Blog Tag: virtual tour camera

Front Door Photos Taking Off

1) Front Door Photos is taking to the sky

I’m thrilled to announce that our brand new Phantom 2 Vision quad copter arrived this past weekend! At 14 megapixels, this virtual tour camera will be able to shoot 1080p HD video and take dynamic still aerial photos as well. I’m pouring over the flying manual and will have a test video for you to check out shortly!

     **Please let me know if you are interested in pricing information or have any questions
 
2) Our professional real estate photography and virtual tour team is growing!!!

I’m also excited to let you know that our team is growing. Matt joins team FDP with 5+ years of professional photography experience and he will be out shooting full virtual tours of listings this summer. Toby is FDP’s new marketing intern from Hope College and he will be handling the floor plan building and social media support. Be sure to say hello if you see them out and about!
 
3) As always…Thank you!

Front Door Photos wouldn’t exist without you and it’s been so great working with each and every one of you. It’s my goal to provide you with the absolute best visual marketing support so please let me know if there is anything else I can do to better assist you.

     **Remember, every realtor you send my way for professional photos gets you 20% off your next shoot (and 20% off their first shoot as well)! Be sure to let me know who you refer.

Best Regards,

  
Taylor Blom
Front Door Photos
Holland Virtual Tours
Order a virtual tour – 616-283-9294


Choosing the Perfect Camera For Virtual Tours

Virtual Tour CameraHow to choose a camera to shoot your virtual tours:

Virtual tours are a visual experience, so naturally, you’ll want to take the best possible pictures of your property or business. But what kind of camera should you be using? Of course, you’ll need a digital camera so you can upload your images, but it can be difficult to choose between all of the various options on the market.

Here are some quick tips on choosing a digital camera that will give you great shots for your 360 virtual tours.

Resolution: Resolution, or photo quality, is one of the most prominent features for digital cameras. You’ll need the ability to take photos with a decent to high resolution for Internet display. At minimum, your camera should have a resolution of two megapixels (which is two million dots per image)—and if you want great quality, look for resolutions of six megapixels or more especially if you plan to offer your customers high quality images for print.

Zoom: A camera with good zoom quality will capture more detail and showcase noteworthy features in a virtual tour of businesses or properties. However, be aware that digital cameras have two types of zoom: digital and optical. You don’t really need digital zoom, because you can enlarge images digitally with your photo editing software. Otical zoom, which uses physical lens magnification for close-up pictures, is the better choice. Aim for 2x to 4x optical zoom when choosing your digital camera.

Screen: Nearly every digital camera comes with a preview screen that shows you the shot before you click the shutter button. When shooting your virtual tour, it’s handy to have a camera with a rotating flip-out preview screen. This makes it easier to view what you’re photographing and the final image at the same time, so you don’t have to keep looking up from the camera to reposition the shot.

Memory: While a few digital cameras rely solely on internal storage, most have a slot for an SD or mini-SD card, which allows you to store more pictures. It’s almost a necessity to have a camera with an SD card slot, because internal camera memory typically stores only around 5 to 10 images. SD cards come with different amounts of memory, usually measured in gigabytes (GB). With images shot in 6MP resolution, you can store around 950 on a 2GB SD card and about 7,600 on a 16GB card.

Battery: With LCD screens, built-in flash, and sound recording, digital cameras eat up batteries fairly quickly. Some digital cameras run on disposable batteries, while others have rechargeable battery packs. Since the cost of disposables can add up fast, it’s worth the investment to get a camera with rechargeable batteries. You should also pick up an extra battery pack, so you’ll always have a fresh battery ready while shooting your virtual tours.

Using these tips, you’ll ensure that you select a camera that has the features and functionality you need to create winning virtual tours using the RTV virtual tour software system.

Real Tour Vision
Virtual Tour Company
www.realtourvision.com
Order a 360 Virtual Tour: 1-866-947-8687


Making Manual “Automatic” in Virtual Tours

As my virtual tour and real estate photography business has progressed, and improved, I’ve noticed that my desire for more advanced equipment has increased along the way. I started using a “point and shoot” Canon S3IS and quickly moved to a DSLR Nikon D40 and now have a Nikon D90. The D90 is definitely overkill for VT photography, but it is perfect for my still photography and does work really well for virtual tours too.

Anyway, the improvement in my photography didn’t necessarily come from purchasing better equipment, but from learning the nuances of equipment that I am currently using. The biggest step is taking the camera off of the “Automatic” setting and learning the manual features. Each camera has different characteristics with color, saturation and white balance that you will need to learn, but adjusting the “exposure” setting is the single greatest improvement you can make with VT photography.

Adjusting the exposure setting will help you achieve a clear view out of the front window and also retain the detail around the fireplace across the room. Depending on the camera, changing the exposure will automatically automatically change the aperture and shutter saving you from making additional adjustments.

Taking practice tours is the best way to learn your camera’s features and automatically know which manual settings will give you the best images. Your great images will lead to ecstatic great improvements in your business.

Chuck Gullett
ThreeSixtyChicago Media
Chicago Virtual Tours
www.threesixtychicago.com
Order a Tour 312-593-1436


Cell Phone Virtual Tour Software HOAX – April Fools!

Ok kids now here is the fun part….YES…this was completely made up. You have Jacque to thank for this little prank…NOT JASON!! Jason is still a good guy here!! That is just my picture promoting this imaginary system. Anyway, here is the fun part. Here is where I show you how much flack I took for this today: Read below…

(Sorry everyone!! I am not putting any names on these. Some people got quite upset.)

This is the order in which they started flying into my inbox:

Hilarious!

do you have a sample of a tour done with this method

Did I tell you about the land in Florida I have for sale??

APRIL FOOLS, RIGHT?Good one! I want to know how many fall for it and try to order. LOL

You know its april the 1st right

Got to be a April Fools stunt……………………………….

Amazing new product Jason….I’ll take 10 of them! And I also don’t think you’re charging enough, so bill me triple the amount! 🙂 LMAO in Ponte Vedra, Florida!

Good one. I believed it all until about the 5th paragraph and then realized this was too good to be true, then realized what day it is (April Fools!)

Looks great- I’ll Take 100.

This will be GREAT for that oceanfront property in Idaho, and the bridge in Brooklyn I am selling I have been meaning to take photos and a tour of !!!

Nice work guys, way to keep in ‘REAL’

You are too funny! But you do realize that I will be getting calls for this… I have folks here that will do this! They take MLS photos with disposable cameras, why not cell phones. I’ll forward all inquires to you…what’s your personal email?

And here is a log from our online chat:

Mike: Hello. Welcome to Team RTV. How may I assist you?
Visitor: We are a RTV user already and I got a e-mail on doing them on you phone?
Mike: What did you think?
Visitor: about what
Mike: About the new rotator
Visitor: Oh well I would like more info or where to find on the website
Mike: Let me check and see if they have it on the web site yet
Visitor: k
Mike: Do you know what today is?
Visitor: no
Visitor: cloudy?
Mike: What is the Date Today?
Visitor: Oh April Fools… Ok you got me….HAHA

Do you have any sample tours?

Jason-APRIL FOOLS!!! Very, Very Funny!

Do you guys not like working with photographers? Are you trying to push photographers away from using your platform? Why would you send me an advertisement geared towards realtors who want to do the tours themselves? Do you think any photographer would be interested in using a cell phone to shoot virtual tours? I’m not quite sure what to think of the poor judgement RTV used in not only creating this product but then sending it out to all the photographers who rely on realtors calling them and not doing it themselves. Maybe you should fine tune your email system with separate lists for realtors and photographers.

How do we find out more info about the Ultra-Mini Rotator and how do we order?Thanks

Does this support the iPhone?

Happy April fools day Jason.

Wow, I may not have a job any longer…Would this be targeted to the broker accounts of RTV ? Or who is this really geared for.

April Fool’s Right? ha! ha!

Hi Jason, RTV is always at the forefront of technology. Do you realize how many photos are taken by cell phone for MLS? Must be 90%! It’s the way of the future, Jason. And did you know that Google is refining Google Streets.The new software will be called Google Homes and can take all interior photos of every home as their units drives by. And just like Dynamic MLS Image Correction Software, Google Homes software also removes clothing from the photos.What will they think of next?

I hope this is a good aprils fools joke

Does this thing really work that great? Does the $80 take care of the software too? Or how much extra?

Does this work with the iPhone?

So, what is up with this new Ultra Mini rotator? This thing attached to any camera phone can do everything for me?Are you guys suggesting we use this? Won’t this make every realtor a virtual tour provider now? They can get the same quality out of this cell phone that we can provide? Not sure I follow the logic on this…. Can you please enlighten me?

How ridiculous!

Boy do I feel stupid. Im going home now. You got me…. I really thought I had missed something. I can not stop laughing.

Am I safe to assume this will work with Blackberry’s?Thank you,

Okay… So are you suggesting we use this over Digital SLR cameras? Just wondering because we just had The Image Webinar teaching us all the tricks of using the SLR’s.And if my customer’s buy this… doesn’t that make them no longer have a use for me… and I lose a customer?

boy i have to see the quality on those tours – it really brings it down does it not?

The smartphone sounds interesting. Hmmm the mini rotator – I don’t like though. Makes it sound like just anyone can do a VT. That could take my job away even!

That’s awesome! I assume the tour you sent was with the iPhone? Does this also mean you have software for Mac?Is there someone there I can speak with about this?

Jason please place 100 of these on order for me, that way I can just hand them out to the realtors and not have to do anything myself.Also if you don’t mind please provide your credit card info for the order. I promise I will reimburse you once the order ships.Also, as you know I live in Florida and we have some prime Green Swamp property for sale if you are interested.

Are you concerned this will comoditize the value of the tours?

Awe GEEZ! You know… I am 43 years old and no one has EVER gotten me on April Fools…So you would be a first! The whole time I am sitting here going… WHAT!!! How can they POSSIBLY think A smart phone could compare to professional photography!I was seriously raising my eyebrows in confusion and disbelief… never even occurred to me it was April 1st.Gotta give it to you… you had me! LOLThis is one for the record books. LOL How many others have responded?Or Was I the only one not awake today. LOL

HA HA – Dude that is just too funny – April Fools – Very well done!

This is an April Fool’s gag, right?

Is this an April Fools joke?!?! It does the dishes!!!

I have a serious problem with the latest email I just received.I am not one to complain but the following statement was not thought through. “No bulky equipment, no manual stitching, no processing whatsoever.The software does all the work to make YOUR cell phone pictures look JUST like you hired a professional photographer to photograph your listing!” Several years ago Kodak ran a similar type ad that had serious re precautions to their Pro Division. Pro photographers actually protested by not buying Kodak film for over 6 months. I am sure XXXX XXXX agrees with me that the statement is an insult to our expertise and continued support to RTV. Hey Jason,Nice new update. Will we be able to promote this product and still get a commission for every tour produced? What’s your thoughts? Do you have a sample tour I can look at? I want to see the quality first hand.

HAHA…great April Fool’s joke…had me going for a minute there…

C’mon Jason, I’ve been bashing realtors for years for using their cell phones for the listing photos. Please tell me it’s not this easy.And it will lay to waste all of the lighting and exposure tricks that Jim so eloquently discussed during the Webinar last week? There is no way my Blackberry can take as good of photos than I’m taking with my real camera. I’d love to see a pano shot with this thing!

I gotta tell you, I was really kinda pissed. I thought this guy has lost his freaking mind and is minimizing everything we’re out her trying to do. Get these Realtors ( I know I am one) to add some class to their listings and use us professionals ( I call myself that now) to do their photography. I was ready to jump back to Visual Tour. (I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth there.) P.S. Feel free to post this on the blog and give me a couple of free tours!

APRIL FOOLS! Pretty good one!

This is a great April Fool’s day joke, thanks for sharing it.You got me on that. I was thinking no way in hell could that be done. When you sent the link to tour, it was as I expected. That was a good one my friend.

Thanks for having fun with us!!

– Team RTV


Virtual Tours and the Elusive Perfect Exposure

I started producing virtual tours about three years ago. Initially I was just curious about the technology utilized to create them, but I quickly saw their value in helping to showcase the work of my architectural firm. Being able to show a client a building from the inside or to place them in the middle of one of our Cleveland Ohio outdoor lifestyle centers seemed like a great use for this media.

Given my background in Ohio real estate development and my interest in photography and “all things technical,” l thought it would be fun to turn my hobby into a real business that combined all of those elements. In Early 2008 I found RealTour Vision and created SGMDesign360.com.

Since I am not a professional photographer, its sometimes a struggle to get perfect exposures for the shots needed to stitch together a great panorama. It was particularly difficult when I first started since I was using a 6 shot setup with an 8mm fisheye lens on a Nikon D200 DSLR. (Four shots horizontally and then one up and one down) Correct exposure was critical and post processing in Photoshop was essential. While I liked the result and the ability to do true spherical immersive images, the time investment in each spin was not practical for typical real estate virtual tours. RTV’s 12 shot method gives me much better quality “out of the box.”

Regardless of the technology used, correct exposure is important. So what is the best way to set the camera? Should you use supplemental light, flash or studio floods? What about white balance? It can be very confusing and there is no one best method for every situation. The following outlines several different methods that can be used to get the right exposure. Experiment and see what works best for your situation.

The trick to creating any panorama is to insure that there is even exposure across the entire set of images. Shooting in automatic or aperture priority mode may result in different exposures for each frame, especially if there are dramatic changes in lighting within the scene. While the individual frames will look good, the contrast between frames can be too much for your blending program to handle effectively. So, what is the best way to shoot these photos? There are several different opinions and everyone does things a bit differently. So, in order to simplify the process, I have outlined a few of the options that I use on a regular basis.

Option I – Consistent Exposure and White Balance

Instead of using one of your cameras automatic modes, try using Manual mode instead. Meter only for the mid-tones in the scene. First, if you are using a digital SLR select an aperture setting that will give you good depth of field. I like a setting of f 8. Since we are on a tripod, we can control the exposure with shutter speed. Scan the entire scene and find the extreme lights and darks then meter for the mid range. Once you know that setting, shoot each picture in the sequence using the same set of exposure settings. You should end up with a well-balanced set of exposures to stitch together. I prefer to use natural lighting, so if I have good ambient light I’ll keep the room lights off or try to have them on the lowest wattage possible. Remember to select the appropriate white balance and keep it the same for every frame in the sequence. Turn off automatic white balance in your camera settings menu.

Option II – Adjusted Exposure

Start by setting up just like Option I and meter for the mid-range condition. Note the exposure setting. For each shot, adjust the shutter speed to provide more or less exposure as needed, but do not vary from the mid range exposure setting by more than a stop or two in either direction. Adjustments should be made relative to the mid-range exposure setting, not the previous shot setting.

Option III – Bracket Exposures

A common way to handle difficult lighting situations is to bracket exposure. By taking a series of shots we can expose for both the highlights and the shadow areas and then combine the images in Photoshop to get the correct blending. Post processing is time consuming, but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. Fortunately, my Nikon D200 offers several automatic-bracketing options. I find the three shot setting works best. Again, I set up and meter to find my mid-range exposure. I shoot in Aperture Priority mode and let the camera automatically adjust shutter speed to give me a bracketed sequence. The camera will shoot Normal, then Under, then Over at each rotation. Basically, I take three shots at each station, letting the D200 change the settings. Be careful to stay in sequence, rotating before all three shots are taken can cause major problems. Once I have all the shots I have a few options. I can separate the shots into a normal, under and over sequence and then stitch each sequence individually. Save them to high resolution jpg, and bring them into Photoshop to blend them together. I have had little success with Photoshop’s (cs2) HDR process, but have found a nice plug in by Fred Miranda called DRI Pro Plug-in v2.0. I believe it was less than $20.

The second option is to just visually select the images that seem correct and assemble a set to be stitched. This eliminates the need for Photoshop work, but this method is highly dependent on your scene and your ability to visually compile the correct image.

Option IV – Supplemental Lighting

I’m not a big fan of using supplemental lighting for virtual tours, primarily because I am not as well versed in flash photography as I should be and have had difficulty creating clean stitches. I know many people do this without issue, but I struggle with it. I have recently been experimenting with a flash diffuser produced by Gary Fong and have been very pleased with the results. I need to experiment with the diffuser using all of the exposure methods to see which approach gives me the best results. I think this method will solve many of the more common lighting problems that we all encounter. I’ll report my findings next week.

Stephen G. Moluse
Cleveland Virtual Tours
www.sgmdesign360.com

Order a Cleveland Ohio Virtual Tour – (866) 952-TOUR (8687)

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