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Old Dec 11, 2012, 01:08 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Wide-Angle Lens (and Tripod) Advice

Hi Everyone,

I currently own a Nikon D7000 and three Nikon lenses:
  • 18-55mm f/3.5 (DX)
  • 35mm f/1.8G (DX)
  • 85mm f/1.8G

So far, these lenses have been adequate for the type of stuff I shoot but a realtor friend of mine has recently asked me if I'd be interested in photographing some residential properties for him (approximately 40 locations total) and I said yes. The money sounds good so I'd hate to pass up this opportunity.

This would involve photographing the inside and outside of these homes, some of them being small-sized apartments, so I realize I'm going to need a wide-angle lens for this type of photography. These are the ones I've been looking at:
  • Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5 ($649)
  • Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 ($580)
  • Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 ($739)
  • Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5 (~$850)

I've never purchased a non-Nikon lens before but I've read good reviews for the Sigma and Tokina lenses. The Nikon lens looks like a good choice but the price is high and I'm wondering if the other lenses can produce similar quality at a lower price. Does anyone on here have any experience with any of these lenses or is there something different you can recommend?

While we're on the subject, I'm also looking for a tripod. I recently purchased a Manfrotto MK293A3 but it is way too big to fit into most of my backpacks. Amazon has the collapsed size listed at 17" but it's really 25", so I'm going to return it. I'm needing something that will give me a max height of around 60-63" but, most importantly, I need something that will be extremely portable and easy to travel with. I'm not too concerned about it being lightweight. I just need it to be very small when folded. A friend of mine has a Velbon Ultra LUXi-L II and swears by it but it appears to be discontinued everywhere online. Any suggestions? I'm all ears!

Thanks for reading!


Last edited by JudgeKenny; Dec 11, 2012 at 02:45 AM.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 06:39 AM   #2
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Unless you are going to continue to use the new glass, won't renting lens or two be a better option. Rent them, try them out, and then decided which to purchase for the long haul.

For tripods look at the Feisol brand. You can get them in different heights, with or without center columns...etc. And they are around half the cost or less of Gitzo. Look at the 3301.

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Old Dec 11, 2012, 08:13 AM   #3
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If you are using wide angle or ultra-wide lenses you need to be careful of distortion particularly for interior shots. Not only lens distortions but also perspective 'distortion'. You can avoid the latter by holding the camera on level perpendicular to the walls or better still with a shift lens.

Quality-wise Sigma and Tokina lenses are pretty good. With a wide angle lens the main issue is with corner softness and aberrations. This is particularly problematic with digital cameras as the filter which sits on top of the sensor causes diffraction from the steeply angled light rays ...or so it says in the book I'm reading!
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 10:35 AM   #4
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Most good pro photo shops will let you "rent" a lense or two to test, and then deduct the rental cost from the purchase purchase price once you decide which one to buy.

Good advice about distortion above....

Also, be aware that a wide angle lense also makes a room look bigger. Which you may think is a good thing - but it could be illegal. The photos may need to show an accurate representation of the rooms. Check with the real-estate board as well as your friend.

Also, if you are in apartments that are occupied - seriously think about insurance. The highest number of claims for pro-shooters is not to cover loss of equipment, but to cover the stuff you break when you back into it to get a wider shot. Also, you will absolutely need coverage to cover you for any claims tenants make against you for loss of their stuff. Not that you'd take anything, of course. Doesn't stop them from claiming it though. You may be covered by your friend's professional coverage - check. You'll need a formal contract, of course, in that case.

Also, if the apartments are occupied, make sure your friend is giving them proper notification. They might need to specify that there will be photos taken... otherwise you might have some privacy concerns as well. Every jurisdiction is different, so you will need to do some research.

Of course, if the apartments are empty it's a lot easier.

Have you two discussed copyright yet? In this case it's pretty straightforward... I can't see that you'd want to retain any rights to the images. However, if you thought you might want to use these as part of your portfolio because you want to do more of it, professionally, then it is good to spell that out. Also, if you get a super shot - can you submit it to a magazine? Can your friend use it in any way they want? For instance... can they turn around and sell the image you took to their head office to use in advertising? It's possible (though not likely) that they could make a lot of money selling an image you took. It helps to clear all of this up before hand.

If you declare any of this as income, you will be able to deduct some expenses as well. Unless your friend is paying you cash, then they are leaving an audit trail. If your friend is audited and the IRS finds a cheque written out to you, then they are going to look to see if you declared it as income. I'm not going to preach and tell you to pay the income tax because it's the moral thing to do... I'm just pointing out a remote - but possible - risk to working under the table.

I think I've covered the basics. Welcome to the wonderful world of professional photography! Have Fun!

One other hint. Turn every light on in the apartment, and then balance the indoor and outdoor light. Also, make sure lampshades are perfectly level, as well as any art on the walls. The human eye picks those crooked lines up instantly. Consider bringing a level. And a big reflector to bounce a little light into the dark corner.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world. - Jack Layton
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