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Thread: Equipment recommendations for Interior/Real Estate Photography

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    Member Adrienne's Avatar
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    Equipment recommendations for Interior/Real Estate Photography

    Hi everyone, I was wondering if any of you had an opinion on gear needed for interior design/real estate photography. I am studying at the moment but this is the field I would like to go into. I have a Nikon D5000 and already have a Sigma 10-20mm.
    Lighting is an issue and so far all I can tell is some speedlights. Would you recommend more than one camera?
    What other lenses?
    And any other peripherals that you would suggest I would really appreciate! I plan on slowly stocking up before I get started professionally.

    Thanks all,
    Adrienne

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    As a minimum way to compete with the established interior design / real estate photographers ( staying with Nikon which is a wise move of course ) I would put together a kit comprising of a D3X , the 24mm and 45mm PC-E lenses and 3 or more SB-900 speedlights.

    That lot should take care of around $25,000.00 and then of course you need all the expenses of any business ( insurances etc ) to just get started.
    Andrew
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I would recommend investigating the real estate photography market first. There is VERY little money to be made. Many real estate agencies are paying less than $100.00 per property, this includes travel time, costs, and editing of the photos.

    However, start with what you have, the wide angle lens is something real estate agents love, as it makes room look bigger etc. Practice on your own home, get the real estate guides and look at the angles used, lighting etc and try and work out what was done, learn from looking at what is presented in real estate brochures. I suggest sticking to your study and as you learn more, you will start to learn what gear is needed, and how to take the photos to present the properties well (assuming your study is photographic, in nature).

    Gear, Yes more than one camera, more than one set of batteries, get yourself liability insurance (what if you trip over something on a property and smash something?), speedlights, used off camera can be effective, so learn how to master off-camera flash, you might need a few speedlights to do it well. Understanding light and using flash effectively is not something you can learn in a week, practice, practice, practice. But for the small amount most real estate agents pay photographers, you have to seriously consider if the $$$ outlay is worth it.
    Last edited by ricktas; 03-04-2011 at 6:15pm.
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    Cheers Andrew and Rick...! Yes, I have learnt there are many real estate photographers around, I have an interesting road ahead of me! Ideally I would prefer to photograph for interior designers or builders and maybe fill the gaps in with real estate but I am open and really looking forward to seeing where the doors open and learning a lot!

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    It's all about the Light!
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    On Andrew's thinking, you may as well kit up with a medium format Pentax 645D, more go for less than the D3X

    The point being that to 'compete' in the the real estate genre is really tough and getting the best gear is going to be really expensive (don't actually do that).
    This is especially true as a bunch of RE agents have a DSLR and a WA lens, then do their own work - i.e. more or less for free.
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    Congrats on wanting to chase a passion!! So far your in the right direction of asking the questions, well done. So what equipment do you need? Start off with knowledge and understanding of RE photography, this is the best piece of equipment you will carry with you in that industry. Go onto 'You Tube', invest in books (RE Photography) speak to the people that are in RE and ask questions on what they expect from a photographer who helps market a clients property. Go onto RE sales sites and look at the images and see what style appeals to you.
    I do RE photography and have made a nice little income from it as a side venture. It's a long road to travel and is sometimes lonely and time consuming. You can be at the mercy of the agent who needs/requires images by the next following day, so be flexible. The agents that you build a rapport with are gold, they will use no one except you and try and get you to shoot all their exclusive listings.
    The one other piece of advice is this, there is a percentage ratio to RE photography. 10% photography, 90% business/marketing. If your prepared to accept this and really want to nail it, I am sure you will do well.
    In regards to equipment, that's up to your budget and what you can afford. Your research will tell you what you need. I started off very small with great ambitions, now I have a office dedicated to the equipment that I use when doing RE photography. Good luck with it all and I hope to see some of your work. If you would like a run down of what I started with to what I have now please just give me a pm and I will be more than happy to help.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Photography is a science but capturing an image is art.
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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrienne View Post
    Hi everyone, I was wondering if any of you had an opinion on gear needed for interior design/real estate photography. I am studying at the moment but this is the field I would like to go into. I have a Nikon D5000 and already have a Sigma 10-20mm.
    Lighting is an issue and so far all I can tell is some speedlights. Would you recommend more than one camera?
    What other lenses?
    And any other peripherals that you would suggest I would really appreciate! I plan on slowly stocking up before I get started professionally.

    Thanks all,
    Adrienne
    Camera and lens are perfectly fine for real estate photography. A tripod would be a must, particularly if you are going to shoot 360s shots. As for flashes, something with nice wide overage. I use a 10-24mm Nikkor (no I don't do RE photography but my father was a real estate agent many years ago), something with a nice wide angle coverage. From memory, the Nissin Di622 Mk II with the wide angle diffuser will get you about as wide coverage as possible on any flash. They cost about $160 eBay or $299 locally. For extra money with more features, you could go for a Nikon SB700 but I would expect you won't use it's potential. Where possible, a tripod with natural & the home's artificial lighting should do OK.

    I am sure you could invest in a lot more kit (and more expensive kit), but this should work just fine. No use investing big if you don't have work lined up.
    Cheers

    PeterB666


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    Quote Originally Posted by Kym View Post
    On Andrew's thinking, you may as well kit up with a medium format Pentax 645D, more go for less than the D3X

    The point being that to 'compete' in the the real estate genre is really tough and getting the best gear is going to be really expensive (don't actually do that).
    This is especially true as a bunch of RE agents have a DSLR and a WA lens, then do their own work - i.e. more or less for free.
    Thanks Kym, good advice! I am lucky that I live in a bayside suburb and all serious agents in the area hire professionals that provide images that support the higher priced listing. I appreciate the response and I will go have a squiz at the Pentax!

    Stay well!

    Adrienne

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    Camera and lens are perfectly fine for real estate photography. A tripod would be a must, particularly if you are going to shoot 360s shots. As for flashes, something with nice wide overage. I use a 10-24mm Nikkor (no I don't do RE photography but my father was a real estate agent many years ago), something with a nice wide angle coverage. From memory, the Nissin Di622 Mk II with the wide angle diffuser will get you about as wide coverage as possible on any flash. They cost about $160 eBay or $299 locally. For extra money with more features, you could go for a Nikon SB700 but I would expect you won't use it's potential. Where possible, a tripod with natural & the home's artificial lighting should do OK.

    I am sure you could invest in a lot more kit (and more expensive kit), but this should work just fine. No use investing big if you don't have work lined up.
    Thanks for the advice on the lighting....Ebay has been my friend lately since I have this new photography addiction!!! Take care....

    Adrienne

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    some weird advice in this thread.

    most important thing when it comes to real estate photography for agencies are the use of rectilinear lenses, ones that do not distort (google the meaning more). The usage of high end cameras ala D3X or Pentax 645D is almost a waste of time. Agencies like Elders, LJ etc do not require enlargements at 2 or 3 meters or billboard sizes, nor do they need the dynamic range. 99% of the time the images taken will be scaled down at small sizes on brochures and net usage. Remember that the clientele here are your average income earners, not billionaires that need to be shown a high end gallery of what they are getting from a 40 million dollar home......

    1. get a rectilinear lens ie a tilt shift, or cheaper like the Sigma 12-24 which is great for it too albeit at a much cheaper cost
    2. get some flashes for wireless work
    3. get some continuous fill light products

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    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JM Tran View Post
    some weird advice in this thread.
    I don't see my ideas as weird advice seeing as I included the use of PC-E (tilt shift in Nikon lingo) and the D3X body would certainly be very suited to professional interior design and real estate photography. I wasn't aware that we were purely chasing low end local estate agents in the grand plans, I thought that Adrienne was aiming for the top of the tree one day so my advice was based on good equipment to use at those heights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by I @ M View Post
    I don't see my ideas as weird advice seeing as I included the use of PC-E (tilt shift in Nikon lingo) and the D3X body would certainly be very suited to professional interior design and real estate photography. I wasn't aware that we were purely chasing low end local estate agents in the grand plans, I thought that Adrienne was aiming for the top of the tree one day so my advice was based on good equipment to use at those heights.
    key emphasis is on 'one day' here Andrew. Can you honestly distinguish between pics taken by a D3X or a D5000 if both were processed slightly for the brochure? If and when Adrienne is at the top of the tree, the D3X will be obsolescent by then and replaced by better cameras, and the OP's demands will be different too.

    I am not a proponent of buying the best now when one's skill base is not generating enough turn over to pay for it within a short amount of time yet. I also dont advocate it because if you want to buy the best now, you are really just losing out on new technology that will be readily available not long after, WHEN your skills and experience requires much more.

    You do realize the top of the top real estate and commercial photographers in architecture and designs tend to use the best of the best digital large and medium format, with an army of lighting systems, easily blow over 40 or 50k.

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    Can see where you are both coming from, but from an entry point of view probably should be looking at a camera capable of doing the job, but not placing an overarching burden on the finances. The D5000 would not be my choice for a primary, but can understand when your starting out you have what you have. A second body would be recommended and I'd probably go a D7000 if I was sticking to Crop and a D700 if I was determined to go full frame, just bear in mind you'd need something like a 12-24 Sigma that Jackie mentioned if you intended to go full frame. The D3X/other high end is something to aim for in the long run when things are going well and you are making money, can see your point there I@M. The Sigma 10-20 is a nice enough lens on the crop body, though if you were looking for something of a little higher league the 11-16 F2.8 Tokina is well reknowned. A tilt shift would definitely be a recommended lens for this line of work, either one of the previous generation of models if your trying to save a few pennies, or one of the newer ones but it will cost a fair bit either way. The 24 PCE F3.5 is probably the most suitable, with the 45mm being an option at a later date.

    With lighting its going to be critical when using wide angles, you have to get enough light to ensure there is light throughout the frame. Wireless recievers and a number of flashes (don't have to be expensive, perhaps except your main for on camera, an SB900 and a couple of SB600s, or a 3 Yongnuos with triggers) are definitely a must, and continous lighting is probably also desirable (many different options here, have an explore there are sites out there, but basically you want some reasonably rated constant globes). Given what you have I would make investing in lighting your first priority. Liability insurance is definitely an important aspect.

    Above all though. A decent tripod, extra battery. You will need these for this sort of photography. Then i'd think about lighting. Then I'd think about glass, and then i'd think about body.

    An interesting site which has some information on this and ideas/recomendations that might be of use: http://www.all-things-photography.co...otography.html (Note I am not in any way affiliated with said site).
    Last edited by Xebadir; 04-04-2011 at 1:18pm.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JM Tran View Post
    You do realize the top of the top real estate and commercial photographers in architecture and designs tend to use the best of the best digital large and medium format, with an army of lighting systems, easily blow over 40 or 50k.

    You could probably quadruple that figure ! - my lights are replacement value alone in the region of $90,000 - no kidding. And I'm not what I would describe as spoilt for gear. And FWIW I dont use medium format, much as I would love to, because I cannot justify the economic investment of yet another $100,000 into an already over invested arsenal of gear.
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    You need a basic camera that will bracket ( crop is fine ) and preferably a back up, a very heavy tripod, some flashes and triggers, a wide angle lens and one for detail shots ( macro is good but a 50mm is fine ), solid walking shoes and something to carry all the junk in. Bandaids, mozzie off and sunscreen wont go astray either.
    Insurance for you, your gear and your car. A decent computer and programs to use. An ABN and an accountant.
    and patience and practice.......and more practice......and then a bit more. Add marketing to the mix...........and that will get you going in the real estate stuff........further down the track ,if you decide its for you, and you want to do the architecture and magazine stuff you will have already upgraded all your stuff and spent a zillion dollars.....but for now just get the stuff you need and worry about the rest later.
    and its fun.....
    cheers
    Jan

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    In my experience you definitely do not need top end gear for run of the mill RE or interior design. the only time I have ever used medium format in RE was when the client requested bill board sized prints and paid for the hire of equipment capable of outputting such. This was a new home builder.

    I would, however recommend a camera that can handle higher ISO's cleanly and that usually means full frame. I can tell you that most "professional" RE outfits will already be using them, so you dont really want to start on a back foot.

    As for tilt shift etc. its actually not used in RE as much as I thought it would be. In fact, I've hardly ever seen it!
    Last edited by zollo; 04-04-2011 at 3:50pm.
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    Member James T's Avatar
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    Adrienne, if you can make it to Port Melbourne tomorrow night, Dianna Snape is giving a talk for Trampoline (ACMP) at Blue Tree Studios. She'll be able to tell you more than most people in Melbourne about being an architectural photographer. Costs 10 bucks on the door (5 if you're a member) and that includes a drink or two.

    EDIT: Should say it's 7pm for a 7.30 start.
    Last edited by James T; 04-04-2011 at 4:07pm.

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    WOW! Everyone, thank you all so much for your expertise and opinions. I have gotten something from everyone's posts and as Jan said..."it's fun!"

    James thanks for the heads up, it's actually my wedding anniversary tomorrow so we'll see how we go!

    John cheers on the link, will have a look tonight....and JM I get your point about buying too much too soon and losing out on new technology.
    Thanks again to all, lots to work on!

    A
    x

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    There seems to be a trend occurring in Sydney of using HDR imaging as well, to get nice exposure indoors and also nice exposure outdoors through windows or sliding/folding doors in the same shot, so I'd suggest getting on top of HDR technique if you're not already. The agents seem to like it. They're also using a lot of night photography for both indoors and out on the higher value homes

    I'm not a RE photographer, but I am in the market for a new property in the inner city so I have been looking at a lot of brochures and websites lately.
    Last edited by beau; 04-04-2011 at 8:54pm.

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    Adrienne,

    You have been a member since December, but we haven't seen a single photo yet. AP is a photography forum! So how about showing us some of your current work, and giving some other members a comment or two on their photos. After all, what it is really about is taking photos. A forum by definition is a place of interaction, so please give something back to others, as well as take all the advice you are being given. We can discuss business, or white balance all day long, but that does not a good photographer make.

    I noted in your posts above, two comments:

    I live in a bayside suburb and all serious agents in the area hire professionals that provide images that support the higher priced listing.
    and
    ...Ebay has been my friend lately since I have this new photography addiction!!!
    Now it is great that you are thinking ahead regarding a career in photography, but at the same time, with all due respect, you need to walk the walk first. I would suggest getting well past the new photography addiction stage before you ever consider being paid for photography. Get your course finished, get a heap experience photographically behind you, and then do a course on marketing along with one of business, and at that time start setting up your business. Remember that over 50% of all small business in Australia fail within 2 years. The best advice I can give is to do your research now, start planning and preparing yourself to run a business, get not only your photography skills up, but business and marketing ones as well. Do not stick to a single genre (RE), make sure you can offer more than that. Those businesses that do not fail are the ones that know their market inside out, have the skills to take photos and run a business. Good luck with it all, but I think you need to stop, take stock, plan and work forward at a slow and steady pace. I would say that as this is a new photography addiction, you will not be ready to even start a business for a minimum of 12-18 months.

    You are entering a career path that is saturated with photographers in competition with you, in an ever decreasing marketplace, with everyone trying to make more money for themselves, by paying others less (or doing it themselves). To do this, you need to be better than everyone else in your area. There will always be someone else looking at starting in RE photography as well, and you need to be better than them in every way, otherwise guess who the agents are going to get to take their photos? Practice, Practice, Practice your photography and get your skills up now, and do the planning for your business, but do not start it. All you need is one or two jobs that you cannot do perfectly, cause your skills are not fully developed and those RE agents are not likely to use you again. You need to be able to, and have the confidence, and gear, to do everything spot on, and adapt to special requests by the agents/property owners.

    Take it slow, show us some of your current work. After all, the most valuable feedback you can get, is from other photographers, at this point in your photographic development.
    Last edited by ricktas; 05-04-2011 at 6:13am.

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