A Few Virtual Tour Photo Tips

I have done a few virtual tours now and figured out a few tricks that improve the quality of the tour with my equipment. Believe it or not, I use my old Nikon Coolpix for shooting our real estate virtual tours. It has the advantage of a somewhat wide-angle lens and decent quality pictures.We find the RTV rotator and virtual tour software system pretty easy to use and a perfect fit for shooting indoor and outdoor panoramas with much more accuracy than our previous hand held system.
The first few virtual tours I took the camera at eye level. It turned out that I often had a lot of the ceiling in the pictures and many indoor shots had the furniture cut off at the bottom. Now I only extend the tripod to just above my belt. This gives a great balance between floor and ceiling in most of the shots. 
When I first started making these virtual tours with RTV I did not want to try to over think the process so I just used the automatic camera setting. It produced good results but sometimes you could see too much of the flash reflection on glossy surfaces and uneven light distribution throughout the room. Now I turn on all the lights in a room and shoot with natural lighting. I set the camera to automatic with the flash turned off. When you do this, make sure you use your tripod!! It is important is to use all light sources. I open the curtains and turn all lights on. In very dark settings I use two cheap painters lights I place behind furniture so that they give off some indirect light. The advantage with the natural light is that the white balance of the camera gives me an even color spectrum. Walls show more of their natural paint color. With the auto setting some of the pictures in an inside panorama will be taken without a flash and some will require the flash to get those perfect window shots. Doing this generates a series of pictures with different color temperatures but that’s OK because the RTV software does a pretty good job adjusting the brightness and color automatically. 
I have also found the 360 panoramas taken without a flash produce a more natural looking and more seamless pan. All in all, I am producing nicer virtual tours than all of my competitors and I am in total control of how I present my real estate listings. As a Realtor I like this control and it helps me in marketing all my properties with nice virtual tours for reasonable cost. A HUGE thanks to the entire team over there at RTV for making and maintaining such a great virtual tour platform that is easy to work with.  We’re looking forward to the new system!!
Malte Strauss
Southern Realty Enterprises, Inc.
Broker – Realtor

Longwood, FL