Any job is easier if you have the right tools. They don’t have to be the best or the most expensive but they do need to be fit for purpose.
Let’s start by looking at cameras.
The Camera & Lens
You might have heard that you need something called a ‘Full Frame’ camera or a ‘Professional Camera’ to take great property photographs. It just is not true. A ‘Full Frame’ camera will have a high megapixels number which means you can blow up the photos to be very large. This is usually unnecessary for property photographs. The other thing that a ‘Full Frame’ camera gives you is a larger sensor. This means that the photograph will cover a larger area making the property look more spacious. See the image below:
The blue lines represent different sensor types and the size of the image they may capture. Please note, this image is just to explain the point, the sizes may not be exact.
If you don’t have a ‘Full Frame’ camera, a way to mitigate this is to use a wide-angle lens. For example, I use a 10mm – 18mm lens for most of my property photographs.
The 10mm setting of the lens will give a wide-angle effect making the room look as large as possible.
‘Full Frame’ and ‘APS’ are both types of Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. The ‘Full Frame’ camera has a large sensor but an ‘APS’ camera with a lens that goes down to 10mm will do a good enough job for most people. An ‘APS’ camera is a lot cheaper than a ‘Full Frame’ camera and I believe an acceptable compromise. You can pick up a refurbished mid-range ‘APS’ camera for just a few hundred pounds. A 10mm-18mm even brand new will probably be less than a couple of hundred.
Let There Be Light
Once you have the camera and the lens. The other equipment to consider is a speedlite flash and a tripod. The key to great property photographs is to make them look bright and colourful. You want to get as much light into the shot as possible. speedlite flashes are great for this and can be picked up very cheaply. Even these cheap speedlite flashes can take a light reading from the camera and automatically set the strength of the flash. Personally, I prefer to use the speedlite flash in manual mode as I believe you get better results. The Neewar speedlite flashes do the job and are very cheap.
A word of caution when using a flash, make sure you don’t ‘blow out’ the windows. If you are taking a photo of a conservatory or lounge with beautiful views or a nice garden, you want to see them in the photo. However, the mistake that a lot of people make is that they don’t get the flash setting right and ‘blow out’ the windows so that you can’t see through them. The way to avoid this is to set the camera exposure for the window in the room before turning your flash on. Once you have the exposure right for the windows, add the flash to light up the room. Bounce the flash light and make sure it won’t reflect in windows and shiny surfaces. A diffuser over the flash or a light stand and umbrella can help.
Post processing software is not strictly ‘camera gear’ but as we are talking about bright and colourful photographs, I have to mention it. Most people have heard of Photoshop. It is a powerful tool but not the one I would use for editing property photographs. I use its sister, Lightroom. The editing capabilities of lightroom are not as good as Photoshop. However, in Photoshop you work on one photo at a time. In lightroom you load all of the photos at once and can work through them a lot quicker. If you need big edits done, like cars removed from a driveway, that would need to be done in Photoshop. However, even I would not do that myself, due to the time it would take me. I would send that photo to an editing agency who will do it for just a few pounds. If you are going to post process the images, make sure you take the photographs in RAW format.
The other bit of equipment to consider is a tripod. I will be honest, I try to avoid using one as they slow you down. However, sometimes the only way to get enough light into a shot is to use a slow exposure. If you hand hold the camera with a slow exposure you are guaranteed camera shake. Tripods can be picked up very cheaply. Here is an example of a photo where I had no choice and had to use a tripod:
More on Cameras
I just want to go back to cameras. Hopefully I have persuaded you to go with an ‘APS’ DSLR camera. If so you can ignore this paragraph. However, if you are still looking at other types of camera, read on. You need a camera that gives you a depth of field of at least f11. Many Bridge camera only go as high as f9. I take most property photographs in Manual mode but as a minimum you will want to be able to prioritise the shutter speed and aperture. So make sure your camera has those settings. A camera that allows you to adjust the white balance is really important for the internal photographs, if you want to get the colours right. The photo below shows the difference between getting the white balance right or wrong.
If this article has provided more questions than answers for you. Please take a look at my property photography training at https://landlordphotography.co.uk/property-photography-training/
Or if you would rather leave it to a pro, book me at: https://landlordphotography.co.uk/