Many people ask us, "What's the best camera for real estate photography?" To answer this question, you need to first understand that most real estate agents (myself included) went into the business of home sales to make money, not as a means of artistic expression. So when I describe the "best" camera equipment, price and efficiency are absolutely as important as features and creativity.
The purpose of our photogaphy kit is to allow us to go through a standard residential listing (otherwise known as a "house") of between 1,000 and maybe 5,000 square feet and take as many pictures as our MLS will allow, with crisp focus, good composition, and bright lighting in as little time possible. We want those pictures to be shot in a format that will easily and efficiently be transferred onto the MLS, our websites, and our printed brochures. A camera package that does less (or more) than that is outside our goal. We're not trying to win photography contests, we're selling houses; as many as we can as quickly as we can.
So what camera equipment gets lots of well-lit property pictures quickly and efficiently? Here's our kit. The equipment here isn't cheap, but if you do any shopping you'll find you could easily spend thousands more without adding much real value.
#1 - A Wide-Angle Zoom Lens
To capture an 8' x 10' second bedroom from inside the room, you need a wide angle lens of about 11mm. Being able to zoom in to 18-20mm gives you the flexibility to get just about any shot you need of the average home. This doesn't need to be the most expensive or exotic one on the market, but you want a trusted manufacturer. We recommend the Sigma 10-20mm Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Canon Cameras
#2 - A DSLR Camera Body
You need a good DSLR body to hold the lens mentioned above. That's really the priority - the wide angle lens, and then a camera to attach it to. You're going to be shooting in "full automatic" mode, so many of the features that the manufacturers tout aren't all that useful. We use the Canon EOS Rebel T1i DSLR Camera (Body Only).
#3 - A Really Good Main Flash
While we stage all of our listings, sometimes you get a big cavernous vacant room and you need to pump plenty of light into it. You also want a flash that is "smart" enough to talk to your camera and vary the intensity and zoom along with the camera so you don't have to think about it. We like the Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash for Canon EOS Digital SLR Cameras
#4 - A Slave Flash
The slave flash is our secret weapon for real estate lighting. Ours sits on a little stand and we park it anywhere in the room that needs more light than our main flash can give. It fires off when it sees the main flash fire. It's small, battery operated, and allows us to light hugh rooms without dragging around an AC light kit, umbrellas, etc. We like the Vivitar Zoom /Swivel /Bounce Flash for Canon
#5 - A Tall Tripod
You want a tripod that can go both low and high. Using a swivel head with a joystick grip saves time, and time is money. We like the Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod Legs and really love the the Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Head.
#6 - A Case To Put It All In
This equipment is literally a business investment. It costs money and it makes us money. We want a case that protects everything and keeps it together. Plus, the case holds extra batteries, SD cards, and you can also toss your cell phone and lockbox key in there while you're shooting. Something like the Canon 200DG Digital Camera Gadget Bag does the trick nicely.
It doesn't take years of photography training or some innate artistic talent to take great photos. Just a little training and practice can bring significant results. Whether you're a single agent, an real estate assistant, or "that team member who takes all the listing photos," a kit like this will allow you to get great pictures with as little time and effort possible.