Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

Panoramas for Real Estate Marketing

Posted by larrylohrman on April 12, 2006


An essential tool for real estate photography is the panorama. A panorama is just a photograph with an extra wide view. Panoramas can be just two contiguous photos like the example above or many more shots that make a complete 360 degree view. The example above is two shots with a 35mm lens stitched together with Photovista 3.0 to illustrate the view from a home we sold on Cougar Mountain. This view was just under 180 degrees and a single photo just did not show off the full view.

Panoramas like this are easy to shoot. It helps to use a tripod to keep the camera level from shot to shot but it is not essential. You need to have an overlap of about 30% from shot to shot so its easy to match up the images during stitching. The other thing you need to do is to put you camera in manual mode so none of camera settings change from shot to shot. Shooting all the shots in the panorama with the same exposure, zoom and auto focus settings will make sure the shots being stitched together nicely fit together in one smooth image.

I’ve tried a lot of stitching software including using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements but of all the stitching software I’ve used I think the fastest and easiest way to stitch this kind of panorama is with Photovista 3.0. All Photovista needs to know is what the focal length of the lens is and what the order of the photos is and it does everything else. And the results are usually flawless.

Panoramas are great for showing off a view property. They work very well using anywhere from a very wide-angle lens (15mm) to medium telephoto lenses (200mm) depending on the view. They also are frequently used for interiors. The problem with using cylindrical panoramas (photos projected on the inside of a cylinder) for interiors is it is always a struggle to get enough vertical field of view for interiors with one horizontal series of images. To increase the field of view you can use a panoramic head to shoot multiple rows of photos or the way I do it is to use a fisheye lens and create spherical or cubic panoramas. But using a fisheye lens requires special stitching software and techniques. More on this subject in some other post. Start out shooting a simple contiguous set of images like the one above.

Many virtual tour providers provide Java, Flash or QuickTime viewers that automatically handle rotation of 180 degree or 360 degree panoramas. Panoramas of up to 180 degrees work very nicely in print media on flyers and brochures.

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One Response to “Panoramas for Real Estate Marketing”

  1. Autostitch is a full auto, impressive little piece of software. Its technology is the basis for Autopano Pro. And there is also Hugin, of course, free gui for panotools.

    It’s a matter of taste, but I prefer two 180° jpegs up above each other than a 360° with a plugin, wich let me see through a little window and is too much ditorted. Plus there is no loading time.

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