Best Cameras for Home Inspectors
As a home inspector, you need a camera that’s rugged and durable. Taking dozens or hundreds of pictures in a day is common. Unfortunately, so is bad weather, falls, and other mishaps.
Cameras available today and ever increasing memory card space mean that you can takes as many pictures as possible of every needed item or area during your home inspection. Ultimately, not only does it provide the home or business owner/seller key information, taking pictures allows you to remember the situation as you’re compiling your report.
Before we get into actual camera recommendations here are some helpful tips and best practices that we have on camera use during your inspection and after:
Take too many pictures. You will be reviewing them anyway and can get rid of the pictures that are repetitive or quality wasn’t as high as you hoped.
Make sure your battery (batteries) are charged. There is nothing worse than ruining of juice when you are on the job. Get a couple backup batteries for your camera, many will come with car/USB chargers that you can charge when you are travelling.
Get into a routine. For large areas you are noting, start with a far off or wide angle shot, then move in closer, and then closer still to get a variety of shots/angles. If it’s an air conditioner or anything with a serial number/model on it, you can get close ups. Once again, as you are reviewing the pictures, you can choose the best ones that reference everything you are trying to portray.
Learn your camera’s functionality. This is really important. For the camera that you pick, you need to understand what it can do for you. For most situations, leaving the camera in “auto” mode will probably suffice. But for areas with poor lighting, you may need turn the flash always on for example. Some cameras have auto-rotation for images taken when you’ve held the camera up vertically to take a picture of something with some height. This can help reduce time during the picture selection process. Some camera’s have excellent optical zoom capability. This will reduce your need to get close to be able to zoom in.
Edit your pictures if necessary. There are many picture editing programs that you can use. This is particularly common if you need to highlight a specific issue or item within the picture by circling it or putting an arrow next to the picture. From as simple as using the common “Paint” program, or something more advanced, this will clearly and easily portray what you are trying to show in your picture.
Get a file re-namer. We highly recommend standardizing your file naming process and using general number coding. That way when you are inserting pictures into your report, the images have a generic 123.jpg, and will be in order as you took them. It also will get rid of any identifying information. We have used and like this software: https://www.advancedrenamer.com/
Take pictures of personally identifiable personal items. This is common sense and your report may end up online.
Use blurry images. Even the best cameras can take blurry images from handshake, incorrect settings, or be caused by other things. If you have consistently blurry or out of focus images, first check your camera settings and make sure it’s on the setting you normally use. Blurry images are often the result of the lack of camera flash being used. If all else fails and you accidentally changed a setting, nearly every camera has a “reset” option within the menu that you can reset to factory settings.
What we looked for in the perfect camera for home inspectors:
- Good low light capability
- Long lasting
- Size (comfortable grip)
- Good Optical Zoom
The top Cameras that we picked fit all of the above constraints.
1.) Olympus TG-5. The Olympus Tough TG-5 is our #1 pick. Tired of going through cameras quickly? The TG-5 seems a bit spendy up front, but it’s oustanding ruggednesss makes it a camera that will actually last a long time- a rareity for most home inspection cameras. It also sports the amazing ability to shoot images as close as 1CM away, perfect for those closeups you do.
2.) Fujifilm Finepix XP120. Combining both form and function into a small pocket sized wonder, the Fujifilm XP120 will wow you with it’s simplicity to use, and excellent picture quality. Fujifilm was an early entrant into the tough camera market, and has been a market leader ever since. Shockproof for drops of up to 6 feet (1.75m) this camera can and will happily take some use and abuse and still perform excellently.
3.) Panasonic DMC-TS30. We liked this camera because it’s the thinnest of all three (great for stowing in your pocket as you are moving around the jobsite, and quite economical. It’s also one of the fastest tough cameras, so if you are looking for a camera that can take pictures quickly or burst shots, this is an excellent pick.