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What Is 360 Camera and How It Works

Have you ever wondered what a 360 camera is? Or maybe you’ve run a google search to find the definition of an omnidirectional camera, a 360 action camera, or a spherical video? What do these fancy cameras do? And are they really that fancy? How do they work? How could this technology benefit my real estate business? Can I afford one of these cameras, and is it worth it? Who, what, when, where, why, and how? You’ve come to the right place. 

Who should use a 360 camera? 

The use of a 360 camera spread the whole gamut of photography needs and wants. 360 cameras can be a reliable tool for real estate agents and a fun action cam for extreme sports enthusiasts alike. Weddings and other major events can be documented in greater detail by videographers. Nature lovers can capture rare outdoor occurrences. Roller coaster junkies can prove how scary the new Giant Sasquatch coaster is with real-life footage. More seriously, though, real estate agents and commercial photographers can greatly enhance their advertising with the details that only a 360 camera can capture through a virtual tour. 

What is a 360 photo?

A 360 photo is a full footage picture or video that captures the moment in 360 degrees. Most 360 photos are captured from two wide-angle lenses back to back that record footage, then converted to a fully spherical video or photo. Essentially you are stitching two photos together to make one 360 photo. Other 360 cameras use several cameras that cover many different fields of view, resulting in a higher image or video quality. A good 360 cam can capture a high quality 360 image with between 4k to 5.7k pixel resolution. 

Where do you find 360 photos?

Real estate websites offer virtual tours to potential clients by using 360 photos. In an age where online shopping is the way to go, this feature allows potential home buyers a fuller image than even a panorama provides. Homebuyers can have a 3D experience of their future home from the comfort of their current home. 

Companies like Matterport specialize in 3D virtual tours and allow clients to feel like they are actually in the location they are viewing. And as we all know through gaming and other avenues, virtual reality is here to stay. Matterport is especially unique because it offers a 3D virtual tour for real estate in an easy and professional way. With the Matterport model, many agents opt to buy a Pro2 camera and don’t have to go through the hassle of photography training. Using a 360 spherical camera is also an option. Even simpler, Matterport technology is now available as a free app to be used on an iPhone or an iPad. In addition to real estate websites, you can download 360 photos to social media sites like Facebook. Photography sites like Flickr are also popular destinations for 360 photo fans. You can also find 360 video footage on sites that allow live-streaming of video capture, such as Youtube and Facebook. 

Live-streaming 360 videos is not as intimidating as it sounds. All you need to live-stream is a smartphone and its coordinating 360 camera. No need to download anything first! The iPhone (best to have an iPhone 6s or higher), which works with the Insta360 Nano, or the Insta360 Air, which syncs with android, are good smartphone options for live-streaming. The most important aspect of live-streaming is your internet speed. It is recommended to run a speed test before any live-streaming to ensure that your viewers can have the best experience possible. It’s also important to be aware of your environment. When live-streaming a video, you can not edit out any unwanted images. So take a look around you before you push that red button. Lastly, when live-streaming a video onto Youtube or Facebook, remember that you don’t have to move! It’s a weird concept, but your 360 app on your smartphone will do the work for you. If you try to move while your camera is moving, you might give your audience a good dose of vertigo. So whether you are using a selfie stick or holding your smartphone in your hand, remember to hold still.  

Why should you use a 360 camera?

As a real estate agent, is it worth the splurge? 360 cameras create unique images and footage that cannot be captured with any other type of action camera. The headache of manually piecing together multiple photos is automatically solved. In this profession, time is money, and anything that helps save time is usually worth investing in. 

Some may argue that 360 photos lack the high resolution and detail of a single photo. A 360 image uses the same number of pixels as a typical image. These pixels, in essence, are stretched to fill the 360 space. This difference is less noticeable on the smaller screen of a smartphone and more noticeable on larger screens. However, most 360 cameras today shoot 4K video or picture, which is considered high resolution. Detail and quality are important to most real estate agents, though, and there are many comparisons of high quality 360 cameras available.  

Still, many real estate agents aren’t ready to splurge on an actual 360 camera. No problem. It’s easy to download the Matterport 360 app to a smartphone. And by the way, it’s free! The app works with any supported camera, including your iOS device. 

How easy are 360 cameras to use?

As easy as you want them to be. Some of these cameras just require you to push a button, and voila! You can find these cameras with tripods (like a traditional video camera), so you don’t need to worry about having a steady hand. The 360 camera can also be used with the ever-popular selfie stick to take an even larger image. 

Or you can download a 360 app onto your smartphone. The free Matterport app allows for ease and efficiency in taking a 360 photo or spherical video. When live streaming, smartphones need a supporting 360 camera but filming a 360 video live is as easy as pushing a button. 

The variety of sizes available enhances the convenience of using a 360 camera. Many of these cameras fit nicely into your back jeans pocket, and some waterproof models can even go through the wash with your 360deg camera still in that jean pocket. As long as you are mindful of such things as your camera’s water features, battery life, and that magical power button, you are good to go. 

You can even take 360 photos on that old DSLR you have stored in the back of your closet. After you dust it off, install a fisheye lens on a crop sensor or a full-frame camera. You can achieve a 360 view with four shots, each being 90 degrees. Most people, however, will find they want to upgrade to a specialty 360 camera or smartphone app because it adds higher resolution to videos and photos. 

What really contributes to the simplicity of capturing a true 360 image is Matterport technology. Matterport is compatible with several 360 cameras, including the iPhone beta, the Insta360 One X, the Ricoh Theta Z1, the Ricoh Theta V, and the Leica BLK360. 

When should you use a 360 camera?

Now, the 360 degree camera can capture the best of any moment. That gorgeous property you want to sell can show itself off, and there’s no need for your clients to take just your word for it. The 360 cam can also save you loads of time. Who wants to stitch images together when a camera and a free app can do the work for you? These cameras are easy to use. Remember, you just push that button. It’s clear that the world is moving in a 360 direction. Are you?