Last Updated on January 17, 2021 by Jose Barrios
This is my guide on what equipment you need to start your real estate photography business, this list is built around a Canon 80D camera (here is my guide for Nikon cameras). Everything on this list costs less than $1,850.00, and If you manage to get some components used, you could save a couple of hundred dollars.
I have also included a mirrorless option in this guide, the Canon M50, this kit comes in at under $1,350.00.
Just like in my Nikon guide I did not include the cost of a PC or Mac since you probably already own one, nor did I include the cost of Photoshop and Lightroom. Also missing from this list is a drone and a 360 camera since they are not essential to get your business started.
I’m sure some people will look at this list and say you could do some things cheaper if so, please leave your comment below and I will try to incorporate your suggestions into this guide in future updates.
A QUICK LIST OF COMPONENTS:
- Canon EOS 90D (body only) $1200
- Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM $325
- SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO $20 each x 2 = $40
- Neewer NW760 TTL Flash Speedlite with LCD Display for Nikon $59
- YONGNUO YN622C-KIT Wireless i-TTL Flash Trigger Kit with LED Screen for Nikon $85
- A Wireless Remote Control BR-E1 $40
- Canon Battery Pack LP-E6N $80
- Neewer Aluminum Alloy 62″/158cm Camera Tripod with 360 Degree Ball Head, 1/4″ Quick Shoe Plate $60
Grant Total: $1,850.00
*PRICES ARE AS OF SEPTEMBER 2020
Why I chose these components
1. The Camera
Canon EOS 90D
The Canon 90D offers quite the bang for your buck with 33MP and 4K video in a weather-sealed body making this camera quite the workhorse.
With this setup, you can easily expand your real estate photography business into video without buying an extra camera.
The budget mirrorless version
Canon EOS M50
Canon EOS M50
The M50 is great because of the price point and quality it brings in a small package, and when you upgrade to a bigger camera, your M50 will still be a great backup.
I personally own an M50, I love this camera and use it mainly for video. I prefer the 80D over the M50 just because of the buttons. I’m not a big fan of using a touchscreen for constantly changing settings, buttons and dials are just faster.
2. The lens
Sigma 10-20mm EX DC HSM
For a wide-angle lens, I chose the Sigma 10-20mm EX DC HSM. I personally own one for my Canon M50 and I also use to have one for my Nikon D7200. For the price, this is a great APS-C format lens. You can read my full review of wide-angle lenses here.
This Sigma lens has very little distortion at its widest setting, and what little is left can be automatically corrected in Lightroom.
Make sure you buy the Canon version when purchasing this lens.
Viltrox Adapter for Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Canon EOS-M
Viltrox EF-EOS M
If you are buying the M50 you will need to purchase a lens adapter for Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Canon EOS-M.
You can but the Canon EOS M mount adapter for about $179, but for this budget guide we will be using the aftermarket VILTROX Canon EF-EOS M adapter mount that comes in at only $39.00.
I have this adapter, and while not as well built as the original canon adapter, it works great for me.
3. Memory Cards
SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO
The SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO is my next pick, you will want two of them, one in your camera the other in your bag as a backup.
Just about any card will do, the one I picked I just happen to own, and I like them because they fit the bill and are not that expensive and they work on my Nikon and Canon cameras. You might find cheaper ones, just don’t get anything that is to slow because you might have problems when recording video.
If you plan on recording video, you might consider the 128 GB. with 300MB/s transfer speeds.
Neewer 760II TTL Flash Speedlite
The Neewer NW760 TTL Flash Speedlite with LCD Display for Canon is less than $60 and is compatible with just about any Canon camera. It also offers TTL, even though you will be using this feature for real estate photography, it is still something nice to have.
Speedlights are used in your everyday work when photographing houses and are necessary for doing window pulls and flambients.
I highly recommend that you buy rechargeable batteries, regular disposable batteries will drain your wallet and eat into your profits. You can read more about what batteries I recommend here.
5. Wireless Flash Trigger
Yongnuo YN-622C TTL
The Yongnuo YN-622C i-TTL Wireless Flash Transceiver & TX controller kit for Canon is a great budget remote flash trigger. I have personally owned this kit for years and I still use it to this day.
Wireless flash triggers are an essential part of your camera bag, they will allow you to do window pulls and flambients. These techniques require that you hold the flash in your hand or a stand, making the remote essential.
6. Remote Control
The Canon wireless remote control BR-E1 will control most modern Canon cameras that have Bluetooth.
The best thing about Bluetooth remotes is that they do not require a line of sight to the camera, allowing you to get out of the frame and appear in the shot.
I have a complete review of triggers that will work with your Canon cameras, you can read more about them here.
7. Extra Batteries
You always need extra batteries. The last thing you want is to be caught on-site without any charged batteries. I always carry four or more in my bag.
Try to buy original batteries if you can afford them. I have tried all sorts of aftermarket brands with varying degrees of success. Most never last as long as the OEM ones, and some just die after a year.
But if you have a tight budget, then get the aftermarket ones until you can afford the OEM batteries. I’d rather have 4 extra ones than just one expensive original. If you do go for the cheap ones, get one with a charger, so you can carry an extra charger in your camera bag. An extra charger has saved me more than once when shooting on site.
8. A Camera Tripod
Neewer Aluminum Alloy 62″/158cm Camera Tripod
Neewer Aluminum Alloy 62″/158cm Camera Tripod with 360 Degree Ball Head, 1/4″ Quick Shoe Plate.
When I started photographing houses, I had a really cheap tripod, I never gave it much thought until I started to use one on a daily basis. That’s when I realized that I was wasting to much time trying to set up my camera correctly.
Being this a budget build, I’m not advocating you buy a Manfrotto 055 with a geared head like in my article here, I’m just saying get something that is good enough to last you until you can afford something better.
I picked the Neewer tripod because I still have one, they cheap and sturdy, and they get the job done for about $60. There are cheaper models, but they tend to be very flimsy and will move with the slightest touch.
You want your tripod to be as sturdy as possible in order to get those multiple exposure images lined up as much as possible.
I did not include the software as part of the overall price because my recommendation for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop is paid on a monthly basis. It costs $9,99/month.
Can read my full post on editing software for your photography business here.
This is but a guide with what I consider to be useful in a budget camera rig for real estate photographers that are just getting started. I’m sure that you can change things around a bit and get equal or better results.
I do not recommend going with cheaper alternatives, as tempting as they are because cheap cameras give you cheap results. You will work longer and harder to get the results you get from higher-end cameras.
When you eventually outgrow your APS-C crop sensor camera and move onto a full-frame camera, these cameras and lenses will still serve you well as backup and video cameras, and if you start to hire people, they can use them to photograph properties.
I hope this guide helps you in making your decision as to what camera to buy.
Also, be careful of “grey market” cameras and lenses. These vendors will import from another country’s equipment that is not covered under warranty in your country. Worse yet, if it should become damaged, the official vendors might refuse to repair them, even if you pay.
I hope this guide helps you get started in the real estate photography business.
“What can I say? I love taking photos of houses.”
Based in Orlando Florida, Jose is a real estate photographer specializing in vacation homes, working for realtors and property managers to make their properties look great. You can visit his site at JoseBarriosPhoto.com.