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6 April 2018

Using Your Smartphone For Real Estate Photography

Nearly everyone has a smartphone of some kind easily available and they all have great cameras, so why not use it for your real estate photography?

Well, you can, but you need some extra tools and knowledge to be able to take ones good enough for real estate marketing.  Nearly 90% of buyers search for real estate online and will use the photos to decide on whether to visit the listing or not. It is always best to use a good quality DSLR camera to take real estate photos, but often this isn’t an option for some listings.

The benefits of using your smartphone for real estate photography is how cheap the equipment is, and most people already have the important part, a smartphone.

A basic smartphone real estate photography set up involves the following equipment:

  • A relatively new smartphone-  We suggest an iPhone, Google Pixel or a Samsung Galaxy S8/8+
  • Moment Wide Angle lens - For $100
  • Moment Phone Case - You will need this to be able to mount the lens on your phone, they also double up as a great phone cover. These only cost $30.

Image: The Moment Wide Lens & Case

Capturing a Wide Interior Shot With a Smartphone

By default, smartphones will only allow you to take narrow images and will often create distortions, which doesn’t make them great for real estate photography.  

This is why you need to use a wide-angle lens attachment, the one we know works the best is the Moment Wide Lens. When looking to purchase a lens to use with your iPhone, we recommend using an 18mm lens for the most realistic results. The Momentum Wide Lens is the best to buy when using your smartphone for real estate photography, as it is affordable and provides accurate images.

This wide lens allows you to capture 2 x more picture using your phone, in addition, it makes the photos crisper, straighter with no fisheye distortion, as well as producing images with no vignetting (When there is a black border around the corner of the photo). What separates a professional photographer from an amateur is their ability to use a wide-angle lens, which can fit a whole room into one image without making it look larger than it is. The Moment Wide Lens allows you to do this quickly and easily.

When using this set up on his iPhone 7+, BoxBrownie.com Director and Photographer Brad Filliponi, found that the quality reminded him of images taken on a full-frame DSLR camera. Which captures more ceiling and flooring in an image.

After setting up your Smartphone just use these ‘9 Easy Real Estate Photography Hacks’ to take the best shots for your advertising.

Sounds So Easy...What Is The Catch?

Smartphones are great for photography and quick snaps, but they do have quite a few limitations. Ultimately, anything that has multiple purposes, like a phone, is not going to be great at just one thing, such as taking photos.

We recommend that this smartphone setup is used as a back up to using a DSLR camera for photography, or for agents taking rental property photos. The following are some things to be aware of if you’re considering using a smartphone with the lens set up for your real estate shots.

  • You will need a newer version of smartphone to capture the quality of images required for real estate marketing.
  • The quality and image size aren’t as good as photos taken on a DSLR camera.
  • Smartphones don’t have the ability to HDR bracket. A photography technique used for internal shots where both the inside of a room and the view out the window is well exposed. Smartphones have an HDR mode, but it isn’t of the quality required for well-exposed shots.
  • You have very little manual control when using a smartphone, such as control of depth of field. Everything is automated, great for happy snaps, not so much for real estate.
  • Smartphones tend to have smaller sensors, so are unable to capture the high dynamic range of a DSLR camera.
  • You will need to keep the phone steady for internal shots, this isn’t as much of an issue for exterior shots. If you plan to take a lot of property photo with a smartphone regularly it may be best to purchase a tripod.
  • Smartphones don’t take great photos in low light, so turn on all lights and open windows if you want a bright airy feel to your images.

When choosing the tools, you are using for taking real estate photos, it is important to consider the size of the images produces. As smartphone images tend to be smaller they are best to use for online mediums only (websites, social media etc), they are unlikely to work on print advertising, such as flyers, brochures, and billboards.

Still Not Convinced That a $100 Lens On Your Smartphone Will Make a Difference?

When BoxBrownie.com Director and Professional Photographer, Brad Filliponi took the Moment Wide Lens for a test, taking both internal and external shots. He used his iPhone 7+ with the Moment Wide Lens attached and this is what he noticed.

Without & With Lens Attachment - External Photo

Image 1: Standard iPhone 7+ photo    Image 2: Same shot, but using the Moment Wide Lens attached to an iPhone 7+

The above image is a great example of what difference the Moment Wide Lens makes when attached to an iPhone 7+. The quality of the image is the same, the Moment Wide Lens just enables you to capture more of the scene and make the image appear as you would be viewing the setting in real life.

Wide lenses are perfect for external shots as it enables you to capture the whole scene and exactly what you see in real life. A wide lens on your smartphone will enable you to do the following:

  • The lens is ideal for external images, simply making the image appear exactly as the eye would see it.
  • As you can see when comparing shots, the Moment Wide Lens use premium quality glass which doesn’t distort the image or create black edges like cheaper brands.
  • The lens enables you to produce high quality, print ready images.

Tips For Shooting Property Exteriors With a Smartphone

Quality external real estate photos can be taken on a smartphone, you just need to know how to do it properly. Here are some quick tips we recommend following when using your smartphone with wide lens attachment for external property shoots.

  • Don’t shoot into the sun unless you must. If you can’t avoid it, shade the sun with your hand covering only the sun/sky and BoxBrownie.com will then edit it out. If you can always shoot with the sun behind you.
    This video shows you how.
  • Overcast days are perfect for property photography, they make it easier for photo editing.
  • Always be aware of what is in your shot, so remove trash cans, garden hoses, and vehicles out of view. Use this checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything.
  • You can shoot dusk photography with a smartphone, you just need to time it right. If you miss it BoxBrownie.com can always edit in the perfect sky.

Without & With Lens Attachment - Internal Photo

Image 1: Standard iPhone 7+ photo      Image 2: Same shot, but using the Moment Wide Lens attached to an iPhone 7+

Similar to the external shot, using the iPhone on its own crops a large part of the scene out. In real estate photography, it is important to capture the whole room in one shot, ideally how someone would view it in person. The second image was taken with a Moment Wide Lens attached to an iPhone 7+, as you can see a lot more of the room was captured making it look much bigger and more appealing.

Professional photographers use wide lenses to capture household interiors in full, this is now possible with the Moment Wide Lens. This is what Brad found when taking internal photos using the Moment Wide Lens on his iPhone 7+.

  • When using a smartphone on its own you lose a large part of the scene, by adding a wide lens you can capture the whole interior, fitting the whole room into one frame.
  • You can be more creative with angles when using the Moment Wide Lens, as a wide-angle lens attachment gives you more freedom with your shots.
  • Unfortunately, if you’re using a smartphone for internal shots, window details will remain ‘blown out’, this is just because smartphones are unable to perform HDR bracketing. Closing window blinds can solve this, but it will then make the room feel smaller and appear like you’re hiding something. 

Tips For Shooting Property Interiors With a Smartphone

Taking internal real estate photos on a smartphone is a little more tricky, than using one for external shots. As there are more elements to capture, a greater variety of light sources and the need to keep the smartphone still to avoid blurriness.

  • Use our Pre-photography Checklist to get your photos set up perfectly. We recommend handing this to owners or tenants in their preparation to getting the property ready for photography and inspection.
  • Always keep your shots steady, to avoid blurriness. There are hundreds of good Smartphone tripods available on eBay that are perfect for the job.
  • Walk around the property pre-shoot to get an idea of good angles to shoot
  • Ensure you touch the phone screen to adjust the correct lighting prior to shooting the room. You will need to find the correct balance of light between the shadows and sunlight in the room.

Brad's Final Word On Using The Moment Wide Lens and Smartphone For Real Estate Photography

The lens works great with an iPhone 7+ on the exterior of a property photography and is a product recommended for property managers advertising rental listings. Although it isn’t great for interior photography.

Due to the low sensor quality and lack of flash, we don’t recommend using a smartphone for internal photos if you can help it, as the photo quality won’t be exceptional, but then we are a fussy bunch at BoxBrownie.com. Smartphones are a great option for rental property or commercial listings, as they are of high enough quality to work in marketing, but at the same time a cost-effective alternative that will keep your marketing budget low.

Alternatively, if you are considering purchasing a DSLR camera to use, here are some affordable setups we recommend. Always remember if the images didn’t turn out as expected BoxBrownie.com can make nearly any image look like it was taken by a professional.

Moment Lens BoxBrownie.com Deal

If you want to get your hands on some Moment gear head to the Moment Website and use the coupon code 'boxbrownie' to get 10% off any purchase!