Fuji XF 10-24mm: The Essential Lens for Real Estate & Architecture Photography

After graduating college over 25 years ago, I worked for two years as a photo assistant to an architectural photographer. This was great technical training, as I had to handle heavy 4×5 and 8×10 view cameras on location, shooting with very slow, Kodak Ektrachrome Tungsten sheet film. The work was physically demanding and technically challenging. But it paid off in bringing my technical skills to a much higher level than that I had from my college education.

Jumping forward in time: Over the last three years, I’ve been doing photography for real estate advertising and marketing. The city I live in is a hotbed of real estate activity, so there’s huge demand for photography, virtual reality and video when it comes to marketing homes. Last year alone, I was at over 750 photo shoots, both conventional still photography and virtual reality.

The days of using large format view cameras are long gone, and I’m happy that’s the case. Using that equipment for commercial work was a miserable affair. I’m very grateful for the Fuji X system, and use it exclusively for all of my still photography in real estate. Central to that system and absolutely essential for my work, is the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f4 lens.

Captured with Fuji's 10-24mm Lens

Captured with Fuji’s 10-24mm Lens

 

The catalyst that triggered my decision to purchase into the Fuji X system a couple years ago was when the 10-24mm lens was released. I had already been doing real estate photography with an older Canon DSLR and an ultra wide zoom. But I was attracted to the Fuji X’s lighter weight and very high image quality.

Once the 10-24mm became available, I quickly ditched my Canon gear and never looked back.

Fuji's 10-24mm with its factory hood installed

Fuji’s 10-24mm with its factory hood installed

This isn’t a lens review, but rather how I use the 10-24mm specifically for my commercial work. Needless to say, the 10-24mm is more than good enough when it comes to its optical quality. Nothing else needs to be said – if it looks good to both my clients and to me, then it is good.

While I much prefer prime lenses for my personal and fun photography, a zoom is fantastic when making a living. It allows me to tweak the focal length quickly, capturing exactly what I need and filling the frame as much as possible (with one situational exception which I’ll detail further on).

Another interesting advantage with zoom lenses, is that I’ve found mirrorless, interchangeable bodies are much more vulnerable to dust landing on their sensors when changing lenses. The less one removes a lens during a shoot, the better.

The XF 10-24mm is Fuji’s widest, available lens. At its widest focal length, it’s roughly equivalent to a 15mm full frame. Photographers who are new to shooting real estate will often underestimate how wide a focal length they’ll need to shoot interiors. When I look at my EXIF data, I’m at 10mm on this zoom lens, well over 90% of the time, when shooting real estate.

DSCF8251_MLS

Those are the three reasons I chose the 10-24mm and why I find it so invaluable for paid, commercial work in real estate, shooting for contractors and architecture.

DSCF8248_MLS

I’ve had several inquiries about my techniques for this type of shooting, and I’m happy to share the details of my working method.

  • While I’m excited about the new X-Pro2, I’m still using the ancient X-Pro1 and have no immediate plans of upgrading to the X-Pro2. My clients are very happy with the great image quality from the old camera
  • I always use a tripod. More than the camera or even the lens, this is absolutely essential for quality shots of buildings and interiors. Shooting hand-held for this kind of work is lazy, unprofessional and doing a disservice to clients
  • I always use the 10-24mm’s factory hood and never use a glass filter.  This keeps flare to a minimum.  I bring a blower bulb with me on location, and use it often to keep dust off the front element
  • For the majority of shots that I make, I’m at 10mm
  • I always shoot in Raw. I don’t even bother shooting in dual capture mode, combining the Raw with a JPEG. Why would I want to limit myself to reduced dynamic range of a JPEG?
  • My base exposure is always +1 EV or f-stop on the exposure compensation dial. I find Fuji exaggerates its ISO by one stop
  • I shoot with plus and minus bracket of one stop on either side of my base exposure. I don’t combine the triple exposures into an HD shot (which often looks artificial to me). Instead, I choose the best exposure, that gives me the appropriate detail in both the shadows and highlights, and work with that exposure in Capture One
  • Aperture Priority, with the lens almost always set at f8. This f stop optimizes the optical quality of this lens, gives me great depth of field and isn’t so stopped down that the image suffers from diffraction
  • ISO 200 for best image quality
  • I use the 2 second delayed exposure timer on the X-Pro1, to ensure no loss of sharpness from vibration.  A cable release or remote trigger is also a good idea, although using those items adds one more piece of gear to carry (not a huge deal, but I like keeping equipment to a minimum)

DSCF8224_MLS

 

Leveling the 10-24mm

This is, simultaneously, both highly important and, in certain situations, completely irrelevant, for the type of work I do.

Shooting the 10-24mm completely level has the effect that of keeping vertical lines straight, and reduces the perception that the image is being shot by an ultra wide angle lens. It’s all about ensuring that the camera sensor is perfectly vertical. This is how I keep it level –

  • Again, I always shoot with a tripod
  • I much prefer a pan-tilt head, with its separate controls. I can control tilt and side movements (yaw and pitch) independent of each other
  • I use a bubble level at the top of the pan-tilt head
  • Sometimes, I’ll use the artificial horizon on the Fuji X viewfinder or screen to further level the camera
  • For interiors, I usually have the camera on the tripod roughly at chest height. The camera at eye level is usually far too high, capturing way too much ceiling and not enough floor
  • If I need more or less ceiling (and therefore, more or less floor) for an interior shot, I raise the camera up and down on the tripod, rather than tilting from the tripod head. This keeps the rear sensor perfectly vertical

 

Levelling the camera to keep vertical lines straight up and down

Levelling the camera to keep vertical lines straight up and down

Interestingly, I’ve never had a real estate client complain about converging lines when I’m shooting with the camera tilted up or down. As photographers shooting buildings, we can sometimes be obsessed in keeping everything perfectly vertical and level. But often, our customers either don’t care or they might even prefer the more dramatic look of converging lines.

Beyond that, there are three exceptions to shooting with the camera perfectly level, when I’m doing real estate photography.

Sometimes, I have no choice but to shoot with the camera pointed down or up

An obvious example of this is when I’m shooting in a tiny powder room (two-piece washroom). These washrooms are the size of a closet and if I want to show the sink and toilet, there’s no choice but to point the camera downwards. It’s better to sacrifice perfectly vertical lines for showing the features of the room.

Tilting the camera results in a more dramatic look

When tilting an ultra-wide focal length like a 10mm, it can give a very dramatic look to the shot. This is sometimes desirable, such as this image of this exercise pool.

 

Camera tilted down for a dramatic look at the exercise pool

Camera tilted down for a dramatic look at the exercise pool

 

 

Tilting the camera in order to capture all of the building, and then correcting in Capture One

For exteriors of buildings in a dense city, sometimes I can’t back up enough to capture the entire building, even with an ultra-wide lens. If I want the building to be straight up and down, I’ll tilt the lens up and then use keystone correction in Capture One, which is a wonderfully fast and powerful tool to correct converging lines. This has made the use of my Kipon Shift Adaptor on the Fuji X camera, obsolete.

In the example below, I’m backed up against a parked car, on this quiet, downtown street.

House exterior without keystone correction in Capture One

House exterior WITHOUT keystone correction in Capture One

When using the keystone correction in Capture One (and presumably, any other processing software): be sure to capture more images than you need towards the top of the frame. Using keystone correction will make a lot of the upper section of the capture unusable, so you need to be able to see more than you’ll need, and then crop appropriately.

To photographers seeing the two images one after the other, the correction is obvious.  To most other viewers who aren’t tuned into the photography as much, the correction is either very subtle to them, or not noticed at all.

Same house, same angle, shot a few seconds later and with keystone correction in Capture One

Same house, same angle, shot a few seconds later and WITH keystone correction in Capture One

I hope this article is helpful!

 

 

Advertisements

24 thoughts on “Fuji XF 10-24mm: The Essential Lens for Real Estate & Architecture Photography

  1. Pingback: Fuji XF 10-24mm: The Essential Lens for Real Estate & Architecture Photography | Eye Beam Images

    • Hi Simon;
      I’ll be writing more in detail in a future post about lighting! Here’s the short answer –

      I rarely use flash as the primary light source. I love natural light and try to work with it as much as possible.

      With that said: sometimes, the shadows need a small boost to get it within the DR of even a Raw file. So I do indeed use fill flash sometimes. If you can believe it, I use ancient Vivitar 285 flashes that I buy from the used section of local camera stores for $40 to $70!

      They’re cheap, sturdy, and most importantly, easily ADJUSTABLE flash units 🙂 I often de-power them down to 1/16th or 1/4th, just enough to open up shadows, slightly.

      I NEVER mount them on the camera – always hand-held, well away from the axis of the lens. For long exposures, I don’t even use flash triggers. I simply pop them using their test button, during the exposure. If the exposure is fast, I use those cheap Cactus triggers.

      I’ll write more later – if you have any further questions, ask away!

      Best regards, Marco

    • Hi John; Thank you for the kind words, I appreciate it! Glad to hear you still love your X-Pro1 too. I’m also expecting many more photo shoots with it, before moving on. It’s a great camera

      Best regards, Marco

    • Thank you for your compliments, Matt. The 10-24’s sharpness is excellent. And for my work, I don’t need a fast aperture. f4 is plenty, and as mentioned, I shoot real estate at f8 almost all the time.

  2. Great writeup, thanks for sharing your excellent tips on interior shooting. The 10-24mm is really growing on me. I started with the 14mm early on and bought the 10-24mm for ‘work’. I always loved the small size and F2.8 of the 14mm but the 10-24mm is so versatile and the image stablisation for slow shutter speed hand held urban images is fantastic. Thanks again for all those excellent tips.

    • Thanks Ian, I appreciate your kind words.

      I’m actually looking at the 14mm. I like its smaller size and one stop faster speed, over my 10-24mm. While I depend upon the 10-24mm and couldn’t live without it for that type of work, I find the zoom a bit large as a daily carry lens.

      I also like that your 14mm has a proper depth of field scale on the barrel and aperture markings on its ring. Great features to have!
      Best regards, Marco

  3. Pingback: miXed zone :: Fuji X-Pro2 & X70 First Looks :: XF100-400 Samples & more – Fuji Rumors

  4. Pingback: Real Estate Photography with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and XF 10-24mm f/4 - The Mercedes Post

  5. Hi Marco,
    I have really enjoyed reading your posts about using the Fuji x system for real estate photography!
    Your photographs are beautiful and I love the fact that you do not rely on using to much flash.
    This is my biggest challenge. Do you bounce the light off the ceiling or wall to add fill?
    I would be so appreciative of any tips you might she.
    Many thanks,
    Liz

    • Hello Liz;
      Thank you for your comments and your kind words about my photography. I saw your website, and you’re interiors photography is excellent and superbly done. I am flattered you are asking me for tips, but honestly, I think you’re photography is already fantastic!

      You’re correct in that I don’t rely on flash too much. That said, I do carry a couple of Vivitar 285 flash units. I bought them used for about $40 each, use rechargeable AA batteries I bought from hardware store, and use cheap Cactus triggers to fire them from my Fuji X cameras.

      When I activate them, I keep them very under-powered. This prevents artificial flash from ruining the mood or natural look of the available light. I usually set the flash units to 1/16th of full power. While a lot of interior photographers suggest firing them off the ceiling to “clean up” the lighting, I feel this often makes the lighting look clinical and artificial.

      I’ll use the flash in corner or to light up a dark area. The Vivitar flash units are usually sitting on the floor, hidden behind furniture, opening up a dark area.

      The majority of the time, I depend upon processing RAW files from my Fuji X cameras using Capture One. The available dynamic range from the Fuji X is incredible, and the Capture One processing software really takes advantage of that range, without making it look artificial.

      In most cases, my base exposure of an interior scene is usually +1 EV. I’ll then bracket plus or minus 1 EV beyond that.

      I’ll pick the best exposure from those three, and then work with that file in Capture One. I’ll adjust my Highlights and Shadows separately, to gain the optimum dynamic range. I’ll then usually increase the Clarity settings by about half of what I had to adjust the Highlights and Shadows.

      The above yields the look that you’ve been seeing in my photographs. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail or to post further here. To me, there are no secrets and I’m happy to share my knowledge 🙂

      Best regards, Marco

  6. Pingback: Fuji XF 10-24mm: The Essential Lens for Real Estate & Architecture Photography | Eyebeam Images | Quotes and Links

  7. Thanks very much for your detailed shooting set-up. I photograph many interiors and have just switched from Canon to the Fuji XT2 with 10-24 mm lens. I use Lightroom CC and have had more issues editing the distortion on the edges but am figuring it out. You had many helpful tips. Debra

    • Debra; My apologies for the late reply. Was traveling over the last week. Thank you for the kind words. Happy to hear you use the 10-24mm also.

      I will eventually get a Fuji XT2 or XPro2, but will probably get one or the other, later this year. How do you like your XT2, so far?

      Best regards, Marco

  8. Pingback: From Canon to Fuji: My x-series mirrorless switch – hunt photo co.

  9. My wife is an architect and we are beginning this journey of shooting the houses she designs. We have a X100S currently and I’m in love with all things Fujifilm. What is your opinion, if you have one, of using a WCL on an X100S and shooting architecture? Not sure if we’re ready to make the investment to the lenses and body (XPro1 for cost purposes probably). I’m an amateur photographer started with Canon, sold my 5D mkII and bought the X100S before our honeymoon.

    • Hello;
      I think the X100 series cameras are amongst the most lovely cameras out there today. They are beautifully built and handle well.

      The X100S with the WCL, which equals it to around a 28mm in full frame – that will be OK for exteriors, and too long for most interiors, in my opinion. If you have sufficient room to back up outside, you should be OK to use it for exteriors.

      But for interiors, I feel a 28mm equivalent isn’t wide enough. One possibility is to shoot it as a stitched panorama, but that proportion isn’t always appropriate. The 28mm doesn’t really make the X100 series much wider than the 35mm. I use both the 18mm (28mm-e) and 23mm (35mm-e) on my old X-Pro1 body, and they are so close, I never carry both – just one or the other.

      It’s surprisingly how wide one needs for interior photographs. My advice – for most interiors, you will need a lens no longer than 14mm for APS-C (roughly equal to 21mm full frame). This usually gives you enough of the scope and breadth of a room.

      When I use the 10-24mm, I’m actually at 10mm (or the equivalent of a 15mm in full frame) about 95% of the time. I find I really need that for my work.

      So it would really be best to get one of the interchangeable Fuji X bodies, and then get one of the ultra wide lenses for it, zoom or fixed.

      With the release of the 24mp sensor, the prices on the older sensor, like what I use on the old X-Pro1, has dropped when it comes to the used market. So you should be able to pick up a body for a low price.

      Lenses: Price-wise, the cost of an XF 10-24mm versus the XF 14mm and Touit 12mm are all within $100 new, at full street market value without rebates or sales. So if you decide to go new, then the 10-24mm is worthwhile.

      Going used, you’ll be able to find it at lower prices. As always, be cautious of the vendor you buy it from.

      The other alternative for lenses would be to look at other X mount brands, like Rokinon. I can’t advise you on that, as I haven’t used any of their ultra wides. I did use a Rokinon fisheye, and it worked fine, but the Fuji and Zeiss X mount wides are better.

      I hope that info is of some help. Keep me informed of what you and your partner decide to do!

      Sincerely yours, Marco

  10. Hello,

    I would appreciate advice on how to best start winning clients. ( for a new real estate photographer )

    Thanks
    Dan

  11. Hello Dan;
    I got my start my attending seminars on real estate purchasing and investing. I would network with real estate agents, buyers, investors, contractors and interior designers there. My very first job was for a contractor who specialized in residential renovation. From that one photo shoot, I had enough high quality photos that at the next seminar, I presented photos and my services, to spread the word.

    After that, I found out about a couple of competing virtual reality tech companies that focused on the real estate market. I started shooting with one of those companies. They would assign me photo shoots, using their technology. Those assignments, combined with my own using conventional still photography, enabled me to do very high volume within my first 8 months of going full-time.

    Best regards, Marco

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s