The advantages and disadvantages of photography and 3D virtual tours.

Should I do Photography or do 3D Virtual Tours in Real Estate?

Pros and Cons between Photography and 3D Virtual tour.

A lot of realtors and agents that just got a listing are thinking about it too.

Now, if you are like most realtors, your preference could be to hire a real estate photographer.  You probably know a great one who comes and take fantastic pictures of the place, but lately you have seen some Matterport projects out there.

You love all the cool features and the layout of the space; perhaps you wonder which one will be right for your new listing “Should I do a 3D virtual tour, or stick to traditional photography?”

As a Real Estate agent, this is a question I often hear in the Real Estate community. With all the current shutdowns is no wonder, this issue has become a trend in this industry.  Although it is all about preference, let’s cover what each one would do for you.

3D Virtual Tours Provide a more Interactive way to explore houses


Transitioning from the old and trying something new.

My intention in this article is to bring you, the reader, to compare which one is right for you.  The idea is to expose all the pros and the cons out there when it comes to choosing between still photography and 3D Virtual tours. hopefully, you will decide which one is best for you and your client.

So if you just got a new listing!


Naturally, before loading it to the MLS, you need to take pictures of the house. By having attractive photography and media content from those photos, it will create a need for people to come and visit the property.

There is some truth in the Real Estate industry, when they say,

“A picture is worth a thousand or several thousands of dollars” I say, “imagine the impact when you offer a 3D virtual tour too.”

What are you paying for when hiring a Professional Photographer or a 3D Tour Provider?

When hiring a Real Estate photographer or a 3D virtual tour provider you should always keep in mind that you are hiring professionals, the price they charge is based on their knowledge, experience, tools, accuracy, services, punctuality, guarantee, safety and security, professionalism, sacrifices and payment tax obligations.

Real Estate Photography Benefits.

Probably, the most popular choice for this industry. A good professional photographer will help you stand out faster than anyone.  Hiring a professional will help deal with your competition because it is what they do for a living and they are prepared with experience, tools and knowledge.

Real estate photographers know how to capture your house in the best light and take a picture from the right angle to show the best features.

While many homeowners take pictures of corners and tight bathrooms, photographers know how to capture the entire bathroom in just one shot—without showing up in the mirror.

As professionals, you should let them handle that stress and time so you can work more on important things like your clients.

Beyond Photography. The Editing Side.

A professional photographer will not only take the photos, but they will take care of all the editing, like resize them, and do any necessary color correction.

They work with equipment such as expensive cameras, tripods, small flash and big flash. Bright light stands and wide lens cameras.  They know how to work programs like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System.

Once delivered to you over email all you need to do is download the image files and upload to the MLS.

Most professional photographers offer marketing materials and videography which another plus. The HDR resolution of their photographs gives a unique product to represent your listing like no other.

 What are the benefits if you opt for a 3D virtual Tour.

Many Realtors and agents are turning more to 3D virtual tours lately.  Although 3D is not new in the industry, their popularity rose during the pandemic.

If you want to show your properties in the most realistic way possible, and with the best possible realism in regard to perspective 3D tours is a great option.

 3D tours are Not to be mistaken with “virtual tours” which is not the same.

One is a presentation of slide show photography and the real 3D virtual tour is interactive.

A certified provider will offer a 3D tour using the Matterport program to provide comprehensive space documentation such as dollhouse views and 360 walkthroughs, floor plans and measurements.

The word 3D, a three-dimensional shorthand, implies having three degrees through which a user can travel freely.

Furthermore, during such transitions, a user can switch between 360° images, zooming in and out of the images.

  • They can click within each viewpoint to move to another one.
  • They also have the option to choose a room or level from a drop-down menu.
  • This degree of freedom adds yet another dimension, contributing to the experience of 3D space movement.

3D tour providers also work with expensive equipment and software costs but the links are user friendly so they are easy to share in social media, messages and email.

Pros and Cons between Photography and 3D Virtual tour. Hiring a novice photographer for Real Estate

Not Hiring a professional can get expensive and sometimes is not even necessary.

Another downside is hiring a novice photographer. Most listings that do not use a professional interiors photographer have photos that absolutely do not portray the space in anything close to a realistic view.

I’ve known realtors that find photographers for as low as $100, but they typically use Lightroom presets on all of the photos.

They don’t always take the time to edit each picture individually.

Therefore, they do not make the house features shine for potential clients.

The results are not the best, but they can charge as much as $50 per picture for retouching and editing. If you need to upload between 10 to 15 photos, do the math.   Always make sure to check their portafolio.  It is better to pay for quality and not quantity.

Here’s another tip.

You don’t need to hire a professional photographer for some rentals, vacation properties or opportunity real estate for investors.  If you have a small rental listing, don’t invest your money with professional photography.

A lot of agents feel they do not need it and their smartphone will suffice. However, it is always up to you what you want to deliver for your client and how you want to impress them.

Pros and Cons between Photography and 3D Virtual tour.

One fellow agent told me once his preference,  “I don’t see a point of just the 3D tour without photos — photos are primary and a 3D tour is secondary.”

In my years as a real estate agent (10 years now), I have to agree with this estatement to a certain point. As I see it, great photos are like the advertising and encite you to see more, but if you are offering a 3D tour... it will make them fall in love even more.

It is also good to know that  3D camera will give you a great virtual tour, but the photography that comes out is not the best when it comes to angles. Although the photography captured with Matterport cameras is the highest (4k quality), there have been reports about the quality of the pictures; they are not the same as the lens camera.   Most pictures look distorted and with an “oval effect”.

Providers do not use flashes so pictures can turn out dark in some angles.  Typically the photographs have blown out windows (not realistic), and converging verticals (not realistic).  Most 3D cameras have a wide-angle lens that can absolutely capture an unrealistic perception of an interior space e.g., a door on the periphery that looks 8 feet wide instead of 4, or a matching set of chairs with the one at the periphery of the frame looking twice as large as the other does.

“Oval effect” caused by 3D Camera in photography

Conclusion, Pros and Cons between Photography and 3D Virtual tour 

It is your personal choice whether you want to hire the services of a professional photographer or not.

However, granting that you want to display the exact physical aspect of the property and have it displayed on the listing, then hiring a 3D virtual tour provider is not a bad decision at all.

It is important to remember that a photograph is only as good as the subject.

Great real estate photographs result when some effort or staging is made. To prepare the property by doing things as simple as decluttering and perhaps re-positioning furniture will help more. Professional photographers by virtue of their experience will know what will and what will not look good in photographs and can make appropriate suggestions.

Given the variables with the goal of representing your valued property in the best light (most realistic) possible, hands down going with a photographer who knows how to show both the interior and all important views  is the best option.


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