Invariably the job at hand defines the equipment you need. Fortunately you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment for Car Dealerships. Unfortunately the equipment you do choose will be working extremely hard. Basically you need a suitable camera, lenses, a Polaroid filter, a computer or laptop to process the images and if you’re busy for anytime more than 6 months you’re probably going to need a dedicated external drive.
If you’re working for even a moderately successful Car Dealership, or covering numerous Car Yards, you’re bound to be looking at shooting between 20 and 40 cars a week. Based on my cheat sheet of what to photograph in every car, added to that the probability that you’ll take a second shot of every second feature (to make sure you got the shot), you can safely estimate taking an average of 90 photos per car – 2700 shutter actuations a week, 10’800 a month – that’s a lot.
These numbers are important as you have to take the shutter life expectancy into consideration. An entry level camera may only last 6 months before you have to replace it, whereas a mid level camera may only give you a 18 months of service before having to replace it. Pragmatically you don’t require the quality of a mid-level camera, but it may prove cheaper in the long run.
The numbers are also pertinent to the amount of digital space you occupy. Using a mid-priced camera with 24 million pixels, an image will on average amount to 8 MB. That in turn equates to almost 80 Gig a month – a TB in a year. Not a major expense or consideration, but an expense that cannot be overlooked.
A Polaroid filter is a Must. There are many aspects and facets to Car Dealership Photography that make it challenging, but the one that trumps all, is that every car is essentially a compilation of mirrors that reflect. The only way to offset this almost crippling problem is to use a Polaroid filter. Even then, you can only reduce reflections on one side of the car. You could use two filters but then you have to compete with the time it takes to adjust the filters properly, losing up to 5 stops of light and consequently arm wrestling a tripod – not worth the time.
As far as lenses are concerned there are two scenarios; taking the exterior of the car and then the interior. You could hypothetically get away with using only one telephoto lens; 18mm – 110mm, however the physical size of the lens becomes an impediment once taking the interior size. I wold recommend using the telephoto lens for the exterior and having a small lens bordering on a fish-eye for the interior. Depending on the amount of light you have available, the Polaroid filter also helps massively for the interior.
Image and data credit: What is The Shutter Life Expectancy of a DSLR Camera?