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12-10-2019, 01:30 PM   #1
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Best Flash option for Real Estate?

Greetings, I have a Pentax K3II and have recently found myself doing a few real estate/architectural photos through a friend's architectural design business. Currently I am just using HDR process to get a decent enough result, but I feel like if this is something I want to do more of, I will need to buy a flash system of some kind. Can someone recommend something to me? I have zero experience using any kind of flash, so something relatively easy to use, and preferably less than 200-300$... cheaper the better, as this is not my main occupation or creative pursuit, just something I'd like to do on the side. I dont really know if an on-body flash or a off camera system will be better suited, or what all I need to make it work.
If anyone can provide some information I would be very grateful!
Thank you!

12-10-2019, 02:19 PM   #2
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Hi. I shoot real estate in Europe. Look for Nathan Cool (it is his real last name) on YouTube. Should be great starting point for you. Lot of knowledge about mixing flash and ambient light for real estate photography. The basic setup with very tight budget for me would be yongnuo 660 manual flash (better two of them) and two youngnuo triggers, one to trigger the camera and the second one to trigger the flash. They should work for you. They are really cheap and they work. One portable lightstand would be great addition for larger spaces. But if you are planning to invest more in the future go for godox or flashpoint or any other system that has wide established system. Remember you don't need TTL or hss for this kind of work. Go for manual flashes.
12-10-2019, 02:30 PM   #3
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I've seen professional real estate agents that moved away from using any flash.
They'd suggest to manually expose multiple shots for the dynamic range of your scene and then blend the layers in photoshop..
I have used flash before, but I will be trying all natural light my next go.. sturdy tripod and remote shutter..

Last edited by FozzFoster; 12-10-2019 at 02:40 PM.
12-10-2019, 03:52 PM   #4
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Scott Hargis is another person to look up. Flash can really make an interior photo but unless you are doing high end homes it probably isn't worth it.

12-10-2019, 05:16 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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Can't use flash to light up the entire exterior of a home without a very fancy and expensive multi-light system and flash skills to match. And due to inverse square law you probably won't be able to use flash indoors either...any surface/wall/ceiling twice as far away as another surface with get only one fourth the light so you will have terrible uneven lighting in many instances. Pro's have to work hard to pull off flash in real estate. You state that you don't want to be a pro or spend like one. I'd suggest a quick google search to try to find an alternative method for flash in real estate, then save your time and move on. Get a quality tripod and shoot long exposures...use focus stacking to increase depth of field...have fun and good luck!
12-10-2019, 07:43 PM   #6
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Buy a pair of Yongnuo YN585EXs and a cheap Cowboy Studio stand/umbrella set (or any of those type brands). The whole kit will be less than your budget and your set to go. Use one flash on the camera and the other on the stand for your fill. Even by itself, a solo YN585EX with a Stofen type bounce might suit your needs. The flash goes for around $85 and it’s excellent.
12-10-2019, 08:45 PM   #7
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Thank you all for the suggestions! I will definitely look up the two people you guys suggested and the products mentioned.
I suppose it would have been wise to include an example of what I'm working with already, by providing examples.

Here's a couple that I have done with a tripod, bracketed exposure/ manual HDR merging, and a bit of heavy editing. (The first has a prominent vignette for stylistic purposes)

I'm finding ceilings getting a bit dark, or windowless rooms a bit dull and drab with just a longer exposure. I do not intend to use flash for outdoor settings, just interiors, especially smaller spaces like bathrooms where the light temperature is unfavorable and it seems easier to just shoot with the lights off. The last photo being IMO a "bad" example of trying to shoot in a darker room (basement) with little light and just longer exposure. If the room is well lit like the first two it doesn't seem to be as challenging. Definitely going to take the advice of trying to focus stack though, I think I could benefit more from a all in focus foreground and background.
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12-10-2019, 09:13 PM   #8
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Be sure to check the links at Photography For Real Estate this site has a Flickr group and discussion on every aspect in the links. Been going for 15? years.

12-11-2019, 01:08 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I probably shouldn't comment since this is out of my league. I looked at one of the suggested photographers, Nathan Cool, and found a video he made about removing reflections from items in the photo, especially kitchens with shinning appliances and counter tops. This shows up in the first two examples you uploaded. Also, the window scenes (what's outside) could have less exposure. Other than that, I like your examples.
12-12-2019, 02:32 PM   #10
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I'm not a real estate photographer, but I'd look into bouncing the flash off corners of the room, i.e., creating a huge softbox by pointing the flash into the opposite direction you want to illuminate.

I find the Godox AD200 (aka Flashpoint eVOLV 200) to be a great combination of power, endurance, and compactness.
Various compatible triggers that work with Pentax cameras exist.
12-13-2019, 06:21 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Just me, but watch Scott Hargis's lynda.com course on real estate photography. One of my public library systems offers free access to lynda.com. You might also have access through work or school.

Hargis walks you through entire shoots where he only uses 1 to 3 speedlights on travel tripods for speed of setup and movement. One simple setup is to simply use the plastic foot that comes with the flash, balance it on top of a door and bounce it into the corner of the room. You don't need a super fancy off-camera setup with studio strobes to do this but some light stands, swivels and umbrellas might not go amiss.

In the videos, Hargis uses old Nikon SB-26s and dumb optical slave mode, but I'd recommend getting two or three $60 Godox TT600 speedlights and an X2T-P ($60), Xpro-P or Flashpoint R2 Pro II-P ($70) transmitter, so you can use more reliable radio and have remote M power and group on/off control as well as HSS capability.

Don't go Yongnuo. There's no expansion path there, and the YN585EX requires add-on triggers to be used over radio which is one more thing to have to remember to haul with you, and one more link in the setup chain. Built-in radio is much more convenient. And over a cheap YN-560IV/YN-560-TX Yongnuo setup, the Godox setup will let you add in studio strobes, and TTL speedlights (TT350-P, V1-P), and has cross-brand TTL support if you shoot more than one brand of camera.
12-19-2019, 02:11 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by FozzFoster Quote
I've seen professional real estate agents that moved away from using any flash.
They'd suggest to manually expose multiple shots for the dynamic range of your scene and then blend the layers in photoshop..
I have used flash before, but I will be trying all natural light my next go.. sturdy tripod and remote shutter..
I've been doing a few real estate shoots with and without flash. I'm inclined to go 100% for multiple shots and blending from now on. I find setting up multiple flashes a pain. In small rooms getting the light balance and secreting multiple flashes around the room is tricky. Large rooms come with their own flash issues. Plus there's the risk of knocking into things with all those flashes and tripods. Setting up only a camera and tripod for a multi exposure shot is simpler and I find I concentrate on the compositions more when I'm not having work through the flash setting up. The composition element is key for me as I can see a shot easier without the flashes changing the lighting balance. Moving props and furniture around as the shot develops is hindered if flashes are involved and they have to be moved again and again (sometimes). Also, when the owner is following you around (it happens) it is easier again without flash units being in the equation - nattering about their moving plans etc while trying to calculate flashes is a further problem. The downside is that it takes more time processing the images. Another downside is that as you'll get through the shoot quicker with less gear the client may think that you are worth less ;-)
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