To shoot great real estate photos, you also require other tools like a camera with decent resolution and a tripod. But for now, our focus is limited only to Sony lenses.
1. Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
This is my favorite focal lens for shooting real estate photography. Why? Because it offers the best focal length for shooting real estate photography. To start, 16mm is wide enough to capture much of the scene in front of the lens, which is ideal for photographing interiors. In terms of exterior photos of a property, the 35mm gives you much room to work with. You can zoom in to capture a tighter composition or zoom out and use the wide focal length of 16mm to capture a broader perspective.
An f/2.8 lens allows you to capture a lot of light in darker conditions. But the f/2.8 also blurs out a huge chunk of the scene. Anything in front and behind the plane of focus will be blurry. So, unless you’re using the focus stacking technique, using the f/2.8 aperture can have limited practical use in real estate photography.
Even though this is labeled as a G master lens, there seems to be a lot of plastic used in the lens design. Despite this, the lens still appears to be very solid and it’s worth noting that the lens features dust and moisture sealing, ensuring you can expose it to inclement weather.
Regarding image quality, the lens is very sharp in the middle of the frame, even when set to f/2.8. As I mentioned before, unless you’re stacking focus, there is no need to use the f/2.8 aperture. You can stop down the lens to f/5.6 or even f/8 to get a larger depth of field. With a smaller aperture, corner sharpness increases gradually, and at f/11, you can see excellent corner sharpness. This is essential for a real estate photographer.
2. Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G
The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G is the next best thing if you feel that the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is too pricey for you. In any case, you will hardly ever use the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM at f/2.8, so you can save a decent amount of money if you opt for the f/4 version.
To start, the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G offers the same focal length as the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM, but the maximum aperture is one stop slower – f/4 instead of f/2.8. Of course, the f/4 lens is lighter-built and costs significantly less than the f/2.8 lens. These are two reasons I have listed the Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G here as an alternative to the f/2.8 lens.
A good thing about this lens is that, despite the discounted price, the lens does offer weather sealing. This may not be that important for someone shooting real estate photography because you won’t spend too much time in the open. But for landscape photography, this is a great feature to have.
Now for what every aspiring real estate photographer will be interested in – the image quality. The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f/4 G is a sharp lens. The sharpness across the frame is admirable, even when shooting at f/4 (wide open). A real estate photography lens will never be used at the widest aperture though. So, how does it perform stopped down? In one word – excellent.
It’s worth noting that vignetting can be noticed when the lens is used at its widest focal length and the widest aperture setting. Vignetting tends to go away as you zoom in to 24mm and longer. I don’t see this as a serious issue, as you can always adjust vignetting during post-processing.
3. Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
If you’re a real estate photographer, a wide-angle prime lens with a fast aperture is a great category to explore, and the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM is a great choice in that segment.
The lens is built very well and feels solid in the hands. It comes with weather sealing. Again, for real estate photography, this isn’t a mandatory requirement. However, many landscape photographers will welcome that feature.
Autofocusing is powered by Sony’s XD linear motor focusing system. The autofocusing performance is very good in real-life situations, whether you’re shooting outdoors in bright conditions or indoors in dimmer lighting. Having said that, real estate photographers use a lot of artificial lights for interior shots, so you’re unlikely to be shooting in a dimly lit environment unless it’s for creative purposes.
I like that the lens has a smooth manual focus ring that allows you to switch focus easily in manual mode. However, there is a catch; the lens exhibits considerable focus breathing.
The lens does not have image stabilization, which is not a major problem. When shooting real estate photos, you are likely to be using a tripod, which eliminates image shake.
However, I am unhappy that the lens does not have a front filter thread. I think the front filter system – which many photographers prefer for shooting images with a lot of dynamic range – is a lot easier to work with in real-life situations.
Coming down to the all-important aspect of image sharpness and quality. The lens is very sharp at f/1.8 and sharpness stays strong until about f/11. Beyond that, the lens starts to show signs of lens diffraction. Even corner sharpness is admirable.
One more thing this lens does well is preventing barrel distortion. This is helpful for real estate photographers, and what little barrel distortion is present can easily be corrected during post-processing.
4. Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM
An ultra-wide-angle constant aperture zoom lens that goes all the way to 12mm at the widest focal length, this lens has many reasons to be considered an ideal real estate photography lens. The wide focal length can capture much of the scene, making it perfect for tight spaces where you cannot move further back.
With wide-angle lenses like this, you must be careful with the camera angle. If your camera isn’t level with the subject, there will be a lot of distortion. For example, tall buildings will appear to taper at the top, and straight lines will appear angled. This happens when you’re shooting from a lower angle.
This is why my personal choice is always to shoot with a tilt-shift lens, as they tend to take that perspective distortion out of the equation. Rectilinear lenses are the next best thing.
One thing necessary for a lens to be considered a good real estate shooter is its ability to stay rectilinear at the corners. The Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM does that even at 12mm.
Being a G Master lens, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is built well. It’s a moisture-sealed design with a fluorine coating on the lens, ensuring it’s easy to clean.
Just like the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM above, this lens does not come with a front filter thread, and that means you have to restrict yourself to gel filters that you can mount at the rear of the lens.
In terms of optical quality, the lens offers excellent image sharpness at 12mm, even when shooting wide open at f/2.8. The corners are very sharp, too, which is always a nice thing to see. Even at 24mm, the lens offers similar sharpness and details at the corners. Center sharpness is always excellent.
5. Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
The Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G is a great alternative to the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM. I decided to include this lens because it offers the same focal length range as the fancier f/2.8 lens, albeit at a stop of less light (f/4 against f/2.8).
Of course, another advantage is that the f/4 lens costs significantly less. So, you can save a lot of money if you go with the f/4 version. However, I want to point out that the f/2.8 is sharper than the f/4, especially at the corners and even when shooting at f/2.8. You can capture more details with the f/2.8 than the f/4, both at 12mm and then at 24mm.
For many photographers starting in real estate photography, the f/4 lens will seem like a great option. Cheaper, sharp, and has an identical focal length to the fancier f/2.8 lens.
6. Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G
By now, you must know that I love fast wide primes for this genre. The usual suspects are 85mm, 50mm, and 35mm. However, when it comes to shooting real estate photography in particular, I prefer to use something like a 20mm or a 24mm. The 20mm is preferred over the 24mm because it offers a significantly larger angle of view that’s ideal for real estate photography.
The only major argument about the 20mm is that it’s a bit limited regarding how much you can control the angle of view. To capture a wider angle of view, you must use your feet. On the other hand, you will have to take a few steps forward to capture a tighter angle of view.
The build quality of the lens is decent. However, little information is available about the lens’s weather-sealing properties. We can assume that the lens is moisture and dust resistant like other lenses in the line but is not fully weather-sealed.
Autofocusing is powered by Sony’s twin XD Linear motors. The lens delivers excellent autofocusing performance. Manual focusing is also very smooth. I would have loved to see a hard stop at the closest and the farthest focusing distances, but a real estate photographer will use this lens in the auto-focusing mode most of the time, and the AF performance is brilliant.
There is no image stabilization on the lens but that should not be a problem. A, because real estate photographers use a tripod most of the time. And B, because the lens is compatible with Sony’s camera-based image stabilization.
Moving now to the all-important aspect of image sharpness and quality. The Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G is extremely sharp at the middle of the frame, even when shooting wide open at f/1.8. As you can imagine, real estate photography is hardly ever shot at f/1.8. So, the performance when the lens is stopped down matters. I am happy to say that the lens is very sharp stopped down at f/2.8 and all the way to f/11. However, beyond that, lens diffraction starts to set in.
7. Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM
The 24mm is a fine focal length for shooting real estate photography – yet another prime lens that I have selected for this list. This lightweight, compact G Master lens is built well and feels solid in the hands. The lens is weather sealed, and the front element has a fluorine coating.
However, for a prime lens, it’s on the pricier side. The fact that you must move to change your composition can be a letdown for many photographers. Then again, a prime lens is an acquired taste. If you’re planning to buy one, I suggest renting one and testing it out for a week or so and only buying when you’re convinced you can work with it. For the majority of beginner real estate photographers, however, I would recommend that you start with a zoom lens.
Returning to the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM, the greatest USP of this lens is that it’s sharp – even when you’re shooting wide open at f/1.4. To match that sharpness, there is an adequate amount of contrast too. Not that you would be shooting at f/1.4 for real estate photography, but the aperture makes it a versatile lens. When stopping down the lens, the sharpness increases – both at the center of the frame and at the corners.
On the negative side, however, the lens shows some chromatic aberrations, especially when shooting at the widest aperture. But this shouldn’t necessarily be an issue for real estate photographers. It can easily be fixed in post-processing and tends to go away when shooting at a smaller aperture.
Another huge plus of the lens is the fast autofocusing performance. A Direct Drive Super Sonic wave motor powers the lens’s AF performance. Additionally, the autofocusing system is internal, which means the barrel length does not change as the lens focuses.
8. Sony E 11mm f/1.8
Normally, I wouldn’t recommend an 11mm lens as it’s too wide. But this Sony E 11mm f/1.8 lens is designed for the APS-C Sony camera systems. That makes the effective focal length 16.5mm – not bad for shooting real estate photography with your crop Sony camera.
You should consider this lens if you’re using a crop Sony body like the Sony Alpha A6100, the Sony Alpha A6600, or the Sony Alpha A6000.
This is a very lightweight design, compact, and easy to use. It goes well with the smaller crop Sony cameras (mentioned above).
This lens is weather sealed, which is not of particular importance to real estate photographers. However, many photographers will also be using this lens for shooting landscape photography, and they will find the weather-sealing aspect useful.
Regarding autofocusing, the Sony E 11mm f/1.8 is silent and instantaneous. The lens uses a linear motor system that utilizes two separate motors. Photographing real estate isn’t the same as photographing a church wedding. Nobody will look at you if the autofocusing motor on your lens makes a whirring sound, but the silent operation is still a pleasant feature.
There is no image stabilization on the lens. If your camera does not come with built-in image stabilization, then you will need a tripod. For real estate photography, that’s not an issue, as photographers prefer to use a tripod most of the time.
Let’s quickly look at the sharpness of the lens. The Sony E 11mm f/1.8 is sharp at f/1.8. It’s not on par with the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM or the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G., but it’s acceptable. Sharpness improves as the lens is stopped. The best sharpness performance is achieved at f/8, and after that, the lens starts to show signs of lens diffraction.
9. Sony E 15mm f/1.4 G
On a Sony APS-C camera, the Sony E 15mm f/1.4 G offers an effective focal length of 22.5mm. I would say that the focal length is just right for the genre.
The lens is very well-built. It feels solid even though a lot of plastic has been used in the construction. Several weather seals ensure that the lens can resist bad weather, should you want to use the lens for genres besides just real estate.
Autofocusing on the Sony E 15mm f/1.4 G is powered by two linear stepping motors. The focusing features are geared towards video shooting due to the smoothness. However, I don’t think that real estate photographers will get specific use out of this. Real estate photography is always a steady and precise pursuit, and it does not require speed as much as it does precision.
Manual focusing is also very smooth. The smooth operation of the focusing ring ensures that a photographer can easily fine-tune focusing when needed.
The lens does suffer from a lot of barrel distortion. I have noticed this on other mirrorless lenses as well. However, this can be easily eliminated during post-processing or by using the in-camera correction options. Either way, this should not be a deal breaker if you’re interested in the Sony E 15mm f/1.4 G.
The Sony E 15mm f/1.4 G is very sharp and wide open at f/1.4. It’s no wonder that the center of the frame is sharper than the middle of the frame and significantly sharper than the corners of the frame.
Stopping down the lens to f/2 and f/2.8 improves center sharpness a bit. The middle-of-the-frame sharpness remains very high and steady until f/5.6, after which it starts to go down. Corner sharpness stays steady till about f/5.6, after which it starts decreasing.
10. Sony E 10-20mm f/4 PZ G
This is a zoom option designed for the smaller Sony APS-C camera systems. The 10-20mm focal length translates into an effective focal length of 15-30mm when mounted on an APS-C camera. That means the lens is still effective for real estate photography despite the 1.5x crop factor.
I love the compact design of this lens. It’s very lightweight and yet feels solid in the hands. The lens is fully weather sealed. As I have mentioned before, this isn’t a major requirement for shooting real estate photography, but it is good to have in case you ever shoot other genres of photography with it. The front element is fluorine-coated and ensures easy cleaning.
Autofocusing is powered by a linear AF system. The AF performance is very quiet and ensures that the lens can deliver fast and accurate autofocusing performance. The manual focusing ring gives a linear response and therefore results in a very smooth and convenient focusing experience.
Coming down to the optical performance of the lens, the lens is very sharp across the frame. Stopping down the lens to f/5.6 and then to f/8 improves optical sharpness. Stopping the lens beyond f/11 brings lens diffraction into the equation.
There is some barrel distortion. However, that should not be a problem for real estate photographers, as mentioned above.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is real estate photography?
Real estate photography is the art of capturing photos of real estate properties that include views of both the interior and the exterior of the property, as well as adjoining open spaces. Real estate photography aids real estate agents in selling homes, helps landlords advertise their spaces, and creates media for outlets such as home magazines.
What makes a good real estate photography lens?
For a lens to be considered an excellent choice for shooting real estate photography, it needs to tick a few boxes. The lens must have a focal length wider than 35mm. Anything wider than 50mm will offer a narrow field of view and would be considered too restrictive for shooting real estate photography.
Secondly, the lens should be able to produce a sharp image in the f/4 to f/8 aperture range. Real estate photos are shot with a narrow aperture that allows a larger depth of field to be captured. That means everything in the frame from the front to the back should ideally be sharp.
Additionally, always choose a lens that offers a rectilinear view of the scene instead of a curvilinear one. This may sound like a no-brainer. Avoid using lenses like the fisheye and anything offering an ultra-wide-angle perspective where the straight lines and straight features start to appear curved.
What is the best focal length for shooting real estate photos?
My experience shows that the best focal length is 10 to 24mm on a full-frame camera. Any focal length around the 10mm mark is an excellent option for crop cameras, as that would translate to a 15mm lens. Anything wider can tend to push back the elements in the frame, making the room appear larger than it is.
Do keep in mind that the purpose of real estate photography isn’t to create misleading images, so refrain from exaggerating the effects of a wide-angle focal length using an ultra-wide-angle (or even fisheye) focal length.
Ideally, you want to make the room appear spacious without misleading consumers. Ultra-wide-angle lenses can also make straight lines appear curved, called barrel distortion.
Is 24mm a good focal length for real estate photography?
The 24mm is a fantastic focal length for shooting real estate photography. It’s not too narrow or wide and, additionally, performs admirably in terms of distortion. As mentioned in the above segment, you don’t want distortion to creep into your compositions. Your subjects are interiors and exteriors of homes and working spaces, and you would like to see straight lines appear perfectly straight.