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Are Tilt-Shift Lenses Worth it for Real Estate Photography?

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Are Tilt-Shift Lenses Worth it for Real Estate Photography?

Wide angle zoom lenses are the industry standard for real estate photography, but tilt-shift lenses are becoming increasingly popular. This trend has people asking “are tilt-shift lenses worth it for real estate photography?”

This article will explore the benefits and drawbacks of using tilt-shift lenses for real estate photography and help you decide if they are the right choice for you.

I’ll explain what tilt-shift lenses are, how they can be helpful for real estate photography, the drawbacks associated with them, and answer the question of if they are worth it for real estate photography purposes.

Table of Contents

What are Tilt-Shift Lenses?

A tilt-shift lens is a type of camera lens that allows the user to adjust the position of the lens relative to the sensor or film. So what does that mean?

“Tilting” refers to change of the angle of the lens in relation to the cameras sensor. This is used to control the plane of focus, which refers to the area in a photograph that appears to be in sharply focus.

When the lens is tilted, the plane of focus can be adjusted so that it’s parallel to the subject, rather than parallel to the sensor. This allows the photographer to keep the entire subject in focus, even if it’s at an angle to the camera.

“Shifting” refers to the ability to move the lens parallel to the cameras sensor. This can be used to correct for perspective distortion, which occurs when a building or other structure is photographed at an angle.

When the lens is shifted, the angle of the lens is changed, which can make the subject, in this case the house or building, appear more symmetrical.

How Can Tilt-Shift Lenses be Helpful for Real Estate Photography?

Tilt-shift lenses can be useful for real estate photography because they allow the photographer to control the plane of focus and correct for perspective distortion. This can be used to create images that accurately depict the size and layout of a property.

When photographing interiors, a tilt-shift lens can be used to keep the entire room or space in focus, even if the camera is positioned at a slight angle. This can be helpful for showcasing the details of a room, such as the molding on a ceiling or the tilework on a floor.

When photographing exteriors, a tilt-shift lens can be used to correct for the distortion caused by shooting a building at an angle. This can make the house or building appear more symmetrical and keep all of the verticals straight without any need for post-processing.

Additionally, a tilt-shift lens can be used to create selective focus effects, which can draw the viewer’s attention to specific areas of the image, such as a fireplace or an interesting piece of artwork.

In short, tilt-shift lenses can achieve a lot of things in camera that we would otherwise need Photoshop to achieve. If you are sick of correcting distortion and fixing the perspective of exterior photos, tilt-shift lenses become a tempting purchase.

What are the Cons of Using a Tilt-Shift Lens?

Although the above description makes tilt-shift lenses sound like magical instruments that save us time in post-processing, there are a number of drawbacks that come with tilt-shift lenses.

  1. Cost: Probably the biggest drawback is that tilt-shift lenses are typically more expensive than standard lenses, which can make them cost-prohibitive for some photographers.

  2. Technical Difficulties: Tilt-shift lenses are much more complex than standard lenses, which can make them a bit more challenging for photographers who are not familiar with their features and controls. If they are not used properly, the photos will come out warped and distorted.

  3. Very Limited Uses: Tilt-shift lenses are not zoom lenses, so you’re stuck with one focal length. If that focal length does not work for the shot, you’ll either need to crop in post or choose a different lens.

Personally, I don’t own or use any tilt-shift lenses and I don’t really plan to change that. I much prefer the flexibility of lenses like a 16-35mm F4, especially when speaking strictly about real estate photography.

Are Tilt-Shift Lenses Worth it for Real Estate Photography?

Figuring out if tilt-shift lenses are worth it for real estate photography depends on the specific needs and preferences of the individual photographer.

Tilt-shift lenses can certainly be beneficial for real estate photography, especially in regards to exterior photography, as they allow the photographer to control the plane of focus and correct for perspective distortion.

On the other hand, wide angle zoom lenses are by far a more versatile option. They can adapt to a wide range of situations which is very common in real estate photography.

They are also typically more affordable and easier to use than tilt-shift lenses. They also have a wider range of focal lengths and many more purchasing options.

There is certainly a time and place for tilt-shift lenses, but I think those situations are more likely to happen for high-end type commercial photographers that regularly shoot large scale commercial architecture projects.

If you’re considering purchasing a tilt-shift lens for real estate photography, have a look at the 3 lenses listed below. You’ll get an idea of the available focal lengths that work for real estate photography as well as the current price on Amazon.

Canon TS-E 17mm F4L

Nikon PC NIKKOR 19mm f/4E ED

Venus Laowa 15mm f/4.5 Zero-D Shift Lens for Sony

Additional Resources

If you’re not sure about tilt-shift lenses, check out our article Best Lenses for Real Estate Photography. You can do some price comparison and see all the top options for non-tilt-shift lenses.

If you’re just getting started in real estate photography, check out our Beginners Guide. It’s full of helpful articles and tips that will guide you in the right direction as you begin your real estate photography journey.

You can check out our Gear section as well to see reviews and recommendations on the latest real estate photography gear.

If you’re more interested in other resources that can help your real estate photography business, check out our Business Resources page.

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About author
Matthew Digati is a professional Real Estate and Architectural Photographer. Matthew has worked as a Real Estate and Architectural Photographer since 2015 and has photographed properties and projects all over the United States.
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