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I have an opportunity to start a high end real estate photography business. I’d like to sell my current equipment and buy gear that’s better suited to architectural photography. Am I better off going to a local camera store, or, selling my gear (Nikon 300s Outfit 18-200 VR lens, Nikon 50, Nikon, 70-200, Nikon 17-55, Nikon D3200 18-55 VR Kit) online and buying the new gear online?
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Here's what you run into:


I spend a LOT of time loafing in a local shop that sells used equipment, and see pretty well a constant parade of folks coming in with stuff to sell.


His usual price is half what he thinks he'll sell it for. I base that on the fact that I've bought pieces as soon as the seller left the shop. He might go up to 60 or 70% if he thinks it will move fast, and often goes less than that for older digital equipment since he knows it will move slowly and the value decays pretty rapidly. When I've been in the shop and someone came in with something to sell(generally older collectible equipment) I've nudged him up a bit if the seller was reluctant to sell and he does it because when I do that, he knows he can turn right around and sell it to me.


I've never sold to KEH, but their condition standards are VERY strict and I've heard of folks getting less than they thought they would because of cosmetic issues. I've not heard a lot about the other major sellers.


Selling it yourself will likely net you more money, but don't forget that if you use a major venue you have to deal with additional problems. On Ebay, you're out 10%+Paypal fees(in the ballpark of 3%). You also have to deal with non paying bidders, threats of bad feedback, returns for no reason, and everything else.


In all honesty, you may be better off keeping your current body or bodies and buying the 10-24 or some other wide angle lens better suited to your work.

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Seconding Ben's advice. Unfortunately, equipment loses value faster than a used car leaving a nefarious dealer's lot. I paid $1500 (with accessories) for a drone that I rarely if ever use and could not sell for $200 now. That's just the way it works. My advice is also to keep the equipment and use it for backup purposes. I also recommend holding onto it in case the "high end real estate photography business" doesn't pan out. That's putting a whole lot of eggs into a very weak basket.
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Its a choice between doing all the work yourself (including baby sitting tire kickers) & getting more money & just dropping it off with instant credit & no hassle but taking a hit on the finances.

I used to work in a big national camera store & let me give you a tip. Trading in to buy there is probably the best route to go overall, because they'll give you a better deal for a trade than a sale because they don't need to "carry you" financially, waiting for your equipment to move. Shop round for the best overall deal though don't get suckered into a high trade in, but pay through the nose for the new stuff!

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My advice is also to keep the equipment and use it for backup purposes.


In all honesty, I don't know that the OP needs to drop a bunch of money on new stuff. Either the D300s or the D3200 should give more than enough resolution for online listing.


Most of the real estate photographers that I know want wide angles so that they can get everything in a photo. I emphasize real estate specifically-architectural photography is an interest of mine and often times I'm either focusing on some interesting detail in a building or if I'm using wide angles it's to exaggerate perspectives and the like-i.e. not stuff that you'd necessarily do to sell something.


In any case, however you use them, I'd say wide angles are a practical necessity again to get all of a building without foreground clutter and also to get all of an interior.


That's why I suggest the 10-24. It's a DX-format lens but seems to get great reviews and will give the equivalent of 15mm on a 35mm camera.


The only lens I see the OP has that might both be superfluous and of some value is the 18-200. This was a hot lens several years ago, although I think it's lost some secondary value since the 18-300 isn't much larger or more expensive(new). This seems to be a $300-400 lens these days. Assuming the 17-55 is the 2.8, it's about a $500 lens on the used market, albeit it looks like one of the best lenses in the OP's kit. The 18-55 kit lens is not a high dollar lens. I'm going to guess the 50mm is the common AF-D 1.8, which seems to bring around $100 used. If the 70-200 is a 2.8, it also is a decently valuable lens on the used market although is heavy and bulky.


So I guess I'm saying to keep the bodies. I'd keep the 17-55 and 70-200 then sell the 18-200, although selling those would net more money than keeping the 18-200. Add the 10-24, and call it a day.

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I found this review of the 10-24 lens:


Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED DX AF-S Nikkor Review


It apparently has high distortion at its widest zoom range. That's a BIG no-no in architectural photography. A rectilinear lens is strongly desirable - it keeps straight lines straight. I'm a manual focus film shooter only, so I'm only familiar with the Nikkor 15mm f/3.5 AIS lens.

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I'm not working in the architecture field, and don't know what your business will be about. - If I had to sell a house I'd pack my Pentax 12-24mm f4 and the usual stuff and maybe end learning how to do HDR in post processing. - For your current Nikons the lens would equal the Tokina 12-24mm.

I don't have good experience trading stuff in to brick & mortar stores. - I'd rather sell on eBay. So far I described honestly pocketed my payment and the buyers were silent.

Clarifying: the stores are all gone by now in my area. Things they sold seemed frequently cheaper than outbidding my co-lunatics online. I also did not sell valuable gear online; maybe that is a different market?


Like others told: Think twice before you ditch what you have. If DX cut your personal cake so far, it should carry on doing so. I doubt there is much fun in shooting family gatherings with a FF body and tilt shift lenses or an MF back behind a bag bellows.

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I agree that almost any old camera body will do, even to create a portfolio of glossy 10x8 prints to impress clients.


I'd put the money into something like a Tokina AT-X 11-20 f/2.8 lens and a decent tripod. Plus some lighting equipment and maybe lessons or tutorial videos on how to use it.


Ideally you want a full-frame camera with 24mm PC-E lens, and that's expensive, but a lot can be done with a decent image editor to correct lens distortion and keystoning. It depends if you have the time and skills to correct the images using Photoshop or similar.


Using Nikon's NEF raw image format would help a lot too. It allows bringing out shadow detail and generally getting the very most out of the camera's capabilities.


"I have an opportunity to start a high end real estate photography business."

- Would that be buying some sort of concession?

Careful, there are lots of pitfalls and downright shady companies out there!

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+1 to RJ's comments, particularly in regards the Tokina lens. Your D3200 will give plenty of resolution and IQ. You must invest in a good, eye-level tripod, panning ball head, and a remote trigger. It will also take quite a bit of practice to learn how to obtain the results your clients will be looking for. Additional investment, both in money and time, will be needed for things like auxiliary lighting/flashes, remote exposure control, replacement bulbs for light fixtures, etc. Depending on your subjects, a PC lens is not an absolute necessity, but the tradeoff is learning how to capture images with sufficient flexibility to do the corrections in PP. In truth, the camera body is less of an issue than a lot of other factors. I consider myself a fairly good photographer, but I routinely hire professional architectural photographers (Dana Sohm or Alan Blakely) to shoot my projects for archival and marketing purposes. They bring substantial kit, including high-end bodies and lenses, but of more value is their experience in managing exposure, focus stacking, WB stacking, light management, and when, how, and where to make their images. One issue: Your DX body will add considerable constraints in regards angle of view and DOF, which can only be effectively overcome by switching to an FX body. You should plan to shoot in RAW, and expect to spend substantial time in PP addressing lighting levels and balance, as well as perspective corrections, and even combining images to obtain the necessary coverage. Edited by DavidTriplett
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Following the lead of my fellow posters!


My exposure to "real estate" photography has been producing images of commercial properties--hotels, business centers, so on. It is intended for publication in print, and for the web. The other side of this includes what is part of my 'day job.' That is the production of high quality, technically accurate architectural images intended for inclusion in the Library of Congress HABS collection, for the National Register of Historic Places, and various state & local entities and historic archives. These include exteriors, interiors, and landscapes.


I blather on about all of this not to blow my own horn--but to qualify one simple statement based on everything I have learned in 30 years of doing this:


Put your money into glass, accessories & lighting.


We are assuming that you have a good idea of the basics of what you are intending to do. You do not tell us though what you intend on (in your best planning) buying with monies recovered from your current kit. Are you thinking of staying with APS-C (Nikon DX) or moving on to Full Frame (Nikon FX)? FX lenses can be used successfully with DX cameras--one just does not get the bottom end of the WF range (relatively speaking for zoom) or the same factor with primes as their intended format. This gives one the opportunity to buy large with the plan to move up later.


Along with that glass (of whatever format or make) a few accessories are a given, such as a quality polarizing filter, step type neutral density filters, and some decent lens hoods or a compendium with filter holder (for the ND). And get a decent, solid tripod and a remote control for your camera. You will find the wisdom of this in short order. Books are written about interior lighting, so I will not try to birth sense here in the context and scope of this thread.


Right now when shooting digital, I am using a D7100, and to open up vistas or interiors have become VERY fond of the Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM and the 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro (OS) HSM | C for general compositions. Shooting film is a whole 'nuther story for a separate thread... :cool: As for what to do with what you have? Unless your are planning an immediate jump to FX, shoot the D3200 body until you have a stable stream of cash coming in from this work--and then consider a higher MP DX body. Sell what you will on Fleabay, as even with the subtraction of final value auction and PayPal fees, you will get more for your stuff than anywhere else except selling direct to an individual.

Edited by PapaTango
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