Even the most skilled photographer will need to bring all their talent to bear when capturing high-quality interior images for real estate.
The variety of environments and varying levels of lighting mean that you will need to venture away from your camera’s auto setting to make the most of every situation.
Here’s how to use your m43 camera to capture the best real estate images.
Prepare the Room
If the room hasn’t been prepared for a real estate shoot beforehand, you won’t be able to capture it at its best.
Ensure windows and furniture are spotless and remove all trace of dust and dirt. Get rid of personal clutter as the goal is to keep the focus on the property.
Pets should be kept outside during the shoot. You don’t want to waste time retaking images because the family dog wandered into the frame.
Make sure you take advantage of every possible light source. Some rooms may need help with lighting because of small, or poorly positioned windows, or the time of day puts the sun in the wrong position.
Draw apart curtains and let the natural light help you capture every detail.
A tripod with a remote trigger will also come in handy when you need to go into higher ISO settings or need longer exposure times.
Best Real Estate Photography Camera Settings
You may be tempted to set your m43 camera to full auto mode when photographing interiors. But, if you want your listing to attract people to view the property, your camera’s manual settings are the way to go.
If you are short on time and don’t wish to experiment with manual settings, you still have options.
Most good quality micro four-thirds cameras come with dial settings that allow you to play with some manual settings while letting the camera work out the rest.
For instance, on the OM-D E-M10 Mark II, the ‘A’ dial setting puts the camera in aperture priority mode. You choose the aperture, and the camera takes care of the shutter speed.
Likewise, the ‘S’ setting lets you select the shutter speed, and the camera automatically selects an appropriate aperture.
Read on to find out more about how camera settings can improve your real estate photography.
Most rooms will need a shutter speed of between 1/60 and 1/2, but this can vary from room to room, the time of day, and the size and position of the windows.
Try to avoid artificial lighting. If the natural light in the room isn’t optimal, you should make use of your shutter speed settings before resorting to artificial lighting, or even worse, your flash. And don’t forget your tripod.
Natural light will make your colors pop, and shadows will appear more natural. Plus, you won’t have to muck about with your white balance so much during postproduction.
Working with ISO
When you’re using fast shutter speeds, you will need to add to the ISO to eliminate as much noise as possible. Try to keep the ISO at or below 400, as you want to prevent noise from creeping into the image.
Dealing with Dark Rooms
There are always going to be rooms where there will never be enough natural light to do the area justice. Small windows, darkly colored décor, and lack of artificial lighting are a few of the challenges you will face.
In these situations, you will need to bring out your trusty tripod, ramp up the ISO to around 400, and shift your aperture from f/8 to f/3.5 to let in more light.
A darkened room with bright windows can stymy even the highest-end camera because of the challenge presented by the high dynamic ranges created by bright windows.
Set the exposure for a darkened interior, and your bright areas will be massively overexposed. Adjust for a brighter interior, and you risk underexposing the shot.
When you are faced with this dilemma, the camera’s bracket setting may come to your rescue.
Olympus OMD cameras have an AE bracket setting that makes bracketing your shots straightforward.
You can vary the exposure settings between shots. For instance, the configuration of 3F 1.0 EV will take three images, using one-stop between each image.
Studio lamps are another fall back you can use when all else fails. Models that give you the ability to set the balance of light for warmer or cooler will give you more options to set the mood of the room.
When Should You Change the Aperture?
An aperture of f/8 is a good general-purpose setting for interiors, but you will come across situations where a change in aperture is warranted.
If you aim to highlight an architectural feature of a room such as a stovetop or unique hardware fixtures, an aperture of f/2 will be more suitable.
If you want your clients to be able to take in the design of an entire room in a single photograph, a setting of f/16 will considerably widen your depth of field.
The Time of Day
The same rules apply to shooting interiors as it does to outdoor photography regarding natural light.
Avoid the times of day when the sun will be shining directly into a room – this will prevent areas of the room from appearing brighter or more blown out than others.
A cloudy day is ideal for interior photography for the same reason it works for outdoor photography. Clouds create a city-wide softbox to naturally diffuse light and create soft, unobtrusive shadows.
Summing It All Up
Trial and error is the only way to improve your real estate photographs. Once you have the experience, you will instinctively know what settings a room needs moments after you walk in.
For well-lit rooms, shooting in aperture priority mode at f/8 and setting your ISO at 400 should give you great results.
If the image appears a little too dark, you can play with the aperture by making it a little wider or boosting the ISO.
When working in dark rooms, you can make use of studio lights, or use aperture mode with bracketed exposures to capture the elegance and beauty of the room.