If you have a basic DSLR but don’t understand what real estate photography camera settings to set to get a beautiful interior or exterior photo, read my complete guide to basic camera settings that are universal for taking high-quality photos.
Interior photography is a rather difficult task that requires special skills and knowledge. If you are just starting, read these recommendations on how to apply real estate photography settings correctly.
Taken by Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
Professional photographers use additional lighting when taking commercial real estate photos. However, if you are a beginner without special equipment, you can improve the quality of your photos with the help of aperture and ISO settings. The higher ISO value is, the more light comes to the frame.
You have to remember that too high value can lead to lots of digital noise in your photos. This is not what you need. I recommend you to apply the ISO settings in the range from 100 to 320. I recommend to use ISO 320 when you work with a flash, as it will make your photos vivid and clear. If you are photographing in a very dark room and you do not have special additional light, you should increase the ISO value to 400. It will help you get more light, make the image clearer and highlight important interior details.
Interior photography is wide frames. The main thing here is to save clarity. The best values for interior hotel photographs are the interval between f8 and f11. They are optimal for several reasons. First, a lower value (for example, f3.5) can add too much bokeh to your images. This way you will get pictures with very blurred edges and a highlighted center. If you choose a higher value, such as f16 or f18, you can capture more objects and show clear details, but this aperture value will certainly have a negative effect on other aspects of photo quality.
Read this book to know how to play with color while taking interior photos and to make this “WOW” effect. Find out how to illuminate the topic of color.
Imagine that you need to emphasize some important detail in the interior of the room, for example, furniture or a fireplace, use a small aperture value (approximately f/2.8) to blur the edges of the image and focus on necessary objects. Put down your user manual, say goodbye to ‘Auto’ mode and learn firsthand how to use your camera to its full potential and take high end real estate photos.
Usually, the shutter speed of the lens is adjusted after the photographer has already applied the necessary settings for the aperture and ISO, in accordance with the exposure. When working with aperture and ISO, we can choose a specific range in which it will be convenient for us to shoot and get good images, while there are no universal settings for the shutter speed. It all depends primarily on your camera and its capabilities.
If you use the Manual mode, I recommend you to apply the shutter speed between 1/60 and 1/2 second intervals. Just keep in mind the cheat sheet above and you will have no problems.
Many photographers often wonder what exposure-metering mode will be the best one for interior shooting. There is no single answer to this question. The fact is that unlike other types of photography, here you do not need to create a composition, but you have to shoot a finished object.
Therefore, there is no universal interior setting, since everything depends on your wish and the type of room. However, many experts advise using spot metering. It highlights small, well-lit details perfectly.
I prefer to use automatic white balance for indoor photography. Of course, you can apply manual settings and control the process of shooting. However, some photographers do not want to spend their time on this. I use the automatic settings and then correct it in Lightroom. Of course, this method is not the best variant too, since you will have to spend a lot of time on further photo editing and color correction. Nevertheless, it will allow you to focus your attention on the subject of photography and other important things, without being distracted by the manual settings.
Exterior real estate photography settings resemble those you use for interiors, but there are some peculiarities you have to know.
Best Lightroom Presets for Real Estate Photography
Use these real estate Lightroom presets to edit your interior and exterior photos. Correct white balance, adjust shadows, make green and blue colors vivid, etc. in several clicks.
When it’s sunny, there’s no need for additional lighting, that’s why I tend to use ISO 100 in most cases and I get the results like on the photo above.
This is what happens, when you go overboard with ISO. The colors are faded and the house loses the details. Always keep your ISO as low as you can.
Trying to learn about the best time of day to take real estate photos, you’ve probably heard about the Golden Hour phenomenon, which is 30 minutes before sunset and after sunrise. At this period you really get wonderful, tender and warm light, which may greatly assist you in taking real estate photos.
Though, you must be quite flexible and fast to accurately adjust your camera for such conditions. Mainly, you have to mind your exposure, as light intensity in the evening (even during the golden hour) differs greatly from that you have at daytime. In such cases, I prefer raising ISO to about 400. Thus, you will perfectly cope with the lack of light not scarifying a good depth of field.
People, who are professionally engaged in shooting real estate photography, believe that aperture is the most significant of 3 parameters, when it comes to property exterior.
This is the result you’ll get if you don’t know what the correct aperture is. Both interior and exterior shooting require the same approach, as you have to capture the whole scene. That’s why, opt for F/8 - F/11 range.
This is the result you will get if you use the settings I recommend. The whole image is crisp and in focus without even a trace of blurriness.
Shutter speed for real estate photography doesn’t greatly affect the quality of both interior and exterior shots. Judging by the amount of natural light you have at the spot, you need to keep shutter speed between 1/60 -1/2 a second.
These aren’t ideal values that will work for all the situations. You can try them for your scene and then slightly regulate. If you have set your camera this way (I mean, shutter speed 1/60 -1/2 a second), but wish to get a brighter photo, make the aperture wider, so more light will reach the sensor and you’ll get an image with vibrant colors.
Vice versa, if the picture is too bright, you can narrower the aperture or decrease the ISO. Both variants work effectively.
Look carefully at the settings of this evening exterior shot. A lot of people don’t get them right straight away. It will probably take you a while too. But you can get the hang of it quicker, if you use our cheat sheets.
I would like to share some other tips related to camera settings for real estate photography and important aspects of how to make the shooting process enjoyable and productive.
Taking a photo, you see only a scene in the viewfinder, while your camera gets more information about the shot. This data matters a lot, when you improve your photos in image editing software, brightening shadows and darkening highlights.
Though, be accurate with the way you recover the data in these areas, as it is really important not to overdo and keep everything well-balanced. Thus, learning how to edit real estate photos in Lightroom or Photoshop, you must understand that this technique doesn’t work in every case.
Choosing the best camera settings for real estate photos, you may greatly simplify your work, shooting in aperture priority mode, indicated as A or Av on your camera dial. This is a semi-automatic exposure mode that enables a shooter to set the necessary aperture value, while the camera itself taken care of the shutter speed.
This mode is so popular among experienced photographers, as you have a possibility to alter the ISO, making it low (for instance, 100 or 200), thus minimize graininess you get at higher ISO values. This is awesome for real estate photography, as you have impressive control over the exposure and don’t need to stick to a fully manual mode. Besides, you can change all 3 exposure settings in several clicks.
If you want to have more freedom in image post processing, you’d better opt for HDR shooting technique. It means you have to take several property pictures, each at a different exposure.
Having opened the AEB menu, set the exposure value to +/-2 EV. Sometimes, you can’t choose such a value, as your device doesn’t support it. So, select the highest one available. Then, go to the continuous shooting mode and frame the shot as you wish. Check if the photo is framed in the proper way and depress the shutter button. There will be several shutter clicks, which means that the bracketed photos have been taken.
In such a way, you can compose one well-exposed image, instead of several photos with more exposed darker or brighter parts. The best real estate photography settings are a 3-shot bracket and 2 f-stop interval exposure.
Shooting real estate photography, you deal with the motionless object, so what’s the reason to use tripods? Is there is anything to stabilize? In fact, a tripod is helpful in some other ways. Primarily, you can conveniently adjust the shutter speed, mainly use slower speeds with your camera in a stable position.
Besides, with a tripod, you know that your camera is pointed on a horizontal plane, so the lines in the picture will be straight and absolutely vertical. Another benefit of using a camera support is that you can capture all planes in a convenient way. In other words, it is possible to adjust a camera at the chest, eye, knee level or shoot from above the head levels. It means you get more chances to show the room from different angles.
Personally, I choose the longest focal length possible, but it shouldn’t exceed 22m or you’ll get all kind of distortions and perspective problems in your property images. Providing buyers with too wide results may be misleading as they will imagine the house somehow different than it really is. Thus, they may be not only disappointed but even angry because of such inaccurate photos.
I don’t know what real estate photo equipment you use. Is it a full frame or cropped sensor DSLR? Let’s imagine you use Nikon D850, which is believed to be a decent device for property shooting or Canon EF-S 10-22mm that is often called the best lens for real estate photography. With a full frame digital SLR, you’ll get images with a focal length corresponding to the lens attached. For instance, if the lens is zoomed out to 20mm, the picture will be 20mm. With a cropped sensor DSLR, your pictures will be a magnification of the focal length the lens attached, based on a pre-determined ratio.
Different manufacturers offer diverse crop ratios. For example, if you photograph at 17mm, the picture you get will be 27.2mm (17mm x 1.6). Nikon’s cropped sensor devices come with a 1.5x crop factor. Take this into account, while choosing the best camera for real estate photography and compatible lenses.
Would you like to learn how to edit real estate photos in Lightroom? Have any problems doing it? No need to worry, as I have prepared 5 gorgeous LR presets for you to cope with any task fast and professionally.
If you happen to choose wrong real estate photography camera settings and your image looks blurry, you can apply this filter to make your photo sharper and clearer. The preset mainly affects contrast of shadows and clarity, increasing it, so the picture becomes pop.
One of the biggest problems real estate photographers face is improper weather while shooting. Don’t get upset if you had to work in gloomy conditions and your photos lack vibrant colors. Apply this Lightroom preset to improve the brightness of the shot in a quick way.
This plug-in slightly resembles the previous preset, though it also helps add volume and gradient to the objects in the picture. In case your images have distorted colors, feel sure to apply this preset to fix such flaws.
Even if you try hard to select the most suitable camera settings, there are some real estate photography mistakes that are difficult to avoid. The most frequent issue is related to proper white balance. If it is true for your photo, don’t waste time and apply this Lightroom preset to get a natural result.
Poor lighting for real estate photography may cause many difficulties, for instance, ugly yellowness of the elements in the photo. This preset is great to cope with such a problem, so hurry up to add it to your collections.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.