If you ask any realtor what some of their greatest tools of the trade are, there is one answer that you will hear over and over. Most of them will agree that their most important tool is their camera.
With the right equipment and lighting, a real estate agent can quickly gain the upper hand. But with so many great options out there, how do you decide on the best camera for real estate photos?
You need a camera that is not only reliable and durable but also one that provides crisp, HD photos. After all, you want your real estate listing to look as beautiful as possible, right?
That is why we have put together this guide. Read through it to help you make the right choice for your real estate photography set-up. We even have a few top camera recommendations for you.
First thing’s first… Get a tripod
Before we jump into all the awesome cameras that you could pick up right now, let’s go over a subject that we think can be a game changer. The camera tripod.
These days, technology has come a very long way. Most realtors can shoot perfectly acceptable real estate photos directly from their iPhone.
But if you want the absolute best photo of your listing, we recommend getting yourself a quality tripod. Tripods can help keep your camera steady while you take your photos, without having to worry if your camera is steady or angles correctly. Everyone knows there is nothing worse than a picture that’s not level.
Just like when choosing a camera for real estate photos, you’re also going to have a lot of choices when it comes to tripods. It all comes down to what type of photos you are wanting to take and what kind of camera you have.
To get you started, here are a few tips.
Picking the right tripod to help you take beautiful real estate photos
When picking out your tripod, it is important to have an idea of what size you will need. Will the picture of the house look better if taken from a certain angle? Maybe from higher or lower perspective than your line of vision provides?
Tripods are usually made either from carbon fiber or metal. We recommend spending a little extra and getting a metal or carbon fiber tripod. Something like the Zomei Q555 or Zomei Z888C, if at all possible. The price difference isn’t that much in general and you certainly get what you pay for. Metal tripods are usually very tough and can take some semi-rough handling and the added weight can also help stabilize your camera. The carbon fiber tripods, on the other hand, are a lot more lightweight, more durable and are generally more expensive.
Not everyone will want or even need a tripod but they are invaluable in some situations so we highly recommend adding one to your setup.
Okay, onto the cameras!
Our Top Real Estate Camera Recommendations
Digital SLR cameras, also known as DSLRs, are some of the best cameras on the market today. DSLRs have some of the largest sensors, high definition lenses and provide you with the most pixels for your buck.
Amateur photographers and professionals alike use these cameras. They are also some of the bulkiest and most expensive cameras that you can find. But don’t let that discourage you because when it comes to DSLRs, you certainly get what you pay for.
Below, we have rounded up our top 5 picks for cameras that take excellent real estate photos to help narrow things down for you.
Canon EOS 5DS R – $3,699
To kick off our list, we have the extremely impressive Canon EOS 5DS R. This rather expensive camera may be out of the price range of most amateur photographers. But what it gives back in return is simply amazing.
The Canon 5DS R boast an amazing 50.6 megapixels of resolution, which blows the Canon 5D IV out of the water, passing it by a whopping 20.2 megapixels. If crisp, clear image quality is what you are looking for in your real estate photos, you will definitely find it here and will be hard-pressed to beat it.
You can get this camera in two different versions. You can choose between the Canon 5DS R and the 5DS. The 5DS comes with a much more inexpensive price tag (about $200 cheaper) and it comes with a low pass filter. However, if you are already looking in the direction of the camera, you might as well spend the extra cash.
Nikon D810 – $2,797
Next on our list is the Nikon D810. This camera is Nikon’s top DSLR camera and it comes packed with a full-frame 36.3-megapixel image sensor, low-light performance that you have to see to believe and an extremely fast processor.
In comparison to the Canon brand of cameras, the D810 will give you roughly 6 more pixels than the Canon 5D Mark IV. That will be the one we will be going over next.
With a price tag of almost $3,000, the D810 is a steal in comparison to its competitors. It is used by photography professionals of all sorts and would work beautifully for all your real estate photo listings.
Do not overlook the D810, it is an amazing full-frame DSLR camera. If you have the money to spend, we cannot recommend this camera enough.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – $3,499
Coming in behind the Nikon D810 is the Canon 5D Mark IV. High resolution is the name of the game for the 5D Mark IV. When compared to the older model, 5D Mark III, you can see a noticeable difference in the jump of megapixels. While the 5D Mark III had only 22.3, the 5D Mark IV comes in at 30.4 megapixels. The D810 still wins the megapixel battle here for the price, though.
We are focused on picture quality for your real estate photos. But it doesn’t hurt to mention that along with amazing picture quality, you also get 4k video, Wi-Fi capability and a lot of other nifty features.
The price for this camera is a bit on the high-end of the scale, much like the camera itself. You will end up paying roughly $3,500 for the 5D Mark IV. You can get the Nikon D810 for about $500 less and gain more megapixels in the process.
Having 4k video is a nice thing to have on a DSLR camera but we have seen with other brands of cameras with 4k that shooting longer videos have a tendency to cause overheating and storage issues.
Canon EOS 6D – $1,499
A couple of years back a new category of cameras known as “entry-level” DSLRs was introduced. It was aimed at making it easier for amateur photographers to get their hands on more professional cameras.
Here we are in 2017 and there are still two top cameras serving as the leaders of this category. They are the Canon EOS 6D and the Nikon D750. Both of these cameras provide crisp image quality. They are also perfect for taking bright shots of a real estate property on a sunny day. We could have listed either of them here but we recommend the Canon 6D here because the price tag is cheaper and you still get pretty much the same quality from either. The Canon 6D comes with a 24-105mm lens.
Having said all of this, it is also important to note that the Canon 6D comes with much fewer megapixels than most other cameras in this category, clocking in at only 20.2. It has some issues with processing speed and the auto-focus can be just a bit wonky.
Overall, if you do not have a lot of money to spend on a real estate camera for photos, this is a good entry-point choice and is relatively inexpensive for what you will get from it.
Pentax K-70 – $897
If you really need to save money and don’t mind sacrificing a few of the fancier perks that you get with brands like Canon or Nikon, the Pentax K-70 may be the camera for you.
But don’t worry, what the K-70 lacks, it makes up for in features that the competitors don’t have. One major feature that may appeal to you that Pentax offers, is weather sealing. If you go with one of the top brand names, weather sealing will typically cost you quite a bit more. With Pentax, this is a common and native feature. It does make the camera just a bit heavier but it is a great feature to have, especially if you aren’t paying extra for it.
If you are wanting a wide choice of compatible lenses, you, unfortunately, will not find it with the Pentax K-70.
Overall, the Pentax is indeed on the lower end and has some missing basic features that you find with other DSLR cameras. It makes up for this with its own features that the others lack, so it’s more or less nothing more than a trade-off. For the price tag, we can’t recommend this camera enough for taking all of your beautiful real estate photos.
A Few Extra Tips For Choosing Your Real Estate Camera
Now, obviously, you are here because you need to know what the absolute best camera is, for taking all of your real estate photos. You probably aren’t a professional photographer by trade (no offense if you are). You sell houses. Maybe you don’t even understand what all this talk of megapixels, weather sealing and the like are all about.
Lucky for you, we have decided that it would be helpful to describe what some of these terms mean so that you can make an even more informed decision.
Megapixels is something that you will undoubtedly encounter constantly when searching for a camera. While you should pay attention to this number, it’s not nearly as important as it may seem.
Marketers use megapixel to sell cameras to consumers. The word megapixel is thrown around to communicate the image quality of the camera to you. And many consumers believe that megapixels are the number one thing they need to pay attention to. While they are certainly important to your image quality, they are also not the only factor that ultimately results in the quality that you will receive.
It is actually a combination of many things about the camera that determines what type of quality you can expect.
The main thing that a high number of megapixels will do for you is give you the ability to enlarge or crop your photos without any of the pixels becoming more visible. That’s it really.
For real estate photos that will be placed online or in a small brochure, you will likely not notice much of a difference between a high megapixel camera and a lower megapixel camera. It is much more important that you pay attention to things like processor size and speed, a larger sensor and better quality lenses.
If you are simply looking for a DSLR camera for just taking real estate photos, you probably don’t care much about whether your camera can take videos or not. But it is still an important factor when choosing a camera because with video capability comes other issues, limitations and price increases that you can also probably do without.
Most high-end cameras, at least most 2016-2017 models, come equipped with some form of video recording capability. The most popular and most common is the ability to record videos in 4k quality. Just as a side note, 4k is one step above ultra-high definition video. Even if you want to record an open house video or walkthrough virtual tour of the home you are selling, you can still get away with doing it in 1080p and save a lot of money while you’re at it.
As I mentioned before, cameras that come equipped with 4k, sometimes come with their own set of issues related to it. There are known overheating issues and even reports of storage loss with some brands that include 4k capability in their cameras. Most of the time this isn’t a huge problem though since most of the issues occur when recording lengthy videos.
What really hurts is the price tag for 4k capability. It can cost you an extra couple hundred dollars if you aren’t careful. If you don’t absolutely need the video capability, just avoid it or at least keep your eyes on that price tag.
Rear LCD Screen
What better way to make sure that your photos are going to come out exactly as you need them to than getting a camera with a rear-facing LCD screen?
Most of the time, you can actually find these handy little features, fully equipped with touchscreens. If you need a rear LCD screen, we recommend getting one that can be tilted in various directions and doesn’t add too much to your price tag as it isn’t really a necessity in most cases.
More often than not you will not see these on many higher end professional models as they are more geared toward the average consumer just looking to shoot video on their handheld unit. Also, the screens that are able to tilt and twist add a little more weight to your camera.
In our day and age, having access to the internet is almost crucial for most people. Some DSLR cameras come equipped with Wi-Fi functionality. With this feature, you can upload your pictures anywhere you may need online with the touch of a button.
This feature is probably not something that most realtors really need. Real estate photos will probably need to be uploaded and organized in a certain way that is just easier from a PC. However, it is really nice to be able to transfer your real estate photos from one device to another over Wi-Fi.
Using the Wi-Fi functionality of your camera over an extended period of time also puts a lot of “wear and tear” on your camera’s processor. This can eventually lead to needing to buy a new camera or replacing your processor.
A favorite feature of active photographers who are often faced with shooting while in nasty weather. Weather sealing isn’t really weatherproof as many people seem to believe.
It does, however, do a very good job of protecting your camera from the elements and there are a ton of enthusiasts out there who swear by weather sealed cameras. Basically, the manufacturer adds a rubber sealant to the body of the camera and around buttons in an effort to make it more resistant to unforgiving elements such as rain, dust, and pollens. All of which can definitely ruin your expensive equipment.
As a realtor, you may not have much need for weather sealing but it’s also not a bad idea. Most companies will charge quite a bit extra to add this feature. Alternatively, you can also get it from the Pentax K-70.
If you want the best quality real estate photos that you can get out of your DSLR, you need a great lens. Do you have a huge property that you need to get a shot of in panoramic view? Maybe you just need to zoom in or further out a little more than what your camera will allow? You can do all with the right lens.
This is where you will probably begin to see a large expense going into your equipment. Usually, when you start out with one brand of cameras, you will stick with it for many years. This will probably hold true for lenses made specifically for it as well. This is convenient and price efficient, but after a while, you may feel that you want to venture out and try some custom lenses.
When buying lenses, it pays off to do your research on the specific ones you are looking for. Just be mindful of what it is or isn’t capable of doing well before you make the investment.
Lenses can be quite expensive but they are an investment that will prove beneficial for many years. Just be sure that you take good care of them. With the right lens, you can take some really astonishing real estate photos.
Our Final Take on Best Real Estate Camera
There are many good choices that you could make when looking for the best camera for real estate photos. In this guide, we chose only to list those that provide the most benefit for the price tag.
Obviously, the two big names here are Canon and Nikon. Both companies have very big reputations in the photography world but don’t count out brands like Pentax or Sony. The latter two have many other great offerings as well.
Pick the camera that provides only what you need. You just need something capable of making your real estate photos look amazing.