My Gear Bag: Equipment I Use for Real Estate Photography
I get asked all the time about different pieces of equipment and gear I use to shoot real estate photos, so I thought I’d create a list of my gear that I can keep up to date if and when my gear changes.
First, I need to mention that I used to carry a lot more. That experience was, well, really crappy. I decided a couple years ago that less is more. I actually apply that philosophy to my compositions and lighting, but that’s a story for another day! When it comes to gear, there are a couple of benefits to a “less is more” approach.
More gear is more heavy. The more you carry, the more you have to carry. Keep it light and you’ll be happier.
When you bring more gear, you use more gear. Using more gear takes more time, and it’s good to think about whether you’re really benefiting from taking the extra time. When I started paying attention to the results, I realized that I could have achieved the same (or close enough to the same) result using less gear. The important take-away here, is that YOUR CLIENT will not notice the difference. Really, think about it. If your client will not notice the difference, then why bother adding complication and time to your workflow? Extra lenses, CamRanger, etc. I don’t bother with that stuff anymore.
Composition is what matters most. You don’t need more lighting gear to compose well. A wide-angle zoom, plus some creative shooting methods such as the “fake tilt shift method” will take care of 100% of your needs when shooting a real estate listing.
So, what’s in my bag?
It all fits into a Lowepro CompuTrekker AW Plus backpack. It’s a very big bag, honestly, and has way more room than I need for my real estate photography kit. it’s discontinued now but they make another similar model now. I have this backpack because I use it when I travel. No reason to get another backpack, so I just use what I own. If all you’re going to use your bag for is real estate photography, then you could do much better with a smaller bag.
Here’s how it all fits:
Here’s the breakdown of the gear:
Camera: Sony A7iii (A7Riii as a backup. I own it, so it goes in the bag. No harm in bringing a backup body if you own one already. I use the A7Riii for my architecture work, but never for real estate. The files are ridiculously large and the resolution is not needed).
Lens: One lens in my bag, that’s it. It’s a Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f/4. This is all you need. I do own Canon tilt shift lenses (24mm and 17mm) but I don’t bring them to a real estate shoot. Less is more, and I don’t want to get slowed down.
Lighting: I bring three Yongnuo 560iv speedlights with me. One light gets the job done 97.5% of the time. I bring out a second light on occasion, if I am shooting a scene with another room in the background, or if I need more power than a single light can produce. By holding two together, the power is effectively doubled. They’re cheap, lightweight, and durable. I would rather use multiple smaller lights than one larger one, because I have a lot more flexibility. The third speelight rarely makes an appearance in my workflow, but it’s there just in case. Remember, I have a giant backpack, so it fits. Might as well bring it.
Trigger: Yongnuo RF-603ii to trigger the speedlights over radio. It’s cheap, reliable, and I like that it has a manual toggle switch. I keep it on the camera while it’s in the bag. Note: I use the Nikon version of this trigger. They do not make one for Sony, but it does not matter because it is a “dumb” trigger and does not communicate with the camera. It just gets a signal to fire the flash, and that’s it.
Batteries: Two extras for my camera body, and a bunch of AA batteries for the speedlights. I would LOVE to upgrade to lights with big Li-ion batteries for this, as they would last longer and would be easier to charge. But until these speedlights die, I’ll stick with what I own.
Extra memory cards. You never know when you’ll need them. I keep them in a small Pelican case.
Rocket blower: Comes in handy all the time if there is dust on the lens or inside the camera. Don’t blow on your equipment with your mouth. You will spit on it!
Door stop: I got this cheap wedge at my local grocery store for less than $2. Some doors will not stay where you put them, and this thing saves the day. I use it all the time.
Pen and notepad: I make a shot list before I take the camera out of my bag. Agent agrees to it, and I get busy shooting. No mistakes, no, “why didn’t you get a picture of the crawl space?”. Expectations set, and met. Win-win. Bonus: Agent: “Can you just take a quick shot of the linen closet?” Me: “Sure, we already have our 25 photos so that will make it 26 photos for an extra $15. You okay with that?”
Tripod and head: Induro CLT-404L with an Arca Swiss D4 geared head.
Everything except for the tripod goes in my backpack. I wear the backpack, and carry the tripod in one hand. In and out very quickly and easily. I leave the lens and flash trigger on the camera at all times, so all I have to do is take it out of the bag, put it on the tripod, grab a speedlight, and go.
A note on tripods: I like 4-section tripods because generally, I can get through most of a home with just one section extended fully, with no leveling or making sure they’re all extended equally. From there, I can use the adjustable center column to go higher and lower as needed. With a 3-section tripod, the sections are longer and in most cases, one section fully extended is too tall to get through a house.