Using Fisheye Lenses in Real Estate Photography

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes
https://activerain.com/droplet/sRg


Using Fisheye Lenses in Real Estate Photography

 

Fisheye lenses have their place in real estate photography.  Ten years ago, people were using fisheye photos to create 360-degree panoramic tours.  But times have changed.  Uncompressed fisheye shots make great interior panoramas, without the use of 360 degree software.

For these examples, I used a Canon 5D Mark II camera body with the f2.8 Canon 15mm Fisheye lens.  All of the shots below were uncompressed using DxO software.

Fisheye pano taken with Canon 15mm fisheye lens

This ultrawide kitchen shot was purely an experiment, but it gives you an idea of the visual impact of a one-click interior panorama. 

[351 Old Fort Road, La Pointe, WI 54850, listed for sale by Madeline Island Realty]


Canon Fisheye shot - 5D Mark II camera body

Fisheye shots give a unique perspective to a space which might otherwise be difficult to communicate

[351 Old Fort Road, LaPointe, Wisconsin].

 

Exterior panorama - 15mm Canon Fisheye lens

Fisheye photos work outdoors too.  This ultrawide view adds sizzle and interest to what would otherwise be an ordinary picture

[351 Old Fort Road, LaPointe, WI].

 

Fisheye shot of marble tiled shower

There's no better way to turn a small space into a vast one.  Fisheye lenses can make the impossible a reality. 

[2865 North Shore Road, La Pointe, WI 54850, listed for sale by Madeline Island Realty]


Bell Street Gallery on Madeline Island - Photo by Eric Kodner, Madeline Island Realty

This shot is one of my favorites.  How else could a photographer fit an entire art gallery into a single frame?  

[Bell Street Gallery on Madeline Island, photo courtesy of Madeline Island Realty]

 

Fisheye photo techniques aren't applicable to all situations, but they can be another tool in your arsenal when you're trying to do something remarkable with your listing photos.

 

 

Posted by

Contact Broker Eric Kodner with Wayzata Lakes Realty about Minneapolis & Saint Paul area properties, including Lake Minnetonka, Edina and the Minneapolis City Lakes area (Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet). We also sell on the Saint Croix River and on Lake Superior, including Bayfield, Wisconsin and Madeline Island homes.  With sixteen years experience marketing and selling waterfront properties in Minnesota and Wisconsin, we know Lake Minnetonka and Madeline Island real estate.

Wayzata Lakes Realty LLC (Minnesota) and Madeline Island Realty LLC (Wisconsin)

Real Estate Brokerage licensed in Minnesota & Wisconsin

Phone or Text Message 612.670.2539

EMKodner@Gmail.com  or

MadelineIsland@Gmail.com

Wayzata Lakes Realty

 

 

 

 

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Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Stephen - It's definitely worth experimenting with fisheye lenses. I know it may not be the best choice for all shots, but it can add capabilities that we just don't have with other lenses.

Jan 22, 2012 01:52 AM #7
Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Wallace - I've heard that argument from a competitor and frankly I just don't buy it.  Nothing has been done to alter the content of these frames, except to compress a wider field of view into a single frame.

Kindly explain to me how the above photos are not a "good representation of the home".  In my opinion, your claim that "many prospects are suspecting something" about photos like the ones above is a gross exaggeration. Please be so kind as to quote us some verifiable numbers of these "many people" you have encountered who are "suspecting something".

I don't know how you define a "good" photograph, but if one refers to "good" as a plain vanilla 35mm still photo, I'd gladly beg to differ.  The human eye of a prospective buyer standing inside a home doesn't see the narrow field of view we get from most still photos (unless that person is suffering from severe tunnel vision).  Most human beings have peripheral vision which allows them to perceive a wider field of view.  An uncompressed panorama, taken with a wide angle (or ultrawide angle) lens is a reasonable representation of that field of view. 

I believe most viewers of these shots realize that they are wide-angle photos.  I just don't believe an intelligent viewer will shy away from a property merely because it is depicted in marketing materials in a wide-angle photographic format.

Jan 22, 2012 01:59 AM #8
Rainer
133,461
Barbara Chatterton
The Stark Company Realtors, Madison WI - Madison, WI
Greater Madison Wisconsin Area Realtor

I just LOVE these photos and would put them in First Place category.  I have never heard any seller say, "Make sure you do not make my photos look too good now."  They want their house shown at its very best to attract buyers. You have done a superb job of doing that.   

 These belong on the cover of a high quality magazine. Keep up the good work and your inspiration to many.

Jan 22, 2012 07:07 AM #9
Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Barbara - The implication that wide-angle photographs are somehow misleading or should be held suspect is ridiculous.  You are absolutely correct.  No seller in their right mind would tell their broker not to do everything in their power to portray a property at its best.  We are hired as listing agents and brokers to use all the tools and expertise at our disposal to make a property look beautiful and to show its features in detail.

Comments like the ones implying that wide-angle shots are not a "good representation" of a home sound to me like sour grapes.  I can understand if an agent does not possess the skills to master wide-angle photography and I can also understand the expense involved (the cost of a good DSLR camera body and lenses). 

However this reaction to my post sounds like jealousy.  It is as if the commenter is saying, "I don't know how to do the things you do with photography and I don't wish to learn them, so if I'm not doing these things, you shouldn't be allowed to do them either".  That's nonsense.

When the National Association of Realtors Professional Standards Committee rules that the use of wide-angle photography in real estate listings is somehow misleading to the public, I'll quit using it in my marketing.

Jan 22, 2012 01:24 PM #10
Rainmaker
253,129
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Like Jon, I wonder if there really is a difference between a fisheye lens you have to correct with software and a rectiliner lens that provides the same angle of view.  The big difference I can see is that one can correct verticals in camera saving post processing time possibly producing a better image because pixels aren't stretched as much.

Jan 23, 2012 06:05 AM #11
Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Lee - Great question!

I like what Ken Rockwell has to say about the Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens. Better yet, take a look at his fisheye photos and what they look like after the fisheye images have been rectified using DxO software. See it here:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/lenses/15mm-fisheye.htm

Rockwell writes, "After DxO converts the images, they are straighter than what I get with other standard ultrawide SLR wide lenses".

I shot a set of photos of the listing above (351 Old Fort Road, Madeline Island, WI, photos 1, 2 and 3 in this blog post) with the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L wide-angle lens, followed by another set of the same property using the Canon 15mm fisheye. The fisheye photos are almost outrageously wide, with crisp images and a flat field.

The best explanation I can find regarding the differences between images taken with a rectilinear lens and a fisheye can be found here:

http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/t245447-rectilinear-vs-fisheye.html

 

Check this out for more about using fisheye lenses to spice up your real estate marketing:

http://activerain.com/blogsview/2753601/add-one-of-these-to-your-camera-bag-next-time-you-do-a-photo-shoot-at-a-listing

Jan 23, 2012 04:48 PM #12
Rainmaker
253,129
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

I assume DxO can batch process all the images.  If that is true there isn't all that much time added to processing each photo.  

You tend to shoot from a higher viewpoint and you don't attempt to maintain vertical verticals (something RE photographers harp on) in your style of shooting real estate.  I consider this a style and a matter of taste.  Your photos are very good!

Jan 25, 2012 01:54 AM #13
Rainmaker
424,358
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island

Lee,

Batch processing is a feature of DxO Optics Pro.  Optics Pro 7.0 does this quickly and efficiently.

Thank you for the kind comments about these photos.  For the purpose of these examples above, I didn't make corrections to vertical elements.  Sometimes I do, and other times I do not.  It depends on the situation (and the audience). 

As you may have noticed above, I was criticized by one commenter for photos that are "too good" or "too perfect", with the not-so-subtle suggestion that wide angle photos are somehow misleading. It is probably a matter of choice, as well as taste, to leave the viewer with the understanding that these are wide-angle shots.  The distortion, if not too distracting, reminds the viewer that these shots have not been Photoshopped to death.

I like the higher vantage point in some of my real estate photography.  I see way too much real estate photography that is all taken at eye level.  Varying the perspective of the viewer adds variety and brings out detail that is often lacking in purely horizontal photos.

Jan 26, 2012 03:15 AM #14
Rainmaker
253,129
Lee Jinks
Jinks Realty - McAllen, TX

Speaking of a higher viewpoint, what's your take on pole aerial photography for exteriors?

Jan 27, 2012 04:50 AM #15
Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Lee - I haven't tried pole photography, but the idea is intriguing.  I'm not real fond of the idea of perching an expensive DSLR on top of a pole platform and risking the possibility that it will get trashed.

I prefer Stan Barron's suggestion in his "How to Photograph Houses" eBook.  Stan suggests renting a "cherry picker" and using that as a vantage point.  I'm not big on heights either, but I'd do it in order to get that perfect shot!

Jan 29, 2012 12:29 PM #16
Rainmaker
145,805
George Fanucci
CoreFact.com - Los Altos, CA
Internet - Technology - Business - Solutions

Eric, stunning photos!  I think buyers left-brain would notice that you have taken some "poetic license" with these, but also that they do look very appealing on an emotional level to the right-brain!

Good photography is a combination of Equiment, Skill, Lighting, and Technique: Focus, Exposure and Composition/Framing. 

Lighting is often the key to the difference between the average and the excellent photo. 

Just a bit of digital adjustment (five minutes if you know how) can really improve a photo. I have fixed some agent's snapshots before posting on the web or in brochures or property-flyers, with good results.

Feb 12, 2012 08:11 AM #17
Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

George - Thanks for the kind words!  I happen to believe that real estate photography should be a mixture of composition and art, with maybe a touch of poetry thrown in. 

All commercial photography is about appeal.  Fashion photography certainly is and so is advertising photography. 

By the way, the two properties depicted above (351 Old Fort Road, LaPointe, Wisconsin and 2865 North Shore Road, LaPointe, Wisconsin) are both now pending sales.  We received offers on both of these within the past two weeks. 

When listings are selling, I figure we must be doing something right! 

Feb 12, 2012 06:37 PM #18
Rainmaker
145,805
George Fanucci
CoreFact.com - Los Altos, CA
Internet - Technology - Business - Solutions

Hi Eric, CONGRATS!!

Meanwhile, what's your take on all this:

The Next Big Thing? :: Pinterest :: What Is It?

(YOU may be a good test case for Pinterest... have you tried it?)

Feb 16, 2012 07:20 AM #19
Rainmaker
1,726,223
Sam Miller
RE/MAX Stars Realty - Howard, OH
Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist

Nice examples showing the power of wide angle photography.

Feb 16, 2012 09:55 PM #20
Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

George - I just received an invitation to Pinterest, but haven't uploaded anything yet. I will have to experiment with it this weekend.

Sam, thanks. The two properties shown in the four shots above are now both pending sales.

 

Feb 18, 2012 12:32 AM #21
Ambassador
670,149
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age

Eric: I'm just getting into fisheye lenses and doing a little research and there you are! And, on AR for that fact... Fabulous photo's. Like you say fisheye doesn't look photoshopped to death. I like the effect. The distortion is warm to me, it gives you a sense of space. Your eye tells you there's something going on, but it's not too much. Very nice work. Thanks. 

Mar 06, 2012 05:59 AM #23
Rainer
57,945
Wayne Jackson
Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109 - Hayden, ID
North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake

Eric, Really good photos, I think it's fine to mix a few fisheyes in with the normal photos of a large home. The 5D MK III is now out so I'm hoping to find a reasonable price on a used MK II later this year. Some camera stores are saying the Cannon f.2.8 15mm was a grey market lens and is no longer available in the US. Have you heard of this?

Mar 11, 2012 02:08 PM #24
Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Rene, I appreciate the compliments. Yes, it's possible to uncompress a fisheye shot and to work out some of the distortion, but the effect feels acceptable because the trained eye expects it to be so.  The fisheye is superb for specialty shots, like the shower photo or the art gallery shot above.

Mar 11, 2012 02:12 PM #25
Rainmaker
564,765
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Wayne - To my knowledge, the f/2.8 15mm fisheye has been discontinued, but I've seen them on Amazon and eBay.  The one I purchased from Adorama was not a "grey market" lens.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if Canon winds up reintroducing this lens.

Mar 11, 2012 02:16 PM #26
Rainmaker
525,654
Dave Halpern
Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

Realtors who use ultra wide-angle fisheye lenses are misrepresenting the home.

May 23, 2018 06:18 PM #27
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Rainmaker
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Eric Kodner

Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island
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