Picture This

Our look at 2011's tech essentials tackles cameras.

July 1, 2011

Five Key CAMERA Features

  1. Focal length.  Fitting the entire house or an entire room into one shot can be a challenge. That’s why real estate pros should purchase a camera with a wide-angle lens. Make sure it’s equivalent to at least 28 mm or wider (the smaller the number, the wider the shot).
  2. ISO.  Equivalent to film speed, ISO measures the camera’s light sensitivity. The higher the ISO rating, the better the camera will do in low-light settings.
  3. Optical vs. digital zoom.   Pay attention to that 10x or 15x zoom feature; you want to know if that’s optical or digital zoom. Digital zoom only enlarges and crops the image, while optical zoom uses the lens of the camera to bring the image closer in the frame. You’ll get higher-quality images with optical zoom, hands down.
  4. Megapixels.  The number of megapixels tells you how much information the camera will record in an image. High megapixels are good, but they aren’t everything. This won’t tell you the quality of your image. You need to consider the size and sensitivity of the camera’s sensor as well.
  5. Video.  If you’re shooting a lot of video for your listings, consider spending a little more for a camera with 1080p HD video quality.


The Gear:

Kodak Easyshare M552.

It’s an easy three-step process to share photos on social networks (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on) or by e-mail. This small, sleek camera captures 720p HD video with a dedicated movie button and a 28–140 mm-equivalent wide-angle lens. Other specs: 14 megapixels, 5x optical zoom, 100–1,600 ISO sensitivity, 2.7-inch LCD display. Cost: $129.95

Olympus VR-320.

The VR-320 has a lens that takes you from 24 mm-equivalent ultra-wide-angle to 300 mm-equivalent telephoto. That’s big zoom (12.5x optical + 4x digital) in a pocket-sized, affordable camera. It includes cool art filters: pop art, pin hole, drawing, fish eye, punk, and sparkle—maybe not the best idea for listing photos, but they could add some pop to your blog imagery. Other specs: 14 megapixels, 3-inch LCD display. Cost: $199.99

Sony Cyber-shot H70.

Impress buyers with sweeping panorama listing photos. But more than that, the Sony Cyber-Shot H70 is great for multipurpose shooting with an ultra-wide 25mm-equivalent lens, 10x optical zoom, and 720p HD video recording. Other specs: anti-blink, soft skin, face detection, and smile shutter technologies; 16.1 megapixels; 100–3,200 ISO range; and a 3-inch LCD display. Cost: $229.99

Canon PowerShot ELPH 500 HS.

Two big assets power this versatile compact digital camera: its 24 mm-equivalent ultra-wide-angle lens and its ability to shoot 1080p HD video with stereo sound. Plus, the camera has a dedicated movie button for easy video recording. Other specs: 12.1 megapixels, 4.4x optical zoom (plus 4x digital for a 18x combined zoom), optical image stabilizer, and 3.2-inch LCD display with touch screen. Cost: $299.99

Nikon D5100.

A great camera for beginning-to-intermediate DSLR users, this new Nikon has tons of bells and whistles, including an accompanying AF-S 18–55 mm ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with vibration reduction. Are you a video lover? The D5100 offers full 1080p HD video recording, 3-D focus tracking, and a swivel LCD monitor. Cool effects include selective color isolation (for example, highlight only blue in a scene and turn the rest to grayscale), and night vision. Other specs: RAW, JPEG, and MOV file types; 100–6,400 ISO range; 16.2 megapixels. Cost: $899.95