Full Frame vs Crop Sensor Cameras for Real Estate Photography
- Higher image quality possible
- Excellent low light capabilities
- Most models are prosumer or higher level
- Camera prices are high
- Lens prices are also high
- Image files can be very large
- Very high image quality
- Lighter weight and smaller size overall
- Many very reasonably priced camera and lenses
- Crop factor limits wide angle usability
- Crop factor also affects depth of field
- Smallest and lightest prosumer and pro models
- Most have excellent video
- Common lens mount for lots of lens choices
- More extreme crop factor
- Prosumer models tend to cost more than comparable APS-C
- Nikon D750 - Compact DSLR, 24.3mp sensor, vari-angle LCD viewscreen, exposure bracketing, built-in Wi-Fi.
- Sony Alpha 7 III - Compact mirrorless, 24.2mp sensor, exposure bracketing, 4K video.
- Canon EOS 90D - DSLR, 32.5mp sensor, exposure bracketing, vari-angle viewscreen, 4K video.
- Fujifilm X-T3 - Mirrorless, 26.1mp sensor, exposure bracketing, vari-angle viewscreen, 4K video.
- Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk III - Mirrorless, 20.4mp sensor, exposure bracketing, vari-angle viewscreen, built-in Wi-Fi, 4K video.
- Panasonic Lumix G9 - Mirrorless, 20.3mp sensor, exposure bracketing, vari-angle viewscreen, 4K video.
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Like many other professional photographers and photography teachers, I get asked a lot about choices for types of cameras for real estate photography. It’s a valid question to be sure. A good portion of those asking also wonder about full frame vs crop sensor cameras in their real estate photography gear options.
So, let’s take a look at some of the important factors is picking the right cameras for real estate photography, talk about some pros and cons regarding full frame vs crop sensor cameras, and also some important features of cameras in order to take advantage of basic to advanced real estate photography tips.
What Camera Do You Have Now?
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My first replies to the questions about cameras for real estate photography and full frame vs crop sensor cameras are invariably questions for them. I like to find out what camera they already have, what type of photography they do now, and what is their budget and business plan?
More often than not, the person asking me is already an advanced photographer with a decent camera and some investment in other photographic gear. What turns out is that the camera they already have is really nice and likely usable for real estate photography. There's no point in buying a new camera if you already have a good camera for real estate agents.
However, some of you may have a really good camera but the camera isn’t an optimal choice as cameras for real estate photography. This is usually due to resolution and / or features. In these cases, an upgrade may be in order. So, what resolution and features are important?
Recommended Features and Quality
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If you are desiring to upgrade your camera and want to know what features and quality are required, I like to highlight the benefits of prosumer level cameras and lenses. The resolution of many newer cameras, even entry level cameras, are more than enough for real estate photography.
It’s the advanced features and higher levels of durability that tend to make prosumer models better cameras for real estate photography over entry level cameras, bridge cameras, and smartphones.
Obviously, we want to have interchangeable lenses as a basic camera type and feature. That could mean either a DSLR or mirrorless. It could also mean any one of three different sensor formats. More on lenses and sensor size in a minute.
Another very important feature is the ability to bracket exposures. The reason why this is a vital feature is because we can create outstanding realty images with an HDR merge program and several bracketed exposures.
Bracketing and merging is a basic operation for high quality real estate photography. It’s HDR or high dynamic range photography that allows an image in a listing to accurately portray the property with excellent detail. Here is a very informative tutorial for using HDR in real estate photography. You may also enjoy this YouTube video explaining the subject of HDR merging.
Real Estate Photography Equipment: Full Frame Vs Crop Sensor
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All other things being equal, the larger the sensor, the better imaging capability it has, especially in low light sensitivity. The thing I like to stress when discussing full frame vs crop sensor is that all other things are rarely equal.
The megapixel count, type of pixel, generation of camera image processor, anti aliasing filter (or not), and other technical issues factor into any consideration of what sensor size is better for your own situation.
Even though it might make sense to simply invest in a larger format sensor, we also need to keep in mind that costs will increase. And not just the camera cost, full frame lenses are often significantly higher priced than similar lens types for crop sensors.
Besides the Full Frame 35mm format, the other two digital formats that can work well for real estate photography gear are APS-C and MFT. If you already have a system in one of these three formats, then the cameras for real estate photography you could look at will include cameras of these formats.
You might also decide the camera you’re currently using is what you will use to start real estate photography. A prosumer level camera in any of these three formats will be very usable and capable.
Prosumer simply means that it is designed as a higher level camera that entry level cameras but not the full fledged top-of-the-line pro model in the camera brand. Prosumer cameras are built more rugged and have advanced features useful for paid or other serious photography.
Pros and Cons of Full Frame Vs Crop Sensor
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Before I give some specific new camera suggestions for your real estate photography gear, let’s quickly highlight the advantages of the three formats, especially as they relate to choices of cameras for real estate photography.
Full Frame Pros:
Full Frame Cons:
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Now for the fun part, suggestions of what cameras for real estate photography! I’ll list a couple of ideas for each format. Check out their features and quality and then look for something similar in your preferred brand.
You’ll notice that I haven’t discussed the options of DSLR vs mirrorless. Primarily because it is really more about full frame vs crop factor than mirrorless vs DSLR when discussing real estate photography gear.
Full Frame Cameras:
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Please check out our other articles for other ideas on cameras, lenses, accessories, and other real estate photography tips.