The key to incredible real estate photography is a camera lens that can capture the best photographic angles in a way that improves the visual identity of a space. The best real estate lenses are not just wide-angle lenses, but lenses with less distortion, accurate color rendition, and overall high sharpness. The best lens can inject life and energy to a sterile setting, while flawlessly reproducing the best vision of a home for a potential buyer.
And to make the most out of photographing your home or apartment, the choice of camera lens is crucial to how you portray the character of the building to any potential buyer. The search for the best lens for real estate photography is essential to visualizing every aspect of the space you want others to imagine themselves living in.
And no average lens will do that. Every camera lens will inevitably bring something different to the space you photograph. Real estate photography is a trade that requires lenses that can adequately retain the characteristics of the space you are photographing, but also bring something new and interesting to the table.
When investing in the best lens for real estate photography, there are many things to consider:
- Low light capability of the lens.
- Focal length and angle of view. This is an essential consideration because the angle of view determines how much of the scene you will capture.
- The level of distortion
This article will examine ten of the best lenses for real estate photography. These lenses have been shortlisted based on user feedback, personal user experience, and my ow expert recommendations.
Table of contents:
- Canon 16-35mm f/4L
- Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 II
- Canon 17-40mm f/4 L
- Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
- Nikon Nikkor 16-35mm f/4
- Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
- Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art
- Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
- Fujifilm XF10-24mm F4 R OIS WR
- Tokina Opera 16-28mm F/2.8 FX
1. Canon 16-35mm f/4L
- Superb suppression of chromatic aberrations and spherical aberrations.
- Weather-sealed construction allows use in inclement weather.
- Optical image stabilization offers solid hand-held imagery.
- Fluorine coating ensures that the lens is easy to clean.
- Super spectra coating ensures that the lens is unaffected by ghosting and flares.
- The maximum aperture is only f/4
Very few lenses in the Canon stable can be recommended for real estate photography despite not being a tilt-shift lens. I believe a tilt-shift lens to be the best when it comes to architecture and real estate photography. This is a wide enough lens for shooting in tight places that offer little room for maneuvering.
A good thing about this lens is that it comes with image stabilization which ensures that you can work from corners without needing a tripod and capture rock-solid images.
One of the significant disadvantages of the lens is the maximum aperture which opens up to f/4 only. But when you consider that a comparable lens that opens up to f/2.8 cost nearly twice the price of this lens, then this one appears to be a bargain.
2. Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 II
- Arguably the best Canon lens for real estate photography.
- Extremely sharp, even wide open.
- This is a manual focusing lens.
The 24mm TS-E lens is a fantastic choice for architecture, interior, and real estate photography. This sharp lens works in interior shoots, exteriors, and architectural shots. It has beautiful color contrast, and the background and foreground blur are beautiful. It’s impressively sharp and, when shooting wide open, is sharp even at the corners.
However, one thing you need to understand is that this isn’t an autofocusing lens. This is a manual focusing lens; therefore, you need precise control to focus accurately. If you need autofocusing, you would be better off getting one of the other Canon full-frame lenses we have listed in this article. In terms of performance, this lens has very little vignetting.
Distortion is also well suppressed. A comparable lens in the Canon stable has optically the same performance as the EF 24mm L II.
3. Canon 17-40mm f/4 L
- Super spectra coating controls flares and ghosting.
- A ring-type ultrasonic motor powers Autofocusing.
- This is weather-sealed construction.
- Internal focusing ensures the barrel length remains the same across the focal length.
- The maximum aperture is stuck at f/4.
- Some amount of distortion is present in both wide-angle and telephoto end.
The 17-40mm is a good mid-range full-frame wide-angle zoom lens from the Canon stable. This is a reasonably priced lens compared to the other lenses we have listed here. The lens features a ring-type USM autofocusing motor that’s very accurate and works reasonably fast. The autofocusing performance is smooth across the focal range, and the focusing ring is well-damped, assisting precise manual focusing adjustments.
You can use grad ND filters and circular polarizers without any issues. The optical performance of the lens is excellent. The lens features superb sharpness across the frame when shooting wide open.
That said, the corners are not as sharp as the center of the frame. Stopping down the lens improves corner sharpness slightly. Finally, we have noticed some distortion. A small amount of barrel distortion was available when shooting wide open, and pincushion distortion was also present at the tele-end of the lens.
4. Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
- Superb optical performance.
- Wide angle of view.
- Nano crystal coating for suppressed flares and ghosting.
- Silent wave motor-powered autofocusing.
- Manual focusing overrides internal focusing.
- There is an issue of focus shifting when working with high-res cameras.
The Nikon 14-24mm was released back in 2007. Though it may appear a dated design, it’s also one that’s still very relevant for landscape and architectural photography today. This is the sort of lens that you would love to leave on your camera if you’re a landscape photographer.
Many users may argue that the 16-35mm makes better sense because it has the larger focal length coverage, and 2mm on the broader side doesn’t make that much of a difference. I beg to differ slightly. Even if it doesn’t make a significant difference when shooting landscape, it does when shooting real estate interiors where the tight corners make it impossible to take a few steps back.
Optically this lens offers edge-to-edge sharpness. The contrast levels are superb, and so is the color rendition. However, we have noticed that when the lens is paired with a high-res camera, there is a huge amount of focus shifting. And that happens across all focal lengths.
5. Nikon Nikkor 16-35mm f/4
- Silent wave motor-powered autofocusing mechanism.
- Vibration Reduction powered stabilization system.
- Nano crystal coating counters ghosting and flares.
- The maximum aperture is stuck at f/4.
This is the Nikon equivalent of the Canon 16-35mm f/4L I mentioned above. For someone invested in the Nikon environment, this is one lens they can look into. Considering that this is a full-frame lens, someone using a full-frame Nikon DSLR can take full advantage of the large sensor and the field of view that the lens and the camera combo come up with.
This optic is slightly heavier than the Canon lens we read about earlier, but the additional benefit of having the Nano crystal coating will come in handy. Especially in challenging lighting conditions, such as when the light source is in the frame, this lens will be less affected by ghosting and flares. The lens has image stabilization built-in, which Nikon calls it ‘Vibration Reduction’. This helps hand-held shooting when working in tight corners where a tripod may not be feasible.
6. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM
- Great focal length.
- Optically very good.
- Weather sealed construction for shooting in inclement weather.
- Prohibitively expensive.
The 11-24mm is the widest zoom lens we have listed here. It’s more comprehensive than the Sigma 12-24mm and the Sony FE 12-24mm listed below. It’s also the widest full-frame focal length lens on this list with rectilinear properties. That means lines, walls, and straight-line features appear as straight lines instead of appearing curved. The 11-24mm is a crazy focal length because, at the wider end, there is a lot that you can achieve without having to press your back against the wall.
This lens is designed to work in tight corners and make stunning captures. This lens also works with the Canon EF-S mount camera systems; on those cameras, the focal length becomes 17.6-38.4mm.
This lens loses some of the shine because of the crop factor. Speaking of losing the shine, it’s the nature of ultra-wide angle lenses to push the background further away, making them appear smaller in relation to the subject.
7. Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art
- Super multi-layer coating for suppressing flares and ghosting.
- Hyper sonic motor powered autofocusing mechanism.
- Optically good results across the focal length.
- Sigma’s Art series lenses are optically superior and well-made.
- Slightly heavier than some of the competition lenses (mainly Nikon and Canon).
The 12-24mm offers a wider focal length compared to the 16-35mm and the 14-24mm lenses. But does the additional focal length and, therefore, the wider angle of view make it worth it?
At the wider end, the focal length does impact significantly. Perhaps you could argue that the extra focal length does not matter because if you take a few steps back, you could capture the same composition with a 14-24mm lens. But in some situations, when shooting real estate photography, there is no option to get back. In such situations, the 12-24mm comes in very handy.
The lens comes with the usual bells and whistles, such as a Super multi-layer coating that ensures ghosting and flares are suppressed and a hypersonic motor-powered autofocusing technology that provides that the lens autofocuses accurately.
8. Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
- Hypersonic motor-powered autofocusing system.
- Comes with five FLD elements and one SLD element.
- Features super multi-layer coating for suppressing flares and ghosting.
- The maximum aperture is stuck at f/4.
Designed for the full-frame Sony E-mount camera systems, the Sony FE 12-24mm is arguably the best lens for real estate photography if you’re on the Sony E-mount. This lens is compatible with all Sony’s E-mount full-frame camera systems.
Distortion and aberration are some of the leading issues working with full-frame lenses. In that sense, the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G demonstrates very few aberrations. The 12-24mm focal length is wide enough for real estate photography. A hypersonic motor AF system powers Autofocusing.
One thing that works against the lens is the maximum aperture. At f/4, this is a bit slower than other f/2.8 and faster lenses. But the good thing is the aperture is constant across the focal length.
9. Fujifilm XF10-24mm F4 R OIS WR
- Designed for the X-mount and compatible with APS-C camera sensors.
- The maximum aperture is constant across the focal length.
- Weather-sealed construction ensures that the lens can withstand the vagaries of nature.
- A stepping motor AF technology powers Autofocusing.
- The maximum aperture is stuck at f/4.
- There is no button to switch image stabilization on and off.
Designed for the X-mount APS-C format, this lens offers a 35mm format focal length of 15-36mm. The maximum aperture of the lens is f/4 across the focal length. The wide angle is quite broad; therefore, the lens suits many different photography genres.
One of the things that we like about this lens is that it is weather sealed, so it’s possible to take this lens outdoors and use it in inclement weather. The effective focal length is good enough for working in tight corners, such as when shooting the interiors of real estate properties.
Among the many benefits of version 2 of the lens is improved image stabilization. Also, the new lens is slightly lighter and smaller than the older version. One thing that we noticed is that the new lens has no button that you can use to toggle image stabilization on and off. You’ve to dig deep into the menu option to be able to do so.
10. Tokina Opera 16-28mm F/2.8 FX
- Designed for full-frame camera systems.
- Multi-coating for suppressing flares and ghosting.
- Silent drive-powered DC motor enabled autofocusing mechanism.
- Wide aperture of f/2.8 across the focal length.
- Wide open performance is a little soft compared to some of its counterparts.
Designed for full-frame camera systems, the focal length is 16 to 28mm, which is reasonable when shooting wide-angle photography such as real estate, interiors, and architecture. It has three aspherical elements countering the effects of spherical aberration.
In addition, three low-dispersion elements ensure suppression of chromatic aberration and color fringing. The Tokina Opera 16-28mm also has multi-coating, which provides ghosting, and flares are also suppressed well.