Darrell Backen Digital Marketing: December 2009

The evolution of the magazine from print ...to online ...to mobile!  Instead of truckloads of magazines ... a simple app on mobile!!! Always There When You Need It. No Waste, No recycling, No Damage to the Environment... Totally Green Instead of the page in a magazine you get your complete information. Websites LinkedIn Facebook Featured In the News Pinterest Google+ Networking Associations Email Right Converts your viewers to instantly view your mobile website if you have one Direct connect to any employee you choose to list

Asking Santa for a new camera for Real Estate Photography? Here are a few things to Consider . . .

Asking Santa for a new camera for Real Estate Photography? Keep reading . . .

With about a gazillion different digital cameras out there, how do you even begin to narrow down the choices? With my experience as a professional real estate photographer, hopefully I can provide you with some useful guidelines of the features that are the most important for photographing your properties.

The More MegaPixels the Better . . . Right?

No, not necessarily. Though MegaPixels may appear to be the "muscle" of a digital camera . . .

(imagine the following conversation)

"Nice little unit you got there, Chuck. How many megapixels under the hood?"

"She's running at a full 15. I can dial her down as low as 3 or 4 if I want to conserve storage space when the game goes into overtime. But otherwise, she can take the heat if I run her full out most of the time."


. . . they are really just a measure of maximum image resolution. Resolution becomes significant when you determine the final size an image is going to be printed or displayed at. Monitors have relatively low resolution compared to prints (72 dots per inch vs 300 dpi). A 10 megapixel (or 10 million pixel) image typically measures 3648x2736 pixels (multiply it out). In screen size this equates to an image that is about 50 inches by 38 inches! Overkill, for sure. In print, this same image would be about 9 inches by 12 inches--larger than a sheet of paper, such as your typical brochure.

Without boring you with the math (which you can do yourself with the information above) if you typically make 4x6 prints, a 10MP image will not give you any more noticeable quality than a 3MP image! That's right. 3MP is all you need for your typical 4x6 print. Now if you want to have some room for cropping or a larger image on the front of your brochure, it's best to go bigger. Suffice it to say, though, that an 8 or 10MP camera will be more than enough, unless you are wanting to go poster size.

Instead of paying for more megapixels, look for brands that are also known for having high quality image sensors (e.g. Canon, Nikon, Panasonic/Leica). It seems the megapixel race may be over, as many newer models have held back on the overall number of megapixels, in favor of improving things like low light image quality and dynamic range (the ability of a camera to capture a larger range of shadows to brightness and retain detail in those areas).

Wide Angle Lens

How many times have you seen photos of a home like this?

Room without wide angle lens 

Clearly, the typical 35mm equivalent lens just doesn't do the job when it comes to real estate. Look for a camera that has a minimum of 24-28mm equivalent viewing angle. Better yet, a DSLR with lenses that are purchased separately give you the most flexibility in this area. 14mm to 24mm is the ideal sweet spot for interiors. However, DSLR's and their accompanying lenses also cost a whole lot more cash! If Santa is feeling generous, this is the way to go. If not, you need a "wide angle" lens on a point and shoot. Luckily, there are more and more models that fit this requirement. Some cameras even have a "wide angle adapter" that can be purchased separately. While not coming anywhere close to the quality of a DSLR, they may do the trick. Beware, though, of lens distortion--correct it with photo editing software (see below).

Same room with wide angle lens and additional lighting


In order to avoid pictures like this . . .

Room on "Auto" exposure  

 . . . it is imperative to shoot with a flash. Despite all of the automatic scene settings and face recognition technology built into today's cameras, none of them yet compare to the experience of the human eye! Your eye can see across a much larger range of brightness (dynamic range, from above) and can more readily adapt as it scans a scene than any camera out there. There are times when the "smarts" in your camera are just not good enough. And when it comes to exposure--especially in interiors--this is the case more often than not!

Shooting interiors is one of the . . . yes THE . . . most challenging lighting situations. The brightness of a window can be 100-1000 times brighter than the room. If you point your camera towards the window, it will expose for that area leaving the room in the dark--something we've all seen over and over on the MLS system.

The ideal camera is one with a "hot shoe" mount for adding a more powerful flash than the ones that are typically built-in. This feature is going to be much trickier to find in a point and shoot and will definitely be at the upper end of the price range. However, at least look for a unit that has flash compensation allowing you to manually bump up the power of the flash by one or two stops. (Of course, you need to know how to force your flash to come on!)

Along the same lines, a camera that also has exposure compensation gives you additional control over the lighting. On most units with this feature, there is usually a little +/- button that allows you to adjust the exposure reading of the camera. Another definite asset for real estate photography.

Room with additional off-camera flash


Lastly, having some kind of photo editing software in your arsenal is a definite plus (Picasa is free!). Like we've already talked about, cameras don't always get it right. Adjusting things like white balance and removing color casts from different kinds of lights (incandescent, fluorescent) is important when you want paint colors to read true. Do you really want the buyer thinking the walls are peach when they are really beige??

And I'm sure we've all also experienced the results of a camera that was not held perfectly level. Being able to straighten the room out goes a long way to making your photos look and feel a whole lot more professional!

My last tidbit of advice is when you get that camera, PLEASE read the manual. No, it's not a real page-turner or suspense thriller, but you cannot possibly take decent pictures-- even with the most expensive equipment--if you do not know how to use it! An average camera in the right hands will produce much better pictures than a high-end camera in the hands of someone who clearly doesn't have a clue of what they are doing. You are wasting your money if you buy beyond your ability level. (Suggestion . . . hire someone instead!)

Any questions? Ask away! Happy shopping, and HO HO HO.



Deena Cottingham

GreenApple Staging & Images
Serving Calgary and Okotoks, Alberta

Comment balloon 3 commentsDarrell Backen • December 13 2009 11:14PM
Asking Santa for a new camera for Real Estate Photography? Here are a…
Asking Santa for a new camera for Real Estate Photography? Keep reading With about a gazillion different digital cameras out there, how do you even begin to narrow down the choices? With my experience as a professional real estate… more
27 Awesome Photo Editing Websites
Thanks Mirela for the info on the sites. Here are 27 awesome Picture Editing Sites for you. They are all Fun. They are all Free. Enjoy! www. Funny. Pho. to www. Slide. com .. more
How to Make People Read Your Website.
Simple advice, thanks. How to Make People Read Your Website. It's a well documented fact. People don't actually read on the internet. Unless your site is content driven (e. g. news sites, active blogs, etc. ) very few people… more
Next generation real estate signs - with Google barcode maybe
Interesting concept. Rebloged from the RealBird posterous blog. TechCrunch reported that Google will send out some 190, 000 QR stickers (barcodes in short) to local businesses, which can be used by iPhone, Android and other mobile users… more
Influential and Inspiring Real Estate and Marketing Folks to Follow…
Whether you've been using Twitter for a few days, or a few months, or a year, you know that it is important to strategize who you follow on Twitter. Why follow people that will offer you no benefit? Here are some folks that we follow on Twitter,… more
Buyer Alert: 10 Steps for a Successful Condo Purchase
There's no doubt about it-- purchasing a condo can be very problematic these days. As with any issue, if you know what you're getting in to from the beginning, you've got much stronger chance of success. Remember years ago when condos were… more
Introducing Oval Living. com In Vancover B. C. and Oval Living. com…
Introducing Oval Living. com In Vancover B. C. Oval Living. com Magazine Homes Food Travel Leisure Real Estate Mortgages Home Improvement The Oval Living. COM Group Oval Living. com Magazine Oval Living. com WalletMate Oval Living. com Event… more
Find Your Home Fast In Port Coquitlam Neighborhoods With A Virtual Tour, Using Google Street View Virtual Tour Of Port Coquitlam Neighbourhoods Here are the simple instructions There's now an exciting new way to look for your… more
How to use foriegn language symbols using window alt code
How to use foriegn language symbols using window alt codes REALTORS® sometimes need to use foriegn language symbols, this are the codes for window users with and numeric pad on the side of the keyboard. You press and hold Alt and inset the… more