Photography For Real Estate

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Archive for the ‘Wide-angle lens’ Category

Wide-angle lenses for real estate photography

Which Wide-Angle Lens for a Canon 30D: Canon 10-22 or Canon 14mm

Posted by larrylohrman on October 15, 2007

Cherie Irwin is purchasing a new wide-angle lens for her Canon 30D and wants some advice. Cherie says:

“I’m thinking about purchasing a new wide angle lens, since I am experiencing some major distortions and focusing issues with mine after I dropped it on the ground. I took into my local camera shop, and they can’t determine what is wrong with it. Since I have the Canon 30D, I’d like to go ahead and purchase the Canon 10-22mm. It has great reviews, and I’m not certain that the 14mm Rectilinear would work well on a sensor with a 1.6x crop factor. I know, based on some of the Flickr posts, that some of the contributors work on a similar frame with a 14mm lens. But, many of my clients have complained about the long center plane and stretching that the rectilinear lens creates…my competitor uses one”

Here’s what I told her:

To me the sigma 10-20mm is an ideal RE lens for the 30D since it would effectively be a 16-32mm almost identical to what I shoot with (16-35mm on a 1Ds) and the thing I love about it is I can use it for exteriors and interiors. I try to use the 16 end only in small bedrooms and bathrooms and stay between 20 and 24 in larger rooms. Using a 14mm rectilinear (22.4mm on a 30D) would reduce your flexibility a some but it is famous for not having any barrel distortion. I would go with the Sigma 10-20mm just because of the flexibility of a zoom.

Anyone out there using a 14mm on a cropped frame body? I know Scott Hargis uses a 14mm on a Canon 20D. Cherie would like hear your arguments for using either of these two lenses. Help Cherie decide what to do.


Posted in Photo Equipment, Wide-angle lens | 13 Comments »

When Does Wide Angle Become Too Wide?

Posted by larrylohrman on June 18, 2007

I got a e-mail from Dom, a German photographer that wanted to raise the issue of “over doing it” with ultra-wide angle lenses. He says:

“But there´s one point I´m straightly opposite to yours and that´s the lens.

I would recommend just a 28-35mm lens on 35mm/fullframe (d)SLRs or for digital DX nothing less then 20mm. Here´s why:

If I shoot the way you used to (and most of the ones outside doin´) in the advertising my room seems to be very large and nice, that´s why you all are doing that.

Problem is, that reality can not mess with it. You face that if you showing your client the real estate and his first impression is:
>>Uhh! I thought it was bigger.<<

Bad position to start a sales talk.

If a single wall in a room can not get in one shot you can stitch. It requires some accuracy and time, but that´s why you get paid instead the Realtor doing it himself.”

Dom’s point is that there are downsides to using a lens that is too wide. The perspective looks strange and exaggerated and can make an average living room look like a bowling alley. For my taste the place where wide angle starts to become too wide is around 24mm. Below 24mm perspective starts to look strange because it is vastly different than the human eye. The image above is shot at 16mm. The white coffee table in the foreground has strange distorted look and depth of the room is very exaggerated. This is the effect that Dom is talking about.

I know I have many examples on this blog that were shot between 16 and 24mm. When I first got my 16-35mm zoom in 2003 I shot with it at 16mm most of the time. I admit I was infatuated with ultra wide shots. But I got negative feedback. One seller call the photos “cartoon like” one potential buyer called about a listing and ranted on about how I had purposely distorted the images to make them look bigger. Since then I’ve managed to get hold of myself.

Now days here is my rule of thumb: I try not go below 24mm unless there are unusual circumstances like a small powder room or important room that I need to shoot but just can’t do it without going lower. But to me 28mm is just not wide enough. There is a lot (8 degrees) of HFOV difference between 28mm and 24mm. Sorry Dom we’ll have to agree to disagree.

I’d like to hear what others experiences are on how wide is too wide.

June 19 update:

By perspective distortion I do not mean converging verticals. I can tell by peoples comments that many think I’m talking about converging verticals. The term exaggerated perspective is probably a better term. The exaggerated perspective I’m talking about here is making the room look much bigger than it is.

Posted in Wide-angle lens | 19 Comments » Lens Tests

Posted by larrylohrman on March 9, 2007

I want to highlight another contribution by Marc Lacoste, of Nantes, FR. Marc has pointed out a number of very significant items of interest to readers of this blog. His comment on the last post that referrers to the wide-angle lens tests on . These tests are a real gem! Very detailed and complete. A valuable resource for real estate photographers purchasing a wide-angle lens. I think Marc has referred to these tests before but I didn’t pick up on the significance of the site. I’ve added this link to the right sidebar. Thanks again Marc.

Posted in Wide-angle lens | Leave a Comment »

Sigma 10-20 Flickr Group & Lens Review Site

Posted by larrylohrman on January 16, 2007

I wanted to highlight some links that Marc Lacoste, our French contributor, passed along.

Remercie beaucoup Marc .

Posted in Wide-angle lens | 1 Comment »

Using Wide Angle Lenses Effectively

Posted by larrylohrman on June 7, 2006

Today I ran across two articles on wide angle lenses. Wide angle lenses are essential equipment for real estate photographers and it’s important to understand all the strange behaviors of wide angle lenses. These articles go into some depth on some of these strange behaviors that you’ll need to control when using a wide angle lens.

The first article, by Roman Zolin called “Techniques – Wide Angle Lens” has a interesting description of Perspective Stretch and dynamics and distortion inherent in wide angle lenses.

The second article by Nelson Tan goes into even more depth and explains issues like exposure problems caused by wide angle lenses, dynamic diagonals, corner distortion, vignetting, lens flare. Nelson gives tips on how to manage these problems.

One caution I would raise about Nelson’s comments on dynamic diagonals is that Nelson is not coming from the perspective of an interior photographer. Nelson promotes the use of dynamic diagonals (where parallel lines converge when you tilt the camera upwards or downwards). dynamic diagonals may be acceptable when shooting landscape or more art oriented images but when shooting architecture and interiors nothing is more distracting than walls that aren’t parallel with the sides of the photograph. See how many interior shots you can find in Architectural Digest that have walls that aren’t parallel with the sides of the photos… none. Those shots don’t get past the editors.

This “falling wall” problem is probably the single biggest problem with real estate photos. The only problem that is more wide spread is not using a wide angle lens in the first place.

Posted in Wide-angle lens | 2 Comments »

What is a Wide-angle Lens?

Posted by larrylohrman on March 15, 2006

What is a wide-angle lens? This is a concept that is critical for real estate photographers to understand. The angle of view or how wide an angle a camera can “see” is related to the focal length of the lens. That’s the number that you always see quoted in millimeters (mm). The angle of view is also related to the size of the camera’s sensor but that factor is taken care of by the convention that the focal lengths for compact cameras with small sensors are adjusted for the sensor size. Digital cameras with removable lenses that have small sensors have a multiplier (like 1.5 or 1.6) that must be multipled by the focal length to get the effective focal length.

So all you have to think about is effective focal length. The diagram above shows that a 24mm lens can ‘see” 73.7 degrees and a 35mm lens can see 54.4 degrees. Lenses with smaller focal lengths can see even wider angles of view. My 8mm fisheye can “see” 179 degrees.

For the purposes of shooting interiors you need lens that is 24mm or shorter. Why 24mm? Because 24mm lenses have a wide angle of view but are not so wide that the perspective starts to look exaggerated. Whether you go wider than 24 to 20mm or 16mm or 14mm is a matter of taste. I work with a 16-35mm zoom and find my self having the lens zoomed to 16mm or 18mm all the time.

The main message I want to get across is don’t be sold a camera for interior shooting that won’t zoom down to at least 24mm. This happens all the time. Last week I was at a real estate convention where the speaker was recommending camera whose widest angle was 35mm. With a 35mm lens your interior photos will look like you are looking through a keyhole!

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Don’t be Seduced by Convenience Over Wide-angle

Posted by larrylohrman on February 26, 2006

This is the time of year for new camera introductions. Today is the opening of the annual PMA (Photo Marketing Association) show in Orlando where all the camera manufacturers are showing off their latest products. Lots of new compact digital cameras are being introduced. One of the trends I’ve noticed in some of the compacts being introduced last year and this is very thin cameras that fit in a shirt pocket or purse, have a large bright LCD screen that fills almost the whole back of the camera and are around 6 mega pixels. I know several Real Estate agents that have one of last years models of these nifty little cameras that they use for interior photography. Yet none of the ones I’ve seen are wide-angle enough for interiors and at first look cannot be fitted with wide-angle converters.

If you want to do any interior photography don’t be seduced by the convenience of compact cameras that can’t be fitted with wide-angle converters. Many of these cameras that are great for taking photos of the kids but are not suitable for shooting interiors. All you have to do to verify this is look through the interior photos on real estate sites and see how many look like your looking at a room through a key hole.

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Ebay has a ton of Wide-angle Converters!

Posted by larrylohrman on February 8, 2006

A wide-angle converter (or lens) is essential for interior photography. A reader recently pointed out that Ebay is a great source for wide-angle converters. To find them just go to and click on Cameras & Photo along the left side of the screen. Then search for "wide angle lens". My search got 1975 items most of which are wide-angle converters for various camera models. There appears to be more wide-angle converters here than are routinely available at some of the big camera sites like B&H Photo and 47th Street camera. And the ones I found on Ebay I couldn't find at B&H Photo.

One interesting item the reader pointed out is for sale on Ebay is a 67mm .5x wide angle converter that screws on the front of a Nikon D50 or D70 that would turn the standard 18-55mm lens that comes with the D50/D70 into the equivalent of a 14mm lens for between $89 and $99. Not bad if the quality is acceptable. I'd like to hear from someone that has experience with one of these to see how the quality is.

Posted in Photo Equipment, Wide-angle lens | 2 Comments »