Quality is a must when it comes to a product like Real Tour Vision virtual tours. Good still pictures are just as important as taking good panoramic images. I have noticed some tour track orders (National Accounts for Real Tour Vision), as well other tours have fuzzy stills. I have a feeling that many virtual tour providers are shooting their stills by hand. This may be ok for vacations but when it comes to shooting as a professional you should offer top quality stills. First of all, you need to make sure the camera is in focus. If the camera auto focus is not focusing well on a particular shot then use the manual focus mode and make sure the picture looks great. Next make sure that the camera is still and not shaking when the shutter is pressed. Property re-shoots are expensive so make sure to capture the images correctly the first time. Many digital cameras have either digital or mechanical image stabilization to aid in shooting. Do not rely solely on these features to shoot great stills.
The lighting conditions for virtual tours often force the camera’s shutter to stay open longer than normal to capture adequate light and if you are not 100% stable when you take the picture then your shot will come out fuzzy. The clearest pictures are taken using a tripod. When your camera is mounted on the tripod it sits completely stable and you are pretty much guaranteed to get a clear picture as far as stabilization goes. For the widest angle still the camera should be mounted horizontally, not vertically like when panorama photos are taken. If a tripod is too cumbersome for you to carry around the shoot or you would like something that is lighter and quicker to setup for each still shot then I would strongly suggest that you invest in a monopod.
A monopod is a single support leg that has a quick release plate that attaches to the bottom of your camera. The plate with the camera attached to it then locks in place on top of the monopod. The monopod stabilizes your camera from moving up and down and doesn’t require as much setup time as tripod does. You can extend the monopod out to the desired shooting height and you are ready to go. It has a light and slender design that makes it easy to carry from shot to shot. If you are interested you can search online for monopods. There are many different brands available but most will have the features listed above and would work for camera stabilization. Good luck on the still images and keep the great looking virtual tours coming!
By Ben Knorr
Real Tour Vision Lens Engineer