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Real Estate Video: DSLR Basics

Real Estate Video DSLR Basics

DSLR Basics

If you are a real estate agent or REALTOR serious about real estate video marketing you may want to consider buying a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera or DSLR for short. A DSLR is a digital camera with a digital image sensor that shoots HD video. DSLR’s have a wide variety of expandable camera lenses.

If you are a regular visitor to you know that I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on camera equipment I did not necessarily need. This is the price of being an early adopter in anything, especially real estate video. I like to call it “failing forward”.

You see, I didn’t have anyone that could tell me to skip this camera and get that one, skip that editing software and get this one. I had to do my own research and investigation. I eventually landed on the DSLR and I couldn’t be happier.

There are quite a few DSLR camera brands on the market today. They include Nikon, Canon, Olympus and SONY. I find most DSLR users are either Nikon or Canon. I currently own a Canon 60D and  Canon Mark III.

My DSLR Progression

I started making real estate videos with my Macbook 13 inch, then I went to the FLIP MINO HD, the  Kodak Zi8, then Canon T3i, then Canon 60D, then Go Pro HD Hero 2 and finally –  Canon Mark III. If I had only known which camera equipment was best for real estate video marketing I would have skipped the Flip Mino and Kodak Zi8 and done straight to the Canon T3i, an entry level DSLR.

The Canon T3i is the perfect DSLR for real estate agents. At less than $1,000 it’s relatively affordable, it shoots HD video, takes great pictures and it has a 3 inch articulating LCD screen that allows you to see where you are in the frame. It, like other DSLR’s, also has an external microphone jack which allows for better quality audio through a shotgun mic, wired or wireless lavaliere mic. DSLR’s  work with interchangeable lenses that will allow you to make that small bedroom look a lot bigger with the use of a wide angle lens and that client testimonial look crisp and amazing with a 50mm lens.

DSLR Basics

In order to shoot the best possible real estate photo’s and real estate videos you will need to understand the basics of DSLR shooting. Now, let me tell you right now that I am certainly no expert. There are thousands of people – photographers and videographers – that know more about DSLR’s than me, but I’ve learned that most, especially the ones that make their living shooting real estate photo’s and videos are less likely to share their knowledge – who can fault them. That being said, DSLR basics can be broken down into 5 basic terms.

  • ISO
  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed
  • White Balance
  • Camera Mode

If you understand these basic DSLR terms and how to manipulate them in dark or light houses, sunny or cloudy days you will be on your way to crushing your competition. Nationally, less than 2% of real estate agents are using video in their real estate business. There are many benefits of video in real estate. Now, the best part about real estate video or using video in your real estate business is this: consumers are visual. They like to SEE things. While your competition will tell a seller they have a national ad campaign or that they have 300 agents in their office or that they do limo tours or that buyers prefer their brokerage {they don’t by the way, less that 3% of consumers care about brand as it relates to real estate brokerage} you can SHOW them HOW you will market their home with real estate video. To do this, you need to know the basics of DSLR shooting.

DSLR Basics Defined

      • ISO or International Standards Organization is film speed. ISO determines how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. The higher the ISO number, the brighter your image or video is. Conversely, the lower the ISO number, the darker your image or video will be. Let’s say you are shooting a real estate video of a home with white walls and large windows on a sunny day. You will likely need to crank your ISO setting down to darken the room. If you are shooting in a dark room or on a cloudy day you may need to crank the ISO up to brighten your image or video. Now, be careful. The higher the ISO the more NOISE or GRAIN your images will have. Grain destroys the definition in your videos and pictures. Whenever possible, shot at the lowest ISO to preserve detail.
      • Aperture also called F-Stop is how wide the hole or window in your lens is. I’ve heard it described similarly to the pupil in our eyeball. The bigger the diameter of the hole, the more light gets into your DSLR’s sensor. So, the bigger the hole, the brighter your image or video will be. The higher the aperture the more light is getting to your image sensor.
      • Shutter Speed in photography is how fast or slow the shutter on your DSLR opens and closes. Generally, the faster the shutter speed the more crisp and detailed your image will be. Shutter Speed in video is called frame rate and is measured in frames per second or fps. The basic setting of most Canon DSLR’s I have seen is 30 fps, I shoot all of my real estate videos at 24fps, I find it is more cinematic.
      • White Balance is color correction. You can manipulate the white balance in your camera to add more blue tones or remove red tones depending on where you are shooting – inside or out, in florescent light or natural. White balance allows you to even out the color tones of your images or real estate videos. The white balance in most DSLR cameras ranges from {in order} Incandescent/Tungsten – Florescent – Daylight – Flash – Cloudy – Shade – Custom {higher end DSLR’s}.  When shooting real estate video in your listings you will likely switch between Incandescent/Tungsten and Florescent, at least I do.
      • Camera Mode is the mode you are shooting in. Full Auto, M, Av, Tv, P and B or Bulb {manual setting of shutter speed}.

If this sounds a little confusing, RELAX, you can always shoot in Auto mode. Shooting pictures or real estate videos in auto mode allows your DSLR camera to automatically adjust ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed and White Balance to  take great pictures or shoot great real estate videos {as long as there is enough light}.

You can choose to control all aspects of your real estate photos or real estate videos by shooting in M or Manual or you can choose  “Av” Aperture Priority which allows you to control Aperture while your camera controls shutter speed. Conversely, you can shoot in “Tv” which allows you to control shutter speed while your camera controls aperture.

I find that the best way to learn DSLR photography or videography is simply to experiment. Picture or video too bright? Adjust the ISO down. Picture too RED? Adjust the White Balance. Picture too noisy? Adjust the aperture. I’ve learned that what is important with real estate video is the result. No one will care if you used an entry level DSLR if the product is a great real estate video or photo.

I hope this has helped. I continue to be a work in progress, I will relay what I learn from the mistakes I make in the field – and I certainly make a lot of them. It’s called “failing forward” for a reason – right? As far as video cameras go – the best one to use in your real estate marketing is the one you have right now. Once you know you are going to invest the time and money in DSLR shooting, you can ditch that point and shoot and step up to a DSLR.

Videos Of Value

You can have the best camera equipment and still make HORRIBLE real estate videos that no one will watch if you do not know what to make real estate videos about. You will need to learn how to make videos that consumers want to watch, not what you want to make. Of course, we cover all of this in our 3 part video marketing series “How To Use Video In Real Estate”. You can see the list of real estate marketing classes we offer at Grand Canyon Title in Phoenix and if you are in Phoenix, you can even come – for FREE.

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Hi I'm Stephen Garner, I'm just a guy in the title industry {in Phoenix} trying to change how real estate agents market themselves and their services. To that end, I teach my clients HOW TO leverage sales technologies like WordPress, Content, Video, Camtasia, Final Cut X, iMovie and indexable IDX solutions to convey value and help your ideal client find you online when they are most interested in learning about you and your services. I work for escrows. Hire me!

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