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6 Essential DSLR Equipment to Capture High-quality 360° 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.

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 fewer photos are needed.

Camera recommendation:

DSLR

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

Mirrorless

Sony: Alpha A7R2

2) Lens

The 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. The 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, the fisheye lens is recommended. The fisheye lens has a broader angle of view so it can cover more areas.

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

Lens recommendation:

Samyang: 8mm F3.5 UMC Fisheye II
Sigma:
8mm F3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye
Nikon:
Fisheye Nikon ED 10.5mm F2.8G
Canon:
EF 8–15mm F4L Fisheye USM

3) Rotator

A rotator or panorama head/panohead is a piece of 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.

Rotator recommendation:

Nodal Ninja

4) Ball Head

It is also a good idea to use a ball head that maintains the camera level and provides a more stable and accurate stable rotation axis when taking photos. When using only a tripod on an 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.

360º photo without a ball head
360º photo with a ball head

Ball Head Recommendation:

Gitzo GT2542
Manfrotto 190Xpro

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 are otherwise difficult to achieve when the camera is hand-held. A tripod is especially helpful under the low light condition as it prevents image blur when photos are being taken using slow shutter speeds.

Tripod Recommendation:

Markins Q10i-Q
Photo Clam PRO-42NS

6) Remote Shutter Release

The 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.

Remote Shutter Release Recommendation:

SMDV RFN-4
Pixel RW-221

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.