An Expensive Camera Doesn’t Make You A Good Photographer

I'm sorry but buying an expensive camera doesn't make you a photographer

Today; I received a set of photos taken by someone else of some of our local properties and I am really not impressed. I’m not sure why someone else was used for photography when we already have high quality photos taken within the last twelve months. Looking at the photos; I am making the assumption that it’s someone with a highend camera; rather than a professional due to composition and settings.

According to the EXIF data, the camera used was a Canon EOS 5D MkIII with a 17-40mm F/4 USM wide angle lens; and yet the photos I took with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i and EF-S 10-18mm STM lens a year ago are better composed and sharper. Obviously, that is subjective at best; but general real estate photographers consensus about good composition, lighting and exposure were not followed in the shots.

Given that ISO’s ranged from 100 to 4000, apertures from F4 through to F11 and shutter speeds between 1/100th and 1/2000th; I would think that their camera was set to full auto mode, I always shoot with my camera locked in M mode. The interior shot at ISO 4000 was so noisy that I would’ve thrown out the shot; this could have been fixed with a tripod; lower ISO, maybe 200, 400 max and longer shutter speed.

There are certain things that are accepted practice in real estate photography, such as using the lowest ISO possible to minimize noise, using a tripod and slower shutter speeds; avoiding converging lines created by shooting up or down; verticals should be… well, vertical, not at a 10-15° angle.

I understand that not every vertical can be perfectly straight in camera; heck, I often correct verticals in Adobe Lightroom; but my verticals are never more than 1-2° off straight. Honestly, I believe the photos to be straight out of their camera; even the best photographer needs to do some post production work. Just to be clear; I am not claiming to be the best photographer, I am still learning and improving.

The standards expected by local real estate professionals is not very high looking at the photos in the MLS of million dollar houses. So if expectations are that low; having professional grade equipment will create better photos than photos taken by the real estate agent with a cheap point and shoot camera.

I have recently stepped up from a consumer DSLR to a prosumer DSLR due to feeling I had reached the limit of my current kit. Not to say that my previous photos taken with the Rebel T3i were bad; but there were little things that I was not happy with, mainly the light ghosting and flaring caused by the $300 10-18mm lens. I’m incredibly critical, I set a very high standard for myself, I always feel I can do better.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the photographer; maybe I shouldn’t hold others to the same standards as I hold myself. After-all I am not the end customer; most would be happy with the shots provided as they don’t know any better. In a previous life, I was a live sound tech and because of that; I can no longer go to a live gig without analyzing the sound and thinking what I would do to change it.

As a result of being a professional real estate photographer; i.e. getting paid to take photos of houses and apartments. I tend to analyze others work; sometimes I am not impressed; but sometimes I am amazed by others work and want to know how they achieved the shot to improve on my own photography.

Rant over; being told to use inferior photos on our marketing really grated on me. Don’t get me wrong; if the photos were genuinely better; I would replace my photos; infact there were some exterior shots that were better that I did use; but the majority were inferior, so I kept my original photos on our marketing.

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