There are many reasons why a decent entry-level DSLR camera is better than a point-and-shoot camera for taking real estate photos.
1. Wide Angle – This is the biggest selling point of a DSLR. The standard lens on most DSLRs is an 18-55mm lens. 18-55mm refers to the focal length of the lens, which means that when it’s zoomed all the way out, the lens will be at 18mm, which is considered wide angle. The focal length of a point-and-shoot camera or camera phone varies, but many of them are around 28-30mm. The difference between 18 and 28 might not sound like a lot, but it is. Just take a look at the photo below.
This photo was taken with an ultra-wide angle 10mm lens. The inner red box shows the 28mm equivalent, while the outer blue box shows the 18mm equivalent. You can probably see where I’m going with this argument. An 18mm wide angle lens is better than a 28mm lens, but a 10mm ultra-wide angle lens is heaps better than both of those. But without a DSLR, you won’t be able to get the 10mm or the 18mm look. Click here for more information on wide-angle lenses.
2. Quality – Every camera has a sensor. This quality of this sensor directly corresponds with the quality of the images that the camera can produce. DSLR cameras offer better quality sensors which will translate to better quality images.
3. HDR – The only true way to take HDR photographs is with a DSLR. Many smartphones offer an “HDR mode,” but it’s more of a pseudo HDR. True HDR will produce far superior images. Click here to learn more about HDR.
4. More Control – DSLRs have a slew of settings you can dive into to fine-tune an image on the spot. White balance, ISO, shutter speed, aperture; the list goes on. And don’t worry if too many settings scare you—there’s a setting for folks that don’t like to mess with settings called “automatic” where the camera makes the decisions for you. Should you ever decide to learn more about photography, you’ll have to option to fine tune those settings.
5. Professional Look – The photographer who shows up with a DSLR camera is always going to look more professional than the photographer that’s taking photos with the same device the homeowner likely has.
You don’t have to break the bank to get a DSLR that’s good enough for real estate photography. Many of the entry-level cameras will be fine. Nikon and Canon are the two big brands you hear a lot about, but there are many other brands to choose from as well. I’ve always been loyal to Nikon, but I’ve had photographers on my team that prefer Canon.
My real estate photography company has done extensive testing with both the Nikon D3200 and the Canon Rebel T5i, and they seem to hold up just fine for this kind of photography. You can find them for around $300-$500 for just the body. If you want to spend a little more, the Nikon D5000/D7000 range and the Canon 7D range are also great cameras we’ve tested. The only real benefit we’ve seen in going more expensive is that you can then offer real estate videography.
Pro Tip: I don’t recommend using an 18-55mm kit lens on a regular basis, but it’s a great lens to have on hand in case you need to do some feature shots or if you’re trying to capture something far away on one of your exterior shots.
Pro Tip: Invest in a few other extras:
A camera bag will keep your camera and lens protected when not in use.
UV lens filters are a great way to protect your lens. We haven’t noticed a difference in image quality with or without them, but they will help protect your lens from scratches.
If you’re going to be photographing multiple homes in a day, then I’d highly recommend grabbing an extra memory card and an extra camera battery. Seeing that your battery or memory card is depleted when you’re halfway into a shoot and an hour from your office is a mistake you’ll only have to make once.