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How to improve the quality of your 360° photos? Guide part 2

In the first part, we learned how many factors determine the quality of 360° photos. You could see what aspects needed to be improved and you learned a few ways to improve your photos quickly and easily. However, if you want to take your photos to the next level and are ready to spend a little more time on it, today we come to you with an article that will make it possible.

We will tell you everything about the plugin, the use of which will allow, as we mentioned in the last post, to “combine” the advantages of dark and light photos, creating one perfectly lit photo. Thanks to this, both the view outside the window and objects placed in the shadow will remain visible and will be appealing.

Dual Fisheye Plugin

How does it work?

The Dual Fisheye Plugin is mainly used in a configuration where it takes 9 photos in a row and then combines them into one (in photography this is called multi bracketing and stacking). An additional advantage of this plugin is that it combines these photos into one automatically, so it saves our time. Another benefit we gain is the .dng format, in which the camera and the plug-in save photos. It allows for much more processing than the flat .jpg format – which is ready to use but loses a lot of data from the photo.

Since the photos we receive using this method are obtained in a raw format, they require processing in Adobe Lightroom Classic (if we find a good free alternative – we will write an article about it. Next week, however, we will tell you about working in Adobe Lightroom). It will allow us to take the most from a photo in the raw format, then “stitch it” and save it in .jpg format.

How to do it?

It is worth mentioning at the beginning: the first shooting with this method will take much more time than each subsequent one. After going through the procedure about 2-3 times, making one property (taking photos and processing them) should take approximately 20-30 minutes. Therefore, it is necessary to answer the question whether we want to devote time to implement this method. If we can – in our opinion it is definitely worth your time😀.

We will need to:

1. Take photos using the DFE plugin

To do this, we need to install the plugin in the camera and turn it on and set it properly before taking pictures. All this is simple and requires a few clicks of the camera buttons (below 👇 you will find a description where we explain step by step how to do it). Note, that taking photos with this method takes longer than without the plugin, but results in much better material.

2. Process photos in LightRoom

DNG photos are raw so cannot be used right away. Why do we use the DNG format? Because it has a much greater potential as to what can be done with such a photo in Lightroom and what it could potentially look like. The steps we will follow are quite basic, with an emphasis on the shortest possible process in relation to the effects.

The processing will consist of setting the parameters: Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Clarity and removing chromatic aberration.

3. Stitch the photos together

We will use a plugin for this, this time for Lightroom, we will have to install it before or during the process. The operation itself is very simple (the plugin does everything almost automatically) and allows you to stitch many photos at once.

4. Export photos

Up to .jpg format – then you can use them in Evryplace just like regular photos taken with the most automatic mode.

Today we take the first step. We’ll cover the next ones soon.

Taking photos with the DFE plugin – step by step

In order to achieve a professional effect, we will need higher-quality photos and processing after taking them. To make better photos (those that give a much greater possibility of processing), install the Dual Fisheye Plugin, which can be downloaded for free from the producer’s website. Dual Fisheye Plugin is an add-on that is installed in the Ricoh Theta Z1 or V camera. Its most important function that we want to use is the so-called Multi Bracketing, i.e. taking the same photo many times – but at different exposures (i.e. exposure, from the most underexposed through a little less underexposed to slightly overexposed and highly overexposed). This function is also standardly supported by Theta cameras (you can set the multi bracketing manually). So why do we want to use DFE? For the sake of saving time. First of all, we do not have to manually set the exposure value for each of the many photos of the same frame, secondly, because when using the built-in multi bracketing, we have to “merge” them ourselves, i.e. stack these photos into one in order to be able to use them further. DFE Plugin does it automatically for us and we download only one photo from the camera’s memory, which already contains all photos from different exposures, therefore saving our time.

We install it on Ricoh Theta Z1 and/or V camera. Ricoh Theta S and SC/SC2 cameras do not support the possibility of installing plugins. To install on a computer, download a plugin that will open the basic Theta application. It is important to make sure that our camera has the highest available firmware version.

If you would like to test this option and do not have a suitable model, you can always rent a 360° camera. You will get a – 10% discount with the promo code: Evryplace on the website

After installing DFE, the most convenient is to enter the plugin management menu and set DFE as the first of the three available positions. This will make it easier to use with buttons on the side of a camera. When we have a camera equipped with a plugin, we want to turn it on.

Press and hold the Mode button and then select the plugin with the trigger button, the one that is used to take photos (if you have not set the DFE plugin on the first place, follow these steps: after holding the Mode button to open the plug-in menu, press Mode one by one to select the plugin and then confirm with the button on the front of the camera). Then, with the Mode button, select HDR-DNG and with the wi-fi/Bluetooth button, select HDR-DNG 9.

To start taking photos using this plugin, you can use an additionally paid remote-control application (note: it is only available on Android). We did not use this application, so we held down the connect button (wifi / bluetooth) to add a 10-second self-timer – this allowed us to take photos with the right time to hide ourselves from the photo scenery.

Now we can set the camera on a tripod and start taking photos by pressing the trigger button (the round button above the display). Since we set the self-timer to 10 seconds, we press the button and hide so that we are not visible in the pictures. Now the camera will take a series of 9 photos. It takes longer than taking a single photo with the classic method. Each photo is signalled with a sound, so we know when the camera finishes taking photos. Then, it needs some time (about twice as long as for taking photos) to process them. While the photos are being processed, a message is displayed. When it disappears, we can take more photos. While the camera is processing, we can move it from one place to another.

At this point, we have very high-quality photos on the camera. In order to use them in a virtual tour, we need them on the computer.

When you finish taking pictures, connect the camera to the computer and download the pictures. The DFE plugin is great because it merges multi-bracketing photos into one file. The photos are in a different file than we are used to – they are in the DUALFISHEYE folder.

We select photos with “HDR” in the name. As you can see, we have pictures in a DNG format. This is not very useful for us at the moment, so we need Adobe Lightroom to turn them into visually attractive professional images to use in a virtual tour. How to convert them? See the next part of the guide!

We hope you can successfully use the DFE plugin now and take great, evenly lit, high quality photos. You have learned a more advanced option, but to complete it, you will also need knowledge of 360 ° photo editing in Adobe Lightroom – follow us closely and get the most of the knowledge of our specialists. We tried to describe everything in detail, but if you still have doubts – write to us and we will gladly dispel them🍃.

How to improve the quality of your 360° photos? Guide part 1

Why don’t your photos look as they should?

We get many questions from you why the photos you have taken with great 360° cameras don’t look as good as those made by your competition or as those you’ve seen on advertisements.

Some spots are too bright others too dark. Some objects aren’t visible at all as a shadow was casted on them. Funnily enough the same photo can be overexposed as the light is pouring out of window making it impossible to see what’s outside and making it difficult to see the interior properly (especially difficult for the room to look appealing in those conditions). The colours are too cold, too warm, or have too many purple tones. In addition, there is strong noise which makes everything look blurry. Sometimes there are also strangely coloured borders of objects (more about chromatic aberration soon 😉). As if that was not enough, there is a tripod visible on the floor, or it is reflected in the mirror. How to deal with it? Our guide (divided into parts) is about to address those issues and present you with solutions.

Before you start suspecting your hardware or software for virtual tours of poor quality, it is worth delving deeper into 360° photography. Attractive photos that you see in other announcements or advertisements could have been made simply with different technique (using more advanced functions or plugins), and most likely someone also post-processed them with the help of specialized programs.

In today’s article, you will learn about the basic options for improving the quality of your photos, which will give you better results with very little time and effort. Beginners are the ones who can get the most from this. In the next post, we will deal with the advanced options! Stay tuned 👀

First,  you should take a look on how the same place at the same time of a day appears on the photos taken with different methods.

Evryplace creates virtual tours of exactly the same quality as the photos we upload to Evryplace. Therefore, to create better walks, we just need better photos.

Basic option: auto settings

Automatic camera settings are the primary mode for taking pictures – they are the fastest option and require no skill. Just press a button on the camera or in the application on the phone and it’s ready. If we want to use the automatic mode, our photos will often be too dark (as in the example shown below) or too bright.

How can we improve the photos at this stage?

In Auto mode, we can adjust the brightness of the photo by moving the EV (Exposure Value) slider. We will achieve a similar effect by increasing the brightness in post-processing of the photo in the graphic editor and the Evryplace graphic corrector. This will give us an effect similar to that obtained using the Manual Settings described in the next section.

Medium option: manual settings

A good compromise between the time spent shooting and the result.

It is worth manually setting the camera mainly for the shutter speed and aperture.

The aperture is responsible for the depth of field to a great extent. Surely each of us has seen a photo with an artistically blurred background. In the case of real estate, we want everything to be sharp, so the aperture should be as closed as possible – a value of 5.6.

We need a short exposure time when we want to capture something dynamic – for example a running horse or falling leaves. In the case of real estate photography, each element (walls, furniture, etc.) is static, so we can be sure that nothing will move during shooting, and we can set the camera to take a photo “longer”. Assuming that we set the aperture to 5.6 (the highest value of the three to choose from) – we choose the exposure time to such a value that the photo appears properly lit. The exposure time is expressed in fractions of a second, so ½ means longer exposure time than ¼. The more light entering the camera, the brighter the photo.

It is best to use these two parameters, optimally we want to have the lowest ISO – sensor sensitivity (Well, it’s not exactly that, but for the sake of this article we can think of it like that). High ISO causes “grain” in the image, we increase the ISO only when we cannot choose the appropriate parameters of exposure time and aperture (when we “exhaust the scale”). In the case of residential photography, this should not happen.

However, as you can see in the photos attached, the problem remains that the light from behind the windows makes the photo overexposed, and when we set the parameters for a darker photo – there is no light in the darkest places.

What if you could take dark photos and light photos and get the best out of them? This is what the professional method using the DFE plugin is all about, which we will tell you more about soon!

What to pay attention to? What are the shortcomings of this option? What else can be done?

Note the overexposure – it occurred in both Auto and Manual modes. Even in the Auto mode, in which the photos themselves turned out to be too dark, you can see that the light has poured out of the window and overfilled the photo with light. As a result, not only the reception of the entire photo is worsened, but we simply cannot see what is outside the window (and we could have used it to our advantage).

In both cases there is also the so-called Chromatic aberration, i.e. blue and purple shadows at the edges of, for example, windows – we will talk more about getting rid of it in the next articles.

As you can see, there is still a lot of things that can be improved (there are still many that we haven’t even mentioned, so as not to burden you with all of them at once), but you already have tools that will allow you to easily improve the quality of your photos. We will deal with the next, more advanced steps soon (once you get to know them, you will be able to easily implement them).

This article is a very important introduction on your path to improving the quality of 360 ° photos. We hope that thanks to it you already know what is worth paying attention to and what parameters to manipulate to emphasize the advantages of a given room. Try to implement these changes to your photos and in a week, you will be able to introduce new ones with us and create better and better 360 ° photos 🙂