DSLR vs Point and Shoot for Real Estate Photography

In this day and age, "Curb Appeal" has given way to "Internet Appeal", as the vast majority of home buyers search online for their next house. Having pictures that stand out from the crowd and really show off your house has become increasingly important. When you look at pictures online, they tend to end up in five different categories.
  1. Professional photographer with multiple off camera flashes and DSLR camera with wide angle lens.
  2. DSLR using a single flash mounted on top of the camera.
  3. DSLR without any flash.
  4. Someone using a point and shoot camera.
  5. Someone using the camera on their phone.

Here at Atlanta Real Estate Photo and Video, we use multiple off camera flashes combined with a compositing technique in Photoshop to ensure every image is properly and evenly lit. I did a little experiment with a house I recently shot. I brought a few other cameras and devices with me to test what pictures taken from the same angle at the same time would look like with different equipment and techniques. Same rooms. Same natural light. Very different results.


Composition 1 - Family Room

Multi Camera Flash Composite Multi Camera Flash Composite

  This is an example of typical AREPAV image. Flashes were deployed above the camera for the foreground, on the staircase, in the bathroom hallway, and back down the long hall in the kitchen area. All the lighting and coloring is even throughout the image.

This is an example of typical AREPAV image. Flashes were deployed above the camera for the foreground, on the staircase, in the bathroom hallway, and back down the long hall in the kitchen area. All the lighting and coloring is even throughout the image.

Single Flash Mounted to Camera

  With only a single flash you see very hard shadows under the coffee table and on the staircase. The long hallway, above the stairs, and the kitchen in the background all look dark. The color is also very uneven as you move farther away from the flash.

With only a single flash you see very hard shadows under the coffee table and on the staircase. The long hallway, above the stairs, and the kitchen in the background all look dark. The color is also very uneven as you move farther away from the flash.

Ambient Natural Light Only - No Flash

  This one doesn't look too bad, but it has some problems. The lamps are all glowing to the point that you can't see any detail around the light bulbs. The light coming down the hallway is too bright on the wall, and the colors vary along the walls due to the mix of orange light from the lamps and blue light coming through the windows. 

This one doesn't look too bad, but it has some problems. The lamps are all glowing to the point that you can't see any detail around the light bulbs. The light coming down the hallway is too bright on the wall, and the colors vary along the walls due to the mix of orange light from the lamps and blue light coming through the windows. 

Nikon Cool-Pix Point and Shoot

  This looks similar to the all natural light shot. The big difference here is this camera can not shoot as wide as the DSLR with a wide lens. So, you can't see as much of the room. Also, we still have the problems with the lamps glowing and uneven color throughout the image .

This looks similar to the all natural light shot. The big difference here is this camera can not shoot as wide as the DSLR with a wide lens. So, you can't see as much of the room. Also, we still have the problems with the lamps glowing and uneven color throughout the image.

iPhone 4S

  This shot shows even less than the one above. Hard to tell that I'm standing on the opposite side of this room, because you can barely tell I'm in a room at all.

This shot shows even less than the one above. Hard to tell that I'm standing on the opposite side of this room, because you can barely tell I'm in a room at all.


Composition 2 - Bedroom

Multi Camera Flash Composite Multi Camera Flash Composite

  This is another typical AREPAV shot. Flashes were used in the bedroom, the bathroom, the hallway, and the second bedroom. Everything is consistent in lighting and color, and the windows are balanced so you can see the blinds and mullions.

This is another typical AREPAV shot. Flashes were used in the bedroom, the bathroom, the hallway, and the second bedroom. Everything is consistent in lighting and color, and the windows are balanced so you can see the blinds and mullions.

Single Flash Mounted To Camera

  Notice the hard shadow under the ceiling fan? That's the classic give away that a photographer was using a single flash attached to the camera. Note also that the hallway, bathroom, and second bedroom look very dark. The lighting is hot in the middle and darker along the edges.

Notice the hard shadow under the ceiling fan? That's the classic give away that a photographer was using a single flash attached to the camera. Note also that the hallway, bathroom, and second bedroom look very dark. The lighting is hot in the middle and darker along the edges.

Ambient Natural Light Only - No Flash

  Wow, look at the those windows! It's like a nuclear bomb is going off outside. Can you tell there are blinds? Also, the lights on the ceiling fan are glowing and blown out. There is light in the bathroom and hallway, but they both look like the paint is orange instead of the same color as the bedroom.

Wow, look at the those windows! It's like a nuclear bomb is going off outside. Can you tell there are blinds? Also, the lights on the ceiling fan are glowing and blown out. There is light in the bathroom and hallway, but they both look like the paint is orange instead of the same color as the bedroom.

Nikon Cool-Pix Point and Shoot

  With this bedroom shot, we really see what not having a wide angle lens does to your pictures. You can only see a little part of the windows, and barely see through the door into the hallway. Plus, again, our windows are glowing, and wall colors are wrong.

With this bedroom shot, we really see what not having a wide angle lens does to your pictures. You can only see a little part of the windows, and barely see through the door into the hallway. Plus, again, our windows are glowing, and wall colors are wrong.

iPhone 4S

  The lens on the iPhone is so narrow, standing in the corner of this bedroom, all I could get a picture of was the wall. Can you tell this is a bedroom?

The lens on the iPhone is so narrow, standing in the corner of this bedroom, all I could get a picture of was the wall. Can you tell this is a bedroom?

So, thanks for looking at my little experiment. I hope you agree that the first set of images using multiple off camera flashes really produces the best quality images, and I hope you will choose to use Atlanta Real Estate Photo & Video for your images in the future.

Shawn Millar