Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Started 4 months ago | Questions
Ed Rizk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,542
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

JackM wrote:

AZBlue wrote:

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

I watched the video and learned a good tip. Reverse-cropping or expanding the canvas larger than the picture allows the distortion correction tool to keep everything at the top of the image. Nice. I'm sure I will use that someday.

Of course the criticisms already stated are valid, but IMO in r/e photography it is pretty rare to need to include so much height in an image. Rare enough that I simply haven't been able to justify buying a TS lens, so post-processing tips like these are useful. No, it would not be cost-effective to shoot and post-process like this for any quantity of shots, but for occasional shots I'd say it's more cost-effective than buying a $2500 lens (and a FF camera to put it on) that you only really need for a small minority of images.

For me, shifting the lens is the rule, rather than the exception.

Unless the room is extremely mundane or extremely opulent, either the ceiling or the floor will be better looking and worthy of emphasis.

Same unit.   Shifted down from a high angle to show the staged living area and shifted up in the bedroom to catch the interesting light fixture.

For exteriors, I would rather show more sky than more street or parking lot, especially if there are tall trees decorating the sky or a nice sunset.

Ugly commercial and multi family buildings, which most are, typically have a nicely landscaped signage area or seating area.   A very low angle next to such an area allows one to create a beautiful picture of an ugly building, especially at sunrise or sunset.  Ugly houses will often have one good plant that offers a similar opportunity.

Here is one of my better ugly building shots.  That building is ugly.

Here's a trailer park with a detention pond; ugly trailers, nice sunset.

Any idiot can make a pretty picture of a great piece of architecture.   Some are much better than others, but I've never seen an ugly picture of great architecture.   That would be like an ugly picture of a beautiful woman.

Before the TSE lens, I just accepted the keystoning in many shots, rather than miss great light fixtures or a great sky.   Processing could have helped, but my clients are cheap and I am lazy when it comes to processing.

This is one of my favorite ugly shopping center pictures.   I had leasing and management on this building for five years.  The 16X20 of this one that I gave the owner hung in his office for years after I lost the job, and may still.   The only beautiful thing in sight 360 degrees around my position was the sky.   I promise you the building would not look that much better with straight vertical lines.   It would be a little better.   I wish I had the TSE at that time.

This is the world's ugliest small apartment building, but it's a cash machine.

Forget the $10,000,000 homes with the unlimited decorating budgets.   Show me your ugly buildings.

That said, if r/e photography was my full-time career, I would definitely have a TS lens.

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Ed Rizk

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JackM
JackM Veteran Member • Posts: 8,677
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Ed Rizk wrote:

For me, shifting the lens is the rule, rather than the exception.

That is certainly a valid approach and will generate the best results. Great examples. However the question of "is it worth it" is different than "what is the best lens?" I would like to have a 17mm TS-E, but I have been getting along fine without one. A few examples: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62898513

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Ed Rizk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,542
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

JackM wrote:

Ed Rizk wrote:

For me, shifting the lens is the rule, rather than the exception.

That is certainly a valid approach and will generate the best results. Great examples. However the question of "is it worth it" is different than "what is the best lens?" I would like to have a 17mm TS-E, but I have been getting along fine without one. A few examples: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62898513

Very nice shots, as were others of yours that I have seen.

Some of mine are for my own listings, so if the improvement gets me one more prospect that closes a deal, it pays for the lens.   If it's a really good prospect, it pays for the whole system.   My straight photography work for other brokers has made me a profit well above my equipment, but I don't know if or how many more I have than I would if I stuck with my 60D and 10-22 lens.

If, as you say, it will generate the best results, I'm happy.   One never knows what little improvement pushes a deal over the edge, so I do the best I can in the time I have.

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Ed Rizk

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JackM
JackM Veteran Member • Posts: 8,677
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?
1

Ed Rizk wrote:

Very nice shots, as were others of yours that I have seen.

Thanks.

Some of mine are for my own listings, so if the improvement gets me one more prospect that closes a deal, it pays for the lens. If it's a really good prospect, it pays for the whole system. My straight photography work for other brokers has made me a profit well above my equipment, but I don't know if or how many more I have than I would if I stuck with my 60D and 10-22 lens.

I think it would take a special case for a realtor to notice, even if only subconsciously. The vast majority of the time an APS-C body and 10-22 will get results that are light years beyond what the typical realtor can take on their own.

If, as you say, it will generate the best results, I'm happy. One never knows what little improvement pushes a deal over the edge, so I do the best I can in the time I have.

I think the bigger value of the TS is that it saves you time, gets you the shots you want, and makes you happy. And of course the shots that truly demand shift. This shot would have benefited from shift, but how much? Enough for a realtor to notice? Only if you showed them an A/B comparison I think.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62898513?image=5

However this all may be moot as more realtors are figuring out they can get "good enough" shots by taking panoramas with their smartphones.  The r/e photographer is only going to be needed for 7 figure listings and up.  Until now, half the value of hiring a pro was for their wide angle lens.

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OP Ian L Contributing Member • Posts: 586
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

mmarian wrote:

I started getting regular comissions from various magazines about 16 years ago. Well before Instagram and Facebook existence and in fact before digital cameras came into prominence. I simply had my portfolio folder under my arm and went knocking on publishing houses editor's doors. One day I got lucky and one managing editor probably liked my attitude and my work. I offered to do first job for free and with no commitments from either side. I had my Hasselblad 503 then with Distagon 40mm and a couple of other lenses. Anyway, she sent me a job shortly after and she must have liked what I did on the first assignment and how I handled it becauce it got published and I have been shooting for that publishing house ever since. Later also for several other editors in charge of several architectural and interior design magazines this house produces. Since then I was approached by other publishing houses and as we say the rest is history... Today, I can imagine the social media is the way to promote your work but I am a strong believer in personal interaction and face to face contact.

Good luck...

I imagine prior to digital it was probably easier to get hired, since now everyone is basically a photographer, or do you think it's the same now?

I was considering putting together some portfolio material into a flyer, or going a little more fancy and going for a 4 page foldout and hand delivering it to any potential clients. I've been somewhat lazy on keeping my portfolio updated though. Not sure about everyone else, but once I've finished editing a photo, I really don't have any enthusiasm to go back and look at my photos again. So for me updating my portfolio is tedious.

I suppose a good start would be for me to actually pick up a few architecture magazines, thumb thru them to get familiar with the styles they like and then find some to try contacting.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Nikon D850 Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro +6 more
OP Ian L Contributing Member • Posts: 586
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Ed Rizk wrote:

Ian L wrote:

Thanks for the replies from everyone. I'm not sure why but for some reason I stopped getting notifications so I didn't see all these additional posts.

So, just to clear things up a bit for my specific situation:

I'm not shooting anything super high end (usually). Mainly due i think to my location. Detroit is the largest closest city and it's about a 90 minute drive for me. I have gotten a handful of nicer shoots in detroit.

I do however want to shoot higher end stuff, not just for the money, but i also enjoy it. And regardless of what I am shooting I always want to know if there's a way to take better shots.

Using the laowa TS macro lens might be an interesting option. Which also reminded me of their 12mm lens as well, which sounds tempting.

Just sort of in that akward space where I'm not sure i want to spend more money on gear unless i know for sure it's going to pay off since I'm still trying to build up my revenue.

The 17 is an awesome piece of glass. It will up your game for the reasons stated by other posters here, and for one not considered here.

As I go through properties, residential or retail, I consistently find myself wanting to emphasize either the ceiling or the floor. If both are equally good looking, which is rare, you can keep the lens level, unless you want a high or low perspective.

Inside you might want a high or low perspective to put an interesting item in the foreground, be it a light fixture or an interesting glass sculpture on a low table. Outside, you often need a high or low perspective to get a shot over a pool fence or to make a nicely landscaped sign area more prominent than the ugly building behind it.

A 24 would be wide enough for some exterior shots, but not all. If you're shooting a building that is close to the street, you need as wide as you can get. Shopping centers need wide and shift, because the buildings are so wide, and the sky is prettier than the parking lot. Tall buildings almost always require the width and the shift. You can always crop to the 24mm AOV.

I'm a broker that also shoots for other brokers and owners. Every advantage in IQ and creativity is worth a lot in my opinion. Non photographers noticed when I went from a P&S to the 60D with a 10-22, and they noticed when I went to the 6D with the TSE 17. I make a lot of presentations in person with printed flyers for retail leases and investment sales. When the shot is right, the prospects eyes stay on the paper longer. The longer the eyes stay on the paper, the more of the printed information the mind absorbs and the more the subconscious becomes invested in the deal.

On a marketing note, developers who own nice architecture love to hang wall prints of their properties with nice sunsets behind them on their office walls. As a broker, that has become my standard closing gift for my owners. Tenants get digital files. Many use them for their marketing. Both are cheaper than a good bottle of single malt scotch, last longer, and remind the client of me every day. As a product for sale, it might cost more than a good bottle of single malt, but commercial brokers and brokers who work with builders might be customers for it.

Get the 17. You won't regret it.

Funny you mentioned that - i had a shoot yesterday where i wanted to highlight the ceiling and I couldn't really get the shot I wanted, but I probably could have with a ts lens.

The downside to using that lens is I would then have to switch over to using 2 cameras, since right now my primary camera is a D850. Although maybe that might not be so bad since I won't have to swap lenses if I have 2 cameras.
I think I'll wait a few days and see if BH has a sale or a used one and then buy it. Worst case i can always return it if i feel like it's not worth it.

 Ian L's gear list:Ian L's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Nikon D850 Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro +6 more
OP Ian L Contributing Member • Posts: 586
Re: On the other hand

Photomonkey wrote:

TS lenses are sharp but most of the puffery you hear is from those rhapsodizing about their very expensive purchase.

In Julius Shulman's book on architectural photography notes that he rarely used the movements on his view camera. That is my experience in 20+ years of doing it.

In addition the notion that quality loss is significant when adjusting perspective in post is just wrong. Moderate corrections do not show issues at al. Moreover, if they were, they are at the edges and often in areas of no detail.

Like most obsessions, reality falls far short of fantasy.

I dont really have any complaints about quality loss when correcting in post. It's mainly the cropping. Although I haven't done a side by side comparison of a image shot with a TS lens vs one corrected in post to see if there's a noticeable difference.

 Ian L's gear list:Ian L's gear list
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OP Ian L Contributing Member • Posts: 586
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

AZBlue wrote:

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

That's definitely a cool technique. But it would only work in circumstances where whatever needs to be filled in is basically random patterns (grass, wood, carpet, blank wall etc). Plus I'm not really sure it's faster doing that technique. I haven't worked with a TS lens so I can't speak from experience but it feels like using a TS lens would have been quicker then his process. And i'm not sure his way is easier.

However, his way is definitely cheaper. And you are probably right that most people wont notice. although my goal is to eventually be shooting for higher end clients. I want the clients that will notice, because that'll push me into taking better shots.

I am doing this as my primary means of earning an income, but I'm also doing it because I enjoy it, and want to get better at it.

I realize having a TS lens will probably only be of benefit 10% of the time, probably more like 5%. For me it really comes down to will that 5% difference result in me getting the top 5% clients?

I think I've decided to get the 17mm canon ts lens. Worst case scenario if it turns out i don't wind up using it enough or don't get enough benefit from it, I can turn around and sell it and minimize my losses.

 Ian L's gear list:Ian L's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Nikon D850 Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro +6 more
mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Ian L wrote:

AZBlue wrote:

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

That's definitely a cool technique. But it would only work in circumstances where whatever needs to be filled in is basically random patterns (grass, wood, carpet, blank wall etc). Plus I'm not really sure it's faster doing that technique. I haven't worked with a TS lens so I can't speak from experience but it feels like using a TS lens would have been quicker then his process. And i'm not sure his way is easier.

However, his way is definitely cheaper. And you are probably right that most people wont notice. although my goal is to eventually be shooting for higher end clients. I want the clients that will notice, because that'll push me into taking better shots.

I am doing this as my primary means of earning an income, but I'm also doing it because I enjoy it, and want to get better at it.

I realize having a TS lens will probably only be of benefit 10% of the time, probably more like 5%. For me it really comes down to will that 5% difference result in me getting the top 5% clients?

I think I've decided to get the 17mm canon ts lens. Worst case scenario if it turns out i don't wind up using it enough or don't get enough benefit from it, I can turn around and sell it and minimize my losses.

I think once you get the 17mm TS-E lens and perhaps 24mm or 1.4 teleconverrer for 17mm later, you will find using them 100% or 90% of the time. Shooting with them is not as complicated and time consuming as some here allude. I would suggest to also get a Manfrotto geared head for precise framing adjustment. The only issue with 17mm is flaring. Anyway possible I try to shield the bulging front element with hand from any direct or even indirect sunlight or downlights in interiors. Good luck with your endeavor!!

Ed Rizk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,542
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

JackM wrote:

Ed Rizk wrote:

Very nice shots, as were others of yours that I have seen.

Thanks.

Some of mine are for my own listings, so if the improvement gets me one more prospect that closes a deal, it pays for the lens. If it's a really good prospect, it pays for the whole system. My straight photography work for other brokers has made me a profit well above my equipment, but I don't know if or how many more I have than I would if I stuck with my 60D and 10-22 lens.

I think it would take a special case for a realtor to notice, even if only subconsciously. The vast majority of the time an APS-C body and 10-22 will get results that are light years beyond what the typical realtor can take on their own.

If, as you say, it will generate the best results, I'm happy. One never knows what little improvement pushes a deal over the edge, so I do the best I can in the time I have.

I think the bigger value of the TS is that it saves you time, gets you the shots you want, and makes you happy. And of course the shots that truly demand shift. This shot would have benefited from shift, but how much? Enough for a realtor to notice? Only if you showed them an A/B comparison I think.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62898513?image=5

However this all may be moot as more realtors are figuring out they can get "good enough" shots by taking panoramas with their smartphones. The r/e photographer is only going to be needed for 7 figure listings and up. Until now, half the value of hiring a pro was for their wide angle lens.

When I first decided to start doing my own photography, in 2009, I went to a camera store to buy a DSLR and a UWA lens. The salesman showed me a P&S with a sweep panorama, which was cheaper, had plenty of resolution, and had a great zoom range.

I liked the panoramas and was able to document anything I wanted to show with them. On interiors, people consistently complained about the panoramic distortion. They never complained about UWA distortion and rarely complained about key stoning when I angled the lens up or down.

Panoramas are great for shopping centers, land, and street scenes. The sweep panoramas are good enough for flyers. I use them like a banner at the top or bottom of the page.

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Ed Rizk

 Ed Rizk's gear list:Ed Rizk's gear list
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OP Ian L Contributing Member • Posts: 586
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

mmarian wrote:

Ian L wrote:

AZBlue wrote:

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

That's definitely a cool technique. But it would only work in circumstances where whatever needs to be filled in is basically random patterns (grass, wood, carpet, blank wall etc). Plus I'm not really sure it's faster doing that technique. I haven't worked with a TS lens so I can't speak from experience but it feels like using a TS lens would have been quicker then his process. And i'm not sure his way is easier.

However, his way is definitely cheaper. And you are probably right that most people wont notice. although my goal is to eventually be shooting for higher end clients. I want the clients that will notice, because that'll push me into taking better shots.

I am doing this as my primary means of earning an income, but I'm also doing it because I enjoy it, and want to get better at it.

I realize having a TS lens will probably only be of benefit 10% of the time, probably more like 5%. For me it really comes down to will that 5% difference result in me getting the top 5% clients?

I think I've decided to get the 17mm canon ts lens. Worst case scenario if it turns out i don't wind up using it enough or don't get enough benefit from it, I can turn around and sell it and minimize my losses.

I think once you get the 17mm TS-E lens and perhaps 24mm or 1.4 teleconverrer for 17mm later, you will find using them 100% or 90% of the time. Shooting with them is not as complicated and time consuming as some here allude. I would suggest to also get a Manfrotto geared head for precise framing adjustment. The only issue with 17mm is flaring. Anyway possible I try to shield the bulging front element with hand from any direct or even indirect sunlight or downlights in interiors. Good luck with your endeavor!!

well at least I'm already one step ahead...already have a manfrotto head just need to get an extra mounting plate now if I'll be shooting with two cameras

 Ian L's gear list:Ian L's gear list
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JackM
JackM Veteran Member • Posts: 8,677
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

When I first decided to start doing my own photography, in 2009, I went to a camera store to buy a DSLR and a UWA lens. The salesman showed me a P&S with a sweep panorama, which was cheaper, had plenty of resolution, and had a great zoom range.

I liked the panoramas and was able to document anything I wanted to show with them. On interiors, people consistently complained about the panoramic distortion. They never complained about UWA distortion and rarely complained about key stoning when I angled the lens up or down.

Panoramas are great for shopping centers, land, and street scenes. The sweep panoramas are good enough for flyers. I use them like a banner at the top or bottom of the page.

An agency I used to shoot for before I raised my rate has begun taking phone panoramas. While they are not what we would call good, I’d say they’re a vast improvement over typical realtor-taken snapshots. The phone’s automatic HDR helps too.

I'd guess that this realtor is so relieved to finally be able to inventory the entire contents of a room, with windows that aren't white, that they will not be inquiring with any pro r/e photographers for a while.  Unless they get a 7-figure listing.

 JackM's gear list:JackM's gear list
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neil poulsen Regular Member • Posts: 287
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

I think that it's worth the cost.  I photograph buildings primarily for our local historical society, and there's no way that I would be without a Canon TS-E 24mm lens for this kind of 35mm work.  A few thoughts on this . . .

Think about finding a Mrk I 24mm TS-E.  Frankly, there's not that much difference between the two.  In getting a degree, I interned with an architectural photographer.  He has the Mrk I and rented a Mrk II to compare.  He stayed with the Mrk I.  At least to ameliorate the up-front costs, begin with the Mrk I lens, and then conduct your own comparison later.

Someone commented that the TS-E can tilt and shift in the same orientation.  That is, tilt AND shift up and down at the same time.  One can, but it takes a trip to a service center to make this possible; and then, one will no longer be able to tilt and shift in orthogonal directions at the same time.  (Not sure if the service center is needed for the Mrk II?)

I was thinking about going to Nikon from Canon, and then I read the reviews on the Nikon lens.  No thank you!  After years with Canon (when Nikon had no 24mm tilt-shift option), my friend (w/whom I interned) is finally back to Nikon with an 850.  But, he kept his Canon 5D-SR solely for use with his Mrk 1 TS-E 24mm lens.

For me, if one wants subtlety, there's no substitute for being able to compose with a tilt-shift lens, versus using a WA zoom, and then later transforming the image.  After all, using a TS-E is WYSIWYG.  Ask  yourself, what (potentially great?) images might you lose, if you do not have WYSIWYG capability?

In my case, it's recently become a moot point.  I just received a refurbished medium format back, and I'm liquidating all my 35mm gear.  After all, I will have tilt-shift capability with all my lenses.

ashleymorrison
ashleymorrison Contributing Member • Posts: 540
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

neil poulsen wrote:

In my case, it's recently become a moot point. I just received a refurbished medium format back, and I'm liquidating all my 35mm gear. After all, I will have tilt-shift capability with all my lenses.

What camera system are you putting this "medium format back" on that will mean you "will have tilt-shift capability with all [your] lenses"?

Plus, before you liquidate all your 35mm gear, have you thought about what you are going to use as a 'back-up' system here OR what you are going to use for those times when you want to take a quick-shot or hand-held shot of something for example??

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Cheers
Ashley

Ed Rizk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,542
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

JackM wrote:

When I first decided to start doing my own photography, in 2009, I went to a camera store to buy a DSLR and a UWA lens. The salesman showed me a P&S with a sweep panorama, which was cheaper, had plenty of resolution, and had a great zoom range.

I liked the panoramas and was able to document anything I wanted to show with them. On interiors, people consistently complained about the panoramic distortion. They never complained about UWA distortion and rarely complained about key stoning when I angled the lens up or down.

Panoramas are great for shopping centers, land, and street scenes. The sweep panoramas are good enough for flyers. I use them like a banner at the top or bottom of the page.

An agency I used to shoot for before I raised my rate has begun taking phone panoramas. While they are not what we would call good, I’d say they’re a vast improvement over typical realtor-taken snapshots. The phone’s automatic HDR helps too.

I'd guess that this realtor is so relieved to finally be able to inventory the entire contents of a room, with windows that aren't white, that they will not be inquiring with any pro r/e photographers for a while. Unless they get a 7-figure listing.

My old Sony HX1 would do that.   I would get HDR sweep panoramas by doing three sweeps on a tripod, then running them through Photomatix.   Clients and customers never liked them for interiors.

A couple of the realtors I shoot for are old friends.   I offered to help them find a good enough set up they could buy for $1000+/- and teach them to take their own pictures.  If it worked out, I was thinking about offering a class at the Board of Realtors.    They had no interest, even for free.   No one I talked to does.

I get better pictures of my own listings than I do for other people, not because I care more, but because I visit the site multiple times at different times of the day anyway, so I can always try something that might look better than what I got the first time, and I I can take one side of the building in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

When I explain that, I just get a blank stare and an offer of more money to shoot better pictures for them.

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Ed Rizk

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,568
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Ed Rizk wrote:

...

My old Sony HX1 would do that. I would get HDR sweep panoramas by doing three sweeps on a tripod, then running them through Photomatix. Clients and customers never liked them for interiors.

A couple of the realtors I shoot for are old friends. I offered to help them find a good enough set up they could buy for $1000+/- and teach them to take their own pictures. If it worked out, I was thinking about offering a class at the Board of Realtors. They had no interest, even for free. No one I talked to does.

I get better pictures of my own listings than I do for other people, not because I care more, but because I visit the site multiple times at different times of the day anyway, so I can always try something that might look better than what I got the first time, and I I can take one side of the building in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

When I explain that, I just get a blank stare and an offer of more money to shoot better pictures for them.

If you were paying someone else to take the photos, do you think it would make financial sense to pay them extra to visit the site multiple times and take the sorts of images that you take?   How much extra would it be worth to you?

My suspicion is that you spend the time and resources to get better photos because it is something you enjoy doing, and you take pride in your photography.

From a business perspective, investing in a lens only makes sense if can pay for itself in some way.  Typically by allowing you to create images that bring in more money, or by reducing the time it takes you to produce your images.

From a business perspective, once the images are "good enough for the intended purpose," the client probably doesn't want to spend extra for something better than that.

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mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Michael Fryd wrote:

Ed Rizk wrote:

...

My old Sony HX1 would do that. I would get HDR sweep panoramas by doing three sweeps on a tripod, then running them through Photomatix. Clients and customers never liked them for interiors.

A couple of the realtors I shoot for are old friends. I offered to help them find a good enough set up they could buy for $1000+/- and teach them to take their own pictures. If it worked out, I was thinking about offering a class at the Board of Realtors. They had no interest, even for free. No one I talked to does.

I get better pictures of my own listings than I do for other people, not because I care more, but because I visit the site multiple times at different times of the day anyway, so I can always try something that might look better than what I got the first time, and I I can take one side of the building in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

When I explain that, I just get a blank stare and an offer of more money to shoot better pictures for them.

If you were paying someone else to take the photos, do you think it would make financial sense to pay them extra to visit the site multiple times and take the sorts of images that you take? How much extra would it be worth to you?

My suspicion is that you spend the time and resources to get better photos because it is something you enjoy doing, and you take pride in your photography.

From a business perspective, investing in a lens only makes sense if can pay for itself in some way. Typically by allowing you to create images that bring in more money, or by reducing the time it takes you to produce your images.

From a business perspective, once the images are "good enough for the intended purpose," the client probably doesn't want to spend extra for something better than that.

I guess it comes down to standards you wish you and your business to be associated with and how you want to be perceived. It is about how you present your product and what would separate you from the rest and if that matters to you. There are realtors I know and work for who present their listings with high quality photos and then they are others who do not care. Same can be said about architects, interior decorators or designers, builders etc. It is all about standards and perhaps pride to some extend. Not compromising on quality of the presentation will say a lot about your business and is likely to attract more afluent clients and will pay off in the long run. That has at least been my experience.

Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,568
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

mmarian wrote:

....

I guess it comes down to standards you wish you and your business to be associated with and how you want to be perceived. It is about how you present your product and what would separate you from the rest and if that matters to you or not. There are realtors who present their listings with high quality photos and they are others who do not care. Same can be said about architects, interior decorators or designers, builders etc. It is all about standards and perhaps pride to some extend. Not compromising on quality of the presentation will say a lot about your business and is likely to attract more afluent clients and will pay off in the long run. That has at least been my experience.

I agree.  But there is a point of diminishing returns.  At some point it isn't worth spending additional dollars on marketing.

I think we all agree that it would not make business sense for a Realtor to spend $10,000 to market a $100,000 home.  Assuming the home sells, the Realtor's share of the commission will likely be less than $2,000.  While he will make a great impression on potential customers, he will lose around $8,000 on the sale.   That's not a smart way to run a business.

Suppose the going rate for reasonable real estate photos is $150.   You can certainly get better photos by spending more, but is it really worth it?  Does it make business sense?

We've heard from a Realtor who is also a photographer.   He makes multiple visits to a site and takes photos at various times of the day.  Let's suppose he makes 5 visits, each of which represents an 1.5 hours of his time (travel, shooting, and processing).  let's assume his time is worth $50 an hour.  Those photos are costing him about $375 (not counting gas and depreciation of his camera gear).  That's about $225 more than if he hired someone else to take the photos.

Now his photos are probably much better than the $150 photos.

The question is how much of a role do they play in the "quality" of the presentation.

Obviously, if they are presented poorly, and the Realtor is not dressed well, and has crumpled business cards, then great photos are not going to make the presentation great.

What does make the presentation great is the whole package.  You want a web site designed by a good designer (that's an investment that can be leveraged across multiple homes).  You want a Realtor who looks good, wears the proper clothes, and drives a nice car.  Again those can be leveraged across many sales.

On the other hand, the photos only promote one sale.  A typical home sells for around $350,000.   The total commission is about 6% ($21,000).  That usually gets split with half to the listing agency, and half to the selling agency.    The listing agency commission gets split again, with typically about half going to the agent, and half to the broker.  That means the listing agent is getting about $5,250 on the sale of that $350,000 home.    That  extra $225 represents a reduction of about 4% of the Realtor's gross.   If you take into account other expenses, and the fact that not every home sells, spending an extra $225 on photos for every home can easily educe the Realtor's profits by 8%.

Now, it's possible that the better photos will increase his business by 8%.  If that happens, he ends up working 8% harder for the same profit.

Obviously, these are ballpark numbers, and the specifics will vary with different markets. However, the point I am making is that at some point it doesn't make business sense for a Realtor to spend additional funds for better photos.   In some markets that point might be the $150 real estate photo service.  In some circumstances, it may make sense to get better photos. But that's not always the case.

Getting back to our Realtor/Photographer, I get the impression that he enjoys taking those better photos.  I am not sure that he wouldn't be better off financially by paying someone else $150 to take the photos, and using his extra time to list a few more homes.

====

For instance, a situation where it might make sense to pay more for better photos is an apartment building, condo, or new housing development.  This is a situation where one set of images can be used to promote multiple units.   If better images raise the sales price of 100 units by $10 each, then it makes sense for the developer to spend an extra $500 on those photos.  However, it might be silly for a Realtor handing the sale of a single unit to do the same.

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robertfel Senior Member • Posts: 1,311
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

ashleymorrison wrote:

What camera system are you putting this "medium format back" on that will mean you "will have tilt-shift capability with all [your] lenses"?

Maybe the Flexbody ?

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Ed Rizk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,542
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Michael Fryd wrote:

mmarian wrote:

....

I guess it comes down to standards you wish you and your business to be associated with and how you want to be perceived. It is about how you present your product and what would separate you from the rest and if that matters to you or not. There are realtors who present their listings with high quality photos and they are others who do not care. Same can be said about architects, interior decorators or designers, builders etc. It is all about standards and perhaps pride to some extend. Not compromising on quality of the presentation will say a lot about your business and is likely to attract more afluent clients and will pay off in the long run. That has at least been my experience.

I agree. But there is a point of diminishing returns. At some point it isn't worth spending additional dollars on marketing.

I am a great believer in the law of diminishing returns.

I think we all agree that it would not make business sense for a Realtor to spend $10,000 to market a $100,000 home. Assuming the home sells, the Realtor's share of the commission will likely be less than $2,000. While he will make a great impression on potential customers, he will lose around $8,000 on the sale. That's not a smart way to run a business.

Suppose the going rate for reasonable real estate photos is $150. You can certainly get better photos by spending more, but is it really worth it? Does it make business sense?

It easily does at that price.   I have repeat photo business from people working for smaller commissions than the above.   They have regular real estate clients who move on to the next deal faster when their existing property sells or leases faster.

We've heard from a Realtor who is also a photographer. He makes multiple visits to a site and takes photos at various times of the day. Let's suppose he makes 5 visits, each of which represents an 1.5 hours of his time (travel, shooting, and processing). let's assume his time is worth $50 an hour. Those photos are costing him about $375 (not counting gas and depreciation of his camera gear). That's about $225 more than if he hired someone else to take the photos.

I'm sorry to be unclear.   I am making multiple visits to my own listings for other reasons, showing the property, putting out signs, maintenance calls on properties where I have both marketing and management.   It doesn't cost much time to get another picture or two while I am there anyway.

In thinking about it, while I read this thread, a residential agent will visit a listing less often than a commercial agent.   The concept is still true for them, but less so.   They may also be in the area showing a different house and be able to stop by and get another picture of their listing.

Now his photos are probably much better than the $150 photos.

The question is how much of a role do they play in the "quality" of the presentation.

I've not done it myself, but two of my commercial agents and one of my residential clients claim to have counted the hits and generated double the hits online as well as shorter times on the market.

I make a lot of presentations in person, being a commercial guy.   I watch the face of the prospects as they look at the brochures or flyers.   If the photo is better, the eyes stay on the paper longer and the countenance is more pleasant.    If you sell, and read people, that should say a lot.

Obviously, if they are presented poorly, and the Realtor is not dressed well, and has crumpled business cards, then great photos are not going to make the presentation great.

True.  Good page layout skills are also as important.

What does make the presentation great is the whole package. You want a web site designed by a good designer (that's an investment that can be leveraged across multiple homes). You want a Realtor who looks good, wears the proper clothes, and drives a nice car. Again those can be leveraged across many sales.

On the other hand, the photos only promote one sale.

Not true at all.   We often take listings by clients that just want to see if they can get an inflated price.   If they can't, they don't care if the property sells or not.  If it's a high profile property, these can be better than one that is priced to sell   Every call is an opportunity to make a deal on another property, and once in a while, somebody comes along that has to have that piece and is willing to pay too much for it.

People who are considering listing with you also look at your existing listings.

A typical home sells for around $350,000. The total commission is about 6% ($21,000). That usually gets split with half to the listing agency, and half to the selling agency. The listing agency commission gets split again, with typically about half going to the agent, and half to the broker. That means the listing agent is getting about $5,250 on the sale of that $350,000 home. That extra $225 represents a reduction of about 4% of the Realtor's gross. If you take into account other expenses, and the fact that not every home sells, spending an extra $225 on photos for every home can easily educe the Realtor's profits by 8%.

Now, it's possible that the better photos will increase his business by 8%. If that happens, he ends up working 8% harder for the same profit.

Your math is correct, but you are a victim of linear thinking.

Obviously, these are ballpark numbers, and the specifics will vary with different markets. However, the point I am making is that at some point it doesn't make business sense for a Realtor to spend additional funds for better photos. In some markets that point might be the $150 real estate photo service. In some circumstances, it may make sense to get better photos. But that's not always the case.

Getting back to our Realtor/Photographer, I get the impression that he enjoys taking those better photos. I am not sure that he wouldn't be better off financially by paying someone else $150 to take the photos, and using his extra time to list a few more homes.

I do enjoy taking the photos.   That said, it costs me less time, because I have to go to the site anyway.

====

For instance, a situation where it might make sense to pay more for better photos is an apartment building, condo, or new housing development. This is a situation where one set of images can be used to promote multiple units. If better images raise the sales price of 100 units by $10 each, then it makes sense for the developer to spend an extra $500 on those photos. However, it might be silly for a Realtor handing the sale of a single unit to do the same.

Yes.  Developers and builders are far better photography client than realtors.

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Ed Rizk

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