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JPEG image files, a format commonly used for photographs and other complex still images on the Web, is an image that allows for lossy compression. Lossy compression reduces the file by permanently eliminating what looks like redundant details. It uses certain ‘tricks’ based on how the human visual system works to take away information, and the removing information can be barely seen. However, it does save bytes. As a result, fine details in certain areas of the image are obliterated. However, if your image is already in a high resolution, this change is difficult to distinguish. Which explains why we always try to capture images at the largest resolution. Compressing JPEG images downgrades the quality of the image. However, there’s a sweet spot where you can make a trade-off between file size and image quality. This article will provide you with an idea of how much image degradation is acceptable versus what file size is too big.

Firstly, you may wonder what the difference is between reducing ‘resolution’ and ‘file size.’ Image resolution, generally described in pixels per inch(PPI), refers to the number of pixels in an image. The more pixel information it has, the higher resolution it is, which results in a crisp image. In summary, pixels have no set size, they just expand or contract to fill the space available. Let’s take a look at the images below.

Difference between image size and image resolution_higher pixel

640×426 pixels

Difference between image size and image resolution_less pixel

80×52 pixels

These images have a different number of pixels but they fit the image size by expanding each pixel. As a result, the resolution of each image is significantly different. If you reduce resolution, the number of pixels will be cut down resulting in a pixelated image.

However, when you compress file size, a different algorithm will be applied. It reduces the size of the image without losing a single pixel from the original file. It adjusts the quality of the image by discarding unnecessary data, for example, limiting the colors used in an image; fewer colors means there’s less data to run around. Let’s make this easy to understand.

Before compressing an image, each pixel has a different value; 0.12, 0.1234, 12.1, 12.123, 21.12, 21.1234. After you compress the image, the values are 0, 0, 10, 10, 20. Previously, the image had 6 values, whereas following compression, only 3 values are present in the image, which saves up 50%. This transformation cannot be reversed, but it will improve the speed in which it takes to load your image. In short, the number of pixels remains intact. Instead, detailed information will be taken away when you compress the image.

Difference between reducing resolution and compressing image file_Original image

Original image

Difference between reducing resolution and compressing image file_Reduce 50% of resolution

Reduce 50% of resolution

Difference between reducing resolution and compressing image file_Compress 50%.

Compress 50%

Of course, each person has a different standard of the acceptable image quality. You may need to find the sweet spot by experimenting with the quality and size to discern what ratio will yield the best savings at the best quality levels. To save you time and trouble figuring this out, use the table below as a guide. You can also compare each 3D virtual tour according to the different compression rate. As an example, take a look at the image quality comparison in the 3D tour below. (embed link Click this link)

Export Quality Setting in Lightroom

100% of the export quality in Lightroom
80% of the export quality in Lightroom.
60% of the export quality in Lightroom.
40% of the export quality in Lightroom.
20% of the export quality in Lightroom.

As you can see in the above images, by the time you get down to a compression of 40%, you can begin to see noticeably different pixelated colors and halos. Therefore, the recommended compression rate is about 40%.

correlation between the file size and the image quality

This inverse proportion graph shows a correlation between the file size and the image quality. As you can see, the file size drops drastically when the image quality decreases from 100% to 90%. After you reduce the image quality to 90%, the slope keeps getting smaller and smaller as you move to the right. For that reason, the quality of the image is more important than the file size when the image quality level is smaller than 90%.

You can use PTGui to reduce the JPEG file size when generating panoramic photos. Alternatively, you can also use Lightroom or Photoshop. It should be noted that you need to compress photos individually in Photoshop. You can also use free web apps such as Toolur to reduce your JPEG file size.

After stitching your 360º panoramic photos in PTGui, you can decide on the JPEG output quality. The quality ranges from 0 to 100 and you can insert. your desired value. It is recommended that you select a range between 50 to 100 percent.

Compress image file without losing quality in PTGui.

Reduce JPEG quality in PTGui

In Lightroom, you can resize multiple images at once. Select an image or all the images you want to export out of Lightroom. Go to File > Export (Ctrl+Shift+E) and adjust a Quality slider or type the value. We recommend setting the quality between 40 and 80 percent for a web and 3D virtual tour. You may want to select a higher value if you need to print out your files.

Compress image file without losing quality in Lightroom.

Reduce JPEG quality in Lightroom

In Photoshop, you can determine your JPEG quality when you click save or save as. You can then choose your ideal image quality by adjusting the percentage scale, where you can select a number in the scale from 0 to 12. The recommended scale is between 4 and 7.

Reduce JPEG quality in Photoshop

How 360° Imagery Is Revolutionizing the Construction Industry

In recent years, the camera has become one of the most valuable tools on the construction site. Project managers rely on photographs at every stage of the construction process — from pre-construction planning to project close out — utilizing them to document site conditions, monitor job progress and verify compliance with contract documents. These images serve as a visual record of completed work and, in addition to being an effective management tool, can be instrumental in marketing their services to future clients. However, traditional photography has significant limitations and, in response to the construction industry’s increasingly complex and litigious nature, many project managers have been searching for more efficient and comprehensive ways of capturing the construction process.

The Traditional Approach

Historically, the construction industry has relied on point-and-shoot photography to document worksites. This is a relatively inefficient and time-consuming process which requires multiple pictures to be taken of each space using standard two-dimensional cameras. Naturally, variations in the camera person’s point of view often result in the unnecessary duplication of images and the careless omission of critical details.

Perhaps even more frustrating is the process of uploading these images onto a computer, naming each individual file, and cataloging them into a network of folders and subfolders. One wrong click of the mouse or an accidental deviation from the file naming convention could easily cause an image to become permanently misplaced. Like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces, the point-and-shoot approach to documentation typically leaves project managers with an incomplete and nearly indecipherable picture of the job site.

The 360° Image Revolution

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a 360° image is worth six times as much. Each is composed of six photographs — front, rear, right, left, top and bottom — taken simultaneously by a specialized camera and automatically stitched together into a single panorama.

A cube map version of a 360-degree panoramic photo to identify that it consists of 6 photographs; front, rear, right, left, top and bottom_360 image in construction

I would like to show the cubemap version like above and identify (or have titles) for front, rear, right, left, etc.

The result is an image which can be panned both horizontally and vertically, allowing viewers a visually explore all 360° of a space. In addition to saving a substantial amount of time taking and organizing individual photographs, 360° images produce a more immersive viewing experience, providing a greater level of detail than any single image is capable of.

A 360-degree panoramic photo in a construction site provides a greater level of detail than a 2D image is capable of.

And now show the resulting stitched image of the same cubemap.

In its infancy, 360° image capture required professional expertise as well as expensive hardware and software. However, recent advancements in image processing software and camera technology have made 360° imagery more affordable than ever before. In fact, it is now possible for a construction company to start a reality capture program with a nominal investment of only three hundred dollars.

The Future of 360° Imagery

While 360° imagery has streamlined the documentation of specific spaces, many project managers have found it inadequate for properly documenting entire projects. Large office buildings, for instance, might require multiple 360° images for each individual office and conference room. Identifying these repetitious spaces and determining their relationship to one another from photographs alone can be challenging, even with the benefit of 360° image technology.

That is why innovative companies have been developing software solutions that allow users to automatically connect multiple 360° images together into 3D Tours which can be explored virtually, using navigation controls similar to Google Street View with a reference floor plan.

A 3D virtual tour used in a construction site to allow project manager, stakeholders to walk remotely with a higher detail

Although each virtual tour is composed of tens, hundreds and even thousands of 360° images, their whole is greater than the sum of their parts. They allow project stakeholders to remotely “walk” the site, generating a truly immersive viewing experience. If a 360° image is worth six thousand words, a three-dimensional virtual tour is equivalent to a great story.

Furthermore, many solutions feature 4D capabilities which enable 3D Tours captured at different times to be explored simultaneously.

Side-by-side comparison_compare 3D tours captured at different times

This side-by-side comparison illustrates how the project has progressed over time, weaving a narrative that can span days, months or even years. Each individual 3D Tour becomes a chapter in a captivating novel and, together, they create an unparalleled fluidity of experience.

If you are planning to get a new camera, at some point you may start wondering which camera you really need. The million dollar question is should you get a crop or full frame? Before making that decision, let’s learn the difference between these two. Both cameras refer to the actual, physical size of the digital sensor inside of the camera. Full-frame is based on 35mm standard film format and crop is literally the image cropped as the name implies, creating a zoomed in effect. This post will cover more details about crop and full-frame cameras leading you to make a wise choice when you purchase your camera later. In addition, it contains specifications of each camera: Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

Before we talk further about the details and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of crop and full-frame cameras, let’s briefly learn about the 35mm standard film format. It is a basic knowledge that will help you understand the fundamentals of all kinds of camera.

A 35mm film format involved capturing light rays, which has been the standard in film gauge since 1909 due to its balance in cost and image quality and has stuck ever since. The light coming through the aperture makes the image round as shown in the image below. The image appears in a rectangular shape when the light falls into the film. The black outline refers to the image in the 35mm standard film format with a 2:3 aspect ratio (24mm:26mm) which is applied to a full-frame camera body while the red outline represents the image on the camera sensor of a crop body.

As the images above show, a photo taken with a crop body has a shorter range to capture an object compared to a full-frame camera with the same lens. Even though the lens takes the same amount of light, the crop body sensor cuts the image beyond its sensor range while retaining the same 2:3 aspect ratio of the full-frame camera.

Image in 35mm standard format(full-frame)

Image on a crop body camera

As the images above show, a photo taken with a crop body has shorter range to capture an object compared to a full-frame camera with the same lens. Even though the lens takes the same amount of light, the crop body sensor cuts the image beyond its sensor range while retaining the same 2:3 aspect ratio of the full-frame camera.

Then how can you obtain the same image like the one taken with a full-frame using a crop body? The answer is simple. You can just step back. The same method is applied when you take photos with a long-focus lens.

If you use a crop body with a 1.5 crop factor, a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera has a field of view of roughly 75mm (equivalent focal length; 50mm x 1.5 crop factor = 75mm) while a 50mm lens on a full-frame sensor camera will have a field of view of 50mm. Simply put, your 50mm lens will ‘feel and act’ like a 75mm lens on a crop sensor camera. The image doesn’t have distortion that usually appears when you mount a telephoto lens on a full-frame camera, but is only cropped to fit in the range of the sensor.

Full-frame camera Crop camera
Sensor size 36x24mm (35mm standard film form) Bigger sensor sizes have less noise guaranteeing a higher resolution in the high ISO setting Smaller than full-frame cameraSizes vary depending on sensor type
Price More expensive than a crop camera Comparatively cheap
Size of camera Bigger and heavier Comparatively small and light
Depth of field(DoF) Shallower Depth of Field (technically not shallower DoF, but more favorable compared to a crop sensor camera) Needs to increase distance from the subject to obtain a shallow DoF while zooming in with the lens, causing decrease in resolution and increase in image noise
FOV Able to capture a broader scope of scenes Requires a wider lens to cover the same range

Can use a wide lens if needed, but it results in image distortion

Resolution & Noise in high ISO Lets in a higher amount of light when taking photos, resulting in less image noise and better resolution

Has more ISO setting options compared to crop cameras which allows you to have more control on the shutter speed

Opposite effect of full-frame camera in terms of the resolution, so hard to tell the difference if the images is zoomed-in on, enlarged, or in full screen mode
The image was taken with a full frame body with 50mm lens in F2.0, ISO 500 and Distance 42”. You can capture more s objects in the scene.

Full Frame (50mm, F2.0, ISO 500, Distance 42”)

The image was taken with a crop body with 50mm lens in F2.0, ISO 500 and Distance 67.5”. The image looks more zoomed in compared to the image that taken with a full frame body.

Crop Body (50mm, F2.0, ISO 500, Distance 67.5”)

# Camera Comparison

Canon

PRO CONS
Most popular:

  • Easy to use for newbies while Nikon doesn’t have AF(ie. Auto Focus) motor for the entry level camera
  • Various kinds of lenses with affordable price
  • Big range of other Canon product (printer/copier/camcorder etc)
  • Can get more information from other users
  • High demand in the secondhand market

Various options in camera lens

  • Broad range of camera lens (price range as well)

Tone of color

  • Has more vivid color compared to Nikon
CMOS sensor

  • CCD is better, less noise particularly
  • Difficult to brighten dark underexposed part in Photoshop

Focus error in lens

  • Reported errors in adjusting focus

Mirrorless camera

  • Recently jumped in the mirrorless camera market, but not enough compatible lenses

Nikon

PRO CONS
Auto focus lens

  • Fast process time, accurate focus

Durability

  • Shutter box durability

Various options in camera lens

  • Various lens, but a bit more expensive than canon lenses

Low pass filter (aka. Anti aliasing or blur filter)

  • Eliminates the problem of moiré by blurring what actually reaches the sensor while extreme details are lost in the process
  • Some products don’t have the filter
Customer service

  • Lack of customer service

Tone of color

  • Less vivid than canon camera, the tone makes the image greyish but you can adjust the color in Photoshop if needed

Mirrorless camera

  • Recently jumped in the mirrorless camera market, but not enough compatible lenses

Sony

PRO CONS
Able to mount the ZEISS lens and use them with auto focus mode

  • Partners for more than 20 years ZEISS lenses autofocus mode is only available in Sony

Various mirrorless camera

  • Wide choice in mirrorless cameras

Electronic Viewfinder

  • A camera viewfinder where the image is captured by the lens is projected electronically onto a miniature display
  • The image on this display is used to assist in aiming the camera at the scene to be photographed
  • The captured image is identical to the image on the display
Customer service

  • Lack of customer service

Lack of camera lens

  • Fewer lens models available

Firmware update

  • Rarely updates software. May need to purchase better camera body to upgrade quality

As digital cameras have evolved over the years, wireless connectivity and large resolution are now the norm. Nearly all cameras now contain both manual and automatic modes with high-tech camera sensors that allow you to take professional-grade photos. Yet when it comes to 360º photos, despite the deployment of several auto-related advancements, nothing still compares to the quality that results from crafting photos by setting one’s camera’s dial. When taking 360º photos, you need to cover all surroundings by rotating your camera and maintaining a certain setting to achieve a seamless 360º photo when all the images are stitched together. If you take photos with an auto mode, the camera settings are ever changing depending on the condition of the scene, such as the amount of light. This can cause stitch lines, the connection of two photos that appear unmatched and disconnected, hence why it is crucial to set the camera manually before taking photos.

There are 5 components you can set: ISO, Exposure, White Balance, Focus, and Aperture.

1) ISO

ISO determines the sensitivity of a CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) in a camera to light. If you set the camera to Auto mode, the camera automatically adjusts the ISO. However if the Auto ISO has different exposure value for every photo then it can cause discontinuities in brightness across stitching images and can cause stitchlines. Therefore, you need to set it manually so the images can be stitched seamlessly. Every camera has a different range of ISO values (sometimes called ISO speed). A higher ISO allows for a faster exposure period which can reduce image blur and reduce shooting times in low-light environments. The drawback to increasing the ISO is that it makes the picture noisier causing the photo to appear grainy.

When is the right time to use low or high ISO? Using a low ISO value is recommended to reduce noise but if you need to reduce shutter time then ISO 1600 is the highest value recommended. When you are in a space with ample amount of light coming in, it is ideal to use a low ISO value as well as increasing ISO value if there is not enough light for the camera to capture.

Camera Setting for real estate 3D virtual tour - ISO Comparison: Low ISO vs High ISO

2) Exposure

Usually dark and bright areas coexist in the same scene. You need to set your camera to the correct median exposure to balance the light or balance the lights and darks. If your median exposure is too dark, the brighter exposure is not going to be bright enough to capture all of the detail in the shadows. On the other hand, if your median exposure is too bright, your darker exposure is not dark enough to capture all details in the highlights. As a consequence, you get a washed-out image lacking in easily distinguishable details.

Set exposure with your back to the sun the sun when you take photos outdoors. When you take indoor photos, find a proper spot that has moderate lighting (not too bright or dark) and set the median exposure. Keep in mind that you must maintain the same exposure value while covering one 360º photo. If you suddenly change the value, it creates a stitching line between two photos when you stitched them together.
If a scene is too dark or bright, you can use bracketing method which will be talked about in one of our future blog posts, or you can adjust the brightness in other programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom after stitching the photos. When you set the exposure, take several photos as test to find the correct median exposure.

Camera Setting for real estate 3D virtual tour - Set the median exposure

(A) Dark area    (B) The area to set the median exposure    (C) Overly bright area

Camera Setting for real estate 3D virtual tour - When median exposure is too bright

When median exposure is too bright

Camera Setting for real estate 3D virtual tour - When median exposure is too dark

When median exposure is too dark

3) White Balance

After setting the exposure, set the white balance. The white balance affects the general color or temperature of the scene. Temperature ranges from the very cool light of a blue sky down to the very warm light of a candle. Many digital cameras have automatic and semi-automatic modes to help you make the adjustments such as Auto, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Daylight/Sunny, Cloudy, Flash and Shade mode. You can get an accurate result using the above presets but if you want to set your own white balance value, you need to manually adjust the white balance. Take one photo and then hold up a piece of white paper to your camera to tell it what color white is. For beginners, we suggest using auto mode when setting the white balance. To set manually, import the image to a post-processing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom and pick a spot using a white balance picker. The white balance will be automatically adjusted.

If you are not able to set the white balance, save the photos in RAW format and adjust it in other programs such as Photoshop, Lightroom or Capture One.

Camera Setting for real estate 3D virtual tour - How to set White Balance

4) Focus

You need to anchor your camera focus to a certain distance. Before you set the focus, set the correct aperture that is one or two levels down from the maximum aperture size (F/8 is recommended). Once you’re done with this, the depth of field (DOF) called focus range or effective focus range will become deeper achieving a clear image as a result.
Setting the focus manually is essential to take 360º photos. If you set it in auto mode, the focus will keep changing at each angle which triggers errors when you stitch them to a 360º photo.

First, change the AF/MF switch to MF (manual focus). Next, turn the smaller focal ring all the way to the left, until you see the infinity symbol. That way you can set your lens to infinity mode and it helps you to obtain images with the same focus for every angle. To make it more accurate, you can take each photo with different angles, then compare the results on your PC to choose the best focus for the site.

Camera Setting for real estate 3D virtual tour - How to set the focus

When the focus is not set

Camera Setting for real estate 3D virtual tour - How to set the focus

When the focus is set

5) Aperture

Aperture is marked with an A on Nikon and Sony cameras, and AV on Canon. Aperture relates to the depth of field (DOF) which is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene. Simply put, DOF controls how much of the photo is in focus. With a change in aperture, you can manipulate the depth of field to your desired effect. For instance, if the aperture size is f/2 you get a blurred background of the image as the depth of field becomes shallow. When it comes to a 360º photo, you need to adjust the aperture to a higher number so that all objects in the scene are absolutely in focus. One or two level down from the maximum aperture value (small aperture means deeper DoF and wider focus) is recommended because the maximum value are not at their best at extreme aperture because the diffraction of light can cause a drop in sharpness and make your photo susceptible to long exposure noise and motion blur. For example, if the maximum aperture aperture value of your camera is f/22, we recommend f/8 or f/11 to get the best quality image.

Camera Setting for real estate 3D virtual tour - How to set the aperture
As soon as an object falls out of this range, it begins to lose focus to an accelerating degree the farther out of the zone it falls.

Tips when choosing a DSLR camera for 360º photo

  • Choose a camera body that is compatible with various lens and allows you to manually change camera setting.
  • Choose a camera body that connects to a remote shutter release which helps you take photos stably.

The concept of no parallax point is the most important component to get right if you take multiple consecutive shots to produce a single 360º image. When taking multiple pictures, panorama production will be seamless only when you take a shot with the no-parallax point rotated around the center point.

The NPP (no-parallax point) can be seen as the point of a lens used to determine the rotation point when capturing scenes for a panorama or 360º photo in order to keep foreground and background points lined up perfectly in overlapping frames. The position of this point is at a particular point in the lens called the entrance pupil. It is important that the point is in a constant position while the camera is rotated around it to avoid parallax when the images are later joined together.

Parallax is misalignment that occurs when you don’t rotate your camera at the no-parallax point. To simply explain it, hold you your finger and look at your thumb switching between your right and left eyes. Even though your finger hasn’t moved, it seems as if the finger has progressed from right to left. This is what a parallax is. The same thing happens when you take photos with a camera. When you stitch those two images with a parallax error, the same object will appear twice in the stitched image.

What happens when you see your finger with your left eye and right eye.
The concept of no parallax point is the most important component to get right if you take multiple consecutive shots to produce a single 360º image for a 3D virtual tour of your home.

Photo A : 360º photo with a parallax error

The concept of no parallax point is the most important component to get right if you take multiple consecutive shots to produce a single 360º image for a 3D virtual tour of your home.

Photo B : 360º photo taken above the no parallax point

We have learned from our previous post what gear you need to get good 360º shots. Now that we’ve covered the basics to understand the theory behind this, let’s learn some tips on how to shoot and develop stunning 360º photos, from shooting to editing. In addition, we will be covering the fundamentals of camera settings such as ISO, exposure, white balance, focus and aperture in our next post.

To get a full 360º photo, you need to capture every single space in your surroundings. The number of photos you need for one 360º photo depends on which camera lens and camera body you use.

Let’s begin by determining the no-parallax point using an 8mm fisheye lens.

  1. First mount the ball head, rotator, panoramic head and camera with a fisheye lens.
  2. Set the camera at 90º angle by pointing the lens downward.
  3. Set the focus on a center point with the panorama rotator.
1. First mount the ball head, rotator, panoramic head and camera with a fisheye lens. 2. Set the camera at 90º angle by pointing the lens downward. 3. Set the focus on a center point with the panorama rotator. 4. Rotate the camera back to its original position towards the scene then stand two objects 2 small footsteps apart from the camera and each other. 5. Adjust the location of the camera until the two objects are overlapped at any angle.
  1. Rotate the camera back to its original position towards the scene then stand two objects 2 small footsteps apart from the camera and each other.
1. First mount the ball head, rotator, panoramic head and camera with a fisheye lens. 2. Set the camera at 90º angle by pointing the lens downward. 3. Set the focus on a center point with the panorama rotator 4. Rotate the camera back to its original position towards the scene then stand two objects 2 small footsteps apart from the camera and each other. 5. Adjust the location of the camera until the two objects are overlapped at any angle.
  1. Adjust the location of the camera until the two objects are overlapped at any angle.
1. First mount the ball head, rotator, panoramic head and camera with a fisheye lens. 2. Set the camera at 90º angle by pointing the lens downward. 3. Set the focus on a center point with the panorama rotator. 4. Rotate the camera back to its original position towards the scene then stand two objects 2 small footsteps apart from the camera and each other. 5. Adjust the location of the camera until the two objects are overlapped at any angle.
  1. Once you set the NPP, you don’t need to set it every time you shoot you change your camera, lens or panoramic head. Whatever equipment you use, you must have at least 20% of overlap on each photo. Take one photo first using a remote shutter release. The shutter release helps you reduce slight movement while capturing that may cause blurriness on the image.
  2. Rotate the panoramic head to 90º and take another shot. Make sure the individual photos have sufficient overlaps of about 20%. Take a photo and rotate again and take a photo. Do this the all the way for a whole turn to cover all full 360º. The specifics of this rotation is only applicable when using a full-frame camera body with an 8mm fisheye lens. Please refer to this link for further information on how many photos are required to cover a full 360º photo depending on which camera body and lens you use.
6. Once you set the NPP, you don’t need to set it every time you shoot you change your camera, lens or panoramic head. Whatever equipment you use, you must have at least 20% of overlap on each photo. Take one photo first using a remote shutter release. The shutter release helps you reduce slight movement while capturing that may cause blurriness on the image. 7. Rotate the panoramic head to 90º and take another shot. Make sure the individual photos have sufficient overlaps of about 20%.Take a photo and rotate again and take a photo. Do this the all the way for a whole turn to cover all full 360º. The specifics of this rotation is only applicable when using a full-frame camera body with an 8mm fisheye lens. Please refer to this link for further information on how many photos are required to cover a full 360º photo depending on which camera body and lens you use.

How to stitch a 360º photo using PTGUI

  1. Import the set of photos by clicking Load Images on the upper-left hand side of the program. You can also drag and drop directly from the folder to the program.
360-degree photo stitching with PT GUI
  • Here’s a tip to easily find your panoramic photos. For every set of photos, cover the lens with your hand and take a photo. Use this image to divide every set.
  1. Enter camera/lens parameter or use the automatic option. If there’s an error in your stitched photo, check that you select the right type of lens and camera you used. If you don’t find a right option for your gear, just choose the automatic option or consult PTGui customer service.
Enter camera/lens parameter or use the automatic option. If there’s an error in your stitched photo, check that you select the right type of lens and camera you used.
    1. Go to Crop tab. Adjust the circular crop to cover and match the image size by placing and dragging the mouse cursor on the broken line to get rid of the background. The adjustments will automatically be applied to the rest of the photos.

When using bracketing method, normally the photos are arranged from darkest to lightest. If the image is too dark, proceed to adjust the succeeding brighter image. The rest of the photos will be automatically adjusted. More detailed instructions to process bracketed photos will be covered at the end of this blog article.

Go to Crop tab. Adjust the circular crop to cover and match the image size by placing and dragging the mouse cursor on the broken line to get rid of the background. The adjustments will automatically be applied to the rest of the photos.

(3,4)

  1. Go back to Project Assistant tab then click Align Images. The resulting stitched photo will appear on your screen. For HDR photos, a pop-up bar will appear. Check the result and close window.
Enter camera/lens parameter or use the automatic option. If there’s an error in your stitched photo, check that you select the right type of lens and camera you used.
You can see a stitched 360º photo at the end of the process. Check if there are any stitching errors.
  1. You can modify the image file size, format and quality on the Create Panorama tab after closing the window. The photo’s ratio of width to height should be 2:1. If you need to edit the photo further, choose among the many different file formats. To choose saving location, click Browse. Go to your desired folder location and click Save. Once you’re done, click Create Panorama.
You can modify the image file size, format and quality on the Create Panorama tab after closing the window. The photo’s ratio of width to height should be 2:1. If you need to edit the photo further, choose among the many different file formats. To choose a saving location, click Browse. Go to your desired folder location and click Save. Once you’re done, click Create Panorama.
  1. You can view the 360º image via PTGUI Viewer or other panorama viewing programs.
4 photos are combined to get a 360º photo. (Sony A7R II + Samyang 8mm/Fisheye)
To apply the same settings to the rest of your edits, click File and Make Default.

How to stitch bracketed photos to create a 360º photo

  1. Import the set of photos by clicking Load Images on the upper-left hand side of the program. We took 3 photos at every 90º angle, so one set consists of 12 photos. If you have more than one set, a row will compose of 12 photos plus one black photo per set.
You can create an HDR 360º photos from bracketed photos by combining them in PTGui.
  1. Choose Enable HDR mode and link the bracketed images and choose Exposure Fusion for your HDR method. We recommend Exposure HDR as it creates a more natural HDR image and reduces image noise. Click OK.
Choose Enable HDR mode and link the bracketed images with Exposure Fusion HDR mode to create an HDR 360º photo.
  1. To adjust details of the HDR image, close window and go to Exposure/HDR and color adjust photo accordingly.
To adjust details of the HDR image, close window and go to Exposure/HDR and color adjust photo accordingly.
You can adjust the color of a 360º photo in PTGui by moving the scale bars. If the image is bright or dark, there might be a limit to adjust the color.
  1. Once you’re done, Click OK. Repeat steps for the rest of the photos.

With the growing popularity of 360º cameras over the last couple of years, we have seen the use of 360º photos across a plethora of industries. From tourism to construction, the advent of 360º photos has given viewers a different immersive experience.

Creating a 3D tour begins with a 360º photograph. This image is produced by instantly stitching photos together using software to create a spherical view. With the help of specialized 360º cameras such as Ricoh Theta V and mobile phone camera attachment from Insta360, we are now presented with affordable alternatives capable of producing such imagery. The quality of these cameras has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, but it still falls short of traditional DSLR cameras. Most professionals still choose to use DSLR cameras, and for a good reason.

Businesses are recognizing how powerful high-quality photos can be, using them as leverage to attract potential buyers. In real estate, the use of 360º photos in creating 3D tours became a staple to keep the competitive edge. Home sellers once relied on personally taken photos but in today’s cutthroat, dog-eat-dog society, low-quality photos just don’t cut it anymore. In light of this trend, buyers now expect to see more than flat 2D photos of the properties hence the importance of adopting this new technology today.

To produce high-quality 360º photos using a DSLR camera, the following 6 types of equipment, if properly used and executed will guarantee results fit for professional use.

High-quality 360º photo using a DSLR to create a 3D virtual tour for your real estate listing

360° Photo Sample

1) DSLR Camera

Any camera you buy can take good photos but to achieve optimal results, we recommend the use of a DSLR camera. By doing so, you avoid the hassle of taking many photos to cover all grounds which is inevitable when using digital compact cameras because you can’t switch lenses. DSLR increases your workflow because less photos are needed.

High resolution DSLR cameras for 360-degree photos
Camera recommendation:
DSLR

Nikon: D810, D750, D800
Canon: EOS 5d Mark III, EOS 5d Mark IV

Mirrorless

Sony: Alpha A7R2

2) Lens

Camera lens greatly contributes to image quality. The higher the quality of the lens, the higher quality of the image created. The higher the resolution, the clearer the image, but the larger the number of dots per inch, the larger the amount of memory required, resulting in a slower computer speed when processing photos. Do note that resolution only describes how much detail a lens is capable of capturing. The resolution is determined primarily by the sensor, so changing the lens doesn’t change it. Resolution will be tackled separately in our upcoming blog posts.

Just like the DSLR body, theoretically you can use any lens but you may need to take more photos depending on which camera lens you use. To reduce time to shoot photos, fisheye lens is recommended. The fisheye lens has a broader angle of view so it can cover more areas.

Depending on which camera lens you use, the number of photos you need to take for a 360º photo is different. This photo was taken with Sony A7R II and + Samyang 8mm/Fisheye (Tilt the rotator +5º take). The total amount of photos you need to cover the entire 360º angles is 4.

Sony A7R II (Full-frame Body) + Samyang 8mm/Fisheye (Tilt the rotator +5º take 4 photos)

Depending on which camera lens you use, the number of photos you need to take for a 360º photo is different. This photo was taken with Sony A7R II and + Samyang 16mm (Tilt the rotator +45º and take 8 photos, from current angle tilt to -30º and take 8 photos to cover lower area). The total number of photos needed for a 360º photo is 16 photos.

Sony A7R II (Full-frame Body) +16mm (Tilt the rotator +45º and take 8 photos, from current angle tilt to -30º and take 8 photos to cover lower area) | Total number of photos needed :16 photos

A fisheye lens is recommended because it has a broader angle of view so it can cover more areas which make it easier to take 360º photos for real estate 3D virtual tour.

3) Rotator

A rotator or panorama head/panohead is an equipment mounted on a tripod that allows photographers to take panoramic photos at NPP (No-Parallel Point), found between shots. By fixing it’s NPP also known as a nodal point, you can achieve a seamless panoramic image. Failure to do so will cause stitching errors.

A rotator or panorama head is equipment mounted on a tripod that allows you to take panoramic photos at NPP, No-Parallel Point.

4) Ball Head

It is also a good idea to use a ball head which maintains the camera level and provides a more stable and accurate stable rotation axis when taking photos. When using only a tripod on uneven surface, you may need to adjust all three legs to keep the camera perpendicular to the ground. This is when a ball head comes handy. You can simply adjust the camera to get an even position.

Ball head maintains the camera level and provides a more stable and accurate stable rotation axis when taking 360º photos for a real estate 3D virtual tour.

360º photo without a ball head

Ball head maintains the camera level and makes the image more stable and accurate. When you take 360º phots of indoors for a real estate 3D virtual tour.

360º photo with a ball head

A ball head maintains the camera level, providing stability when the camera rotates. Especially if you take 360º photos for real estate 3D virtual tour, the ball head is one of the essential equipment.
Ball Head Recommendation:

5) Tripod

A tripod stabilizes shots by supporting the weight of your camera. It makes it easier to maintain accurate framing and achieve smoother results when panning across scenes. With the camera safely secured on a tripod, you can get clean and sharp images that is otherwise difficult to achieve when the camera is hand-held. A tripod is especially helpful under low light condition as it prevents image blur when photos are being taken using slow shutter speeds.

A tripod stabilizes shots and makes it easier to maintain accurate framing and achieve smoother results when panning across scenes to cover 360º angles.
Tripod Recommendation:

6) Remote Shutter Release

Remote shutter release is the least expensive accessory but will bring a great deal of help to achieve sharp photos. If you manually press the shutter button when you shoot, there is a high chance that the camera will shake. Using the remote ensures crisp and sharp images by allowing you to go wireless and click photos without touching the camera.

A shutter release ensures sharp photos by allowing you to go wireless. Especially to make a 3D virtual tour for real estate, it is essential to have a sharp image without any blurriness.
Remote Shutter Release Recommendation:

One cannot rely solely on expensive equipment and accessories to achieve perfect photography. A mixture of the right tools and knowledge is what will bring you closer to your desired results. This goes to both amateurs lacking the equipment and professionals who don’t. You can still accomplish many things as long as you know the limitations of your equipment and know how to overcome them.

Our next post will lead you through the steps of capturing photos at a fixed nodal point and how to properly stitch these photos to create a 360º photo.