There is a variety of gear that you will need to bring with you when you shoot a virtual tour. What different types of gear do you need, so that you successfully shoot great images? One of these is the camera. In this video, authors Richard Harrington and Francis Torres discuss things to consider when choosing a VR camera to use.
- Let's talk about some of the criteria you might use when choosing a VR camera. There are a few things you need to think about. Do you only need to capture photos? If so, you might be able to get by with a traditional DSLR or mirrorless camera. Are you looking to capture video? Well, that might be the type of camera that you favor and some of the VR cameras are stronger when it comes to video than others. Or maybe you need to balanced approach that does a great job of capturing both photos and videos. As such, maybe some compromises need to be made. And of course, there are other features that a VR camera can support. - Some 360 cameras actually offer live streaming. You can use this for concerts, grand openings, or just to show off a business. - And this works really well because platforms like YouTube and Facebook support live VR streaming with a supported device. It basically allows you to pair the camera and use your smartphone or tablet to actually stream the data live. But really what it comes down to are your resolution goals, and what is it that you're trying to accomplish when shooting. So let's talk about a couple of different types of cameras. First up are the single-lens camera solutions. These types of VR technology are fairly old, or based on older standards. Essentially what happens is it allows you to shoot into a parabolic mirror and then the image is unwrapped. Now, older types of these cameras were useful for shooting just stills and the newer ones are capable of stills and video. When you shoot with these types of cameras, it's really the lowest type of VR solution. That's because it's shooting into a curved mirror and the image is unwrapped in post. Instead of combining two images, one image has to be stretched into a 360-degree image. This type of technology is a bit older, and has been around for more than two decades. But it provides fewer points of failure with just a single camera. - One of the more common cameras nowadays is actually two-lens cameras. These are the more consumer kind of cameras. What they do is they actually take video on both sides of the camera, they have two sensors. And internally, they're able to stitch together to create your 360 image. - Now, the cameras don't have to stitch. Some cameras like the GoPro Fusion are actually writing to two separate memory cards which leads to a higher quality signal, and additional flexibility during post, but it does add another step. Other cameras like the YI that you see here, and the one from Insta360 only use a single memory card and produce files that are more easily and ready to share right out of the camera. So if you're interested in social media or quick publishing, these save you a step, but they do sometimes mean slightly lower image quality. - These kind of cameras are great because since it does internal stitching, the processing power is actually really fast. The only drawback is that you're not getting as high as a resolution as a regular camera. - Another new format that's quite popular is the VR180 system. This is from Google, and you'll notice that there are two lenses that are about similar to the distance of a pair of human eyeballs. This allows for stereoscopic capture. These two lenses are eye-width and essentially what happens is it can be used to create photo or video content, but it easily works in 3D. Now, on the back side of the camera, there is no lens and that's fine. Google sees this as a point-and-shoot camera and one that creates cool, engaging content, but it only has a 180-degree field of view. - For the highest quality 360 images, you want to go with a traditional DSLR or mirrorless cameras. The sensors on these can either be full-frame or APSC but provide a much higher quality and resolution count than these regular all-in-one 360 cameras. - The sensor size is really the key here. Plus you have the flexibility of shooting bracketed shots or HDR. Now some of the smaller consumer cameras, like the Insta360, do have a basic HDR mode, or High Dynamic Range capture that will get more dynamic range, but the flexibility of shooting brackets, particularly for real-estate tours where you're dealing with windows and interiors and mixed lighting, is an incredibly flexible option. But currently this technology is only available when shooting still images for VR photos. - It adds precision and reduces parallax so that way you can smoothly stitch the images together. - So it really comes down to a balancing of features and quality. Maybe you're looking for something simple, like this one here that snaps into a smartphone to make it easy to capture on the go and upload. Or the Insta360, which offers an underwater case so you can do things like virtual tours of snorkeling and scuba diving. Maybe you need high quality photos with bracketing for real estate in the DSLR. Really what it comes down to is balancing features and quality. And the truth of the matter is between Francis and I, you see we own multiple cameras and that's because different jobs have different requirements. And technology continues to evolve very quickly in this fast-moving area of image capture.
- Uses for virtual tours
- Discussing objectives with clients
- Creating a floor plan and shot list
- Choosing the right VR camera
- Shooting panoramas and HDR images with a DSLR
- Shooting a panoramic tour
- Capturing VR photos and videos with a GoPro Fusion
- Enhancing 360° images in Photoshop
- Editing VR videos
- Publishing VR and 360° content