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 Nikon camera. Everything on this list costs less than $1600, and If you manage to get some components used, you could save a couple of hundred dollars.
If you are a Canon person, you can read my budget Canon real estate photo kit here.
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:
- Nikon D7500 (body only) $896
- Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM $350
- SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO $20 each x 2 = $40
- Neewer 750II TTL Flash Speedlite with LCD Display for Nikon $58
- YONGNUO YN622N-KIT Wireless i-TTL Flash Trigger Kit with LED Screen for Nikon $78
- Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control $18
- Nikon EN-EL15b Rechargeable Li-ion Battery $54
- Neewer Aluminum Alloy 62″/158cm Camera Tripod with 360 Degree Ball Head, 1/4″ Quick Shoe Plate $60
Grant Total: $1,600.00
*prices are as of August 2020
Why I chose these components
1. The Camera
I picked the Nikon D7500 because out of the Nikon lineup it is the best prosumer camera you can get before moving up to a full-frame camera.
An alternative in the DX-format is the Nikon Z50, with similar features to the D7500 for only $100 more. Do make sure that if you go the Z50 route to get the Nikon FTZ mount adapter so you can use regular F mount lenses.
The only drawback for the Z50 is the battery life, but that can easily be fixed by carrying around an extra battery, something I already recommend you do anyway with the D7500.
Another great feature that sets the D7500 and the Z50 apart from the cheaper DX-format Nikons is that they are weatherized. If you have some light rain or snowfall on your camera, it will not kill it.
Specific to their use in real estate photography is their tilt screens. They allow you to be able to have an easy to look at your scene framing. You can also see with ease the in-camera level. This saves you time in post and you also do not have to crop as much when tweaking your photos in Lightroom.
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 and I also use to have one for my Nikon D7200. For the price, this is a great DX-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.
The second advantage this lens has is that it is great for video. You can use it for making quick video tours of properties, a great easy to do addon to your photo packages that will increase your overall revenue.
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. You might find cheaper ones, just don’t get anything that is 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 750II TTL Flash Speedlite
Neewer 750II TTL Flash Speedlite with LCD Display for Nikon, at less than $60, this speed light is quite the steal, and if you ever have need of using TTL (Through The Lens), this fits the bill. Keep in mind that you will be using your flash 100% of the time in manual mode when doing real estate photography.
You will be needing a Speedlight in order to do window pulls and flambients, your bread, and butter of real estate photography.
You should read my guide on AA rechargeable batteries for your flash here.
5. Wireless Flash Trigger
Yongnuo YN-622N i-TTL
Yongnuo YN-622N i-TTL Wireless Flash Transceiver & TX Controller Kit for Nikon. There are many wireless trigger solutions out there, like the Godox Xpro I also own, but I have owned Yongnuo triggers that are simple and reliable.
Wireless flash triggers are a vital part of your kit, without them, you will not be able to do window pulls of flambients.
6. Remote Control
Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control, another essential part of your kit, especially for not moving your camera while taking multiple images that you will later stack in photoshop (like your window pulls, flambients, and HDR’s).
This inexpensive remote is “line of sight only”, meaning that just like your TV remotes, a beam of infra-red light needs to hit your camera for it to work. A bit annoying, but not a deal-breaker.
I have a complete review of triggers that will work with your Nikon D7500, even some that are truly wireless like the Pebble Wireless Remote Shutter Control, you can read more about them here.
If you decide to go with the Nikon Z50 you will need a Bluetooth remote. The Nikon ML-L7 is the only Nikon remote that will work with the Z50, it costs less than $50.
There are third party options like the AODELAN Wireless Remote that is compatible with your Z50 that are available for about $30.
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 basic guide based on the equipment I either own or have used. Keep in mind that this is the Nikon version of this buying guide.
The purpose of this guide is to give you a realistic list of equipment that you would need to get started in the real estate photography business. Additional things like camera bags, drones, and 360 cameras are on this list because even though they are useful for growing your business, they are not essential for getting started.
You can save additional money with used equipment or older model cameras like the D7200. Just be careful when purchasing used and make sure that you have some sort of warranty attached.
Also, be careful of “grey market” cameras and lenses. These vendors will import from another country 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.