Our team receives frequent questions on how to select a camera for immersive virtual tours. Here are our top picks for 2021.
“Anyone can easily set up a virtual real estate tour with 360 photos.”
Have you been hearing that everywhere lately?
Can you really create your own tour without hiring a pro photographer? How do you shoot those cool immersive photos that make it feel like you’re actually right in the space?The good news is that it really is easier than ever. 360 cameras are accessible in price and easy to use. Once you’ve taken your photos, it’s simple to use a platform like SuperViz to upload them and set up a tour. You can click here to check out examples of use cases to see the process in action.
What to look for when purchasing a 360 camera for real estate
Search for 360 cameras online and you’ll find lots of options with a variety of features across a wide price range. In fact, there are so many great choices that you’ll quickly feel a bit lost if this is all new to you. Below we share a couple recommendations to help you choose the right camera.
Please note that we don’t represent any of these brands or get paid sales commission. These opinions are based on our own research and experience, and our team is happy to share our knowledge.
Each of the models discussed below are considered consumer cameras but are very capable. Keep in mind that there are pro cameras and pro photographer services if you want to really invest in the best quality photos for very special projects.
Many 360 cameras are built for capturing active outdoor sports video like mountain biking and skiing. Some are waterproof so they can be used for activities like snorkeling, kiteboarding and sailing. The special features that make cameras great for these activities are generally not necessary for real estate photography. That means you should be able to use an affordable basic 360 camera and still get high quality photos for your virtual tours.
Tips on what to look for:
- Photo resolution: early 360 cameras often came with fairly low resolution. That’s improved over time. Look for models with at least 14 megapixels and HDR to ensure good quality property photos.
- Software: of the two lines we explore below, the THETAs are the most user-friendly in that you can use photos directly from the camera. The Insta360 line does necessitate an extra step of either uploading from an app or exporting from their software into an equirectangular format to upload.
- Price: 360 cameras are now available at a wide range of prices. You can get a very good camera with the minimal resolution needed starting around US $300. If your budget allows, or you need higher quality, prices climb into the thousands. A really excellent camera with everything you’ll need can be found for between $1000 and $1200.
Ricoh THETA provides multiple options for getting started with virtual real estate tour photography. The Ricoh Theta Z1 is popular and captures extremely high quality property photos, but does come in at over US $1000. If you can swing the price, it’s a fantastic camera and we highly recommend it.
- Highest image quality of the THETA series
- Resolution of 23MP(6720 x 3360, 7K)
- Edit in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC
- Use photos directly from the camera
- Simple upload processes with dedicated apps for both PC and smartphone
If you love the THETA line but need a more affordable option, THETA V is a great choice.
The RICOH THETA site describes it as an “advanced model with greatly improved video performance, transfer speed and extensibility.”
Here’s what you can expect with it:
- Still image resolution of 14MP (5376×2688)
- Battery life of approximately 300 photos
- Same ease of use and simple upload capabilities as THETA Z1 above
- Thin, lightweight body optimizes internal components using a proprietary folded optics system
One more THETA option we like is the SC2. At an even smaller price tag than THETA V, it’s a cheaper way to get started with 360 real estate photography, while still keeping quality high.
The THETAs are the most user-friendly, especially given the ability to use photos directly from the camera. The SC2 has a 14.5 MP resolution and pricing starts at just $299. Multiple compatible stand options are available directly from the RICOH THETA site.
You can check out the full specs of the cameras listed above by clicking here.
Insta 360 ONE X
Another option we recommend is the Insta360 ONE X. Insta360 titles it their “Standard Real Estate Solution.” It’s an affordable, all-in-one solution to easily capture your virtual real estate tour photos. It has a few more bells and whistles than you might need, but with its entry level price at several hundred dollars – far less than many comparable cameras – it makes it onto our best-bet list.
- Still image resolution of 18 MP (6080×3040)
- Photo format includes jpeg(can be exported via App), RAW(dng) (RAW files require software on PC/Mac to stitch)
- Photo modes include Standard 360 photos, timed 360 photos, HDR 360 photos, interval 360 photos, RAW 360 photos
The ONE X more than meets real estate photo resolution needs. The company describes it’s high dynamic range shooting as staying “true-to-life and true-to-light.” We love it. It’s a 360 camera solution for any real estate company ready to start shooting their own virtual tours. An updated version, the Insta360 ONE X2 is even a little better, but remember, with these you do need to use the app to convert photos before uploading to SuperViz. It’s not painful, but it is an extra step.
Do you have questions about how to use a 360 camera with SuperViz to create your first immersive virtual tour? Get in touch any time for a free demo. Click to visit our scheduling site to choose a time that works for you.