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eshtog Aug 23, 2008 2:41 AM

Hello I am new to DSLR's, but want the best dslr camera for taking picture of the homes I list (both outside and inside). I have been looking at both the D300 and 40D. My budget is around $2k. I will also be using this camera for everyday pictures.

Thanks for the help in advance!

dlpin Aug 23, 2008 4:03 AM

the key for what you want is not the camera body, but the lens. For interior photography you are going to want something that is really wide, ideally under the equivalent to 24 mm (which is about 12mm for olympus and 16mm for canon/nikon etc). Those lenses are generally somewhat expensive.

Something like an olympus e-3 with the 12-60 lens, the canon 40d with the 17-40 lens, for example.

eshtog Aug 23, 2008 4:36 AM

I already have the Canon XSi that I just bought a couple days ago. I wasnt happy with the quality of pictures it took indoors especially with light coming through the windows. I will probably return it and get the Canon 40d and the Canon 17-40mm Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens. I have also heard the 50d will be out soon, anyone know approx when they will release it?

What do you guys think?

JohnG Aug 23, 2008 5:58 AM

eshtog wrote:

I already have the Canon XSi that I just bought a couple days ago. I wasnt happy with the quality of pictures it took indoors especially with light coming through the windows. I will probably return it and get the Canon 40d and the Canon 17-40mm Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens. I have also heard the 50d will be out soon, anyone know approx when they will release it?

What do you guys think?
What was it about the pictures you didn't like? Depending on your answer you're not going to see better results with another camera. The XSi (or any entry level camera with right lens AND EXTERNAL FLASH) is more than capable of the job you've got. Spending more money on another body for some image quality is throwing money away.

Now - here's the reality of the situation. For those types of shots you're going to want decent depth-of-field in addition to wide angle. And you're going to want additional light. You don't want to rely on windows or house lighting.

Here is my take on what would best do the job:

1. Camera with decent ISO 800/1600 performance

2. Good external bouncable flash (to even out lighting)

3. Anti-shake (yes loyal posters I do sometimes recommend the technology).

You'll want to usenarrower apertures to get good depth-of-field (DOF). That's going to cause you to use slower shutter speeds to let in as much ambient light as possible. Additionally you'll want higher ISOs - 800 or 1600 to get somewhat reasonable shutter speeds. Finally you'll want a bounce flash to even out some of the lighting - you don't want heavy shadows.

When I took shots of my house before putting it on the market I used a tripod to get truly ambient light exposed shots and the flash just filled out shadows. But a tripod isn't practical for your everyday use. That's where anti-shake comes in.

I'm also going to say even 24mm equivelent can be pretty tight. I have and used the 17-40mm lens on a 1.3x crop camera - so that's 22mm equivelent. And it was still a tad tight. For houses with an open floor plan not a big deal. But for older houses where you can't take the shot from outside the room it COULD be a problem.

So, IMO, you don't need a more expensive camera body unless you were going to get say a 5d (full frame which is MUCH easier for wide angle shooting). You need wider lens, external flash and anti-shake. That is the ideal situation.

Mark1616 Aug 23, 2008 6:00 AM

The XSi (or any dSLR) should easily do the job, but you will need to have the right lens. In honesty I would be looking for wider than has been suggested. Something like the Sigma 10-20mm or the Canon 10-22mm would fit the bill for what you need.

As for the lighting, this will be the same with any camera, you need to learn how to control the settings to get better results than just what it will give you. The main thing will be to control exposure if you have a window you want to show off or see the lighting from etc.

For learning how to better set your camera Steve's is a good place to learn.

Hope that helps.

Edit, as every when writinga post at the same time as John you know you will look lazy and uneducated LOL.

TCav Aug 23, 2008 10:04 AM

One of the problems with conventional photography and ultra-wide angle lenses is that, for interiors, they can impose a distorted perspective to some objects that are in the center of the field of view and closer to the camera.

For instance, this shot looks ok,

but the counter in this shot looks extraordinarily large in comparison to the other countertops in the shot.

You might consider something like one these instead:

interested_observer Aug 24, 2008 8:53 AM

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Hi eshtog, You have received some very good advice. This is to just fill in some details. I do agree that just about any entry level dSLR should be very capable here, along with the idea that the key is the lens and possibly image stablization. However, some combinations (body and lens) might be a tad better than the average (considering the combination of lens selection and stablization).

I will also say, that what every you use, its going to take some practice, so I would be some what slow in judging your first attempt.

Let me start with image stablization. This is usually used for more telephoto work, however I find it handy in the wide angle area as well, since it helps in low light situations, similiar to what your finding yourself in. There are two types of image stablization systems - in body and in lens. It is going to be VERY difficult to find an image stablized wide angle lens from Canon and Nikon, so that would probably move them to the bottom of the list (if you wanted stablization). Pentax, Sony and Olympia have in body stablization systems, so that any lens you use will be stablized.

In terms of bodies, Olympus has a crop factor of 2x, which helps on the telephoto end, but does add some difficulty to wide angle. Even though they do have very good lenses, I would consider Pentax and Sony first because of this. Both Sony and Pentax have a crop factor of 1.5x. Both Pentax and Sony (with their Minolta hertiage) have a wide selection of lenses.

Lenses - I might suggest a zoom lens only because it might help with composing a shot in tight quarters. However, there are fast primes (fixed focal length) lenses available that would be within your budget. The combination of a zoom and in body image stablization (maybe with a monopod to help) would be a winning combination. With wide angle photography, depth of field (DOF) becomes less of a problem since in the lower focal lengths, the DOF expands very quickly.

Still on Lenses - Pentax and Tokina (for Canon and Nikon) has a 12-24 zoom (f4) that is very good (35mm equivalent 18-36). Sony has an 11-18 f/4.5-5.6 (35mm equivalent 16.5-27) while Olympus has an 11-22 f2.8-3.5 (35mm equivalent 22-44).

Pentax and Tokina offer a 10-17 fisheye. I think that it would be useful in some special (limited) situations, in that you can control the fisheye effect to some degree. The benefit here is that you can easily obtain a 180 degree (10mm) to 100 degree (17mm) field of view in a single frame. That being said - you would not want this to be your main lens, especially with a flash.

The other opportunity available to you is stitching multiple photos together. With this technique, you would need to be very careful with the lighting from shot to shot, so that the finished image would look consistent across the entire photo.

For pricing - I just selected the current Pentax entry level body, but Sony, Olympus, Canon and Nikon will be somewhat similiar...
  • Beach Camera has the Pentax K200D with the 18-55 kit lens for $609.[/*]
  • B&H has the Pentax DA 12-24/f4 lens for about $720.[/*]
  • Abes of Main has the Pentax 10-17 f/3.5-4.5 FE lens for about $400.[/*]
Ok, just for grins, here is an image of the library (25 x 18 feet and just a 9 foot ceiling) - its a closed room, using the Pentax 10-17 fisheye, 13mm, 1/6 second, f4 - ambient light (early morning) with image stablization on. This makes it (the image) about 120 degrees wide. Nothing special, there are bends in the image from the FE effect, however it provides a very good representation of the room. Yes, I know its not to everyone's taste. More importantly however, is even with a slow lens, f4 and shutter speed, automatic program mode, using just ambient light (early morning and with no lamps on) - with a 3 year old entry level body (K100D, 6MP), you should be able to achieve some pretty reasonable results.

Hope that helps.

interested_observer Aug 24, 2008 9:21 AM

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Well just for the sake of comparison, here is the same room, using a different lens (16-45 f4) showing the difference. Obviously it is not a fisheye, its a rectlinear lens, however to eliminate the ceiling from the shot, I aimed down at about the same angle I used with the previous shot, so there are some atrificats (the window is pulled a bit in the background). Its about an hour later, however still using ambient lighting.

16mm, 1/45 sec at f4

You can see that even though the prior image was at 13mm (about 120 degrees wide courtsey of the fisheye effect), this shot is at 16mm or about 73 degrees wide and is a regular lens. The 12-24 f4 lens that was touched on above is 99 degrees to 60 degrees wide. The focal lenght is somewhat difficult to gage, however putting it into degrees, you are now better able to visualize in your mind what a particular lens can see.

Good Luck in your decision...

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