Reader Question: Wide Angle Digital Cameras?

by on April 7, 2009

in Gear

Here’s a reader question that asks for recommendations for wide angle digital cameras suitable for real estate appraisers.  Do you have some advice to offer this experienced real estate appraiser to help him get better images?

I’ve been a real estate appraiser for twenty years. Finding a true wide angle camera with a decent zoom capability, is very difficult. Most appraisers and real estate agents need a well made camera that will shoot interiors and exteriors and produce a quality photo.

Optical view finders have been replaced by LCD screens that are impossible to see in the bright sun light.  I’ve tried the dual lens camera and the latest wide angle camera are not as wide as needed. I have a number of cameras but the one I use more than others, is a Kodak DC5000 with a 28mm lens.

There must be a good market for a wide angle camera of this type. I would like to hear from some folks with a similar problem and some good ideas that will resolve this dilemma. Helpful ideas?

I’m going to start off with a recommendation to visit the Photography for Real Estate Blog and browse around for useful tips and techniques.

Now, the spotlight is on Photography Bay readers.  I’ll let you guys handle the camera recommendations. What are architecture and real estate shooters using out there?  Based on his question and current gear, let’s think about mostly point and shoot solutions and perhaps some useful suggestions on low-end DSLRs.

Fire away with your advice, recommendations and thoughts in the comments below.




1 Kevin Yeo April 7, 2009 at 2:14 am

My brother in-law is a real estate agent. He has purchased a Canon 50D and a 10-20mm Sigma lens a rig that runs about 3000 here in Australia. But it was well worth it; His photos constantly outclass those of his competitors and these days it is online photos which make all the difference when generating leads. My advice, spend big on your camera rig, as a realestate agent you should be able to recover the cost in a few sales (plus great it a great tax writeoff)

2 Lee April 7, 2009 at 2:26 am

I don’t know why you are not looking in the DSLR.
Because then you have a viewfinder and can select any wide-angle (zoom or prime) lens you want. Any cheap Canon Xsi or Nikon D60 with a 10-22mm lens can do great work.

Most compacts rely on their LCD, and of course some have a tiny mini view finder, but I think you can’t compare then with the cheapest DSLR. However some DSLR and compacts have a swivel screen or tiltable screen.

If compact and wide-angle are the most important, you should at least look if
the Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-LX3 With F2.0 24mm Ultra Wide Angle is something you like…

3 Jeff April 7, 2009 at 5:43 am

Panasonic LX3. Widest point-and-shoot lens that I know of at 24mm and at a fast max aperture of f/2 to handle the often poor lighting conditions in many houses. That and a good tripod or monopod for when the lighting is really crap should do the trick. Oh, and it shoots in RAW, has a full manual mode and can shoot HD video if you want to do a video walkthrough. Sure it only zooms to 60mm equivalent, but I rarely find you need to telephoto end for shooting homes.

4 Neil April 7, 2009 at 9:15 am

A DSLR is your best option, but if you’re looking for something more compact, I would recommend the Panasonic TZ7. It has a 25mm wide angle lens, as well as a good zoom like you requested (12x). It does not have an optical viewfinder, but the screen is very usable in bright sunlight, not at all like the older camras. It also has a hight definition video mode that is very impressive.

5 Stefan Thorens April 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm

My best friend is a real estate agent and uses two (long discontinued) P&S cameras: a Canon S70 (~28-100mm zoom) and a Nikon CoolPix 8400 (~24-85mm zoom). She loves the size/weight of the Canon and that it uses CF cards rather than the much smaller cards used in almost all of today’s P&S cameras. She likes the wider angle lens on the Nikon. Her ideal camera would be a 6-8MP model the size/weight of the Canon with an optical finder and a 5x optical zoom from about 20mm to about 100mm (and using CF cards).

6 Carl April 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I say as Jeff, the Panasonic LX3. The wideangle-lens and the good aperture makes it my number 1 in the compact camera segment. But with todays DSLR’s you should consider one of them as well. Don’t bother to mention any brand, but with the ability to change lenses you’ll have the wide angle and zoom just as you want it.

7 Neil April 7, 2009 at 7:02 pm

A DSLR is your best option, but if you’re looking for something more compact, I would recommend the Panasonic TZ7. It has a 25mm wide angle lens, as well as a good zoom like you requested (12x). It does not have an optical viewfinder, but the screen is very usable in bright sunlight, not at all like the older camras. It also has a hight definition video mode that is very impressive.
Forgot to mention excellent post. Looking forward to seeing your next post!

8 Stefan Thorens April 8, 2009 at 3:34 am

The problem is that — according to my real estate friend — most real estate agents are simply not interested in being photographers to any extent other than getting the job done. She hires someone to do serious documentation. She’s totally not interested in doing it herself. She needs something light weight, compact and versatile with emphasis on wide-angle through “portrait’ focal lengths. Primary use is a maximum of 4×6″ prints or 800×600 (tops) on the web. Most P&S cameras are simply way too complicated with way too many pixels, way too many scene settings and way to many bells and whistles — not to mention way too exotic zoom ratios. And she won’t consider a camera without an optical finder. Sadly, no one, no camera manufacturer, at least, seems interested in what might be a reasonably large niche market — and I suspect such a camera would sell to many a non-real-estate-agent, too.

9 bpullen April 11, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I am also a real estate appraiser and have looked at the Kodak dual lens camera. I am currently using a Nikon DSLR but an SLR is too bulky for everyday use. I purchased the camera and a Sigma 10-20mm lens because I love taking pictures, but this is NOT an ideal setup for work. (Note: This lens is around $500, is awesome, and is the widest available for digital)

A nice pocket point and shoot is needed. Perhaps even one with a lanyard that can be worn around the neck or at least stuck in a pocket since we always have something in our hands. Good low light performance is of vital importance to bring out the details of dark interior rooms. I would buy the lowest megapixels possible, as I end up resizing to 1MP to 3MP size and no cameras have sensors that small these days, so you are just overpaying.

So what camera fits these categories? I have no clue. But I do know that the Panasonic LX3 (24mm, $500) should take great low light photos due to its large lens aperture (lets in more light). More affordable is the Samsung HZ15W ($330) with a 24mm lens and ultra high contrast LCD screen. Even with the Samsung you are paying for a lot of things you don’t need like MPEG-4 video compression, HDTV video, etc. The Kodak V705 got great reviews but apparently is no longer available new.

Personally, I’ll probably go with the Olympus FE-350 (28mm) for $120. The Olympus has stellar reviews on Amazon. I just hope it is wide enough. I may try to find a friends camera, hope it is 28mm and test it out before I buy. The 350 uses xD cards, everything else I have (cameras and otherwise) uses SD, but oh well.

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