Digital Camera for Real Estate Agents

March 6, 2007

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 digital camera, virtual tour software, and a very useful gadget for Realtors

by David Sobotta, author of Applepeels, Ocracoke Waves, CoastalNC Blog, & View from the Mountain

This is my first year in real estate. I have quickly figured out that being a real estate agent is not a very easy job. It requires a tremendous amount of knowledge, continuous learning and the ability to make effective use of technology.

One of my first efforts as a Realtor® has been to use digital photography to market a home in Bluewater Cove near Cape Carteret, NC

I have been doing digital photography since Apple introduced their Quicktake Camera in February 1994, but most of my efforts have photographing landscapes. I manage to sell some of these each year through my print website. It helps to offset the cost of cameras and printers.

My favorite camera for the last year has been a Nikon D50. It's actually a very good camera, but it is a large camera. I came very close to buying a wide angle lens for my Nikon and using it for real estate, but the price of the lens ended up more than I wanted to pay. I also decided that hauling around my D50 to do real estate pictures wasn't what I wanted to do.

I did a lot of research on the web and found very little information on good cameras for real estate. Most of the reviews of the Kodak dual lens camera were not that positive, and there seemed to be few alternatives.

Then I found information about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 which is a fairly compact point and shoot camera. As you can see from the picture taken with the camera beside my cell phone, it is a very reasonable size for a real estate work.

One of the things which attracted me to the Lumix was its 16:9 widescreen sensor. The f/2.8 28mm wide angle LEICA DC lens was the second thing. Finally I have always been impressed with Leica optics. My intent here is not to give a full review of the camera's features but to speak to how it works for real estate photography. You can find one of the many reviews of the camera at this link.

Many of the reviews mentioned that the camera is a little slow to focus and to get going. I have not found that to be a problem, but it certainly is not as speedy as my Nikon D50. It is very acceptable for the work that I do, and I have been pleased with the quality of the images.

I have found the wide angle capabilities of the Lumix to be well worth any minor issues. I find that the wide angle capabilities give me the ability to provide the best possible presentation for rooms that I couldn't previously get all in one shot. A good example would be this breakfast nook and foyer. I actually find that the wide angle lens helps with small rooms. I can get in a corner and take what normally turns out to a good shot. Lighting in houses, especially those under construction, is still a challenge

Of course the Lumix does a spectacular job on large scale scenery.

Though I have not had an opportunity to test my theory, I suspect that the 16:9 wide aspect ratio images will make a big difference in the DVDs that I produce with home slide shows and movies. My theory is that a $500K or better home looks a lot better on a large wide screen flat panel television than it does in a tiny window on a small computer screen.

Another accessory that has turned out to be very useful is the Gorillapod which when used to supplement a conventional tripod lets you cover most of the situations you will face in taking pictures of a house. I also find that keeping my camera on the Gorillapod provides some additional steadiness when snapping photos.

Finally those pictures have been put to great use with Mapwing software which is a web based tool that let you create virtual tours.

Basically you place a camera on a tripod in the middle of a view that you would like to have as part of your virtual tour. You take four shots, one north, one east, one south and one west. Mapwing allows you to easily place these images in the proper quadrant and then create a tour of linked image sets. You can also do hotspots which are places in the picture where you want to jump to another image which might provide you with a close-up or a more detailed view.

It's actually a whole easier to see than it is to describe. You can also add comments. Mapwing seems to be a very complete solution which is reasonably priced. According to the site the tours work with though I haven't tried that yet. I have download the resulting tour and have posted it to my own website.

You can view the first tour that I did at this link. The Lumix camera, Mapwing software, and my Gorillapod have all helped me to do a much better job for clients.

It you want to see how it all fits together, you can check out this website for 126 White Heron Lane.

As a digital camera solution for real estate pictures, I think most people will be pleased with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2.

View David Sobotta's profile on LinkedIn

David's websites : : View from the Mountain : Applepeels : Ocracokewaves