Skip to main content

What is My Favorite Piece of Equipment for Real Estate Photography?

Nikon PC NIKKOR 19mm f/4E ED Tilt-Shift Lens

While I have a number of “go-to” pieces of equipment when shooting real estate photography (I pretty much carry the same items to each job), when I stepped up to the plate and invested in the Nikon 19mm Tilt-Shift lens it changed everything for me.

As I’m sure many novice photographers will agree, when I first picked up a Tilt-Shift lens ( a number of years ago), I really had no idea how to use it or what I would use it for? I was so comfortable shooting w a standard wide-angle lens that the idea of leaving my comfort zone to jump into the world of Tilt-Shift scared the hell out of me. I am here to tell all of the photographers out there who are currently in that position to change your paradigm on this topic. Getting out of your comfort zone is always a good idea and shooting real estate photography w a tilt-shift lens is the only way to go. I never use any other lens.

Granted this particular lens came with a very big price tag (currently on sale at B&H Photo for $3,396), but in the end if this is what you do in part for a living it’s SO worth the money.

What does a Tilt-Shift Lens do?

The tilt feature of a tilt-shift lens takes advantage of the Scheimpflug principle, which describes a situation where the lens plane is no longer parallel to the image plane (or image sensor, in the case of DSLRs). While that may sound incredibly complicated, the important takeaway is basically that the tilt feature can dramatically change your plane of sharp focus.

It keeps your vertical lines in check so that subjects (think buildings, refrigerators, ceilings), don’t tilt backwards and look weird. You’re able to keep things in proper perspective so that your scenes look presentable.

Now, I am certainly not a photography “geek” who can give you in-depth explanations on every feature of these lenses. I don’t operate that way. If a piece of equipment works and produces great images that’s all I care about. This blog is not about that. I’m more about having you look into these items on your own but hopefully trusting my opinion by looking at my work.

Listen these lenses are pretty technical and not as easy as simply attaching them to your camera hitting the auto focus button and voila making beautiful images. There’s a definite learning curve. But if you take the leap of faith and just start playing around with one (perhaps not this model which is considered to be the top of the line), I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

If I had to rank my equipment, however, in terms of priority of what I couldn’t live without when shooting real estate/architectural photography, this lens would be at the top of the list!

Let me know your thoughts if you have any!