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Which 360 Video Camera Should You Buy for Real Estate Tours?

Published: 02/02/2018
By: larry

Manuel in New Jersey asked:

What is the best 360 camera for real estate?

This might seem like a simple question but it's not. There are a huge number cameras that shoot 360s on the market and more coming on the market every day. First, here are my assumptions about the real estate part of this question:

  1. Since YouTube supports 360 videos it seems that's a usable way to host 360 for real estate.
  2. Cupix is also an effective way to host 360 tours.
  3. We are NOT talking about Matterport here. Yes, it's a form of 360, but it's a special case. 360 video is maturing rapidly and mostly what we are talking about here.
  4. The price range for these cameras is between $100 and $1000.

The best 360 camera reviewer I have found is Ben Claremont in Sydney, AU. Ben has a recent video that reviews most of the 360 cameras on the market. There is a summary screen near the end of Ben's video. If you are interested in shooting 360s, you should subscribe to Ben's YouTube channel because he updates his review video every 3 months.

Which 360 camera are you using?

10 comments on “Which 360 Video Camera Should You Buy for Real Estate Tours?”

  1. Are you interested in shooting 360 VIDEO or normal 360 tours (normal being the stitching of a several still images to create a 360 image (the most common). If Video, it isn't a popular option yet. You can shoot (VIDEO) a 360 image of each room and edit them into a video or you can do a motion 360 video (with mine the 360 video camera was on a tower attached to a robot. I have been able to do these for over a year but the version that sells is the 360 still images.

    all three versions.

  2. I am just getting started with the Insta360 One than can shoot 360 stills at a resolution of 24 megapixels. I am a real estate agent and a custom builder, so I am always looking for the most reasonable method of making things work with the best results. I tried both of the "Do Not Buy" listed items and they did not measure up. FYI - A doll house approach from Matterport at $4,000 + is out of the question for the normal real estate agent or builder.

  3. Maybe it is just me, but the interest in 360 photography in RE again is like the popularity of Bell Bottom pants making a come back.

    As one who has done thousands of those VT's many years ago when it was the rage, I would caution anyone to be sure to research the viability on the service in your area now. Some areas seem to be still interested, but in my area, agents just look at it as a past night mare that won't go away. I have not had one request for 360 service in over 10 years. I think the bad taste that they left is one reason why the newer Matterport system is having such a hard time taking hold.

  4. Google street has only been around for about 10 years, but it is still growing. I do not know if we had interactive 360 RE 10 years ago, but we do today. They are called hotspots with popup videos, photos and text. About 90% of all RE search start with the internet and 70% of the 90% start with a smartphone. That said, I want every option available and a 360 service is part of the options.

    You feel more in control in a 360 video because it feels like you are actually outside or inside the property. Youtube has more 360 uploads now and growing. People are becoming more interested in viewing everything in a 360 world.

  5. I have a love/hate relationship with the 360 cameras. Initially became aware as client asked me what I thought of the Theta S. I tried it, wasn't impressed on several levels and gave her my opinion. But what intrigued me, putting my Realtor hat on for a moment, was what she said about a competitor using it as a prospecting tool. He was prospecting FSBO with offer of free (time limited) video tour to 'assist' them in their efforts, then after a couple weeks disable the link. Want it longer? List with me. That is actually a variation of what I do offering a professional photo package that I fully refund if they list with me - only fair as none of me listing clients pay for photography in addition to commission. Now putting my photographer hat back on...would I put my professional name behind it? Absolutely NOT! On paper I have added the 360 video tour for my personal FSBO prospecting, and thankfully, no-one has requested because I no longer have the camera. If I listed the property, I would personally stitch in PtGui shots taken with Sony a7rII and Rokinon 12mm non-circular fills full frame fisheye (4 plus zenith and patch for nadir isn't that hard) then link to walkthrough slides. Far better than the Theta S or V which arguably is one of the best of the affordable cameras. Haven't done true video with either, but suspect the Rokinon will come close to matching the FOV of the Theta in walk-around mode, but a walkthrough with a standard 16-35 rectilinear lens on my Ronin M, while not as wide, would be superior, preferable and far more professional.

    Gave it a second try when the Theta V was introduced, and while, due to customer Rewards status, I enjoy a 45 day return benefit at Best Buy, it didn't last that long. Briefly, CA was atrocious with purple fringing like haven't seen before. While will post a link at the end of the one used for prospecting, you can see it in examples from other posted links in other replies as well as Flickr 360 group where EFIX data identifies the camera. Was glad to know wasn't me! Other problems were bluetooth range as did ok on interior through walls but couldn't communicate through exterior walls - in the video, around the corner on the pool shot, or garage corner on front, but had to hide inside through windows. On my second attempted shoot, it wouldn't even do that when I was 3' away through the back door. That plus the next issue is what lead to the early return. The other issue is the software being non-responsive, having to delete and redownload. That second shoot didn't have cell service and had to ask the homeowner their home network password to re-download before could even take interior photos. I did write a negative review and Theta replied that the new firmware has resolved most of the issues but I haven't gone there yet. Here is the link for review. Enjoy the purple fringing around the windows! On a positive side, the Theta stitching is great.

  6. One thing I should have noted, realtor client knew I was testing a potentially new service offering and I gave them both the 360 tour and the standard tour. Feedback was that they preferred the standard tour. One change that the experiment had on me is that I always shot panos with the 16-35 set around 24 in landscape mode. Now, while I don't use the Rokinon 12, still using the 16-35, I do switch to the tripod with permanently mounted pano head and shoot in portrait which gives a lot of flexibility where want to crop in post - less ceiling, more of the lower area.

  7. I use a Matterport Pro camera. My clients still require still images this is just an additional service I offer. The clients love it.

  8. A bigger question is whether offering 360° images is going to be worthwhile in your market. Is the demand such that if you don't, you will start losing customers? Is any other photographer offering it? Are agents doing it on their own (with good results)? Personally, I rank visual media as Still photos, video, printed materials and then everything else in that order. Anything online has to work well on a mobile device. If it's slow or will require downloading another program, forget it. If you don't want to get into video, adding a brochure to offerings might be a good kicker. Once you have a template, adding images and the agent's description via copy and paste is a fast process.

    The bottom line is if adding 360° images will bring in more profitable work, it's worth considering. If it isn't, don't bother. Gimmicks only last a very short time, so your ROI needs to be fast. You don't want to purchase the camera and only have business for it for a couple of months. You may be better off picking up a new lens, buying back up gear or getting the latest Mac to speed up post processing.

  9. Last year I made a determination that 360 VR was coming and would stay. I waited for the black Friday special and order an Insta 360 One. I checked out ALL the others and decided the 360 One was best for me. It took some time for the new Android version to ship but it did. My disappointed continued when I saw that the adapter was for a "C" type USB charger. I commented on this on another blog and and then I wrote the company because I was told that had a traditional micro USB adapter but they never answer any emails or customer support emails. I would buy a new phone but to find a phone with a good battery, C type USB and gyro is tough unless you want to buy a new 600 dollar phone. Now to the camera, it's good. The challenge is no different from all photos. Good lighting and post processing. I used some free software I found on line and was able to put together a 360 video hosted on You Tube and it worked great. I believe Movadi has an inexpensive 360 software that I will most likely purchase. Both You Tube and Face Book support 360 so I believe it's here to stay. I just tried to set up a live 360 but in order to do that you need to have the camera attached to the phone but since my adapter doesn't fit my phone I can't do a 360 live broadcast. Despite all the bumps, 360 views will come and they will stay. Above and beyond the home seller or realtor who doesn't want to pay for the extra work, business are going to drive this market: Stores, restaurants and others who have a long term profit motive will purchase 360 photos. I am still convinced that 360 is here to stay and look forward to profiting from it both as a photographer and an agent.

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