How to shoot Real Estate video (Part 2/2)
In Part 1, we covered the “How To” and techniques to use for shooting Real Estate video. (If you haven’t already read Part 1, we would recommend starting there). In Part 2, we will cover the gear you will need for Real Estate video, as well as some recommended settings to use.
Now let’s talk tech!
Camera + Lens
There are a lot of overwhelming camera and lens combinations, but luckily for you, we have narrowed it down to a few options that will kickstart you off to shooting professional-looking real estate videos.
To start off with price, the sensor size of your camera will usually determine the price of your kit. APS-C (crop sensor) cameras and lenses tend to be cheaper than their full frame counterparts. However, full frame cameras have a definitive advantage for real estate video: on top of more pixels to play with, the larger sensors have much wider dynamic range, and produce less noise in high ISO settings.
Fujifilm has recently released the X-S10, which comes with a 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor with IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation) and shoots up to 4k30p video. Fuji offers a LOG format, called F-Log, to help you get more dynamic range. This is very useful when shooting in rooms with bright windows, for example. There is also a wide range of lenses available so there is a lot to choose from; my recommendation would be the 10-24mm lens. Being able to zoom in will help for those detail shots.
Next in the APS-C line-up is the Sony a6600. This camera features a 24.2mp Exmor CMOS sensor with IBIS, and shoots up to 4k30p. Sony also offers a LOG video profile in their Alpha cameras called S-LOG. Having the E-mount from Sony, which is used on both crop-sensor and full frame cameras, means that there is a wide range of lenses from Sony as well as from third party brands (Tamron has recently come out with an exciting 11-20mm F/2.8 lens for APS-C E-mount cameras). Having the f/2.8 aperture can come in handy for any low-light situations you may find yourself in, such as hallways, basements, or garages. Where natural light isn’t available or there is limited indoor lighting, wide apertures are your friend!
Sticking with Sony, you have the Sony A7C. It shares the same sensor and processor as the popular A7iii, but is housed in a more compact body and features a flip-out screen. This type of screen is useful when you have a real estate agent with you, as you will be able to flip your screen around to show what they look like in the frame. This cuts out the cost of buying an external monitor. A great pairing with the A7C is the 17-28mm F/2.8 lens from Tamron, available in E-mount Full Frame. This is a perfect lens for video as it covers a wider focal length, allowing in-video camera movement, and also features a wide aperture for low-light scenarios.
Another great option is Canon’s new R6 mirrorless camera, which houses a 20mp CMOS IBIS sensor offering 4k60p, 10-bit internal recording, and Canon’s own C-LOG video format. The downside with Canon’s R line is that there aren’t many third-party lenses available: aside from the original Canon RF and EF lenses, there is just a smattering of Samyang lenses at present (this is sure to change in time!). RF-mount lenses can be quite pricey, so we have included just two options for you. First up is the Canon RF 14-35 f/4 lens, which only features a maximum aperture of f/4 – you’ll have to rely on higher ISO values in low-light scenarios. It is a very sharp and responsive lens, however. If you value a wider aperture, the RF 15-35mm f/2.8 is an obvious choice. This fantastic lens will only set you back approximately $700 more (at the time of writing), and will give you a lot more flexibility in your shooting.
Normally, you’d think to shoot with Auto Focus turned on, but for the best results I would recommend shooting in Manual Focus. This gives you more control and will remove any focus hunting during your shot. You can also use the focus to draw the viewer’s attention to a feature of the property, for example a centrepiece in a room or a floating island in the kitchen. In terms of aperture values, I’d recommend sticking to around f/4 – f/5.6. This allows you to have more of the shot in focus while still showing the surrounding areas. Of course, you can still use f/2.8 if you feel this suits your shot!
ISO can be tricky for some, and will depend on your scene and how much available light there is. Stick between your camera’s native ISO and up to ISO 2000, as going beyond this range will result in noisier and less usable footage. There are some noise reduction plugins and software available, but it’s best to do it right in-camera first. You don’t want to ‘fix it in post’.
The general rule of thumb is that you want to keep your shutter speed double your frame rate. So, if you are shooting in 60fps, your shutter speed will be 1/125. If you are shooting in 30p or 25p then your shutter speed will be 1/60 or 1/50.
Lastly, you want to shoot in the highest quality possible. 4k is best, but HD 1080p will also do.
A camera gimbal is crucial when shooting Real Estate video, and I recommend two models for this: the Weebill S and Weebill 2, both from Zhiyun Tech. The Weebill S is an older gimbal, but with a load capacity of approximately two to three kilograms, it will be enough for most of your camera and lens combinations (especially for those of you who use APS-C cameras).
The Weebill 2 is Zhiyun Tech’s newest gimbal, and the successor to the Weebill S. It features a higher payload, as well as a built-in LCD screen and a sling grip handle. Having the screen is a huge bonus as you no longer need to attach a monitor to your setup, and the sling grip adds stability and the possibility of low-angle and underslung shots.
A lot of successful Real Estate videos have the agent doing a piece-to-camera, or even walking the viewer through the property. Lapel mics are the best solution for talking to the camera as they are both small and discrete, and allow you to get close to the speaker’s mouth. Go for wireless options if possible – you don’t want to have to deal with cables on set. Trust me, they’re a pain!
My recommendation i
s to go for a 2-to-1 system rather than a 1-to-1. This will give you the option of having a second speaker in the case that the agent wants to film a conversation. Your first option would be the Rode Wireless Go II. This comes with two wireless transmitters with built-in mics and one receiver. You can also buy a kit that comes with two lapel mics to plug into your wireless transmitters. This is a more subtle option as you can hide the bulkier transmitter in a pocket. Option 2 will be the Saramonic Blink500 Pro B2 kit. This also comes with two wireless transmitters and a single receiver, but includes the lapel mics and comes with a cool little case that doubles as a charger. It’s super practical!
For Real Estate video you normally would use the ambient and in-house lights to show the full features of a property. If you wanted to add a bit of extra boost for interviews or add a fill light, look to the Aputure Amaran F7. This is a great on-camera light that can also be used off to the side as a fill light. It’s small and portable, and still powerful enough to be used in most indoor scenarios.
There you have it, your complete guide to shooting Real Estate Video. Part 1 offers you the tips and tricks to using your gear, and in Part 2 we’ve discussed the recommended setups and settings. So what are you waiting for? Go make some content! (And remember to like and subscribe for more tips and tricks to up your photography and videography game!)
Written by: Matthew Lewis, sales rep at Photogear Ponsonby