Equipment for Real Estate Photography - What gear do I use?
Welcome back to the first of many blog posts to come. Time and again I get asked "what camera do you use?" or "what's in your bag?" or even "what type of lens is that"?
On this article, we will go over some of the equipment that I use, from cameras & lenses, to flash setup, tripod and even camera bag.
Before we dive in, let it be known that there is no best brand when it comes to selecting a camera. Be it Canon, Nikon, Sony, or any of the other brands, it is all based on how comfortable you feel with the equipment, from handling the camera & buttons to navigating through its menu settings. I shoot Canon because that was the first camera that I purchased when I took the jump of moving up from a point and shoot. With that being said, let's jump in!
For Real Estate Photography, my go to camera is a cropped sensor Canon 80D with a Canon 10-22mm lens. I like the versatility of this model, it can bracket 7 photos and it performs great under low light even without a flash. For Architecture Photography & Real Estate videos, I use a full frame Canon 5D Mark IV and mount it with a Canon 17-40mm lens. I have a Canon battery grip on both bodies and believe me, you will be thankful for the extended battery life. The 80D uses the Canon BG-E14 and the 5DMK4 uses the Canon BG-E20 battery grips. Note that you will need an extra battery for each (the grip accommodates 2 batteries), so remember to pick up extra Canon LP-E6N Lithium-Ion battery packs. Lastly, some folks use a remote to trigger the camera. I find it unnecessary to carry yet another piece of gear when you can just use the camera timer instead (I set it to 2 seconds delay).
If you've noticed, I stick with the Canon brand products instead of some of the less expensive options. There is nothing wrong with other brands and the only reason I stick with brand name is that I've yet to have any issues with any of the products made by Canon -knock on wood!
For lighting, a flash is also a must in your bag. I normally shoot 7 bracketed photos and an additional single shot with a flash. I have different set-ups depending on the project. For a typical Real Estate shoot, I just use a Canon Speedlight 430EX III-RT and on it, I use the Gary Fong Lightsphere diffuser. I suggest that you get the full commercial kit since it comes with a small carrying bag and a few extras that might come in handy at some point. For larger homes that need extra lighting, instead of the Speedlight, I use a Godox Flash & Wireless Trigger Kit that I picked up for 20% off during a limited sale. It includes the wireless trigger itself that mounts on the hotshoe of the camera and it came with two flashes. I went ahead and added an additional Godox flash and while at it, I also picked up a Neewer Umbrella & Light Stands Kit. This comes in very handy with Architecture Photography when you're spending an entire day at a project and need the best lightning possible.
**The Godox is brand specific so make sure to purchase the one for your camera brand.**
For a Tripod, I've always had great luck with the Manfrotto brand and own about three different models. The latest one I picked up is a Manfrotto BeFree Advanced Carbon Fiber with a 494 Ball Head. It is an awesome piece of equipment, it can hold up to 17 lbs which makes it a pretty sturdy tripod for a camera that doesn't weight that much plus the tripod itself weights in at under 3 lbs.
Lastly, let's talk storage. Over the years, you will find yourself with an array of gear, lenses, filters, cables and everything in between. With a lot of gear comes the need to store it all. In January of 2019 I found myself needing to replace my old large case that was literally falling apart (the wheels were so worn out they were as bald as my head this one time that I shaved my head when trying to give myself a haircut).
After a few weeks of research I ended up with two Manfrotto Pro Backpack 50. I like the versatility of having a backpack as opposed to the one large rolling hard case since you'll never find yourself needing all your gear at once. It offers a much more flexible way to set up the dividers inside the bag in comparison to a hard case, not to mention it's lighter and conveniently fits in your back. The reason I chose to go with two 50 sized bags instead of one 50 along with a smaller bag for my day to day was that the 50 is large enough to fit a Matterport 3-D camera (a large heavy piece of equipment which will be discussed on a later post) along with all the other equipment necessary for a typical shoot including a laptop up to 15 inches with plenty of room to spare. As I spend a lot of time in and out of the subways in NYC, a versatile backpack was the only way to go. If you're looking for an awesome professional quality backpack that's built to last, look no further than the ones made by Manfrotto.
Although there are many other items that I've obtained over the years, this is what I use for my day to day while shooting Real Estate photography.
Next post we'll discuss post processing software options. Until then, take care!