The essential kit list for a property photographer
A good workman never blames their tools and that’s because the people who are outstanding in their field are also outstanding at selecting the right equipment for the task at hand.
Property photography needs to be able to visualise an environment, bring a home to life and sell a space – all through the medium of powerful, considered images. In order to take clean, beautiful images, it takes more than a skilled photographer.
These six pieces of equipment make up the professional property photographer’s essential toolkit. A lot of these items can be bought second hand or from discount retailers for very reasonable prices, so it isn’t necessary to spend a fortune on kitting yourself out.
1. DSLR camera
If money is no object
If money is no object, then heading for a full-frame camera with a large sensor and the best image quality and features is the way to go. The Canon 5D range has been around for years and is constantly improving. The Mark 3 is the newest release of the camera. It is a superb piece of kit and has many new features including camera image stabilisation and great low light performance. However, for the needs of an interiors photographer the Canon 5D Mark 2 is sufficient and will still get you incredible images, as well as 1080p video quality. These cameras are readily available second-hand to reduce your start-up costs. An alternative to the Canon is the Nikon D750, which is a great value camera and is a lot more cost-effective to buy new, with some equally great performance features. The Nikon D750 also gives you better video quality output giving you the flexibility to offer video clips in the future as well.
Entry level DSLR
The Canon EOS 700D has a cropped-frame sensor, but still gives great results. For around £325, the 700D boasts a high resolution screen, decent low light performance, and a long battery life.
2. Wide angle lens
A wide-angle lens is essential and a great investment for any photographer. With wide viewing angles, wide angle lenses can capture more space, or a wider view, than a standard lens. In property photography, where small rooms can prove a real challenge to show off the space and maximise the saleability, a wide-angle lens is essential when taking good interior photos and showing off an entire room in a single image.
For full frame cameras
The 16-35mm L lens is a great lens, it takes superior quality images and is highly recommended as the lens of choice. Being part of the Canon L range this lens will not only be a great servant for years to come but also retain value substantial value if kept in a good condition. If you are shooting on a Nikon full frame body the 17-35mm lens is our recommendation to give you the most flexibility in low light situations.
For cropped-frame camera lenses
To get the same wide-angle view with a cropped-frame camera you need to have an ultra-wide angle lens at your disposal. The Sigma 10-20mm is a highly recommended lens. There are two versions of this lens – the 10-20mm f3.5 and the 10-20mm f4.0-5.6.The Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 lens has a wider aperture and therefore is more effective in low light. For a property photographer any additional light is an advantage, therefore we suggest for the extra cash it is definitely worth it.
3. Off-camera flash and wireless trigger
Creating the right light and ambience is essential to make a space really shine. The built-in flash on a DSLR will not cut it for quality property photography, so either an on-camera hot shoe flash or off-camera flash is needed.An off-camera flash means it can be moved away from the camera for the best, most natural results. Recommended on the Improve Photography blog, the YongNuo YN-560 flashgun is a great value choice for an off-camera flash. It is simple to use and offers a great set of features and flash output. It can also be picked off from Amazon for as little as £39.Off-camera flashes are easy to control using a wireless trigger, such as the Cactus V6 trigger set for £50, which is highlighted as simple but speedy in this rundown of the best wireless flash triggers.
In order to keep the camera straight, steady and at the perfect height (probably waist height for most property photography), a solid tripod is an essential piece of kit. A head wearing tripod is well worth the investment. Some of the more recognised brands are a little more expensive but tend to be virtually bomb proof. A 190x Aluminium Tripod would be a great option. A fluid head is not necessary unless you may want to consider video and therefore something like the Manfrotto fluid head could be an option with more flexibility for the future.
5. Remote Shutter and Cable release
To avoid camera shake, a cable release or remote shutter is a useful piece of kit in conjunction with a tripod. The cable release, which attaches to the camera via a cable of around 60-80 centimetres , gives a little less freedom than the remote shutter, which is wireless and can work up to around 5 metres from the camera. This kind of range is not necessary for property photographers, and remote shutters are not supported by all models, so a cheaper cable release is probably more appropriate.
The Vello ShutterBoss timer remote can be bought for around £55, making this feature-rich piece of kit a very reasonably priced offering.
6. Laser measurer
A laser measuring device is essential for the creation of floor plans. This is a useful product to be able to offer as an add-on while you are already in the property doing the photography and ensures accurate measurements as well as looking the part.