Real Estate Video Equipment

The use of real estate video is rising drastically. Brokerages are hiring in-house videographers to capture agent listings. Buyers are using video to purchase homes without even seeing them in person! As a real estate photographer I think it’s important to offer a video product. Let’s take a look at some of the real estate video equipment I use as part of my business.

Walk-Through Tours

I offer full-motion HD walk-through tours of properties. I personally feel it adds value to the marketing. A lot of real estate photographers will do video with slow pans/slides. The result is a great HD video, but I feel it doesn’t show a different side to the property in comparison to the still photos. With a walk-through tour buyers get a better feel for the actual layout of the home.

Glidecam HD-2000

Real-Estate-Video-Glidecam-HD-2000I use a camera stabilizer to produce a walk-through video tour that doesn’t look like it came straight out of The Blair Witch Project. The Glidecam HD-2000 (Amazon aff link) is my stabilizer of choice. It’s the only one I’ve used so I don’t have a comparison against something else like the Steadicam Merlin. It’s relatively easy to set up but regardless of which stabilizer you use it will take a lot of practice to produce smooth footage.

Due to the mounting plate being a flat surface, you have to make sure your quick release will fit. All of my video equipment uses the Manfrotto 394 RC4 Low Profile Adapter/Plate (Amazon aff link).

Glidetrack Slider

To get some smooth sliding shots I’ll use my Glidetrack Slider. I have a Glidetrack Hybrid Slider that they don’t make any more. It has been replaced with their Aero SD line of sliders. The 0.64m length version should be plenty long, although you could grab the 1.0m version and have more flexibility. I mount my ePhoto 717AH Fluid Head (on Amazon.com for $72.89) on top of the slider to hold the camera in place.

Crane/Jib

I have a cheap crane/jib, but I don’t ever use it. Instead I use my Glidecam HD-2000 to simulate the crane movement. If you do want to use a crane in your real estate video I would recommend looking at the Kessler Crane KC-Lite 8.0 Camera Crane. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this crane from real estate photographers who use it regularly.

Remember: you get what you pay for. If these items seem too expensive right now for you, start saving so you can purchase them later. Buying cheap will only frustrate you by not getting the results you want. I highly recommend buying good equipment that will last.

 

Real Estate Video Testimonials

Video testimonials are a great addition to your real estate video product offering. Knowing how to capture testimonials on video is not only great for your own use but also for agents who want their clients to share their experiences.

You can get away with one, but I use two cameras for testimonials. One shoots wider showcasing both subjects. The other camera is zoomed in to the subject who is speaking at the time, and I adjust it throughout the interview process. I use longer focal length lenses (24-105mm and 70-300mm) for recording testimonials.

Audio Quality

Arguably more important than the video quality is the audio quality. The important stuff comes through the audio with the testimonial being given by those on camera. If you can’t hear the subject, the effect of the testimonial is lost. I have two sets of the following to record the audio:

Having two sets allows me to record two subjects at once. The small form factor of the equipment allows for easy carrying in my equipment bag. In my experience I have found that using a lavalier microphone setup results in higher quality audio compared to a boom mic setup with something like the Rode Videomic.

Putting it All Together

Once you have the equipment necessary for real estate video you’ll be able to start practicing. If you are like me, you look back at your first photo shoot and wonder what you were thinking delivering that poor quality! Real estate video is no different. Your first attempts may not be great, but the more you do it, the higher quality you’ll produce for your clients.

In future articles we’ll look at the steps I take to produce walk-through video tours and testimonials and how I go about editing them.

Want to share? Have at it!

18 thoughts on “Real Estate Video Equipment”

  1. A DSLR is great for photography but how are you maintaining video focus during your home walk-through? I’ve tried doing this with my Canon 60D and everything is out of focus even with the aperture set to f8+

    Thanks!

    • Hi Eric,

      For video tours I focus on something about 5-10 feet in front of me, and the focal point stays there at all times. So if you have your camera set to auto focus and continue to search for a focal point, I could see where it goes in/out of focus. I shoot at f/5.6, or even bigger to let in enough light to get a good result with video. Shooting with a wide angle allows a lot of the view to maintain focus even at those wider apertures.

  2. Hi Lance,
    loving the info on your site.
    Quick question- at what focal length do you shoot your walk through video tours?, cheers!!

    • The master of dSLR video, Vincent Laforet, says you should try and keep your ISO to those that are built-in to your camera and not modified or digitally adjusted. For example, he recommends ISO 320, 640, 1280, 2500.. Any other ISO is not a “stock” ISO, and is just adjusted with brightness via the camera. I hope that makes sense.

      In real estate video I try to stick to those ISO values. If I need to use 1600 I will, but I try to use Aperture to get me to where I need to be while sticking to those “stock” ISOs. There are times where you simply can’t control it and need to use a super high ISO (like in a media room with no windows) and I will run Neat Video on that clip to take the noise out.

      I also have C2 Lock & Load and I’ll use that for stabilization but it’s extremely rare. Maybe one property per year? I really try to get it stabilized out in the field and Final Cut Pro X’s stabilization is handy when I need a minor fix.

  3. Greetings:

    I just wanted to say Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, for taking the time to give back and being humble and gracious enough to share your knowledge with others! What you are doing is absolutely awesome!

    I’m just starting out in Real Estate videography and now I’m working towards adding photography to by business. I have not obtained my first Realtor yet. I have been more so practicing using my Canon Rebel T5i and I just recently bought the Canon EFS 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM along with the 18-55mm that came with the camera. I also have a couple different stabilizers to use for video walk thru’s etc.

    I was wondering, due you think it would be wise to offer my services free to obtain my first customer? Maybe do one or two shoots for free and in return it would be giving me more practice/experience and hopefully I could build off of that. I have practiced around home and also some gospel concerts and one bed and breakfast. Any helpful tips or suggestions you would be willing to offer I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for the kind words Derrick!

      Yes absolutely, I do think building your portfolio by offering some free shoots is a great way to get started. Remember, you are doing it for your practice as well, so you are gaining a lot of experience by offering the shoot for free. Just make sure you set a limit to a number of free shoots you will offer and make sure the agent understands your regular pricing structure so know what to expect once their free shoot is completed and they want to book you again.

      Good luck!

  4. Hello,

    Great post/site… thanks for the tips! I’m looking to expand into real estate photo/video and can’t decide on a lens for my Canon 60D. My 2 options are the Canon 10-18mm 4.5-5.6 or the Tokina 11-16mm 2.8. In most cases, I’d automatically go with the faster lens, but it seems like I wouldn’t have much use for such a wide aperture. I guess my question is, will I kick myself later if I save $200 and go with the Canon?

    Thanks!

    • I would go with the Canon because of the wider focal range. You can even do the Canon 10-22, unless cost is an issue? I really love the flexibility of a wider focal range. The only time I ever shoot with a wide aperture is when I’m doing tight vignette type shots, and I always throw on my Canon 17-55/2.8 for that because I’m always going to a good distance away from my subject and zoom in to it. Good luck on your decision! (And remember you can always sell a lens and purchase another one if you do think you end up making the wrong decision. Lenses maintain their value quite well so you shouldn’t lose too much if you end up going this route!)

  5. With regards to the walk through video what I have found is as I perform the walkthrough I integrate a few slider and pan cut shots as you go through the room to focus on certain attributes in a room to highlight what might be missed just passing through. Now I don’t do too many of these as to not distract from the, as you say, “the flow” of the home. I consider it more of an accent and not a distraction.

    • Yup, there are many ways you can incorporate different tools, movements, angles, etc to make a video more interesting. I actually offer two different types of video, so I can offer an up-sell to clients. I keep the slider type movements to the higher-cost version as a way to sell a more expensive service.

    • Hi Thomas,

      You are correct, I put it on Manual. IF I can go through multiple rooms with the exposure being close to matching between rooms, I will. I can then adjust minor exposure settings in post to compensate (if I need to brighten it up in one room and darken a bit in another). But most of the time I go through a room, stop, adjust exposure for the next room, and start a new clip. I then just blend all of the clips together with a dissolve transition.

      Lance

      • Thanks for the information Lance.

        I just bought a Ronin M and I have a Nikon d500. I’ve been practicing taking video around my house. I see right away to watch out for reflections and shadows!

        When I photograph a house I use bracketing and the benefit is correctly exposed windows and brighter shadow areas. However in video, do you just have to accept blown out windows?

        Thomas

        • Hi Thomas,

          Yes unfortunately for the most part you have to decide what you want exposed for the shot. Some cameras (like Canon) can use firmware to do HDR video but I’ve never done it and don’t know the time it takes to edit, etc. Other cameras have built-in high dynamic range, or offer some type of HDR. You’ll need to research to find one that may work, or just be content with transparency (that’s how I sell video). 🙂

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