OK so I am continuing my splendid series of posts about real estate photography. Now I am getting into the really good stuff which I have been looking forward to.
The 15 camera settings that I use for real estate photography are
- AV Mode
- Aperture – F8
- ISO 100
- Shutter speed – determined by the camera
- Remote release/ self-timer to activate shutter
- Back button focus
- AF – One Shot
- Auto Exposure Bracketing – On
- Drive Mode – Continuous Shooting
- Image Recording Quality – RAW
- Auto White Balance
- Metering – Evaluative
- Lens Focal Length – 17mm
- AF ON
- Canon camera mounted on a tripod
Right that is the list – I need to get a couple of things out of the way quickly then I can get stuck into this post which I can feel is going to be a good one!
Who am I?
I am Rick McEvoy. I specialise in real estate, architectural and construction photography. Basically I photograph buildings and nothing else. No weddings, portraits, or pets. I am professionally qualified in both photography ABIPP and construction management MCIOB so I know my stuff.
And I explain things based on my own experiences in plain English with no bull, just the stuff that you need to know.
Why Am I Telling You This?
This is how I work. Everything is dialled in so all I need to concentrate on is the composition and getting great photos. I do not want to be faffing around changing stuff on my camera on a shoot as this wastes time and distracts me from the job in hand.
I have spent many years simplifying my photography which I share with you here.
Some of the links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and buy something I get a commission, for which I will say thank you to you. You do not pay any more, Amazon just gets a bit less, which I am sure we can all live with!
My Canon 6D
Yes I am still using a Canon 6D, so everything applies to the settings on this camera, but these settings can be applied to pretty much every camera, and if not then the principles certainly apply across the board.
OK – let’s get into this.
1 AV Mode
I use AV Mode on my Canon 6D. I select the aperture, and the camera selects the other two parts of the exposure triangle, the shutter, and the ISO.
AV stands for Aperture Value.
As I said before, I want to keep things as simple as possible.
If you want to know more about the exposure triangle check out this blog post The Exposure Triangle: Fully Explained For Beginners.
2 Aperture – F8 (or F16)
The aperture is the size of the opening in the lens, which can be adjusted by changing the aperture value. This changes the size of the opening that lets the light through to the camera sensor.
The minimum aperture on my Canon 17-40mm lens is F22. This is the smallest opening, which lets in the least amount of light, but provides the most depth of field.
The maximum aperture on my Canon 17-40mm lens is F4, which is also called wide open. The opening in the lens is fully open, letting in the maximum amount of light, but giving the least amount of depth of field.
I do not use F4 of F22 as there can be a loss of quality at either end of the aperture range.
I use F8, which is the sharpest aperture on my Canon 17-40mm lens. It is also the sweet spot on many lenses. I use this as my starting point on every shoot. On a full frame camera choose F8 or F11 and you can’t really go wrong.
I take most of my photos at 17mm, which is very wide. This means that I do not really need to worry about depth of field using F8 – everything I need is lovely and sharp!
One less thing to worry about.
If there is something in the immediate foreground though, and I want the background in focus as well I will probably change to F16.
3 ISO – 100
What is ISO? It is the sensitivity of the camera sensor to light. The lowest ISO on my Canon 6D is 100.
This is what I use.
The lower the ISO, in general terms, the higher the quality of the images that you will get. The higher the ISO, the greater the chances of you getting noise and other bad stuff which is not good.
So this is what I use.
4 Shutter speed – whatever the camera chooses.
So the 3 parts of the exposure triangle are aperture, shutter, and ISO, These combine to create an exposure. Well I have already chosen the aperture and the ISO, so how do I choose the shutter speed?
I don’t – the camera does that for me, based on the aperture and ISO and the light conditions at the time of taking the photo.
I will come onto this in a bit, but my camera is on a tripod so I am not worried about the shutter speed.
5 I use the camera self-timer to activate the shutter
My camera is securely fixed to my tripod. I want super sharp photos.
I do not want my camera to move when I take a photo, which there is a risk of doing when you press the shutter release button. What you do to minimise this is gently roll your finger over the shutter release button as gently as possible.
Or to eliminate movement use the camera self-timer.
This is what I do. I focus where I need to focus, and then start the self-timer which is set to take a photo after 10 seconds, when the camera will be nice and still.
6 Back button focus
This is one of those that sounds complicated but really is not.
With the default settings on your camera, when you press the shutter release button half-way the camera focusses and takes an exposure reading. Press the shutter all the way down and the camera takes the photo.
With back button focus I focus using the AF-ON button on the back of my camera. I have to change this setting in the Custom Function settings.
That is the focus locked in. When I activate the self -timer all the camera has to do is sort the exposure and take the photo.
Why do I do this?
I like to focus first, and then take the image after. Focussing and exposure are separate deliberate acts.
This is the only thing that I have to change – the focus point. I do this first so there is no lens movement, and the metering is done at the time that the photo is taken, at least 10 seconds later.
7 AF – One Shot
This is one of those things that I had to actually check on my camera. Which AF Mode do I use? Seriously I did not know!
And it doesn’t make sense really that I use One Shot when I take three photos – more on that in a bit.
Well next actually.
8 Auto Exposure Bracketing on
Yes I use HDR. And let me tell you there is nothing wrong with that.
I set my Canon 6D to take three exposures.
- First photo – the correct exposure.
- Second photo – 2 seconds underexposed – darker.
- Third photo – 2 stops overexposed –lighter.
Why do I do this?
I do this so I capture more of the highlights and shadows than in a single image. My camera cannot capture the full range of light, known as the dynamic range, in a single image capture, so I use a bit of clever camera tech to get around this problem.
And merging the photos in Lightroom after the shoot is a doddle.
Not everyone will agree with me on this, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this. I am after the most efficient effective way of getting photos for my clients – that is my absolute number 1 priority.
9 Drive Mode – continuous shooting
That is how I take the three photos – was getting confused before…
10 Image Recording Quality – RAW
I only ever shoot in RAW. I see no reason to shoot in JPEG. RAW captures the maximum amount of data in a scene that the camera can capture, and gives me the maximum amount of data to work with.
I never use JPEG as this applies processing to the image which cannot be undone – I do not want processing done which I am not in control of.
And with RAW I can change the white balance in Lightroom to my heart’s content after the shoot, which is a wonderful thing to be able to do.
11 Auto White Balance
Another one that people may criticise you/ me for. A bit controversial this one. Sure, there are people who will say I should get it right in camera, and they are of course correct.
But I have to get the photos done a quickly as I can. I do not have the luxury of all day, I have a limited amount of time.
I want to concentrate on the shot-list and compositions, and not camera settings. This is the reality of life as a real estate photographer.
12 Metering – Evaluative
This is the default metering mode and works nicely, especially when combined with HDR.
I very rarely change from this mode.
Evaluative metering on the Canon 6D is the camera evaluating the brightness of a number of zones within the composition and using this data to calculate the correct exposure which works for real estate photography.
13 – Focal Length
I use 17mm on my Canon 17-40mm lens most of the time. It is very wide but there is very little distortion and whilst it makes interiors look nice and big this is not in a false, misleading way.
Top tip – when I am shooting the interior of a property I often stick some gaffer tape on my lens to make sure that I am at actual 17mm, giving my images a nice consistent look and making full benefit of that lovely wide field of view.
A word about this lens – it is great but not expensive. You can pick up a Canon 17-40mm F4L lens on Amazon for about £600 at the time of writing this post
14 – AF ON
Well why would you ever not use AF? I cannot tell you the last time I used manual focus.
And a few other things
15 Canon 6D mounted on a tripod
I always use a tripod. I only take real estate photos hand-held if I am not able to use a tripod due to space or physical restrictions. I use a Manfrotto 190 Go tripod with a Manfrotto XPRO geared head.
Oh yes, a word about my canon 6D. I talked about gear in the previous episode Real Estate Photography Gear – The 11 Things I Use On Most Shoots. But yes I do still use this wonderful camera. Check out another post about the Canon 6D which is still nice and relevant (which I have just updated) – Is The Canon 6D Still Worth Buying In 2021?
If you want to know more about real estate photography check out my real estate photography page.
If you want to know more about me, and for everything else just head over to my Start Here page.
I have recorded a video for this blog post which you can watch here on my You Tube channel.
Photography Explained Podcast
Yes I have my own podcast, where I explain one photographic thing per episode in plain English in less than 10 minutes without the irrelevant details.
Check it out on the Photography Explained Podcast website.
Ok – I am done here. Thanks for sticking with me and I hope that you found the information in this post helpful and informative.