If you want to take stunning real estate photos, you know it can be challenging to choose the camera settings. These determine the quality of the images taken and the success of the shoot, so it’s important to get them right.
The best camera setting for real estate photography is aperture priority (Av) mode. Set the aperture to f/8 and the ISO speed to 100. Then, let the camera decide the appropriate shutter speed for the scene.
However, there are no hard and fast rules regarding real estate photography. You can change the camera settings depending on the available light in the scene and other factors. Below, we will talk about the settings we use to capture real estate interiors. We will also suggest alternative options for different scenarios, like low-light shooting.
What Is the Exposure Triangle?
The exposure triangle refers to the three elements that affect exposure. These include aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
They work together to give you a photo that is properly exposed. That means the image has the right amount of brightness and is neither too bright nor too dark.
If you change any of these elements, you must also adjust the other settings to maintain the correct exposure.
Below is a brief overview of each variable in the exposure triangle. Understanding it is essential to choosing the basic camera settings for real estate photography.
The aperture is the lens opening that controls the amount of light that hits the sensor. The larger this hole, the more light reaches the camera.
The lens aperture is expressed in f-stops or f-numbers. A lower f-stop (f/1.8) means a bigger lens opening and more light. In contrast, a higher f-number (f/16) indicates a smaller hole, limiting the amount of light in the sensor.
Shutter speed refers to the period the shutter remains open to allow light to pass through the camera sensor. It is measured in fractions of a second.
A fast shutter speed (1/200) lets less light inside the sensor. On the other hand, a slow shutter (1/50) permits more light to enter.
ISO is the final element in the exposure triangle. It describes the sensitivity of the image sensor to light. It is measured through a scale.
Higher values of ISO (1000) mean that the sensor is more sensitive to light. These enable you to capture real estate photos in low-light environments. However, they come at the cost of increased image noise or grain.
Low ISO values (100) are less sensitive to light. They are ideal for taking interior photos in natural light or a bright room.
What Is the Best Camera Setting for Real Estate Photography?
We recommend the following camera settings for real estate photography.
The camera mode allows you to control the exposure triangle. Certain modes give you complete control, while others limit you to changing one or two elements.
It is best to use aperture priority in real estate photography. This mode is usually abbreviated as Av/A on the camera dial.
The aperture priority mode lets you change the aperture and ISO settings. Meanwhile, the camera automatically decides the shutter speed to use.
While this camera mode doesn’t offer complete control, it makes shooting easier because you only have to think about two settings.
Aperture priority mode also lets you select the sharpest aperture, which is around three stops from wide open. Sharpness is essential in real estate photography, especially if you need to highlight architectural details.
Professional real estate photographers often use lighting equipment to illuminate the scene. However, if you’re a beginner with limited gear, you can still improve the brightness of your photos through ISO.
A higher ISO value means more light reaches the image sensor. However, avoid using too high values because they can introduce noise to your photos, making them look grainy.
We recommend setting the camera between ISO 100 and 320. Stick with ISO 100 if you’re shooting in a bright room with lots of natural lighting. But you can increase it to ISO 320 when capturing home interior photos in a dark room.
As a real estate photographer, you must showcase the property in the best way possible. This task involves highlighting the architectural details and features of a room. And to do that, you want to use the correct aperture as it determines the exposure and the depth of field. The latter refers to the area that appears sharp in the image.
A large aperture, like f/1.8, lets more light in. It can also blur the background of the shot.
Meanwhile, a small aperture such as f/16 allows less light to the scene. It also maximizes the depth of field, making everything in the frame appear sharp.
In real estate photography, you want to set the aperture at f/8. It permits a considerable amount of light in the scene. At the same time, it can offer a large enough depth of field. This gives you a sharp, detailed foreground and background.
If you followed our recommendation and used the aperture priority mode, you no longer need to set the shutter speed. The camera will automatically calculate this element for a properly exposed shot.
However, if you want to adjust the shutter speed to achieve a particular effect, use the manual mode. Set the shutter speed to 1/60 and faster. Any slower than that can increase the chance of blurry interior shots due to camera shake.
Metering mode refers to the method your camera uses to measure the available light within a scene. There is no right or wrong metering mode for real estate photography. It all depends on your shooting style and the type of room you want to capture.
Most real estate photographers, including us, use the spot metering mode. This mode calculates the amount of light around the selected focus point and ignores everything else, including the background. So even if it is too dark or bright, the spot metering mode sets the exposure based on only a small portion of the frame. It is suitable for real estate photos because you often need to highlight small details.
This camera setting can affect how cool or warm the colors appear in real estate photos.
You can set a custom white balance to prevent the annoying yellow or blue tint to your images. However, we recommend using the auto white balance setting.
Most cameras nowadays can instantly select the proper white balance for the scene. This saves you time and effort in choosing the best possible camera setting. You can also focus on other essential aspects of the shoot.
Image Recording Format
We always record and save real estate photos in RAW. This format features both unprocessed and uncompressed image data. It captures the largest amount of detail than any other format.
The RAW format also allows you to adjust most camera settings through editing software if you’re unhappy with them. For instance, if you notice a yellow tint or warm light in your photos due to an incorrect white balance, you can fix it in post-processing.
The only downside of shooting in RAW is the large file sizes. However, they are worth it if you get a wide dynamic range and image information in return.
Manual camera focus mode is the best setting for photographing real estate since you’ll mainly capture stationary objects.
It can help you select the right focal point within the frame. This is especially handy if you’re shooting a wide scene with many focus points.
The manual focus setting can also give sharper images despite contrast and color differences in a scene. It can even focus quickly on the subject in low-light situations.
Finally, manual mode makes it possible to achieve focus stacking. It is a creative technique that combines multiple images with different focus points.
Cameras have six drive modes. These include single shot, continuous or burst shooting, quiet, self-timer, remote, and mirror lock-up.
The default shooting mode is a single shot, which we use for most real estate photos. It allows you to take an image with the press of the shutter button.
You can also switch to the self-timer and remote modes. These camera settings are handy in bathrooms or mirrored areas where there is an increased risk of seeing your reflection.
You don’t need to use burst or continuous shooting mode because a real estate photography shoot involves stationary subjects. The quiet drive mode is also unsuitable for this photography genre.
When to Use Flash in Real Estate Photography?
You can use flash in real estate photography if you’re shooting interiors. These places usually have shadows and dark areas that can make your shot look dark or underexposed. Activating the flash gives the scene a burst of light.
An on-camera or external flash is also a must in low-light conditions. It can illuminate the subject, resulting in brighter and properly exposed shots.
However, be careful when using a flash because it can create harsh shadows. Avoid pointing it at the subject. Instead, bounce the flash toward the ceiling or wall. Doing so can diffuse the shadows and create a softer light.
Should I Use a Tripod in Real Estate Photography?
You can shoot stunning real estate photos without a tripod. However, mounting your camera on a tripod gives you several benefits.
First, it keeps your camera steady and prevents blur. It is convenient in low-light situations or when using a slow shutter speed. It ultimately gives you sharper and more detailed images.
A tripod also ensures consistent framing and composition. It holds the camera at the same height and angle for more professional-looking images.
On the flip side, it offers flexibility in framing. It lets you change the shooting perspective while keeping your hands free.
Finally, a tripod helps you work more efficiently. There is no need to worry about blurry shots or camera shakes anymore. It lets you focus on the more important aspects of real estate photography.
Real estate photography can be challenging because you often don’t have control over lighting conditions. Fortunately, understanding camera settings help you take high-quality photos despite unpredictable external factors.
The best camera setting when taking real estate photos is the aperture priority mode. It lets you adjust the aperture to f/8 and the ISO value to 100. Refer to our tips above when changing the other camera functions.
Do you have more questions about camera settings for real estate photography? Leave a message via our contact page, and we’ll get back to you soon.