Real Estate Photography Technologies You Should Be Using
photo by Wavebreakmedia via iStock
Following real estate photography trends may give our clients more incentive to keep using us or for new clients to find us. I’m not talking about social media fads or memes, but actual trends of where professional real estate photography services are going.
There are several real estate photography technologies that we should be using or at least considering for our own businesses. To be honest, we may not need to use all of the technology for real estate photography that is available, still, we should want our decisions about them to be well-informed.
So, let’s start with a couple of real estate photography technologies that have become virtually an industry standard and a couple of other techs that may be useful in our specialty niche such as if we work in commercial real estate.
Ultra-Wide-Angle Zoom Lenses
photo by Wavebreakmedia via iStock
Photographing interior spaces and getting the entire exterior of a building in one shot means we’re using wide-angle lenses. You already know the composition tips such as including three walls for interior views whenever possible and leveling the camera so straight lines don’t look askew, essentials to good real estate photography.
Modern technology that helps us out in this category are the ultra-wide-angle zoom lenses available from multiple manufacturers including 3rd party lens makers. For many photographers, any lens wider than about 24mm (Full Frame format) can be considered ultra wide.
A 20mm lens has a much wider angle of view than 24mm, but a lens with 17mm or 14mm focal length offers an even wider angle of view, substantially more. What makes lenses like this so usable for real estate photography is that many of these are available now as zoom lenses.
Current ultra-wide-angle zoom lenses are made for Full Frame, APS-C, and MFT formats. These lenses are extremely well corrected and have high-quality in sharpness, contrast, and lack of distortion.
photo by Olezzo via iStock
Ultra-wide-angle zoom lenses, provided that they are high-quality, help our workflow because they are variable, letting us change the angle of view without repositioning. Generally speaking, these are usually going to be pro-style lenses.
Many will be quite fast for a zoom lens as well, just look at what many photographers shooting DSLR or mirrorless in the major brands call the holy trinity of zoom lenses such as the Nikon F mount 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f.2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lenses.
Many current or recent lenses from major manufacturers are included in the corrections that some of our post-processing programs have embedded in the programs, making it even easier to reduce or eliminate any optical aberrations that may still exist.
Bracket and Merge HDR
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Bracket and merge HDR is the one real estate photography editing tip that I offer most often. It not only greatly eases up our workflow for shooting and editing, but I feel like it actually improves the usability of images delivered for my real estate photography clients.
This technique uses multiple image files taken at different exposure levels, blends them together, and outputs an image file that has no holes in the detail. In other words, the detail of the scene is there in the final image whether we’re looking at deep shadows, almost blown out highlights, or anything in between.
Here is a very good explanation of the technique in this YouTube video.
You couldn’t do this back when we shot film and printed on photo paper - it’s a digital technique. What makes it so valuable to real estate photography is the versatility of the method.
Bracket and merge HDR means we don’t have to carry around lights or strobes and continuously change the settings depending on distance to the subjects and ambient lighting. Parts of the view that are difficult to well lit, such as underneath cabinets or a vaulted ceiling can be blended in to match the lighting values of the rest of the scene.
Bracket and merge HDR truly is a vital part of real estate photography editing skill set. Plus, it’s a technique that can be used creatively for other types of photography such as landscape, architecture, and nature photography. Try it out with your regular lighting set up when making small product images for an enhanced view of hard-to-light items.
photo by SKatzenberger via iStock
The first two technologies are what I consider essential real estate photography technologies, now we’re into the territory of options we should be seriously considering in order to be able to offer our clients more.
Drones are pretty close to mainstream technology now for a lot of different photographic applications. They are making a big impact in real estate photography, residential and commercial.
Many commercial real estate clients are specifying drone point-of-view images for their larger properties and residential realtors love both neighborhood views and an overhead look at the property. We can use drones creatively for special shots of any unique property features.
Most drones that are good enough for real estate photography still images will also be able to capture very high-quality video. We may not deliver videos to many real estate clients, but some will appreciate the option. Plus, we could use these same drone skills for enhancing our own promotional YouTube videos, they make great B-Roll cameras.
Spherical Panoramas (Virtual Tours)
photo by aapsky via iStock
On many hotel websites you can see a special feature known as a virtual tour or a spherical interactive panorama. You see the opening view of a scene but you can click your mouse or finger inside the image and drag it around to see up, down, and all the way around the scene.
This is another one of the real estate photography technologies that only exist because of digital imaging. It is similar in nature to bracket and merge HDR but adds a few layers of imaging technique, equipment, and skill.
The equipment used usually consists of a Full Frame or APS-C format pro-style or prosumer camera, a 180-degree fisheye lens, and a nodal centering panoramic mount.
The lens should be high-quality, not a novelty lens, something like the very popular Sigma 8mm f/3.5 lens. It’s made for various mounts of DSLR cameras and shows 180 degrees corner to corner in APS-C format and a circular image in Full Frame. That’s just one lens example, by means of adapters, you could use virtually any older or current high-quality fisheye lens on your mirrorless camera.
The panoramic mount that lets you center the rotational axis of the rig to correspond to the true optical center of the lens is a vital piece of equipment for this type of imaging. You take a series of exposures, rotating the camera between them, and they have to line up properly when post-processing to ensure a distortion-free view.
The final part to this puzzle is the specialty program that lets you blend together all of the views and deliver a final image file that is interactive. You can do it yourself with a variety of programs or you can pay a fee for having it done by a service on the web. Both methods give photographers a lot of creative control and produce excellent final results.
photo by Wavebreakmedia via iStock
But wait! There’s more! These are what I consider 4 very important real estate photography technologies, 2 of them being virtually essential in today’s marketplace.
Some other technologies can also be incorporated into our mix of services and images we can offer as a real estate photographer, such as 3D imaging, virtual staging, and time-lapse filming, but these 4 are my top choices.