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My Initial Thoughts on Previsite Camera / Virtual Tour Solution

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

I've been searching for that one right camera for real estate for few years.  I spent couple thousand $s in this search and I think I finally settled on the One.  Ultimately it was a search for camera but I was really searching for the right virtual tour solution.  A picture says a thousand words so I wanted my photos to captivate the buyers and impress the sellers.

My journey began when I attended real estate photo class taught by Frank L (great ActiveRain contributor).  Here's the summary of my journey.

First Camera - Kodak V570

This was the camera of choice for me when I started to take real estate photography seriously.  It has the 23mm wide angle feature which allowed me to capture more in one photo than regular point and shoot cameras.  I paid about $200.

Unfortunately my Kodak broke right after the warranty expired.  Since Kodak stopped this product line, I had look for another camera because I didn't want to pay $400 on Amazon and so I settled for Panasonic Lumix TZ5.

Second Camera - Panasonic Lumix TZ5

While this is a great travel camera, I don't think it's best for real estate.  It does have 28mm wide angel.  I sort of bought this out of impulse and sort of regret it.  At lease it has great video capability.  I guess it's eBay time.

Third Camera - Canon EOS Digital 300D Rebel DSLR SLR

Wanting to improve photos for my sellers and buyers (online album), I decided that it was time to invest in a SLR camera.  I'm glad I did.  I bought this camera on eBay from Frank and bought a 10mm-20mm wide angle lens.  I couldn't be happier.  Now I can actually fit the entire powder room in one photo!  I ended up spending about $1,000 in lens, camera bag, flash and this camera.   One drawback was that it was sort of cumbersome taking a big camera with me when showing homes. 

 

Fourth and Perhaps Final Camera

At Keller Williams annual conference in Orlando in Feb 2009, I discovered Previste.  The friendly rep showed me a demo and I was sold!  Because it was sold out, I had to wait 2 weeks to get my shipment.  I got it yesterday and so far I'm impressed.  The camera kit costs around $150 according to their website.  For $150, you get the following:

  • 7 mega pixel camera.  I will point that it's light and feel a bit cheap.
  • Previsite fish bowl lens.
  • Recharger and 2 rechargeable batteries and 2 conventional batteries.  Rechargeable batteries are 2500mAh.
  • Camera cover.
  • 3 cables.
  • 1 GB SD memory card.
  • Sturdy camera kit case.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Keep in mind that there's a monthly subscription.  That's how they really make money.  It says it's $29.99/mo but you get unlimited virtual tours. 

previsite

Basically you put that magnetic fish bowl lens on the camera and you point and shoot.  Click here for a demo that I did.

Why do I like Previsite?

  • It's easy!  Point, shoot and upload.
  • No stiching multiple photos.
  • Cost effective.  If you have a lot of listings, this can save you money in the long run.
  • Effective use of floor plans.  You can actually upload floor plans and indicate where you took the shots.  I was tempted to use MouseOnHouse.com for a while but I think Previsite solution is much more effective.  In MouseOnHouse.com, you just see regular photo whereas you see pretty much the whole room with Previsite.

Like most virtual tours, Previsite provides maps, syndication, brochure printing, etc..   Currently, I use ListingDomain.com service for my virtual tours.  I think I pay around $50 per tour/website.  Here's an example of the virtual tour that I do for my sellers. 

Few Issues

Whenever I have a listing, I have to take 2 sets of photos.  One for the virtual tour and one for the MLS.  Because the images are taken with fishbowl lens, photos are distorted.  So here's the exterior photo with the fishbowl lens.

I can't use this on MLS.  I know some agents do but I would take another photo without the lens.  It's a hassle but I think I can deal with it.  Maybe, I'll take regular photos with my SLR camera.  Perhaps Previsite will provide an easy one click solution to convert to normal photo for MLS. 

Update on 3/9/09

The above issue I addressed is no longer an issue..  Previsite provides a feature where you can download non-distorted  photo".  Here's an example of the same photo that I downloaded using their feature.  Not bad.  Sorry, I should of thoroughly tested Previsite before I posted this blog.  I actually got a call from Previsite rep telling that there was a feature.  So thank you Katya!

previsite regular photo

 

 

The other issue is the learning curve. From playing with it, I think it wont' be too bad.  I think I know what to do now.

Final issue I have is that since I've been using ListingDomain.com, I'm no longer able to get domain and text riders for my listings.  I guess I can have it custom ordered from a local sign company but that would be a hassle.   What I mean is that when I do a virtual tour from ListingDomain.com, I get to use a unique domain name like 123MainStreet.com or PurcellvilleHome.com.   Honestly, websites are there to just impress the sellers.   At least for now, Previsite doesn't provide this feature.  I hope they will like ListingDomain.com does. 

Conclusion

I love what this camera can do.  I love the fact that a buyer can see in one photo what one sees in multiple photos stitched.  I think this is clearly a value added service to both sellers and buyers.  Once I actually list few homes, I'll provide an update. But for now, I like this camera.

The rep that I met in Orlando is Katya.  Her number is 646-291-2343 and her email is kbruen "at" previsite.com.  I think she says that I get a month or so free for each referral so you can mention my name. :)  She is very, very helpful.

 

Update on 3/7/09 9:15 EST

One thing I don't like is the fact that when I have to take the SD card out, the batteries pop out as well.  It's a little annoying.  The other options is to just connect the camera to computer and download the photos this way. 

 

Mike Saunders
Retired - Athens, GA

Simon - We had a rep at our team meeting Tuesday and I ordered it after the meeting. The camera just came in Friday and I will be spending some time today checking it out. Hopefully, loading my first tour up tomorrow (if the weather clears up). I have been checking out visual tour companies and had almost settled upon another until the previsitedemo. About 6 of us in the office jumped on the offerred deal.

Thanks for posting this.

Mar 15, 2009 06:33 AM
Joe and Sherrie Toth
RE/MAX Consultant Group | Apple Valley Lake - Howard, OH
The #1 Apple Valley Lake Team

Hi... thanks for the post. I ordered a previsite and just got it yesterday. just watching the video on the website, I took a picture of my bathroom and uploaded it on the site and it was amazing! With a little more practice I will have a professional looking virtual tour. I cant believe that just with one photo, I have most of the room, the ceiling and the floor in it!! I like the fact that I dont have to pay per tour or wait for anyone to do it for me! Great value!

May 07, 2009 08:00 AM
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Simon

I searched Active Rain for someone who can give more info about your experience with Previsite -- and you're the only one who blogged about it.

Since it's been a few months since you got your canera and subscribed to Previsite's service, can you share that with me? I posted the question on my blog Switch from VisualTour to Previsite Virtual Tour? Why?

Thanks.

Jun 17, 2009 05:00 AM
Christine McInerney
Great Life RE - Knoxville, TN
The McInerney Team, Knoxville TN Homes For Sale

Simon, Thanks for the post, I currently use virtual tour and got an e-mail from previsite.  We currently use the lumix and like it but need a bit more.

Jul 10, 2009 03:56 AM
Anonymous
Shelly

I have just received my pre visite camera and I am very pleased with how it performs. I do have an issue with lighting. If the room is to dark I need a light on but the light turns out to be this white blob in the picture and the same for the windows. Is there something I am not doing such as a setting or something? Also if the tour is viewed full screen it is grainy instead of crisp and clear.

I am getting alot of great feedback from my clients especially when they have changed something in a room and would like for me to take another picture it is not a problem to do that. This is a great piece of eqipment for realtors to use. 

Aug 05, 2009 12:01 AM
#5
Anonymous
Peter

Sounds good but who manufacturers this. Must be from China or somehere over there. Would like to know  

Dec 04, 2009 03:54 AM
#6
Len Stregles
Keller Williams - Seal Beach, CA

What are other ideas Realtors can use the virtual tour besides posting listings?  

Jan 11, 2010 04:07 PM
Anonymous
Anonymous

Previsite is out of France for the last 10 years.  Once you have the camera, you can also use it for family outings, weddings, while traveling -- taking pictures of the insides of buildings or large landscapes... but ask Previsite re putting these on your home websites when it's not related to realtors.

Sep 13, 2010 08:52 AM
#8
Jim Hale
ACTIONAGENTS.NET - Eugene, OR
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

Simon -

Like Pacita I'm looking for an update on Previsite.  Can you give us one ...if only as a comment here?

Sep 16, 2010 07:39 AM
Anonymous
Jamie Magness

I also have been using Previsite for sometime now (3yrs).  I am very pleased with this service.  I also am a KW agent.  My clients love the virtual tour and the additional information available for prospects is great.  The lead generation feature is a real bonus.  I also purchased my equipment from Katya. Yes the photo feature to make it flat is a new feature I found out about at the KW Family Reunion in Anaheim, Ca.  I know eedge pro has a virtual tour feature however for Previsites lead generation tool and all the sites they syndicate to I am going to keep it.  I am the only user in my area and I know I stand out with this VT.

The complaint I have is that this camera eats the battery life very fast.  That is the only complaint I have.  I keep a box of spares with me at all time for this issue.

Mar 02, 2011 02:49 PM
#10
Jamie Magness
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Distinctive Properties

I also have been using Previsite for sometime now (3yrs).  I am very pleased with this service.  I also am a KW agent.  My clients love the virtual tour and the additional information available for prospects is great.  The lead generation feature is a real bonus.  I also purchased my equipment from Katya. Yes the photo feature to make it flat is a new feature I found out about at the KW Family Reunion in Anaheim, Ca.  I know eedge pro has a virtual tour feature however for Previsites lead generation tool and all the sites they syndicate to I am going to keep it.  I am the only user in my area and I know I stand out with this VT.

The complaint I have is that this camera eats the battery life very fast.  That is the only complaint I have.  I keep a box of spares with me at all time for this issue.

Mar 02, 2011 02:56 PM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
I pulled up this post searching tour products. Look how long the posts last!
May 12, 2012 10:16 AM