If you often photograph real estate, you know it is important to use the right lens. Having the wrong lens can lead to a cropped view or distorted image of the property. We researched the best camera lenses for real estate photography and came up with this article.
The best lens for real estate photography is the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM if you use a crop-sensor camera. It offers a wide-angle zoom perspective that captures the entire property. It also features high-speed AF, an image stabilizer, and enhanced lens coatings to deliver sharp images.
But if you have a full-frame camera, consider the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens. This article covers other high-quality lenses that suit real estate photography. Below, we will also include a buying guide and an FAQ section to answer your questions. But first, we will teach you the definition of real estate photography.
What Is Real Estate Photography?
Real estate photography involves capturing images of a property, whether for commercial or residential use. The goal is to showcase the exterior or interior of a building to prospective tenants. It combines art and business, making it a challenging field to break into.
Real estate photographers often work with realtors. However, they can also collaborate with architects, designers, and model home builders. They must be adept in home decor and real estate trends to keep up with the fast-moving business landscape. At the same time, they must have the right equipment, starting with the lens.
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5 Best Lenses For Real Estate Photography
Below are our top picks for the best lenses for real estate photography.
1. Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens – Best For Crop-Sensor Cameras
The Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens is a wide-angle zoom lens for real estate photography.
The 10-18mm focal lengths can help you capture architectural buildings and interiors. Meanwhile, the maximum aperture varies depending on the focal length you use. For example, when shooting at the widest 10mm, you get a f/4.5 lens opening. But when you use the maximum focal length at 18mm, you get a smaller aperture of f/5.6.
Despite its limited f-stop range, this Canon wide-angle lens has a circular, 7-blade aperture. It can still deliver a beautiful background blur to emphasize architectural details.
The EF-S 10-18mm lens for real estate photography also boasts a built-in Canon Optical Image Stabilizer system. It can correct camera shake, which is useful in handheld shooting or when using slow shutter speeds.
Plus, it has a stepping motor (STM) that provides smooth and continuous autofocus.
Finally, this Canon lens is relatively affordable. It is a great beginner lens for those just starting out in real estate photography. However, note that it only fits APS-C cameras and has a 1.6x crop factor.
- Compact and lightweight wide-angle zoom lens
- It captures fine background blur
- The Canon Optical Image Stabilizer offers four stops of shake correction
- STM lens provides reliable autofocus
- Limited maximum aperture range
- Small image circle is only compatible with crop-sensor cameras
2. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens – Best For Full-Frame Cameras
If you own a full-frame DSLR, consider getting the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens.
It offers an ultra-wide field of view ranging from 17 to 40mm. These focal lengths help you capture real estate images, such as the exterior and interiors of a property.
The Canon EF 17-40mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/4. The lens opening remains the same regardless of the focal length you use. This gives real estate photographers more flexibility in shooting.
There is also an ultrasonic motor (USM) for more precise autofocusing performance. It even offers full-time manual focus to ensure sharp and detailed images.
As for its construction, this Canon wide-angle lens does not disappoint. It features Super UD (ultra-low dispersion) glass elements to minimize optical aberrations. Plus, it has a weather-resistant exterior, so you can use it outdoors.
However, you must consider several downsides before buying this full-frame lens. First, expect poor performance in low light and some indoor settings due to its f/4 aperture. Second, a few users said the corners of the images were not as sharp as the center.
Overall, though, the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM offers value for your money. We recommend this versatile zoom lens for any real estate photographer with a full-frame camera.
- A wide zoom range can cover real estate, landscapes, and more
- USM gives you fast and precise autofocus
- Ultra-low dispersion glass elements to reduce optical aberrations
- Weather-resistant construction
- It can fit full-frame and APS-C cameras
- The lens does not perform well in low-light situations
- A few users said the lens was not as sharp as they thought
3. Sigma 16mm f/1.4 C AF DC DN Lens – Best For Mirrorless Cameras
Are you a real estate photographer with a mirrorless camera? Then, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 C AF DC DN Lens might meet your needs.
It is compatible with Sony E and Canon EF-M cameras. It also offers support for full-frame, APS-C, and Micro Four Thirds formats.
This prime lens has a fixed 16mm focal length on full-frame models. It offers a cropped image when attached to a camera with a smaller sensor. For example, it becomes a 24mm lens on an APS-C format or a 32mm lens on a Micro Four Thirds sensor.
The Sigma 16mm Contemporary lens has a bright maximum aperture of f/1.4. It can let more light inside the sensor. At the same time, it produces a fine background blur to highlight architectural details.
Plus, it has high-quality optical elements that minimize optical aberrations. Meanwhile, the exterior is just as impressive, thanks to its waterproof and dust-resistant design.
Finally, a stepper motor helps you nail the focus with its accurate and silent autofocus system.
Despite these advantages, the Sigma 16mm lens for real estate lacks optical image stabilization. It also has a fixed focal length, meaning you have to zoom in with your feet.
That said, the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 C AF DC DN is still worth considering for real estate photography. It is one of the best wide-angle lenses you can buy today.
- A sharp lens with a bright maximum aperture
- A stepper motor provides quiet and accurate autofocus
- Water and dustproof lens design
- Lightweight and compact
- It is compatible with Sony E and Canon EF-M mirrorless cameras
- No image stabilization
- You might find the fixed focal length limiting
4. Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD – Best Wide-Angle Zoom Lens
If you liked the previous Sigma lens but prefer more flexibility, consider the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD.
It offers a variable focal length ranging from 10 to 20mm. This zoom lens can help you capture entire building structures and tiny interiors.
The aperture stays fixed at f/3.5 throughout the entire zoom range. It comes in handy when shooting in low-light situations.
The Sigma 10-20mm lens also features ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion) glass and SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass. It can provide high-quality images and reduce optical aberrations. There is also a multi-layer lens coating that minimizes flare and ghosting.
Plus, this best lens for real estate photography has a hypersonic motor (HSM) for accurate and quiet autofocus. At the same time, it lets you use full-time manual focus.
Finally, this third-party lens offers support for different lens mounts. It can attach to Canon EF-S, Nikon F DX, Pentax KAF3, and Sony Alpha-DT cameras.
However, some users said the autofocus was clunky. It also has a small image circle that fits APS-C cameras. When used on a full-frame camera, it leads to vignetting on the corners of the image.
But for its price and features, the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD lens is hard to beat. We recommend it for professional real estate photographers looking for a versatile wide-angle zoom lens.
- Ultra wide-angle perspective is great for real estate photography
- Large and fixed f/3.5 aperture
- Low-dispersion glass elements and multi-layer lens coating reduce chromatic aberration
- Hypersonic motor with full-time manual focus override
- It can fit different lens mounts
- Autofocus tends to be clunky
- It is designed for APS-C sensors only
5. Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L UD Aspherical Ultra Wide Tilt-Shift Lens – Best Tilt-Shift Lens
The last product on our list is the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L UD Aspherical Ultra Wide Tilt-Shift Lens.
It allows you to change the position and orientation of the lens elements in relation to the sensor. In simple words, the tilt-shift lens lets you achieve visual effects not otherwise possible with any lens. It is ideal for real estate photography because it keeps vertical lines straight even when your camera is pointing upwards. Simply shift the internal glass elements using the knobs built into the lens body. Doing so ensures an accurate image of the property.
The 17mm fixed focal length offers a view angle of 93 degrees. It can capture architecture and interior design.
Meanwhile, this Canon tilt-shift lens has a maximum aperture of f/4. It provides a creative background blur to highlight specific parts of the frame.
Plus, it features aspherical and ultra-low dispersion glass elements to reduce chromatic aberration. Meanwhile, the lens coatings can minimize flare and ghosting.
However, this tilt-shift lens for real estate is expensive due to its special features. It also has a steep learning curve. But once you learn the ins and outs of this special lens, you will find it is worth the money. It is among the best professional lenses for real estate photography.
- Tilt-shift design lets you change the position and orientation of the lens elements
- Wide-angle view
- Circular aperture
- Advanced glass elements with special coatings to reduce flare and ghosting
- It is specifically designed for a professional real estate photographer
- The most expensive lens on this list
- Difficult to learn
How to Choose the Best Lens For Real Estate Photography?
If you still cannot decide which wide-angle lens to buy, fret not. Consider the following factors below to help narrow down your choice.
The first factor to consider is the focal length of the lens. In real estate photography, you will capture the exterior and interior of the property. As such, you will need a wide-angle lens to fit everything in the frame.
The question is: how wide is good enough?
Look for lenses with a focal length of less than 24mm. If you can go ultra-wide at 10mm, that is even better. These focal ranges give you a wide field of view, so you can showcase the property correctly.
You can go for prime lenses for sharpness or zoom lenses to have more flexibility. However, note the maximum aperture they offer. Some lenses have a variable aperture, meaning the lens opening changes depending on the focal length used. Get a zoom lenses with a fixed aperture for better low-light performance.
Speaking of aperture, this is another important consideration when shopping for lenses for real estate photography.
You do not necessarily need the largest maximum apertures (f/1.4 or f/1.8) because you likely want the entire property in focus. Remember that a larger lens opening means a shallow depth of field that isolates the subject.
The best lens for real estate photography must have an aperture range between f/8 and f/11 to keep everything in focus. So, choose wide-angle lenses with that aperture range.
That said, if you are working in low-light settings, you will find a lens with a large maximum aperture useful. An f/1.4 lens can let more light inside the sensor. It can also produce background blur to highlight a specific part of the architecture.
You might also want to look into different lens features for real estate photography. These include autofocus and image stabilization.
Autofocus helps you achieve accurate focus for sharp, detailed images. There is no need for high-end autofocus technology since you will only be shooting stationary subjects (e.g., buildings). But if you will use the lens for other types of photography (weddings, portraits, etc.) alongside real estate, consider one with an advanced AF system.
Most real estate photographers use a tripod to stabilize the camera and lens. But if your work often involves photographing poorly-lit places where you cannot set up a tripod, get a lens with built-in image stabilization. This feature can reduce camera shake, which is handy for shooting handheld and using slow shutter speeds.
Finally, consider the price of the camera lens. Ask yourself how much you are willing to pay for gear that helps grow your business.
If you are just starting out in real estate photography, you will find budget lenses that do not put a dent in your wallet. While these lenses lack advanced features, they can help you capture great real estate photos.
But if you are a pro looking to upgrade your gear, consider investing in more expensive tilt-shift lenses. These special lenses might set you back a thousand dollars. However, tilt-shift lenses let you achieve special effects right off the camera. As such, they save you time from real estate photo editing, especially if interior shots become distorted due to a normal wide-angle lens.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best focal length for real estate photography?
The best focal length for real estate photography depends on what you want to achieve. But in general, a lens with a focal length between 10mm and 35mm can help you capture great photos. Use a 24mm wide-angle lens if you want a balance of foreground and background in your images.
Can you use a 50mm lens for real estate photography?
A 50mm lens is not considered a wide-angle lens. It offers a magnified view of the subject. So if you use it for real estate photography, it might crop the image. As such, it might not be able to capture the entire structure or room.
That said, the 50mm lens can still work for shots where you need to capture details. For example, if you need to highlight the cabinets in the kitchen, you will find a nifty-fifty lens useful.
How high should a camera be for real estate photography?
If you set your camera high on a tripod, you will notice the vertical lines (e.g., walls, doors, cabinets, etc.) start to slant. You can maintain straight lines if you use a tilt-shift lens because it changes the perspective with regard to the sensor. But if you own a regular lens, you must position the camera at the right height.
The ideal height for the camera is around half the height of the room you want to photograph. For instance, if the ceiling is 10 feet high, set the camera at around 5 feet. Doing so creates a balanced image and prevents distorted lines.
Real estate photography is all about selling a property by showcasing its exteriors and interiors through images. Having the right lens is important to achieving high-quality pictures.
We highly recommend the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens for its wide-angle zoom range, high-speed autofocus, and affordability. However, it only fits Canon cameras with an APS-C sensor format. If you prefer a full-frame lens, we suggest getting the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens. It has a more versatile zoom range with a fixed aperture for taking real estate photos in low light.
All of our recommendations have great image quality and positive customer reviews. We have already done the research for you, so you can go ahead and grab any lens from the list above.