Should Architectural Photographers Use 3D Scanning Cameras? A Quick Look at the Matterport Pro2

Architectural photography is probably one of the more technical types of photography. In general, photographers will use full frame or medium format camera systems along with tilt-shift or technical lenses. As great as these types of cameras are, should architectural and real estate photographers use 3D scanning cameras such as the Matterport Pro2?

California-based company Matterport has developed its business on building a 3D media platform. Not only does Matterport have its own camera called the Matterport Pro2, the company also offers a software platform. 

The software platform works with various camera systems, including Insta360 cameras, Ricoh Theta 360 cameras, several iPhone models up to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and even the Leica BLK 360 camera. What this means is that even if you don't own a specialized 360 camera such as the Leica or the Matterport Pro2, you can still produce 3D scans with the Matterport software. 

In the video above, we met up with some of the staff from Matterport at the Photography Show in Birmingham this year. Nicholas Boisson from Matterport offered a quick overview of the Pro2 camera system. The speed and image quality of the camera is one of the most remarkable things about the system. With very little effort, the camera is able to produce high-quality scans of a location that can then be managed via the software. 

For architectural photographers, offering 360 scans alongside regular photography could be a good way to supplement services. Check out the full video linked above to see what the camera is all about. 

Usman Dawood's picture

Usman Dawood is a professional architectural photographer based in the UK.

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Matterport, which is a cool camera and company, is also in the business of selling those cameras, to you and your clients. Be cautious before leaping in, this is a proprietary system in which those scans are hosted by them, not you.

I think it's also important to make the distinction in regards to the purpose of real estate photography and 3D. RE photography is a marketing tool used to attract potential buyers to come see a home in person. Matterport/3D is more of an informative tool, and often is used as a way to see the home without actually having to visit the location in person for many potential buyers. Many agents I shoot for don't use 3D for that very reason, as it discourages in person visits which for many agents is a great opportunity to negotiate the sale.

The purpose of RE photography is to inform the buyer of the property. As a RE photographer your role is not to create works of art (though I do believe an artistic component is helpful) but a tool for salespeople. There is an emotional/artistic component in the marketing of the property but by and large the photographs are an informative tool

I do RE photography for a living and also generate 3D tours for one of my clients. They often get sales from buyers who have only seen the property via the 3D tour (+ pest and building report) because they are confident enough of the property via the 3D tour. It gives a much better idea of the flow of the property than photos alone.

I would definitely agree it's not anywhere near as beneficial for architectural photogprahers though. RE photographers, definitely. Not only is it a good tool, but if you offer it could help you gain clients as a point of difference.

Yes, you are absolutely right, I apprenticed with an architectural photographer in the 60s. His work was solely asperational.