herd wearing "R"'s.

May 08, 2011 04:43 AM #10
Rainer
118,941
EC, JF, Double R and Zoey the Cool Cat
Russel Ray Photos - San Diego, CA

I'm not so sure that 18 MP is way more than one might use for real estate. Those MP can help provide some clear, definitive, interesting photos if one wants to get into serious cropping to create interesting visuals without buying all those heavy and bulky telephoto lenses.

We have an XSi and a 550D (T2i) here in the office, and I personally have an XS. I've always been partial to Canon, probably because all else being equal, they are less expensive than Nikon.

May 15, 2011 02:38 PM #11
Rainmaker
1,720,273
Sam Miller
RE/MAX Stars Realty - Howard, OH
Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist

Thanks for sharing such a detailed overview of the Canon T3i.

May 20, 2011 10:30 AM #12
Rainmaker
542,039
Bill Cobb
Accurate Valuations Group, LLC - Baton Rouge, LA
Greater Baton Rouge's Home Appraiser

Iran, thank you so much for this review.  I'm in the market right now for my first DSLR for RE Photography.  I've spent hours and hours online and on YouTube watching the video reviews.  At first I wanted the T1i, then T3, then T2i and now you've convinced me to purchase the T3i I think. I also like the newer Nikon D5100 as well.  And, then for the ultra wide angle lens purchase.   Thank you so much for being a resource for us in the Rain!  Bill 

May 20, 2011 06:22 PM #13
Rainer
218,825
John Manuwal
Keller Williams Northwest Montana - Kalispell, MT
Kalispell Montana Agent and Photographer

Having the 5d mark two and also a t1i I can say the for some things the 5d blows the t1i out of the water. But it's also way more expensive and I have really nice glass for it. My t1i is a great work horse for real estate. Most photos go online so it is mostly the camera controls that make it work so well not the megapixels. Sadly I got censor dust that can't be removed so I will be upgrading soon. Maybe the t3i or the 60d. Just need then money.

Jun 04, 2011 01:58 PM #14
Rainer
118,941
EC, JF, Double R and Zoey the Cool Cat
Russel Ray Photos - San Diego, CA

I think John, in his comment above mine, is simply looking for an excuse to upgrade. A good camera repair shop -- which doesn't include Fry's Electronics, Radio Shack, Best Buy, and the like -- can easily remove sensor dust. At a worse case, simply have the sensor replaced.

Jun 04, 2011 04:53 PM #15
Rainer
218,825
John Manuwal
Keller Williams Northwest Montana - Kalispell, MT
Kalispell Montana Agent and Photographer

Eric,

 

My t1i has been to several shops that everyone feels are the best in my area and no luck with the cleaning. Spend a lot on it already so hate to spend more without good results. I use it now for photos under f/4. Even then it shows sometimes. So I will still use it. Spending money to send to canon to fix does not seem to make since when you look online at the costs.

My dilemma is to go with the rebel series which is nice or go with the 60d since I am use to the controls as it is similar to my 5d with the wheel on the back.

For now I just use Photoshop to remove the marks but that takes a lot of time.

 

Unless Eric knows of a place that will replace the sensor for around $100 then shipping would be another $50 I don't think it's work it as the t1i are going for $400. I think it's better used as a backup at this point But that's just me. (Eric love your site)

Jun 05, 2011 04:02 AM #16
Rainer
87,124
Allen 2222
Austin, TX

I have the T2i, a 5D and a 5D Mark II.  I would buy any/all of them again in a heartbeat. I should say, though, that getting "good glass" is essential for getting the best photos. For exterior shots, I use a 24-70mmL on the 5DMark II or the 24mmL tilt + shift. Learning how to use a DSLR may be the best time every spent.

Jun 14, 2011 09:18 AM #17
Rainer
218,825
John Manuwal
Keller Williams Northwest Montana - Kalispell, MT
Kalispell Montana Agent and Photographer

I would have to agree that a good lens is often more important then the camera. I love wide angles but I use a software program to help the distortion problems that they have.

Jun 14, 2011 04:39 PM #18
Rainer
7,288
Ron Painter
Shorewest Realtors - Burlington, WI

I agree with Iran that the T3i is pretty good value. I don't know that it is suited to most real estate practitioners.

 

Not too much has been said about the business end of the camera (the lens) other than "you need good glass" or the suggestion of tilt shift lens (Lensbaby for example).

 

Unless you are buying a full frame ( read heavy) Digital camera most kit lenses (the lens that comes with the camera originally) are inadequate for the small rooms that so many homes today have.

 

The kit lens is usually an 18mm -55mm or so lens. With the APS C sized cmos sensor in this and most other cameras ( other than Olympus and Panasonic micro 4/3rds) this equates to approximately 27mm to 83mm if we were using a full frame or film type 35mm camera.

 

 Wide angle used be considered 24-28 in the old film standards. The 27 MM effective is only slightly better (field of view) than many of the compact digital cameras.  This is what you will have with most DSLR cameras. The 4/3RDS are  2.0 factor. I.E: the 18mm supplied lens would be effectively a 36MM lens in a slr film camera.

 

Ultra wide is preferable. I shoot with a 10-24mm zoom (actual) Tamron lens for most of my indoor work in residential housing under 2000 square feet. This gives me an effective ( in the old 35mm  format) of 15 to about 36mm . Admittedly the 10mm is almost too wide and can be distracting but using it down to about 13 mm actual gives around 20mm equivalent.

 

This works very well for most indoor applications. The lens also sold for $479 alone.

Most practitioners spend under $150 for their complete camera setup.

 

I personally believe that he biggest bang for the buck comes from Pentax in their KR DSLR.  Built like a tank and full of most al of the features that you could ever want.  Smaller too that the T3i.

 

And finally there is a battery of cameras being called ILC.

ILC stands for interchangeable lens cameras. Not a SLR but not a compact point n shoot either.

 Instead of a complex mirror that mechanically moves (DSLR) they have a Electronic viewfinder instead. Essentially a ultra mini TV screen mounted on top of the camera body that you look into. This gives you an even smaller camera and lighter weight too.

 

I use a Pentax K-7 with several speed lights, tri-pod multiple lenses and filters. Remote shoot with infrared control too.  

 

The time spent setting up and the end results are worth it to me.  They may not be for you.

If you really want to improve your photographs wide angle is a must. Composition is equally important.

 

The technology is complex but is nowhere near the voodoo it once was with film chemistry.

Digital is extremely forgiving and with the right post production software you can make almost any picture a great one! All right, I stepped over the line....

 

If you want to further your understanding of the current hardware one of the best places to go and glean real info is http://dpreview.com/

 

Cameras, lenses and even some software is reviewed in depth.

 

I happen to shoot and prefer  Pentax for a lot of reasons. Some reasons that probably don't fit into the mainstream of popularity either. 

 

You will find that that there is a Chevy / Ford mentality often time expressed in non-technical (and even some technical) blogs. I Guess Pentax , Sigma, Olympus, Sony, and Panasonic are the  Chryslers of  photo gear.  Nikon and Canon being sold maybe 10-1 over the competitors. That in itself does not make them the best.

 

If you are going to drop $800 or more in a photo setup do your self a big favor and look at Pentax, Olympus, Sony, and Panasonic too for DSLR and ILC cameras too.  In my book Canon and Nikon do not have the final word.

Thanks for the post Mr Watson!

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 22, 2011 11:51 AM #19
Rainer
218,825
John Manuwal
Keller Williams Northwest Montana - Kalispell, MT
Kalispell Montana Agent and Photographer

I just replaced my t1i with a t1i. Staples had them for $435 and that was less then fixing my old t1i so I bought a new one. I would like to have the newest but, this way I have what I need and everything I have works with it. I thought I would let my fellow active rain people know about the deal.

Jun 26, 2011 05:17 PM #20
Rainmaker
192,153
Janice Sutton
1st Stage Property Transformations - Murrieta, CA
Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta

Great informative post! While I was only planning on adding a wide lens to my camera this post makes me want to run out and buy a new one!!  I purchase my Canon EOS Rebel XS a few years ago...probably right before the HD version came out! :(

I would also love to bracket a few pics together!! So, do I take the leap and buy a whole new Camera set up?  (My daughter wants me to, however she has a motive ;) ) Or do I stick with what I have and just add a wide angle lens?  Appreciate your insight. :)

Sep 03, 2011 07:06 AM #21
Rainmaker
125,653
Iran Watson
Georgia Elite Realty - Marietta, GA
Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer

@ Janice - I actually ended up buying the T3i's big brother, the 60D.  I love this camera although to be honest, the image quality isn't that much better than my XTi...  The XS and XSi and just as good as the XTi, in my opinion.  

Keep the camera and spend the money on the lens, that is of course unless you want to do video.  If you are wanting to do video the T3i or the 60D are incredible cameras!  But in terms of getting better stills, remember just about any of the Rebel line will deliver, especially if you have a great lens on the front.

Sep 03, 2011 07:14 AM #22
Rainmaker
162,947
Lorinda Ward
Keffer Realty - Norfolk, VA
Serving, Hampton Roads Virginia. Norfolk, Chesapeake, Va Beach

I am falling in love with this camera and  thinking about buying one.  My photographer friend said that I would do better with the Sony A55 because the stabilization is built into the camera and with the Canon it is in the lens.  Great post.

Nov 30, 2011 10:21 PM #23
Rainmaker
1,523,593
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

I guess that I must be too much of a novice as most of this is above my hear!

Dec 30, 2011 07:39 AM #24
Rainer
334,174
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

thank you very much for the informative and interesting post. I get so much out of the active rain network.

Mar 06, 2012 10:22 PM #25
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Iran Watson

Marietta Real Estate Agent - Photographer
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