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360-degree cameras: Listing photo game changer?

CHICAGO – Nov. 13, 2015 – Savvy pros and even clueless Craigslist FSBOs know that photos help sell real estate: Good listings are packed with photos of every room from every angle, and skeptical buyers may wonder what a seller’s hiding if anything’s missing from the photo stream.
But a new technology that captures panoramic photos of entire rooms with a single press of the shutter promises to give online buyers the visuals they need with a lot less clutter.
Ricoh’s Theta S updates the original Theta camera released a little more than a year ago to mixed reviews. It captures a full sphere using two fisheye lenses. Its software takes the two images and stitches them together for a sphere that allows viewers to move around fully – up, down, left, and right – and zoom in and out.
The photos are equivalent to 14-megapixel images – and the camera can also capture 25 minutes of spherical HD video, although the company notes that the resolution may differ based on the display monitor’s settings. Users can shoot remotely using smartphone apps so they aren’t in the photo; the apps are said to include many of the features requested by users of the underpowered original Theta camera. The camera is even compatible with Google’s Street View feature.
Two other panoramic cameras are in the last stretches of their crowdfunded production.
Panono, which launched on Indiegogo, promises spherical captures at a significantly higher resolution than the Ricoh Theta at 108 megapixels, courtesy of the 36 cameras spread around its spherical exterior. Panono officials tout the ability to toss the camera into the air, where it automatically snaps a photo during its motionless moment before it returns to you; but for indoor shots, it can be mounted on a tripod or monopod and controlled with a remote shutter. The camera provides manual and automatic controls. An “explorer edition” is due to its Indiegogo backers and presale buyers in the near future, with the camera’s consumer release slated for next year.
French company Giroptic is putting the final touches on its 360cam, which captures standard 360-degree panoramas (rather than spherical). The company promises that its palm-sized camera, which uses three lenses, will be able to capture 8-megapixel images with a 360- by 300-degree view, and it can livestream or capture HD video at 30 frames per second.
A unique optional accessory will simplify indoor captures of rooms: A light bulb adapter lets users screw the camera into any standard socket, powering the camera and giving it a natural placement in a room. The 360cam is expected to ship late this year or early next year.
The Theta S is expected to list for $349; Panono’s Consumer Edition is expected to retail for $599 next year, while early adopters can experiment with its Explorer Edition is tagged at $1,499. Presales for Giroptic’s 360cam are set at $499.
Source: Bob Soron, Realtor® Magazine Daily News
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