November 28, 2018

real estate photography best drones gimbals and cameras

There was a recent controversy where a real estate agent used photos with mostly naked models in a house to try to sell it.

While this is only a scandal in the stuffy old real estate field, it highlights an important fact - your pictures and videos truly matter.

In a hot market and many people can get away with cell phone pictures at chest height in an empty room, that doesn't help you the most.

With good photos and videos, you'll get more offers, have higher prices, and sell faster than with low quality photos or without videos.

So, let's dive into the various things you might want to consider having for real estate, why you want them, and then give you a few of the best of them out there.

In this article we will be covering a number of different topics, so you can click the links below and it will jump you to the section you are most interested in.

Best Cameras For Real Estate

It's a simple fact that good pictures will drive traffic to your listing. It doesn't matter if it's a rental or a house for sale, people are attracted to quality photos.

That being said, once they get there they might not rent or buy it, but at least you got foot traffic there! The more people who see it, the more offers you'll get.

So, if you're serious about your profession, you'll have an excellent camera.

What You Want in a Real Estate Camera

There are a some features you'll want to consider to make sure you get the best photos for listing houses. While this is NOT a guide on all the important features of a camera (you can read that here), we're going to cover a few important things.

The first thing I want to say is that Megapixels don't really mean that much to the average person. More megapixels doesn't really mean better quality photos, it just means how big you can make the photo without having to enlarge it digitally.

Other factors such as sensor size, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and lens sharpness have far more impact on the quality of the photo than megapixels.

So, in general, a camera with 8MP or more is fine, but don't get caught up on having a camera with the most megapixels. That is, unless you plan to be zooming in or enlarging the real estate photos a lot.

Choosing the Right Lens for Real Estate Photos

Choosing the right lens for real estate is really important.

I think it's really important to have a wide angle lens when shooting real estate photography. It captures a wide field of view which is the essence of real estate listings.

You'll want to be able to capture the entire landscape with the house in it. Or, you'll want to capture the entire room or make a small room appear larger.

But, just having a wide angle lens won't necessarily do well. You'll probably need a larger sensor as well.

Low Light Performance

Let's face it, not all houses have great lighting. Some rooms may be on the north side of the house and have few windows with inadequate lighting.

Also, the soft yellow lighting is just terrible for photos!

That's why your camera needs to have excellent low light performance. It's a must have for real estate photos.

To get that, you'll need a low noise signature and good dynamic range when shooting real estate photos in low light. 

Top Real Estate Cameras (Under $500 - $2,000)

While cameras can range from a few bucks to several thousand, it's important to keep in mind what quality we want and how much we're going to use them.

As a real estate professional, you will need something that is better than whatever your phone gives you, but you aren't a professional photographer so you don't need a several thousand dollar camera for real estate.

So, we will keep all the prices at around $2,000 or less.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR

First up for real estate photography is the Canon EOS 6d Mark II. In this package, you'll get everything you need to get started without having to shop around for a bunch of miscellaneous accessories.

The canon EOS 6d Mark II is currently the cheapest full frame EOS camera that you can buy.

The 26.2 megapixel resolution sensor is backed by Canon's DIGIC 7 image processing engine. 

Higher resolution is better because you'll be able to print big or capture a lot of detail. Make sure you pair this camera with a optically sharp wide angle lens.

This camera is extremely sensitive in low light conditions, which is very handy especially indoors.

Canon Rebel T6i or 750D

This is the least expensive camera on our list for those on a budget. It has high ISO which will lead to some noise. But, a beginner photographer may shot without a simple tripod or in poor lighting conditions or bad weather.

It comes crop-frame in-built sensor of 24.3 megapixels.

Nikon D750 DSLR Camera

The last camera rounding out our list for best real estate photography is the Nikon D750 DSLR Camera.

Nikon's D750 is by far the most affordable of full-frame cameras made by Nikon.

This high resolution camera becomes the most appropriate for real estate photography with right camera settings. They can capture a lot of light in comparison with crop sensor photographing cameras that have an equal number of photo pixels. 

This camera has an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). It’s a screen which shows you your exposure changes in real time. It can help you see in dark settings when the sensor may actually be more sensitive than your eye. 

Camera Settings for Real Estate Photography

If you want to take excellent pictures, you obviously need to properly set your camera settings.

Try shooting less than 22 mm. If you shoot too wide, the images misrepresent the area in the property.

Depending on the quantity of light, regulate the shutter speed. The speed may vary from 1/60 to 1/2 per second. 

Keep the ISO Below 400. It's best to have some lighting with you to make the shots better, but if the room is dark you can raise the ISO settings to raise the shutter speed. But, these settings affect the loudness of shooting.

So, higher ISO settings means more noise in the shots. The optimal is to keep them below 400.  

Use a tripod. Even the best camera for real estate photography may shake and blur your images. To eliminate such factors, using a simple tripod or a remote trigger helps.  

Best Real Estate Drones

Drones are quickly becoming standard in the real estate industry. in fact, 71% of home sellers prefer an agent who uses drones for photography (that number jumps to 88% for large homes, mansions, or very large plots of land).

Additionally, the average pricing to hire a drone for photography is $500-$700 for a 2-minute video.

So, you could hire someone to do it every time, or you could just get your own drone!

Commercial Use of Drones

The FAA regulates the use of our airspace, and flying drones is definitely a regulated act with plenty of rules.

If you plan on making money with your drone then you need to pass an FAA test and take Part 107 certification. It only costs around $20-$30 and is valid for 3 years.

You'll also be required to register the drone. But, once you have your certification and have registered your drone (just minor hurdles) you'll be able to use your drone for real estate photography, photo shooting, video shooting, etc.

You'll also want to consider having drones included on your liability insurance. So, if your drone falls out of the sky and lands on someone or damages something, you'll have insurance to cover it.

Note About AirSpace

There are some areas where you are not allowed to fly. While it's unlikely you'll encounter them when shooting real estate video or photos, you'll want to check the AirMap app which tells you where you can and cannot fly. 

Best Drones For Real Estate

Alright, now that we've covered the important basics, let's jump into the list of the best drones for real estate.

  • Yuneec Typhoon H
  • XIRO Xplorer


  • Easy to use
  • Great Image Stabilizer
  • Durable
  • Built-in FAA registration
  • App for Android
  • Bad support
  • Frequent calibration of screws

The DJI company is to drones as Canon or Nikon is to cameras. Their drones take the first place in all lists of real estate drone photography and gear. 

This DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the perfect choice for both the novice and the professional because it is high quality and also super simple and easy to use.

The drone itself has a 5-point obstacle detection system that allows the drone to stop once it detects an obstacle. So, you can worry less about crashes and focus on taking those great real estate images for listings or rental property.

With the DJI GO 4 app you can set a flight path and also tell it to return to the starting point.

This drone is equipped with a 20 Megapixel Exmore R CMOS camera, which allows you to record 4K at 60fps. If you're doing photography for other agents, you'll be able to charge a premium due to the high quality photos you'll be taking. If it's for your own listings, you most definitely get more foot traffic.

It's really hard to find something better. The camera has nearly perfect stabilization because of the built in 3 axis gimbal .

With the DJI GO 4 app on a smartphone, you can customize the ISO, Aperture control and a mechanical shutter of the camera. Taking into account all its advantages, it is the best drone for real estate outdoor shooting in 2019.

Yuneec Typhoon H

  • Easy balance and exposure adjustments
  • Great for beginners with sphere mode
  • 1/2 mile range
  • 6 flight modes
  • Doesn't track if line of sight is obstructed
  • Gimbal isn't durable
  • GPS isn't very good

The Yuneec Typhoon H is one of the main competitors of Phantom 4 Pro.

It is rather large, but you can fold its screws and chassis so it's fairly convenient for carrying.

The obstacle detection system is superb and on par with the Phantom 4 Pro and it has 6 blades so it's more stable.

Its camera only shoots in 30 frames per second with 4k video for great real estate video, but it also has a wider angle of 115 degrees which is great for larger properties. Also, it can rotate 360 degrees.

There is a second controller so that one person can manage the camera while someone flies it.

Unfortunately though, this drone has a working time of only 19 minutes and takes 3-4 hours to recharge. So you need to get the right shot quick, or you'll be stuck coming back another day.

The battery itself does not have an indicator. To know the level of its charge you need to connect the controller to the drone.

The bundle we chose does include a 2nd battery, which is important for this.

XIRO Xplorer

  • Reasonable battery life
  • Smartphone App works well
  • 1/2 mile range
  • 6 flight modes
  • Not durable construction
  • Can turn off mid flight
  • Problems with navigation and controls
  • Significant altitude drift

Not everyone can afford a $1,000 or $2,000 drone for real estate photography, so we do have an affordable option on here.

The XIRO Xplorer is an adequate drone that gets the job done. For it's price, it's a good value, but if you compare it to the options above it will appear inadequate.

If your goal is to take some aerial footage to help set your listings apart, this gets the job done. Albeit, with some quirks.

One interesting feature is the different control modes. There are smooth and slow mode for beginners and there is the professional mode where you can get more sharp and fast movements.

The Panasonic CMOS camera, which is mounted to the drone, provides a good picture quality - 1080p and is equipped with 3 Axis gimbal.

Also, it has a lot of parts that can be changed easily. So, this drone will be the easiest and cheapest option to get started taking real estate drone pictures, especially if you're just getting started with drone photography.

Real Estate Drone Photography Tips

The best time for shooting real estate with a drone is an hour after sunrise. The natural light and early morning make it the best time. 

It's good to fly over the whole territory from left to right so you get the impression of a 3d object. Additionally, it's also good to start shooting a few hundred yards away from the object and move toward it. That way you can show where your property is located and the path getting there.

Don't forget about movement! If there is a garage, fountain, or something else that moves, try to capture it. Having a car pull into the garage allows the buyers to envision themselves doing the same thing.

Drones Real Estate Interiors

On the interiors of the property you'll have a few more considerations when using a drone. It's becoming more and more common that sellers and buyers prefer to have 3d tours of the interior of the house. 

With this, the drone can show the path to each room and it's location in the house. But, there are several considerations.

First is room size. Some drones have special sensors that help avoid collisions and can adjust altitude and such, but many don't and it can be hazardous to fly the drone in a small space.

Another major consideration is lighting. You'll want to make sure the rooms are well lit (preferably with natural light) before starting. Many rooms in a house are often dark and you'll have to pay special attention to them ahead of time.

The cameras installed on drones for real estate photography may be perfect for outdoor pictures and videos but can have problems with dim interiors. If this happens, you may want to use a DLSR camera with a stabilizer instead.

Don't forget to remove unnecessary things! Plates, cups, family photos, etc all make bad impressions during shooting. Additionally, they can be a hazard if they get blown over.

...and make sure you let the pets out for their own safety!

Best Gimbals For Real Estate

When you're taking video, regardless if by hand or if it's from a drone, you might notice some shaking or sharp jolts. Even the slightest breeze can interfere with a drone video which reduces its overall quality.

Many drones have built in gimbals and many cameras have built in video and picture stabilization, but that's not always enough. 

A gimbal is simply something that has a small motor and various rings that keep it perfectly straight even when the camera is moving or jarring.

There are different types of gimbals for real estate photography. One, is handheld and great for taking video while walking or running. The other is for drones.

The technology is essentially the same regardless of what form it takes, so let's go over some basics.

how a real estate gimbal works

2-Axis Gimbals for Real Estate

This type of gimbal stabilizes the camera along two axes. If there is fast horizontal movement you'll see the inadequacies but it is light and doesn't use a lot of battery.

3-Axis Gimbal for Photography

This is a bit heavier than the 2-axis gimbals and it's also more expensive. There is one important distinction though... provides stabilization along three axes and has an additional motor that really absorbs almost all movement types.

So, any horizontal, vertical, or other type of motion is absorbed and removed from the video. 

While this can reduce a drones flight time, it is well worth it because you won't have to retake many video.

Best 2-Axis Drone Gimbal

The first one on the list is the Tarot TL2D01 T2-2D 2-Axis Brushless Gimbal.

This is a very simple but good gimbal from Tarot. It was created specifically for GoPro cameras.

It supports setting the starting angle of the camera and will keep it until the next change. When flying, there are some disturbances, especially on sharp turns, but for its price this is a fairly good gimbal.

Tarot TL2D01 T2-2D 2-Axis Brushless Gimbal PTZ for Hero 4/3+/3 TL2D01 FPV Gimbal
Click to learn more and read all the reviews about this gimbal.

Best 3-Axis Drone Gimbal

This gimbal has excellent stabilization and requires minimal adjustments in flight. One interesting feature it has is that you can press a button and it lowers the camera in flight with the lens down so you can take top-down shots of the real estate.

Overall a great gimbal and worth the price.

DJI Zenmuse H4-3D Gimbal for Phantom 2
Click to learn more and read all the reviews about this gimbal.

Best Handheld Gimbal

This is tough because there are hundreds of options that range from around $50 up through $1,000+

But, the overall balance between price and quality would have to go to ikan brand. These are super simple to use, durable, and provide some high quality video.

If you are using a phone to make a video, I'd recommend the Ikan FLY-X3. For a DSLR camera I'd use the Ikan DS2 Beholder. These are basically the same devices with different designs to accommodate different cameras.

Ikan FLY-X3-PLUS-KIT 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer, Extra Battery, Black
Click to learn more and read all the reviews about this gimbal.

In Closing - Best Real Estate Gimbals, Drones, and Cameras

Choosing the right photography equipment is absolutely essential when listing houses for sale or for rent. Good pictures and videos drives traffic to the listing. More traffic means more offers which means higher prices.

We've covered a lot in this article about drones, cameras, and gimbals for real estate agents and investors. We can't cover everything though, so feel free to comment below if we missed something!

About the author 

Eric Bowlin

Eric is an investor that achieved financial independence at the age of 30. He started in 2009 with the purchase of his first triplex and now owns over 470 rental units. He spends his time with his family, growing his businesses, diversifying his income, and teaching others how to achieve financial independence through real estate. Eric has been seen on Forbes, Trulia, WiseBread, TheStreet, Yahoo Finance and other financial publications. You can contact Eric by emailing him at [email protected] or with this contact form

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