Best camera for interior photography?

Started Oct 15, 2012 | Discussions
aryayush
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Best camera for interior photography?
Oct 15, 2012

Hello.

I’m an interior designer from India and am looking to buy a DSLR for shooting before and after pictures of my projects. I am looking for a camera which is great at shooting in low light and a nice wide-angle lens to go with it. Support for a wide aperture range would be a nice bonus.

I’m a beginner, both with DSLR photography and interior design, so my budget is pretty low, and it would be nice to get some entry level—yet decent enough to not be a waste of money—suggestions.

I currently use a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, and though it’s decent enough, I crave a little more control than it provides, as well as better low light and wide angle shooting.

Thanks.

vander
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Oct 15, 2012

Full Frame is better, so I suggest something like a 5d, any of the 3 editions. If you are just getting into this I might suggest used. If you are only going to do interior you don't need to break the bank in new gear, so an older, well kept 5d (original) would be more than fine.

Some suggest a 24mm tilt shift is optimal, but with software out there (PTLens) you can skip getting that lens if you are willing to do some post processing.

I use a 17-40 F4 L lens for all my work.

Some say as wide as possible, some say 24mm, but I find 24mm is about the desired look for a room.

Also, decide if you want to do LDR (photo fusion) or use speedlites. Some use the hybrid method of both.

I primarily use the LDR method and Photomatix. I'm happy with the results. I have been experimenting with the hybrid method lately and once I refine that I will probably start doing that more.

I just find setting up the lights, moving them around, avoiding them in the frame is a lot of work. If I was shooting a 10,000 sq.ft. home with huge rooms and amazing views I might have a different opinion, but for new family builds and average real estate, LDR works great for me. Also these people have less budget than a mansion and time/money is important to them and to me.

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aryayush
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to vander, Oct 16, 2012

Wow, I guess these forums are a bit too advanced for me. I could not make sense of much of what you said in your reply, but I do know that the Canon EOS 5D Mark II is way too expensive for me right now. I have been trying to choose between the Canon EOS D600, Nikon D5100 and Sony SLT-A57K (all with the standard kit lens) and am leaning towards the Nikon so far.

Would that be a good choice?

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vander
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Oct 16, 2012

Yes, the Canon could easily do it. I'm not familiar with the other camera so I won't comment.

While the Canon isn't full frame it doesn't really matter. Some just say it's a little better.

You'd need a super wide angle lens though, like the Sigma 10-20 or Canon 10-22. This would help you greatly with interior shots.

Must have tripod and shutter release as well.

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drxcm
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to vander, Oct 16, 2012

You should take a look at Micro four thirds bodies.

I would suggest something like a Panasonic G5 (has a flip out screen) and the Panasonic 7-14mm wide zoom lens (=full frame equivalent 14-28mm) would be great for interior photography, reasonably cheap compared to a DSLR and is exceptionally good quality for the price.

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f8BeThereToo
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Oct 17, 2012

It would be easier to make suggestions if I had some idea what your budget is but I'm going to give it a try anyway...

If you like the D5100 then I would go with it or its cousin, the D3200 (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikon-d3200). The D3200 is less expensive so it may be a better fit for your budget.

I don't know if it is possible to purchase either camera without the kit lens but I would tend to skip the kit lens because it isn't wide enough for most interior shots.  A 12-24 or 10-20 from Tokina or Sigma would be a relatively low cost way to get into wide-angle photography.  I prefer wide angle zooms with a 24mm long end because those lenses are better general purpose lens than lenses that stop at 20mm. I can live without the extra 2mm on the short end but I wouldn't want to lose the 24mm on the long end. You may want more on the short end...

Invest in a decent tripod.  There are excellent tripods available for $100-$200, but if that is too expensive a cheaper tripod is better than no tripod at all. You can always upgrade to a better tripod in the future. Search this forum and online for tripod suggestions in your price range.

Buy post-processing software that allows you to do tone-mapping/HDR editing and lens perspective control.  You will probably need to buy two separate programs/plugins but someone may be able to suggest reasonably priced software that will do both.  The tone mapping/HDR makes it possible to combine multiple exposures when the exposure range of a subject is too much for the camera sensor. That's how you avoid having blown-out white windows when shooting an interior (but sometimes it is preferable to blow-out the windows if the outside view isn't appealing or the white windows don't detract from the subject.)

The lens perspective correction software allows you to straighten curved lines caused by your lens or tilting the camera up or down. The shift-tllt lens mentioned earlier is how we did it in the pre-digital days but such lenses are expensive. Generally speaking, the wider the lens, the more distortion it will exhibit. Be sure that you read reviews of the lenses you are considering and make sure that the lens correction software you select is compatible with your wide-angle lens. Some types of distortion are harder to correct than others; some distortion cannot be adequately corrected by software.

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Svein Eriksen
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to f8BeThereToo, Oct 18, 2012

You got a good answer from from MrMojo IMO. Since you're on a tight budget you need to stick to the most important things and an entry level dSLR + tripod + a wide zoom lens is all you really need. Personally I like flip out screens like the one on Nikon D5100 a lot when using a tripod, Canon 600D also have this feature. A D3200 give the same image quality, but with a fixed screen. The Sigma 10-20 is decent quality (even the F4-5.6 one) and available for both Canon and Nikon (and Sony).

If you get a camera with just a kit lens then you'll get quite a bit distortion in the wide end, and 18mm (28mm equivalent) probably isn't wide enough for all you images. Stitching might solve that, and it's fine for a few images, but fairly timeconsuming if you need it a lot.

Same goes for HDR (combining more than one image to handle higher dynamic range). It can give excellent results, but also take a lot of time to get right so you might need some kind of flash or other means to light your projects (or part of them), depending on the rooms and how well they are lit.

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kb2zuz
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Oct 18, 2012

You may not need a camera that is particularly good in low light. If your subjects are stationary, you don't need high end full-frame camera, you just need a tripod. If you're shooting a dark scene in a club with someone dancing on stage, yes you need a camera that works better in low light, but if your subject is stationary, you can have the camera take a 5 second long exposure and it will look fine, as long as everything (including the camera) is very still. Even if you get a camera that is amazing at low light, it will still look better if you set it to low ISO and put it on a tripod (assuming nothing is moving in the image).

I'd recommend getting a tripod, setting the camera to the lowest ISO possible, putting the camera on a self-timer (that way the camera doesn't shake during the exposure from you pressing the shutter button) and see how the results turn out.

As far as a wider lens, the Canon S110 will give you a little wider angle, but if you want really really wide lens you may need to go to an interchangable lens camera that can accept a very wide angle lens. Another option to consider, especially if you do get a tripod is to try panorama stitching. If your subject is stationary, you can shoot a little to the left and a little to the right and merge the images into one shot that covers the whole area. Photoshop's photomerge does this very well, and there are other 3rd party programs that do it well for a reasonable price.

If you have photoshop (or another program that can do panorama/photomerge stitching) and you can find a reasonable tripod, you might not need a new camera at all. The camera you have is very capable.

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quallsphoto
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to Svein Eriksen, Oct 20, 2012

aryayush

Aryayush,

You received some excellent suggestions from Vander and MrMojo several days ago...

Please do NOT purchase anything until you understand more about this specific niche market.

First, study study study more about interior photography.  Specifically, understand the lighting challenges you will face.  There are numerous articles on the Internet that provide tons of information.

Get a decent tripod if you don't already have one.  But understand lighting will help you to create better images with your CURRENT camera.

Once you understand more about interior photography, you will see why certain pro camera bodies are considered the "best".  They produce clean files in low light, have good dynamic range, and are thus well suited to interior photography.  That is why many pros choose the same top-tier Nikon (D2, D3, D4), Canon (1D, 5D), or top-end Fuji, Sony DLSR bodies.  Or maybe the Olympus E-5... They are the right tool for this type of job.

In the long run, if you attempt to cut corners on camera selection, then you will pay for it in post-processing time to clean up your images.  So which do you want to do -- spend most of your time shooting? or cleaning up images with various PhotoShop plug-ins?  Not really any shortcuts there.

After you have learned more about WHY some bodies are better than others, you will be ready to purchase.  But instead of buying an entry- or mid-level DLSR at a high price, please consider what Vander suggested --  purchase a USED pro DLSR body that is 2 or 3 series behind at a fraction of the cost.

DQ

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Kpatel55
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Oct 20, 2012

If you prefer Nikon System then D600 + 14-24 or 16-35 VR lens. Use extra flash for illumination with Triggers.

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wchutt
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Oct 22, 2012

Here's what you need. Otherwise you will be working very, very hard at a great disadvantage to get high-quality interior  images.

1/ the very best dynamic range you can afford.

2/ the very best signal to noise ratio you can afford (high ISO performance).

3/ a sturdy tripod you can carefully and accurately  adjust

4/ a level that will slide into the flash shoe

5/ a zoom lens with with low order barrel distortion and an angle of view that is similar to 20mm - 35mm with a full frame DSLR

6/ decent post processing software that will render raw files

7/ if you plan to use supplemental strobe lighting, a 1/250 strobe sync speed is a must

Interior photography is a war with dynamic range. Pulling detail put of shadows is essential. The camera has to be level. You can't move the camera around much, so a zoom lens is a huge help.  Even the most skilled interior photographers rely heavily upon raw post processing software.

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miles green
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Oct 22, 2012

You need

- a tripod. Also consider a pano head.

- a camera with good DR. Don't bother with high iso, use the tripod, your subject ain't moving. Resolution required depends on what you want to do with the picture. Most likely, a MILC will be fine, unless you print huge or see yourself lusting for a tilt-shift lens later on.

- a wide-angle low distortion lens that's sharp in the corners. I'd start with an ultrawide zoom.

- You could throw in a fish-eye for diversity and those really tight spaces (bathrooms).

- If you want to balance indoor and outdoor lighting, you'll want a strobe or 2, and you'll want to wake up early and get some sunrises or at least side lighting outside.

- Props? Baskets of plastic fruit, flowers... Daylight-colored light bulbs.

There are some very nice video tutorials about interior photography using studio strobes online.

Best camera? Probably some medium format 645 digital back on an large-format style body with movements. The copal shutter will sych to 1/500th or so... It will cost as much as a house.

I'm fine with APS-C.

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Ray Roberts
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Oct 29, 2012

The "Photographer"!

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Landroutes
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Nov 6, 2012

I also recommend the Canon S100 (AKA the new S110) The IQ always astounds me when I open its files in LR4.2 and the wide lens is wide enough for almost any room. The only downside will be sync with larger flash system if that becomes necessary. (2nd runner up the Panny LX7, and it has a hot shoe!) For the money it's a no brainer!

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AlecThigpen
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Nov 20, 2012

So, you are asking on the Pro Forum for amateur advice.  You are limited in experience and budget but want advice from the pros.  OK, I get it.

I find that for my work, the 5D series would be the low end on high end output results, and the 24mm T-S would be the minimum starter lens, with the later addition of a 12-24 Sigma, a 17mm T-S, and a 45mm T-S.  The Canon sensors do a great job with mixed lighting and point light sources on flare issues.  A tripod is a necessity, as are a few lights for controlling contrast in the scenes.

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elfroggio
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to aryayush, Nov 21, 2012

aryayush wrote:

Hello.

I’m an interior designer from India and am looking to buy a DSLR for shooting before and after pictures of my projects. I am looking for a camera which is great at shooting in low light and a nice wide-angle lens to go with it. Support for a wide aperture range would be a nice bonus.

I’m a beginner, both with DSLR photography and interior design, so my budget is pretty low, and it would be nice to get some entry level—yet decent enough to not be a waste of money—suggestions.

The best camera is a MPP Chambre monorail with a Schneider lens. It will only take you a few years to learn how to use it and do decent work. So forget it.

If you really want to improve your photos, forget about a new camera, just get a small, cheap tripod/stand for your existing camera and learn how to see light and how to use light.

What makes the "fancy" interior designer photos is not the camera but the light. The actual balancing of the indoor lights, the outdoor lights and creating the mood with the light. Your small point and shoot or a Canon 1Dx/Nikon D800 with a perspective control lens will produce the same bad image if you don't learn about the light.

Here's a book that will walk you through the process:

http://www.amazon.com/Lighting-Digital-Photography-Snapshots-Portrait/

Read this before spending on equipment. Then getting a better camera will help.

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leot
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to elfroggio, Nov 25, 2012

" What makes the "fancy" interior designer photos is not the camera but the light. The actual balancing of the indoor lights, the outdoor lights and creating the mood with the light. Your small point and shoot or a Canon 1Dx/Nikon D800 with a perspective control lens will produce the same bad image if you don't learn about the light."

+100

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neil poulsen
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Re: Best camera for interior photography?
In reply to leot, Dec 21, 2012

Don't skip the 24mm Shift lens.  (Or, tilt shift.)  It's true that you can correct verticals in Photoshop.  But, having a shift (tilt) lens on the camera makes an important difference in composing the image.

Being able to photograph in low light is important.  Architectural photography is usually done at small apertures to get everything in focus.  So, cameras capable of low light exposure with minimal noise is important.

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