iPhone vs. DSLR: what's the difference? [Before & after]

By Amy Smith

When it comes to property listings, looks matter and beautiful online listings are paramount. Getting the best from your property photography is essential but as smartphone cameras improve, we ask: how does it stack up to a DSLR?

Before we compare the differences between iPhone and DSLR property photography, here's a checklist of the essentials. To reach the kind of high quality photography potential buyers have come to expect, these are the basics: 

  • Make sure your shot has a bright and airy feel 
  • It'll need to be sharp and in focus from corner to corner, no matter how large the room
  • As far as possible, make sure there are no shadows (although this is tricky and often best left to professional photographers)
  • When setting up the shot, remember that all lines need to be straight (though this is usually perfected in post production) 
  • Don't click the shutter without checking you've got the correct exposure 
  • Don't forget the windows - they'll need a clear view 
  • Correct colour balance is essential  
  • When looking through the viewfinder, make sure your photo is well-composed
  • Home staging is key - here's the checklist to give your vendors
  • And one that almost goes without saying: always in landscape!

Property photography is an art; one best executed by the pros. But when shooting on a budget, there are some things to remember to deliver a service above the baseline. Read on for our tips for graduating from iPhone photography. 

iPhone vs DSLR: bathroom

Before and after bathroom staged.jpg

  • Left: iPhone SE, taken by non-professional photographer
  • Right: Canon 5D, taken by professional photographer

The bathroom shot above was tricky because, like a lot of smaller rooms, there weren't any windows to let in natural light. Whenever this is the case, professional grade flashes help to minimise shadows and get that bright, airy feel that draws potential buyers in to your listing. 

For small rooms like this, some estate agents tend to go for 'the CCTV shot' to try and get as much of the room in as possible. But this technique gives a false impression of the room. Shooting between upper body and eye level is the best way to give the viewer a truer experience of the room. 

Similarly, wide angle lenses allow the viewer to sense the whole room in one shot - without compromising on reality. 

iPhone vs. DSLR: bedroom


  • Left: iPhone SE, taken by non-professional photographer
  • Right: Canon 5D, taken by professional photographer

Take a look at the bedroom shot on the left; in particular, the shadows under the curtain, behind the bedside lamp and in the far corner of the room.

Without an off-camera flash, there's no getting rid of them unless you've got epic editing skills (or access to PropertyBOX, our currently-in-beta floor plan and photo editing app). The effect is a dark and dingy room that highlights creases in bedding, giving a subtly messy feel.

But when taken with professional kit, the viewer automatically places themselves in a fresher room - one they'd like to explore. 

In a mid-sized room like this, you'll want to show as much as you can in a single shot. So you've got a decision to make: landscape or portrait?

Property photography should always be shot in landscape as that's how our eyes take in a scene; but then you've got to make the decision of cutting out either the bottom or top half of the shot. A lot of smartphone camera users feel backed into a corner to defy the first rule of property photography: always shoot in landscape. 

As property photography specialists, it might come as no surprise that we believe in the power of top-of-the-range kit. It's one of the first questions we ask our photographers when they go through their recruitment process. 

Smartphone cameras have their place in some parts of the fast-moving world of photography (did you know users upload 9,000 photos to Snapchat every second?) but when it comes to the priorities of property photography, the DSLR always wins.

Tags: Property Photography

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