Virtual Tour Equipment – Camera, Lens, Panorama Head, and Tripod

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and make your first virtual tour? Sweet! Let’s do it!!! Oh damn, we forgot that we needed a camera first. Yeah, and maybe a lens would help. Of course we can’t create a perfect 360 panorama without a tripod or a panorama head!

There’s a lot to consider when we embark on our journey to Virtual Tour mastery, so I made this video to help navigate that first stage of getting started. Next up, a post about my specific gear and what I recommend using based on your budget.

Any questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer!!

 

  • Josie Longo

    I think I just bought the wrong lens. I thought you said 8mm which I just reviewed your video and you did mention it, bit how do you deal with the dark edges?

    • PatrickNiddrie

      Hi Josie,

      Most panorama software will be able to take care of the dark edges. When you create the panorama in Pano2VR for example, the software will detect that the lens will have that vignetting and will not use the corners of the images in the final pano. If you have a problem with the dark edges showing up, you can just batch crop them in Lightroom.

      • Josie Longo

        Thank you for that answer. I ended up returning the 8mm and purchased the 14mm.

  • Hi, Do I need a DSLR & wide angle lens or can I use GoPro’s with the 360Heros system?

    • Patrick

      You need a camera that allows you to lock the exposure and white balance in order to ensure a seamless panorama. I think the GoPros only shoot in auto mode, but if you can manage to set an exposure and keep it locked in you should be able to use it.

  • which tripod are you using can i learn its name ? model

    • Patrick

      Hello Halil, I use a manfrotto MK190XPRO3 tripod. It’s heavy-duty. Note that if you’re only using it for virtual tours, you will not need a normal pan/tilt head, just the legs.

  • Degi

    Hello, Can you tell me tripod name and canon fisheye lense mm?

    • Patrick

      Try the manfrotto MK190XPRO3 and a Rokinon 8 mm fisheye lens if you’re on a budget. Please see the resources page for more info about lenses.

  • Gary

    For blending images and/or doing HDR processing, have you tried Lightroom Enfuse? If so, what do you think of it?

    • Patrick

      I have not tried that, but Lightroom CC has an HDR function that some people rave about. If it simplifies your workflow and you like the results, I say go for it!

  • Hi Patrick,

    thanx for sharing your experience! I did a lot of interior photography, but now I will have to do a virtual tour for one of my clients soon…have to learn everything quite fast 🙂 I couldn’t understand the brand of your panorama head and the lense, can you write them please? I am also on Nikon, having the widest 16-35 zoom – that’s not the best for this kind of work, right? What do you suggest?

    Many thanx, Peter.

    • Patrick

      Hi Peter, the nodal head I use is called the Nodal Ninja 3. You can use a normal zoom lens but fisheyes are much easier because you need to take fewer photos. I have a list of recommended lenses here: http://www.makevirtualtours.com/resources/

  • Desi

    Hi Patrick,

    Great video. What lens would you recommend for Canon EOS 650D?

    Thanks

  • Tina

    Hey Patrick,

    Would a wide angle lens work just fine? Or is a fisheye lens recommended for creating any virtual tour?

    • Patrick

      A wide angle lens would work but you need to take a lot more photos than you would with a fisheye. So if you’re planning on putting together a lot of panoramas, you should invest in a fisheye.

  • Mateo Pérez

    Hi Patrick,

    I need to make basic virual tours for a real state company and I need to know if
    the Pano2vr will work or do I need the Pro version.

    Thank you.

    • Patrick

      Pano2vr will work just fine, but it’s a little more work putting the final tour together. The Pro version allows you to connect multiple panoramas much easier.

  • Dave

    Hi Patrick,

    Thanks for the great training material. How critical is the Pano head? It seems I can accomplish the same angles with a ball head. Thx!

    • Patrick

      Hey Dave, depending on the purpose of the virtual tour, I’d say a pano head is critical. If you’re just shooting for fun, you may not need a ball head, but for professional uses you’ll definitely need a pano head. Shooting without a pano head will result in all kinds of stitching errors.

  • Bruno

    Hi Patrick, i have recently started to learn with your videos about panoramas 360/180. I really enjoy them. But i have an issue regarding which lens to buy… I have a canon 18mm which takes me a lot of pictures to make the pans and i have lots of problems with ptgui stitching the tops and the grounds. So i was thinking about buying a 8mm like you advise. But there is this new Samsung SM C200 with dual 180 lens for about the same price. Do you think it will do the job? For what i imagine we only have to stitch to pictures and import them in the panotour. I would really like your opinion about this before i buy the lens or the camera. Please reply when possible. Best Regards. Bruno.

    • PatrickNiddrie

      The 360 cameras will work for creating virtual tours; however, you will see a diminished quality when compared to a DSLR with a fisheye lens. You will have less control over your exposure and white balance, you will not be able to create HDR photos, and the stitching errors are more obvious. In addition, the lenses on the currently available 360 cameras are not nearly as good as the fisheye lenses that I’ve recommended. That being said, if you’re not shooting for professional purposes, or the client understands those limitations, the 360 cameras are an affordable, easy way to create virtual tours.

      • Bruno

        Thank you for your reply. I´ve seen some pictures from the Samsumg Sm C200 and they looked pretty nice. Obviously i understand your point of view regarding the quality and controls available in these cams. However the samsung has the possibility of controlling some features in our mobile screen connected by Bluetooth. I was thinking about simulate HDR in lightroom. It is not the same i know but it makes a difference. My biggest concern is the shape of the picture and how will ptgui recognize it, once it will be only 2 pictures covering the hole area… Do you know anyone who has use it? Once again thank you for your reply.

        • PatrickNiddrie

          The camera should produce a 360 image automatically, so you won’t even need to use PTGUI. You can download some sample images from Samsung’s website and throw them into Panotour and see if the quality matches your needs. As far as simulating the HDR – the results will likely be poor since you’re manipulating a JPG instead of a RAW image. Here’s a great review that goes over the good and bad aspects of that camera: http://www.androidcentral.com/samsung-gear-360-review

          • Bruno

            Hi Patrick,
            i have recently purchased the 8mm Samyang Fisheye lens that you refer in your website.
            When i´m about to import the pictures to Ptgui, there is this first menu with the exif information about the lens, camera etc.
            Once the Samyang is fully manual, it doesn´t provide any information to the software. I end up typing 8mm on the focal lenght, but on the crop factor and size of the image sensor i leave it blank. I have a canon 550D. The result after aligning the images and adjust many control points, is a complete mess… Does this have any thing to do with the crop factor or image sensor size options at the start?
            Best Regards.

  • Helder

    Hi Patrick,

    I would like to start doing virtual tours, but I don’t know what camera should I buy. Between the Nikon D7200 or Nikon D750 what do you recommend? Do I need a full frame camera to do virtual tours?

    Regards,
    Helder