Menu Hosting For Spherical 360s: Is There A Future For Spherical 360s in Real Estate?

September 15th, 2015

TriplexLast week, Derrick from had a lengthy discussion about 360s. Derrick’s point of view is:

My company, Spinattic, is launching a platform that enables 360° photographers to create custom user interfaces for their photos. I know many people will say “360° imagery is dead in the real estate industry”, which can I agree to some extent. Well, Spinattic is out to change that. We believe one of the reasons for it’s down fall a few years ago was due to the lack of quality services and software that helped photographers present the 360° imagery and not the 360° medium itself.

I used to be one of the original 360 crazy men. For years in the early 2000’s I shot 4 to 6 360s for every one of my wife’s listings. But I haven’t had my Sigma 8mm lens (that I used to shoot spherical 360s with) mounted since 2009. I know they are still used in some markets, but my general feeling is they have been on their way out for years and nothing’s going to bring them back. The reason is, they take special equipment, they are labor intensive to stitch. If you are going to go beyond still photography, I think it makes much more sense to focus on video.

Derrick’s come back is, “there are cameras coming that will give you equirectangular 360 images right out of the camera that will only cost $2000.” This will remove the need to stitch 360s with software like PTgui. I’m not convinced but I tried out Derrick’s because it allows it allows one to upload equirectangular images (which I have hundreds of) to bring back to life some of my favorite old 360s from the early 2000’s. Here are a few of them.

So Derrick and I need you all to settle this friendly disagreement about whether a hosting site and some “coming soon” cameras that do automatic 360 stitching in camera are going to bring back 360s to real estate marketing.

What do you think?

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38 Responses to “ Hosting For Spherical 360s: Is There A Future For Spherical 360s in Real Estate?”

  • Like Larry, I have hundreds of 360 images gathering dust. Many loaded on with a pro account until they refused to continue tours leaving my clients hung out to dry.
    I am loading a few onto Spinattic to “test the water”. I do use TourBuzz for real estate but have little interest from agents (except when I do it for free and then they love it, but that’s a different story!)

  • When the 360 craze started many years ago in the RE industry, I too was one of the original “crazy men”. While there were a couple of options such as “Picture Path” and all, we decided to build our own servers and host and control are own product. I did thousands of these panos until the crash with a one shot system lens called Be Here (Have several of these systems if someone is interested….) Not the quality of today’s systems but at the time, all the rage.

    Now, even with the new systems and quality, I could not give them away to the RE market. If someone wants to make money with this product, they should concentrate on business. Oh yeah…..that is what Google is doing…..

    Face it, the RE market is fickle, whatever the new craze is to differentiate the agents from the rest, will always get some traction, but once the “craze” wears off, they will abandon it, just like the drone craze.

  • I still see panos being uploaded to the local MLS and the major consumer RE websites. They look horrible since they are being presented as jpgs and not via an appropriate browser plug-in to display them properly.

    360deg panos will still have the same problems. They aren’t useful for the MLS or syndication. It’s a separate expense for the agent and will need to be presented via the agent’s own server (ie, not Zillow, Trulia, or even most broker’s web sites). The sphericals are fun for some stuff, but I don’t think they will make any penetration into the mainstream RE marketplace. 3D imaging like Matterport has a better chance, but in my local market, agents don’t use professional stills that much so anything else isn’t going to fly here.

  • Really I think many of you might want to re think the 360 “spherical” Platforms … and platforms like Matterport. Now your thinking is coming from the the world of “pre-gamers” & “pre-millennium” buyers. The ability to completely “virtually” tour a home is here and is getting easier and less expensive. Tourbuzz,tourfactory, almost every what is called a virtual tour… by today’s modern standards are just “slideshows” absolutely not a Virtual Reality Tour. Some type of 360 video, 3D models and 360 tours I would guess it will be a standard. The very first RE photos I ever shot were a single B&W Photo of just the front of the home that went in the “phone book” like MLS listing that came out monthly. Here is one platform am testing today….

  • Here is another one that i made with 7 exposure HDR to get really great views out the windows.

  • Years ago I built a camera head for doing high resolution 360/180 images

    So it was easy to create images like this but I preferred creating my own small world

    Last week I had an email from Google looking to see if I would be interested in providing my service to businesses for Google Maps. So that could be an additional market if you are doing this. I didn’t pursue VR imaging the first time around because it was found people didn’t like the way a mouse interacted with the viewer. Now with so many people using mobile devices and touch screens the users may actually like the interface.

  • I too started my business doing 360s. At the start the novelty was effective and several progressive agents used the panoramas to their advantage. In time the quest for quality stills was more important and the advent of video and the ability to present video because of advances in technology took my business in a different direction. I very seldom do 360s except for special commercial venues. I have not done one for real estate in better than 5 years. With that said I have recently developed a technique to do 360 aerial panoramas. I am in the process of testing the market to see if these may be of interest to agents that “farm” a particular subdivision. Here is an example of an aerial 360 I did of a location in Ft. Pierce. I’d like to hear from my colleagues on the idea. CC please!


  • @Brad, here is something to think about. I am one of those folks that those kind of spherical 360 views don’t sit well with. And by that I mean, I can only look at one before I start to get nauseous. It’s not the side to side, it’s the up/down motion in conjunction with the side to side. How many are there like me, not sure, but I know I’m not the only one. And I wish I could say it was age, but I was the same way in my 20’s.
    Compared to say Matterport, where you can move through the house to change your perspective, and thus see the change in spatial relationships between rooms, it’s somewhat limited. Looking at something up close is a whole different animal that looking at it from a distance. But that’s just me

  • I have a 360 lens system I bought for $700.
    DOES ANYONE WANT TO BUY IT? It’s in good condition.

    I’m serious.

  • Walt, I think the 360 aerial panorama really looks impressive and could be very useful.

    I really like that distortion is also kept to a minimum, when photography takes place up in the air AND that it is FULL 360 !

  • Walt, great example of aerial 360. Have you tried creating 3D models of the exterior of a building yet? I’m tempted to do that with the way the Tower app sets it up for a 3DR system.

  • @Tim… I think you are right about the comparison of the 360 to Matterports type tours. Real “Virtual Reality” does cause Virtual Reality Sickness… especially when used with a VR headset. As for some of these comments about it being a separate expense… With Matterport you can pull all the stills you want right from the 3d model (except for exteriors), (and they are kinda limited)… And Greg Nuspel (by the way Greg I am a Google Street View Photographer) The newest 360 spherical cameras shoot HDR and output a fully stitched Pano… (i am not sure where you are supposed to stand?) The iris 360 see it here But most importantly for matterport type 3d modeling tours will be Googles “Project Tango” that is an app for ipads to create the 3d virtual tours for matterport instead of a 4500.00 camera.

  • 360’s are dead. The only reason they existed in the first place was to emulate video on the internet. Now that we have Youtube, what’s the point? I may be wrong but I think Matterport cameras will end up on the same scrap heap as 8mm circular fisheye lenses.

  • @Brad yes I have seen the camera and was wondering if it has a remote wifi control. It doesn’t seem to cover the area right around the camera so that may limit its usefulness for real estate photography. It should stitch in the reflective ball at the bottom to cover that.

    I just have this set up so it is no more cost to me. I am actually just finishing up a new Arduino based controller that allows me to do 3 axis timelapse with the head on my slider. So doing 360 images are just something it can do.

  • I think there is room for a number of formats.. the MLS system here has Stills of course… A tab for Videos and a tab for Virtual tours. If all three can be made by the same tool like matterport type systems then you will see a winning system. As for Video… It is probably the one option besides really great stills.. that can evoke emotion. Nothing will replace our TV’s and now our mobile devices for a long while.

  • 360 are dead, for today. However, it is still a valid method of presenting a property. As such, I expect that the trend will reverse itself in time.

  • You can fully control it with a mobile device! And yes there is a Zenith area that the camera will not cover… Most put their logo there.

  • I transitioned to the Matterport 3D Showcase solution from 360º spherical photography in July 2014. Shortly thereafter, I founded the Matterport User Group Forum. We now have 525 members from 32 countries. Many of our members also formerly shot 360º spherical photography. If you use the Forum search box – powered by Google – to search on “Spherical” you will find many related thread topics that are related to the above PFRE blob post.



  • Bottom line, before anyone invests in this or any other kind of marketing fluff, they should do their homework. Check to see if the area you are in will support it, sustain it and will your investment bring enough reward to make it worthwhile.

    Photographers have a history of getting into systems because they are “new or cool” only to find out later that they brought little or no return for the business. Not to mention the time lost that could have been used to hone their skills in other areas

  • Any panos I do are never (or rarely) 360. They are 180-225 as rooms typically are too small with significant floorspace eliminated, although the examples given with the neydor does open it up with the massive increase in distortion. At least I can re-set the cylinder from 360 default and eliminate most distortion. Ignoring that, there are two other reasons I wouldn’t use it. First, most rooms have areas I want to hide and they are strategic panos. The other was brought to my attention yesterday as the Realtor feel MLS locally is devaluing tours in general with their free low quality one (small frame and first 5 photos with Ken Burns effect) given as a benefit to all Realtors, But more important, the Realtor’s clients can’t find the one I do due to a really obscure icon buried among all other icons.

  • 360…. Drone…… Virtual this……. Virtual that .
    You sell a house using a few basic factors.
    Great photos make sales, simple!
    The buyers are looking for a certain style of home, see it in the first 5 photos, so continues to look through the next 20.
    Calls the agent, books an appointment, the agent then seals the deal.
    I thought the idea of great photos was to get the client to the agent.
    Is anyone going to spend $1,000,000 because the 360 was interesting. Of course not. They want to see the property and ‘feel’ the place
    Scrolling through 360’s just makes you dizzy and makes the whole process a joke.
    Whats next……. 360’s of car interiors before you buy?

  • All of these formats have a valid utility. But as a business owner, one has to make decisions on what ones demographic finds economically reasonable. Almost anything can be done in photography. But budgets are the limiting factor.

  • Mike,

    Luxury real estate agents and brokers engage us to create Matterport 3D Showcases to win more listings and get more/better buyer and seller leads.

    My Atlanta-based company, We Get Around, helps agents and brokers differentiate their marketing plan to have a competitive advantage (for competing agents that are pitching only photos, for example)

    Matterport 3D Showcases are an investment to win listings; photography is a cost of doing business: thus commodity pricing for photography.

    We run a referral network of 500+ Matterport Pros in 32 countries. If you are not already competing with a Pro that offers both still photography and Matterport 3D Showcases, you will. Except in Atlanta. We recommend to our agents that they engage a Pro for their still photography and we stay “focused” on 3D and soon Virtual Reality (VR) photography solutions.


  • Interesting discussion. There is a company locally that still does the 360 panos heavily and provides 3-5 with every photoshoot with an included tour website. They seem to do well, so obviously some agents are still wanting them.

    Personally I agree with the above, the 360s make me kinda nauseous, and more times than not, horribly distorts the room and perspectives. I really enjoy the matterport 3d tours, however, I have approached some of my long time clients that always get my walkthrough videos, and they made a good point. The 3d tour can be time consuming and tedious to view, and most importantly doesn’t capture “feel” where a video can really capitalize on that. They said they would much rather be taken on a tour via video then have to click a bunch of times to get through the house.

  • @Dan Smigrod

    Lets be honest Dan, looking through your forum – powered by Google –, many of your members are finding it very difficult to sell the Matterport product to real estate agents on a regular basis. Several discussions on pricing and how most agents are just not willing to pay for it.

    That being said, I know guys like Daniel Milstein are having great success, but as Jerry said above, potential investors really need to do their homework for THEIR area before dropping 5k.

  • I really appreciate getting all of your thoughts on this issue. Personally I believe the Virtual Reality type platforms will become the standard. I also believe companies like Google or Amazon Zillow will replace Real Estate Agents… 5 years tops. Once you had to have an agent to market and show your home. Now the internet searches are how everyone shops. Sure there will be a person that you meet that will show you a home… but they will be more like a “chaperone” not an agent. Some say these types of tours make them dizzy…. well the 30 something buyers got over that playing halo 15 years ago their the Gamer millennium generation… They grew up Nauseous and Dizzy!!!

  • Gang! Spherical tours are coming back! But probably more in the form of immersive video than stitched still photo panoramas. I’m surprised we haven’t seen much about this here. Companies like google and Facebook are tapping into it big time and investing a lot of money. Check out google cardboard and other headsets. They have $15-$20 headsets that you can drop your smart phone into and be in a virtual world. Yes the technology is new, but it is moving VERY fast. Gopro just bought a company called Kolor who make mounts for multiple gopros to record 360 degree spherical videos. Gopro also partnered with google on a project call Jump. Check that out when you have a chance. Anyhow, my point is that there is a future for this and if you want to separate yourself from the rest you could be at there forefront of the movement. These things will be around in a big way in the very near future.

  • sorry, I accidentally plugged my email address in to the website field on my previous post. my website is as you can see, I also go started as a 360 guy way back in the day.

  • I will wait to see it before I believe it as far as LONG TERM popularity and success go. Nausea, no floor plan, loading time, navigation…these are the things, imo, that will hold these types of tours back.

  • Slide Shows/ Panos whatever we want to call them. These are made up of basically the same images that the buyers have seen when viewing the listing. It’s just a rehash of what they know…no benefit really. No ROI and Definitely no SEO value.

  • John, if it wasn’t for the modern gamer I would agree. Advantage of the 360 image is seeing the actual layout and the VR tours even more so. I can actually see some buyers wanting this, specially when they are buying a home from overseas. It’s harder to use lens selection to help make a room look better, so in a way it is less desirable for the seller.

  • @Chris

    Nice website. You should quit your day job and provide websites to photographers. It’s rockin’ …

    I apologize for the delay. I was busy preparing for an armored car to deliver a ton of cash to our office as a Matterport Pro 3D Camera Photographer. Okay. Yes. Many members of our Matterport User Group Forum – entrepreneurial photographers and real estate agents – are still figuring it out. Actually, it’s more like an investment of $7,000 to $12,000 to be a full-time Matterport Pro (Google Matterport Gear and Accessories). Thanks for reading our website. You may have missed the article about and Matterport partnering to create 31,000 Matterport 3D Showcases of rental properties. gets their clients – the apartment communities – to pay for an additional tier of monthly services and renters get a time-saving way to experience apartments.

    Matterport 3D Showcases – and soon Matterport Virtual Reality (VR) – will explode (in a good way). Soon, house sellers will be asking Realtors if they provide Matterport 3D Tours. Real estate agents are already scrambling to engage Pros. We Know this because we also run the We Get Around Referral Network of Matterport Pro 3D Camera Photographers and Real Estate Agents (500+ members in 32 countries). So, in addition to finding Pros on our Referral Network map, agents contact us for referrals.

    While some days it may feel like we are pushing a boulder up a mountain, soon, that will change and photographers that get started sooner than later will have a solution that solves two problems for real estate agents: 1) how to differentiate their visual storytelling solution to win listings, and 2) what to do when potential clients say I want to list my house with an agent that offers the Matterport 3D Showcase solution (and the answer must be yes).

    We’re thankful for PFRE that writes about Matterport occasionally. We’ve noticed that the tone has gone from “ain’t gonna happen” to maybe Matterport’s $56 million in funding ($30 million on 25 June 2015) will disrupt (in a good way) how houses are bought and sold.



  • @Dan

    So much enthusiasm!

    Didn’t miss the part about about, and while that is great, unfortunately it has nothing to do with my comment regarding agents paying for Matterport 🙂

    While Matterport was a very unique tool, over the last year there are other similar alternatives for real estate emerging like that seem to offer more for real estate agents by including floorplans, better mobile use and overall better quality (I have seen a few of your members either already switch to Toursler or start offering it as well)

    Im not saying Matterport is not a usable tool for real estate agents by any means, but by the time Matterport “takes over” real estate as you like to believe, there will be a ton of alternatives that most likely be alot cheaper.

    Its kinda like when motorized gimbals burst into the market and were the “thing to get”, with the MoVI costing close to 6k. A year later there were hundreds of alternatives, all doing the same thing yet costing 50-90% less.

    The point is (again) as Jerry mentioned above that any investors in any system need to see if their area will support (pay) for it. The appeal of something like Matterport is that it doesnt take much to learn other than $$$. Unlike photography and video, there is really no “skills” needed other than the ability to follow simple instructions (since there there is no post production)

    While your forum already has many members offering the Matterport service, when it comes to real estate i can guarantee that 99% of the readers of this site will agree that good photography will always be #1. Any sort of tour, whether its 3D, video or 360 will always be an ADDITIONAL SERVICE so an already good established photographer with a steady business really doesn’t need to worry about a competitor possibly offering matterport and “rush” into a decision. At any point they simply “click” on the buy button on the matterport site and after delivery they now offer Matterport…just like the other 500+ members in 32 countries in your forum!

    Thats great to hear about the $56 million in funding though, hopefully they can finally fix their mobile load times 🙂

  • If it is the layout we want to portray, and I agree, this is most important to the buyer, then video is the solution. At the end of the day,the layout is certainly more important than a well staged dining room table. A well shot video tour will show the flow and continuity of the rooms better than any medium available today. I think attention needs to be paid to how buyers are going to find these tours. ( video,slide shows, panos, 360’s and matterport). Everyone knows they search online. probably do a google search or 2. Most of these virtual tours do not index well at all. however, this isn’t true of video.

  • Maybe it is just me…., but it seems like a lot of BS is starting to show here

  • I am wondering if this camera will start showing up in realtors hands

  • @greg – Interesting. Available on Amazon 10/23 for $350.

  • @Chris

    I ? that you are well versed about the Matterport 3D platform; even if we disagree about if/when …

    I appreciate your analysis and ability to communicate your thoughts.

    The announcement of 31,000 Matterport 3D Showcases to date is a seminal moment for real estate agents and brokers (and their still photographers). Continue to do the same and innovators – perhaps early – will be in the right place at the right time to win business.

    Kindly Join our free Matterport User Group Forum and start a thread about why real estate photographers should NOT add Matterport as a service. Much of your initial thoughts in PFRE would make a great start. Then, let’s see how my Matterpeeps reply. Should make for a lively discussion.

    Thanks again for your insight. Probably time to respectively agree to disagree.

    Time for me to work on our We Get Around blog post next week about Matterport Virtual Reality (VR) meets innovation in the film/television industry.



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