4 Camera Settings & Tips For Great Interior Real Estate Photos (2024 Guide)



Without understanding the basic settings, your interior photos may turn out dark, blurry, or full of noise. Would you like the “magic formula” for great indoor photography? Follow these expert tips on the best camera settings as you improve as a professional real estate photographer.



Best Camera Settings for Interior Real Estate Photos

For sharp, professional interior photos, use manual or Aperture Priority shooting mode, set your aperture to f/8-f/11 to keep the entire room focused, and choose a shutter speed of 1/60th sec or faster to prevent blur. You may also select an ISO below 400 to minimize image noise.

Nikon 50mm lens

Taking high-quality photos indoors is challenging, especially if you’re still new to artificial lighting gear or have none at your disposal. Given the right camera settings and tips, you can still capture amazing interior photography. Apply these photography tips and watch your interior photos improve.

1. ISO

ISO refers to the camera sensor's sensitivity to light. ISO doesn't directly measure sensor sensitivity. Instead, it acts like a gain control, amplifying the signal received by each pixel on the sensor. Think of it like turning up the volume on a speaker.

Low ISO is like keeping the volume low, the signal amplification is minimal. This captures the true light levels yet needs brighter conditions to avoid underexposure. On the other hand, high ISO, similar to cranking up the volume, amplifies the light signal. This allows you to capture brighter photos in poorly-lit interiors. 

However, high ISO introduces unwanted noise due to the amplification of both the actual light signal and inherent electronic noise in the sensor.  So, keep your ISO balanced, at around 400. Test different ISO settings before the shoot to determine how far you can go without reducing picture quality. Modern cameras can handle higher ISOs with less noise.

2. Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the length of time the camera's shutter remains open, allowing light to reach the sensor and capture an image. It's how long the camera sees the scene. Most cameras allow you to adjust the shutter speed and control the amount of light reaching the sensor.

The shutter speed choice is key for avoiding blur in interior shots. Cameras may shake, and subject motion can ruin photos with blur. I recommend using 1/60th of a second or faster when shooting in manual mode.

This is generally fast enough to prevent blurring from minor gear movements, whether shooting handheld or using a tripod. To ensure stability in low-light conditions, you may need to drop to 1/15th of a second or slower to expose the image properly.

3. Aperture

Aperture is the opening within the lens that controls the amount of light that enters the camera sensor. Think of it like the pupil of your eye, adjusting its size to let in more or less light depending on the environment. A wide aperture allows more light to reach the camera sensor, producing brighter photos.

 

Person adjusting the camera settings

Generally, this is what you want when taking photos in poorly-lit interiors. The size of the aperture is measured in f-stops like f/1.4, f/2.8 and f/5.6. The lower the f-number, the wider the aperture. Are you wondering why f/1.4 is wider than f/5.6?

Well, the f-number is a ratio that represents the relationship between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the aperture. So, a smaller f-number indicates a larger aperture diameter when the focal length stays the same. The aperture doesn’t only affect the image brightness, so consider the following when deciding the settings to use.

  • Depth of field: If you want to blur the background and make your subject pop, use a wide aperture such as f/2.8. If you want everything in focus, like the entire room, use a narrower aperture, such as f/8 and f/11.
  • Sharpness: Find your lens sweet spot, which is the aperture setting at which your lens delivers its sharpest image quality. In most lenses, the sweet spot is 2-3 stops below the maximum aperture.

4. Shooting Mode

The camera exposure is usually controlled by three things: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Cameras typically have different exposure modes that control how your camera balances these three key elements. Let’s look at these modes, and see which works best for interior real estate photography.

  • Automatic Mode (Auto): In this mode, the camera controls all exposure settings, including aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and flash. When shooting in difficult lighting, this mode might not make the best decisions for you. 
  • Shutter Priority (Tv/S): You set the shutter speed, and the camera adjusts the aperture automatically for correct exposure. This gives you control over motion blur, with minimal control over the depth of field.
  • Aperture Priority (Av/A): You set the aperture, and the camera adjusts the shutter speed to achieve proper exposure. This mode gives you control over the depth of field, with minimal control over motion blur. It’s best to use it when you have a tripod.
  • Programmed Auto (P): In Program mode, the camera sets both the aperture and shutter speed. It’s almost like auto mode, only that you can manually set the ISO.
  • Manual (M): This is the king in real estate interior photography. You have the freedom to set all members of the exposure triangle for precise image sharpness and brightness. We prefer using this mode, with the following additional settings:
    • When adjusting the focus, use manual mode instead of automatic mode to ensure sharp focus on your desired subjects in the room.
    • Dial in the appropriate white balance setting, like Shade or Incandescent, to neutralize color casts from different lighting in the room.
    • You can pair it with a flash and set it to the lowest setting for a fill flash.

Take Photos in RAW Format

In addition to changing the exposure mode to Manual mode, you need to change the photo format from JPEG to RAW. RAW photos are like the unprocessed negatives of a digital photograph. 

Camera settings on a DSLR camera

Unlike JPEGs, which are compressed and have processing applied automatically, RAW files capture the unedited, uncompressed data from your camera's sensor. They contain much more information than JPEGs. 

For instance, they contain a wider range of colors and tonal variations. This means you can recover more detail in shadows during editing without introducing noise. However, you should note the following things when shooting in RAW format.

  • Due to the uncompressed data, RAW files are much larger than JPEGs. This can take up more storage space on your camera. 
  • You need a photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to open and edit RAW files.

Additional Interior Photography Tips

Since the interior lighting might be so low, the above camera settings might not be enough to allow you to capture sharp and bright photos. So, in addition to the settings, it’s advisable to use the following camera gear.  

Tripod

When shooting in bad lighting, you might need a slower shutter speed to allow more light to reach the camera sensor. The camera will capture any movement that occurs when the shutter is open. Usually, this results in motion blur.

A tripod can prevent this by ensuring the camera remains steady. In fact, with a tripod, you can use the base ISO 100 to avoid any image grain. Use a narrower aperture to ensure everything in the frame is in focus. Then, use long exposure to brighten the photo. 

External Flash

Although most cameras come with a built-in flash, it doesn’t always work great. For instance, if you use a zoom lens, the camera flash might not be powerful enough to illuminate the distant subject. 

Also, you have limited control over the direction of light from built-in flash. The light of built-in flash might fall on objects and cause hard shadows or on shiny surfaces and cause glare. An external flash can be a game changer.

You can place it strategically on the object you want to illuminate. You can even bounce it off the ceiling to make it softer. Most external flashes are also powerful and can light up even a large room.  

Man holding the camera tripod

Fast Wide-Angle Lens

We have discussed aperture and how a large aperture can allow more light to reach the camera sensor. However, the aperture varies across lenses. Some lenses have the widest apertures as f/5.6, while others are as wide as f/1.4. 

When taking interior photos in poor lighting, consider getting a lens with a wide maximum aperture of around f/1.4 or f/2.8. When it comes to the angle of view, you want the lens to cover the entire room in a single shot. 

Get a wide-angle lens with a short focal length of around 24mm. This allows you to capture rooms within a short subject distance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should My Camera Settings Be for Real Estate Photography?

Use a narrow aperture between f/8 and f/11 for property photos to keep the entire room focused, an ISO below 400 to prevent noise, and a shutter speed of at least 1/60th sec to avoid blur or motion shake. Mount your camera on a tripod for stability.

What Are the Three Most Important Camera Settings?

The three most basic settings for photography are aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Respectively, these settings control the depth of field, determine image noise, and prevent camera blur.

What Resolution Should I Use for Interior Photos?

For high-quality interior photos, I recommend a minimum resolution of 3000 x 2000 pixels. Higher resolutions of 4000+ pixels on the long edge are ideal for large prints or image cropping flexibility.

Conclusion

By understanding and implementing these vital real estate photography settings, professional photographers can master interior shots. Your interior and exterior photos will showcase properties in natural light. Now, you have the tools to take crisp, bright, professional-looking interior images.

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