HDR photography replaces the need for lighting equipment when taking photos of a real estate interior with bright light coming through the window. With HDR, you take several exposures -- short exposures for the bright parts (windows), and long exposures for the dark parts (interior).
To take HDR photos, you just need a digital camera and probably a tripod.
The camera can be a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Most compact cameras aren't up for the job.
The important feature to look at for HDR is whether the camera offers AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing). With AEB, the camera takes three or more exposures when you press the shutter button.
While you can take several exposures manually with any camera, AEB makes the process easier and faster.
Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras include an AEB feature. The AEB capabilities differ depending on the camera, however.
For real estate interiors, choose a camera that allows you to take at least 3 shots in 2 EV steps (or at least 5 shots in 1 EV steps for cameras that offer a maximum of 1 EV). While some cameras offer AEB in 3 EV step increments, we recommend a maximum of 2 EV for good results.
Note, however, that you may need 5 or more shots in 2 EV increments (or 9 or more in 1 EV) for interiors that are quite dark while bright light is coming through the windows.
A knowledgable camera sales person can answer questions about exposure bracketing, and help you choose a camera with sufficient AEB capabilities. You can also check the AEB features of many camera models on the AEB Settings List.
If the camera you are using doesn't offer an AEB option, you can still take HDR photos manually by adjusting the shutter speed for each shot. For this, you will need to use a tripod, and it's best to have a remote shutter release to avoid camera movement for the longer exposures.
A tripod is highly recommended for interior photos, and is required if:
It is always best to use a tripod whenever possible. You will use long shutter speeds to expose the dark areas of the room, and the overexposed photos will be blurry if you take them hand-held.
If you don't have a tripod, then try to find something that is flat and sturdy, such as a table or bookshelf, and rest your camera on it. Make sure the camera is rock-steady, then press the shutter release while holding the camera firmly and avoiding any other movement.
Many tripods come with a tripod head, others are just the legs with a bolt at the top. Be sure to get a tripod head which allows you to adjust level and tilt the camera easily. Normally this would be what’s called a "ball head".
While the lens isn't a topic of HDR photography, the choice of the lens is still a very important consideration when photographing interiors.
Use a wide-angle lens to capture all, or most, of the room. Lenses for interior real estate can be as wide as 12mm or as long as 24mm, with the widest being necessary to capture a small room.
When shopping for a lens of approximately 12mm to 24mm, make sure that the lens/camera combination produces a 12mm to 24mm "field-of-view" which is "equivalent" to a full-frame camera. If you use the terms there in quotes, any camera salesperson will understand.
While wide-angle lenses capture wider scenes, note that there are some drawbacks as well.
For instance, they can make straight lines look bent and distorted, or you can see some pink/green fringing along some edges. This can happen with even the best lenses, but luckily these can be fixed, often automatically.
For more information on equipment, see Camera and Photography Equipment for Real Estate Agents.NEXT: HDR Tutorial