A digital camera is one of the best timesaving tools a real estate agent can own. Put the scanner away, because getting photos from your camera to your computer is as simple as plugging in a cable or memory card reader. From there you can upload photos to the Internet, send them to your clients as e-mail attachments, and print them on flyers or other advertising materials. This beginning primer may help you decide which camera is best for you.
Megapixels and Resolution
Digital photos are recorded in tiny square chunks, called pixels, that are arranged side-by-side to create the image. As you'd expect, more pixels overall equals a sharper photo. You might see a camera's pixel-count referred to as megapixels, which means millions of pixels, or by the pixel dimensions of its photos, such as 1800 x 1200. (Multiply those numbers together to get the megapixel count.)
How Many Megapixels Do You Need?
Nearly any camera is suitable for Internet use, where lower resolutions are the norm, but higher pixel counts allow you to print larger versions of your images. Use this general guideline to determine maximum print sizes: 4x6-inch photos from a 1+ megapixel camera; 8x10-inch photos from a 2+ megapixel camera; 11x17-inch photos from a 3+ megapixel camera.
A wide angle to zoom lens will help you frame your shots in the camera, which means you won't need to spend as much time cropping them when they are downloaded into the computer. Do you plan to construct virtual tours of your listings? Some types of software, such as iPIX, require that your camera accept a fisheye lens. Other tours, including VisualTour, stitch together wide-angle images.
Capacity, Storage & Photo Download
Newer digital cameras use removable memory cards that often resemble tiny floppy disks. Most cards packed with a camera do not hold a great number of photos, especially at high resolution settings, so purchase a second chip with more memory. Your camera should include cabling or another device to get the photos into the computer, and software to help you manipulate the images.
Its been my personal experience that digital cameras equipped with AA batteries go through them rapidly, so it's helpful to purchase rechargeable versions. This year's cameras seem to use a wide variety of battery-types. No matter which battery your camera requires, always travel with spares.
If you take lots of indoor shots you should consider a camera with a "hot shoe," a place to connect a separate flash unit with more power and versatility than most built-in flashes.