Real Estate Photography with Olympus Cameras

I have photographed real estate and interiors with Olympus and other micro 4/3 cameras before, and I’ve always been happy with the results. I was photographing homes with the Olympus […]

Written By Rob Knight

On May 30, 2021
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I have photographed real estate and interiors with Olympus and other micro 4/3 cameras before, and I’ve always been happy with the results. I was photographing homes with the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, and usually the m.Zuiko 7-14mm f2.8 pro lens, before I switched over to Full-frame Sony cameras in mid-2021. I still use a FotoPro X-go MAX tripod, and a Godox AD200 strobe when I need to augment the natural light in a space. I’ll get into why I’m using that particular setup in a moment.

Starting Points

Real estate photograph generally involves using a tripod and using lower ISO settings, and the E-M1X performs beautifully in these conditions. I usually shoot at ISO400 and keep my aperture setting around f8. ISO400 gives me good image quality, and I have always found ISO400 a good starting point when using strobes. That speed also gives me room to adjust the ISO up AND down if I need to in order to dial in the exposure. F8 on a micro 4/3 camera gives me good depth of field while keeping everything nice and sharp.

Why the E-M1X?

I use my E-M1X specifically over my E-M1mkIII because of the extra battery in the 1X. I would not hesitate to use either camera for real estate and interiors. The fully articulated LCD screen makes it easy to compose horizontal or vertical shots, and I love that I can display exposure information, the histogram, highlight/shadow clipping and more on the LCD or viewfinder. The 20mp sensor provides plenty of resolution for web display and MLS listings.

Post Processing

Real estate photography often involves shooting in less-than-ideal light. Interiors in particular require some sort of post processing to capture the appropriate dynamic range for the shot. For my personal style and the aesthetic my company prefers, I usually blend exposures manually instead of using HDR processing. I use the histogram to capture exposures for the highlights, midtones, and shadows. Sometimes it is a simple shutter speed adjustment, but some rooms require me to add additional light. I generally do so with a Godox AD200 compact strobe. These battery powered lights have plenty of power, and the rechargeable battery will last all day.

I use the tried and true combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for editing my images. I’ve been using Photoshop since version 2, and Lightroom since it’s public beta, so I am completely comfortable in this environment. There seems to be a new software package every week that tries to dethrone the Adobe suite, but I haven’t found anything as powerful or as fast for my personal workflow. As a professional photographer, I don’t have time to learn a new workflow for every new program, nor do I have any interest in reimagining my cataloging or sorting workflow to fit a new software package.

Micro 4/3 Limits

There are a few things I would like to see improved with my Olympus setup for real estate photography… 20mp is generally fine for interiors, but I crave more resolution for some of my exterior shots. Yes, I could use high-res mode, but the limitations around moving subjects can be prohibitive. Even trees blowing in the wind can ruin an otherwise nice high-res shot.

The main thing I see as a limitation for the 20mp Olympus sensor is dynamic range. The sensor has very good dynamic range, but full frame sensors with the same resolution contain much more data in the highlights and shadows. In practice, that means that I may be able to get the desired result by editing a single raw file from a full frame camera that I would get from blending exposures from the E-M1X. That could mean less post-processing time and a more efficient workflow.

I would also love to see a more useful mobile application for remote shooting with the Olympus cameras. The current version feels very stripped down and basic. I remember using the LUMIX remote app, and I could change camera settings and basically fully operate the camera from my iPad. I have not had the same experience with the OI share app.

Moving on (update)

The limitations of Micro 4/3 cameras became more than I wanted to work around, and I switched to Sony full-frame cameras not long after this article was originally published. I believe it is totally possible to use almost any modern camera for real estate photography. A larger sensor means more dynamic range and potentially higher resolution, and those properties are essential in my day-to-day work.

Feel free to ask questions about photographing real estate with Olympus or micro 4/3 cameras, and check out my recent galleries.

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