You will agree with me that a good distance measuring device is an essential part of any engineer, woodworker, architect, contractor, and DIY enthusiast tool kit. This is because these professions require a great deal of distance measurement accuracy that only the right distance measuring tool can provide. There are lots of distance measuring tools available on the market today, but the real challenge comes when it’s time for you to select the right distance measuring tool for your work.
As technology evolves, the classic tape measure is almost considered an anachronistic tool in a modern high-tech workshop especially with the invention of the laser distance measure. Here comes the question: is a laser distance measure a perfect replacement for your traditional tape measure? Which of these tools is more accurate, easier to use, and promises to increase and enhance your productivity?
In this edition, we are going to compare the tape measure with the laser distance measure and show you what they are and how they work. We are also going to explore their accuracy and efficiency and discuss the benefit of one over the other to help you select the best tool for your job.
A tape measure, also known as measuring tape is a narrow strip with linear-measurement markings (both metric and imperial units) that are intended for taking distance measurements. It can also be described as a flexible ruler with marked graduations in metric (meters and centimeters) and imperial units (feet and inches) measurements.
Tape measures are one of the most common distance measuring tools that are still in use today. They are made from different materials such as cloth, plastic, fiberglass, and metal. The tool was invented by James Chesterman in Sheffield, England in the year 1829, but was not widely accepted until the 1940s. It was originally intended for use in tailoring but made its way into different walks of life and professions such as carpentry, electricians, metal works, architecture, survey, real estate appraisal, interior designing, etc.
Tape measures are very common on the building site
Types of Tape Measure and How They Work
The main aim of this article is to compare the traditional tape measure with the laser measure. But we cannot achieve success without having a proper understanding of how these tools work. In the case of a tape measure, the operation of the tool is influenced by the type of the tool being used. In this section, we will take a quick look at the types of tape measure available and how they work.
The basic types of tape measure include:
Spring return tape measure
Long tape measure
Spring return tape measure
This type of tape measure is also known as a pocket tape measure. These tape measures will fit in your pocket due to their small sizes. They come with a hard case that is about three inches wide, and the actual tape (known as the “ribbon”) which coils up in the case. The ribbon is fairly stiff yet flexible and remains in the case until you stretch it out when you need to take measurements.
Spring return tape measure has a spring mechanism that returns the tape (ribbon) into its case for convenient storage whenever the tape is pulled. The tape is ¼ to ¾ inches wide and one foot to fifteen feet long while the larger ones can go up to 35 feet in length. The ribbon has a tang (also known as end hook or end piece) on its end to attach the tape to the object to be measured.
Pocket tape measure usually comes with a locking mechanism which makes it easy for a single person to operate and take distance measurements, especially when used with its end piece and spring mechanism feature. Specialists in professions such as carpentry, metal works, and interior designing often use this type of tape measure. However, they are not the ideal tool for surveyors, real estate appraisers and contractors who require distance measurements that are longer than 35 feet.
There are several types of this Pocket tape measure with different unique features that are designed for a specific trade or use. Some of these Pocket tape measure available on the market today include:
Keyring tape measure:
If you’d love to have your tape measure with you wherever you go and take the measurement while you are away from your regular or larger distance measuring tool, then this type of pocket tape measure is for you. They come with a key ring to hold your keys and are usually significantly smaller and lighter in weight than the other available types. They are ideal for projects that require short distance measurement such as interior design but are not suitable for surveying and building project that involves the measurement of long distances.
Auto-lock tape measure:
This type of pocket tape measure comes with an automatic locking mechanism to stop the tape from returning into its case when it is extended. This allows for a single person operation and accurate measurements as you will be able to place it where you need to measure without having to hold the tape to stop it from retracting. When you pull the tape out of its case, it remains locked until you press the release button. This will give you the chance to operate your tape measure with just one hand, so you wouldn’t have to fight with it while tackling a project.
Magnetic tape measure:
If you are a builder or an electrician who will be taking or checking distance measurements by attaching your tape measure to a piece of metal, then the magnetic tape measure might be perfect for you. This type of tape measure comes with a strong magnet at the end of the tape (end piece) which will stick to a metallic surface and bear the weight of the tape while you take measurements.
Rust-resistant tape measure:
Just as the name implies, rust-resistant tape measures features a lower amount of metals and higher amount of rust-resistant materials to make it less susceptible to rust damage. They are ideal for use in damp places and outdoor jobs especially in areas with higher risk of rainfall.
Digital tape measure:
This type of tape measure comes with the imperial and metric marking as well as the conventional end piece that we are all familiar with, and that’s where the similarities end. It features a large easy-to-read display that allows its users to choose their unit of measurement and take digital readings from the screen instead of reading the blade. This eliminates the error of misreading the blade and can also help to store or recall measurements with its inbuilt memory.
Long tape measure
This type of tape measure offers longer distance measurement that cannot be attained with the use of pocket tape measure. They very flexible and are available in different lengths such as 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, 500 feet. They are designed for builders, surveyors, engineers, and real estate appraisers and are ideal for finding the distance or angle between two points and creating land maps.
Unlike spring return tape measures, long tape measures usually come with a big case and hand crank that allows its users to crank the tool to wind up or return the tape into the case for convenient storage. They also come with a hook slot (end piece) that allows its users to latch onto an anchor point and might require a two-person operation, especially for long distance measurement.
How does tape measure work?
Like we said before, tape measures come with an end piece and markings on both sides of the tape to facilitate accurate reading of measurements. They all have the same working principle but are available in different scales based on the use they are intended for.
To operate the tool, the user will latch the end piece or hook of the tape firmly onto the anchor point or on the edge of the material to be measured. The tape is then extended, and the value of the distance between the two points are taken from the markings on the tape or the LCD screen of the tool in the case of a digital tape measure.
Spring return tape measures may not require two-person operation since they feature metal tapes that may not bend or stretch while taking measurements. On the other hand, long tape measure features flexible materials that may require proper stretching by two users to ensure that the tape is in a straight line to avoid error while taking the measurements.
Tape measures: how accurate are they?
All tape measures are not the same. But their accuracy is the most important factor that should not be avoided when deciding on the right distance measuring tool for your work. Tape measures are available in the increments of either 1/16ʺ (one-sixteenth of an inch) or 1/32ʺ (one thirty-second of an inch). The most common type of tape measure increments available on the market are those with 1/16ʺ.
The accuracy of the tape measures decreases a lot over long distances
Tape with this blade increments is used for construction and general application. Tapes with 1/32ʺ blade increments are rarer and are used in engineering or other applications that require a higher level of precision. However, some factors affect the accuracy of the measurement taken by tape measures, these include:
Materials used in manufacturing the tape
Materials used in manufacturing the tape:
The accuracy of the tape measure is a function of the materials used in its production. Some material used in making tape measure and their accuracy are discussed below.
Linen or cloth:
Linen or cloth tape is made up of a varnished woven linen strip that is about 12 to 16 mm wide and comes in a leather case which contains a spindle where the tape is wound unto. This type of tape measure is available in lengths of 10 to 50 meters and are mostly used for taking offsets.
Although linen or cloth tapes are very light and handy, they are subject to variation in length, and this renders them inappropriate for measurements that require high accuracy. Moreover, they shrink when exposed to dampness and can stretch and may remain elongated permanently when they are pulled. They are not durable, and the figures on the tape fade very quickly, so care must be taken when using them.
Metric woven metallic tape:
This kind of tape is made from metal wire and yarn. The metal wire is made from stainless steel, copper, or phosphor bronze while the yarn is made from good quality linen or cotton. The tape is 16 mm wide and is available in lengths of 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 50 meters.
Metric woven metallic tapes are better and more durable than linen or cloth tapes. They are designed for taking subsidiary measurements and offsets but are not suitable for precise works. According to IS: 1269 – 1958, the tolerable error in the length of this tape when place on a flat surface, under a tension of 9.8 N should not go beyond the following limits.
Tape length (meters).
Probable errors (mm).
Additionally, the tolerable error of 20, 30, & 50-meter tapes from their beginning to the lengths stated below should not go beyond the following limits.
Tolerable error (mm).
Metric steel tapes:
This type of tapes is made of stainless steel or steel and is used for precise works. The tape is available in lengths of 1 to 50 meters with 20, 30, and 50 m as its most common lengths. The linear markings are made on only one side of the tape at every meter, decimeter, centimeter, and five millimeters.
However, the tape’s accuracy can be affected by temperature; they are also light and fragile and can easily get damaged.
Metallic steel tapes are one of the most common tape measures
Invar tapes is an alloy of iron containing 64.5% steel and 35.5% nickel. These tapes are available in various lengths and are used for works that require the highest level of precision due to their very low coefficient of heat expansion. Invar tapes are however delicate and pricey, so they should be handled with care.
These tapes are also used for precise works and useful for various applications due to their unique features such as non-conductivity, flexibility, non-corrosive properties, tensile strength, and heat resistance. They are also durable, easy to store, and available in different width, length, and thickness. However, their accuracy can be affected by the tension and temperature of their operating environment.
The tension or pull force applied on a tape measure can affect its accuracy. However, the ability of a tape measure to withstand pressure and tension depends on the material used in its production. The accuracy of tape measures is generally classified according to their level of tolerance within prescribed limits.
In Europe, professional measuring tapes are categorized in EU Class 1 (most accurate) and EU Class 2. The tapes are subjected to heat and tension to identify their level of tolerance and categorize them according to their accuracy class.
Fiberglass tapes are measured at 20 N pull force and 20 °C and Steel tapes at a pull force of 50 N and 20 °C. While Class 2 tapes are suitable for most users, Class 1 tapes are regarded the highest level of precision and are used by professionals who require little bit extra accuracy.
The table below shows the tolerance level and accuracy of the steel tape measure.
Tape length (m)
Class 1 (mm)
Class 2 (mm)
Class 3 (mm)
There are significant differences in temperature between the periods of the day (morning, afternoon, and night) and between winter and summer. These differences in temperature can affect the length of tape and hence, the accuracy of the tape measure. This changes in tape length are common in steel tapes measures due to the linear expansivity of its construction material (steel) as temperature changes.
It is important to know the deviation of measurements for various temperature especially if you’re working with a steel tape. The table below shows the change in length of a steel tape measure at 20⁰C temperature deviations.
ΔL = length change and calculated with the formula ΔL = L x ΔT x α
L = length of the tape measure
ΔT = Change in temperature and it is calculated using the formula ΔT = T₂ – T₁
T₁ = 20⁰C, so ΔT is the temperature differences from 20⁰C
α = coefficient of thermal expansion (12.4 x 10⁻⁶)
Example: If the temperature of the job site is 40⁰C, ΔT will be 20⁰C. So, the change in length of a 10 m long steel tape measure used on the job site will be 2.5 mm.
The movement on the end-piece or hook of tape measuring devices is not always the same. These end-pieces or hook can become slack and move over time thus affecting the accuracy of their measurements. If you believe that there is an improper movement in the hook of your tape measure and you need to take a very accurate measurement, you can perform a simple technique known as “burning an inch.”
To do this, you have to line up one end of the item you want to measure with the 1-inch mark on your tape (you might even decide to line the end of the item you want to measure with 2 or 3-in mark on your tape). After taking the measurement, subtract the extra inches you added to get the actual measurement. This will help to avoid the error from the hook.
Apart from the difference in scale and materials used in manufacturing the tool, there can also be a variation in the standard of quality followed by different brands in their tape manufacturing process. The first thing to look out for when shopping for an accurate tape measure is its rating from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The tool manufacturing process should be in accordance with ISO 9001 which is the standard quality system for tape measure production and accuracy.
LASER DISTANCE MEASURE
A laser distance measure (also known as laser distance meter or laser meter) is a contemporary handheld distance measuring tool that relies on the optical measuring process to calculate distance. This optical distance measurer determines the distance between two points with the help of its laser technology and provides the readings in digital form on their display.
Laser measures are easy to use. They offer a superior level of convenience in that they are faster and support one man and one hand operation without having to drag tapes about as it is the case with tape measures. Laser distance meters are very portable and are used by different people from different professions such as:
Real estate appraisers
How Does Laser Distance Measure Work?
A laser measure works by shooting a laser beam (pulse of laser light) from a point to a target and measuring the amount of time it takes the light to reflect off the target and return to the tool to calculate the distance between the two points. The optical method of distance measurement (otherwise known as “pulse” measurement) used by laser measures relies on a working principle known as the “time of flight” which is based on the speed at which laser light travels through the atmosphere of the earth.
Since the speed at which laser light travels the atmosphere is fairly constant, the tool can then calculate the distance between itself and its target with this criterion using the formula D = ct/2.
c = the speed of light.
t = the amount of time takes the light to reflect off the target and return to the tool.
Due to the focus of the laser light (i.e., the unbending nature of light) and high speed at which it travels, this calculation is very accurate over distances of miles or feet, but the accuracy tends to decrease with farther or much closer distances.
The speed of light is 3 x 10⁵ km/s, so to calculate the distance of (say) 1-in, the tool must measure the amount of time it takes to reflect off the light from the target back to the tool in the order of billionths of a second. You don’t have to worry about this as the technology is reliable and well established.
How to Measure with a Laser Distance Measure
To measure distance with a laser distance measure, you have to start by pressing the power button to switch the tool on. Then, line up the tool at one end of the object or line you intend to measure (according to the measuring reference position) and place a target (which is usually a solid like a metal or plastic object) at the other end. If you want to measure the distance from a point to a wall, cabinet or other solid objects, you don’t need to add a target, but if there is no target at your endpoint, you can add one to reflect the laser light to your laser distance measure.
The next thing is to aim the tool (the laser light) at your target and press the “measure” button. Keep the tool in a fixed position until it records a measurement which will be displayed on its screen. Once the tool records a measurement, the laser light should go off. For additional measurements (like volume, area and indirect measurement) utilize the tool’s onboard functions to get the readings.
Note: Each model and brand are different, so you need to take time to read and understand the user’s guide that comes with your tool before you operate it.
It is very fast to measure with a laser measure. Press “on”, then point at the target and finally press the calculate button.
Factors That Affect the Accuracy of Laser Distance Measures
The accuracy of laser distance measures is one of its biggest advantages. Its measures with high accuracy at a resolution of about ± 1/8 inch, ± 1/16 inch, or ± 1/25, the resolution of some models can even go up to ± 1/32 inch. However, the accuracy of these devices can be affected by some factors which include:
The sensor (receiver)
Let us explain these in detail.
Laser measures accuracy depends on the reflection of the original pulse back to the sending device. Therefore, the accuracy of laser measures depends on the ability of the target to reflect and return the laser light to the sending device. However, the degree at which different materials reflects light varies. While some have lesser degrees of light reflect-ability, others can reflect light to greater degrees.
A target that tends to diffuse (scatter) light or absorb it will reduce the possibility of reflecting the original laser pulse to the tool for calculation. In this case, especially where the target scatters light, you should make use of a laser measure with a “phase shift method.”
3D pen for Architecture – How could 3D pens change the design process?
Welcome to Architect Gadgets and to the post “3D pen for Architecture – How could 3D pens change the design process?”.
3D pens are a new technology that has not yet seen mainstream adoption. On Amazon, most of the products you can see if you type “3D pen” are targeted to children. Although this might make you think that this technology is more of a toddler toy than anything else, it hides incredible potential for Architects and other designers or artists. How is that so? Well, with 3D pens, you can truly draw in 3D. It becomes a mix of sketching and model building. You get the 3D information of a model with the speed of a 2D sketch. It is sort of 3D printing, but with the advantages of speed and workflow that you find in sketching.
Some companies have already seen this potential and are exploring the more professional side of 3D pens. An example is LIX, which targets architects, designers and other artists and makers with its 3D pen LIX PEN UV. For LIX the idea of creating a 3D pen came from the restriction that standard 3D printers have, mainly in terms of speed and iteration. With a 3D pen, Architects are able to create 3D structures without the time consuming, traditional 3D printing machines, which require a computer program and 3D CAD knowledge to operate. Contrary to most 3D pens on the market, the LIX pen UV is a sleek and small product, with the main focus on its aesthetics, so it looks and feels like a normal pen. According to LIX, that required some work in order to fit all the components within the envelope, but results in a very nice and professional looking product. Kindly visit us Best Casino Land Review – Cinema Casino
How could 3D pens change the Architect’s design process?
How does it benefit your design process, though? Well, as I briefly mentioned above, it brings in a new concept, which we could call 3D sketching. The closest to this is, as we said, 3D printing and also model building but the speed of these and of the 3D pen are dramatically different. With a 3D pen, you can create a 3D figure in a matter of minutes or seconds, allowing for a much faster iteration and a big reduction in labour costs. Moreover, the flexibility of the 3D pen is as big as your imagination. According to LIX, their customers create forms which can go from building models to cars, passing through flowers, skulls or animals.
The flexibility of this tool will make it useful in many situations. However, here at Architect Gadgets, we think it has incredible potential in mainly 3 areas.
Early stage volume iteration
At this stage, if you are considering which shape your building should have and you are both sketching and building models in order to see how the building would fit in the plot and its surroundings, a 3D pen would be an incredible asset. You would be able to quickly build simple models with the different shape options you are considering and it would be much easier to see whether you are on the right track or not. For example, you would be able to check how different volumes interact depending on its location and proportion, whether a sloping roof would integrate better with the surroundings or if a flat roof would actually be a good contrast. All this, which currently need different models and sketches, can be concentrated in a few 3D-pen-drawn volumes.
Another area where 3D pens could, in our opinion, become a good asset is when the façades need to be designed. These are elements that can be difficult to design in 2 dimensions, especially for complex building shapes, where the richness of the façade can only be expressed in 3 dimensions. Although drawing the façades with a 3D pen would bring some challenges because all the different elements need to be joined, it would be nevertheless a very powerful tool where all the façade complexity would be easier to express, test and understand. This is especially true for façades where balconies or other horizontal elements are present, which have a very powerful influence over the façade final result but which tend to be rather invisible in the façade drawings (even if shadows are represented).
Furniture distribution and design
The third area where we believe a 3D pen would provide a competitive advantage over current methods of representation is in furniture design or layout design. In this instance, a simple envelope with the shape of the room being studied can be drawn. Within that, the different furniture elements can also be drawn, being able to play in 3D with its location, size, orientation and more. In a further step of development, the different items of furniture can be drawn more accurately in 3D, and the whole room can be easily represented with detailed 3D-pen-drawn miniature furniture.
As we have seen, 3D pens hide incredible potential for Architects and other designers. Even though most of the 3D pens on the market are designed as toys for children, some companies, such as LIX, have seen the potential of this new technology for Architects. With a 3D pen such as LIX 3D pen UV, Architects can bring a new tool into their design process. As we have explained, we think that 3D pens can be used in mainly 3 areas as far as Architects are concerned. The first area is early stage volume studies, where by simply using the 3D pen as a model making tool, the Architect can manage to speed up the iteration process, receiving a much earlier feedback on his own ideas by having them drawn in 3D much faster.
The second are is façade design. Even with the difficulty of having to have all the elements joined, façade design would be more communicative with a 3D pen, as some elements, such as balconies
One of the biggest hurdles for Architects all around the globe is convincing clients about the suitability and attractiveness of their proposals. It is not by chance that the phrase “A good project needs a good client” rings so true to any architect that has had to deal with a stubborn client. But, most of the time, the problem is not so much about a bad client, as it is about a lack of understanding of the proposal. This means that a lot of times, clients have to take a bit of a leap of faith in order to approve an innovative proposal. This is a very difficult step for a client that is investing a large amount of their money into the project, so, most of the time, the proposal ends up going to the bin and a more standard solution is implemented.
How can Architects explain their proposals in the most realistic and immersive way, so clients can easily imagine how it will be once it is built? Virtual Reality is your answer. In today’s interview, we ask Ryan Neil, from SYMMETRY VR, how VR can help Architects accelerate the approval process and improve their communication with clients.
Before we dive into the details, could you give us an overview of how can VR help Architects?
At a most basic level, VR can be utilised as a viewer to allow architects and their clients to experience designs at 1:1 scale. While this provides merit as a marketing tool, the real value of VR is apparent when effectively integrated into an architect’s workflow, allowing architects to review designs internally and with their clients and clarify design direction to accelerate the approval process.
Can you describe a recent project where VR had a meaningful and positive impact on the design process?
When Sony Creative Center went through the process of designing and building an exhibit for the Milan Furniture Fair 2018, they utilised SYMMETRY from the very beginning. From rough concepts through to polished design, they were able to utilise VR to effectively communicate designs to stakeholders internally and with the construction team in Milan.
Furthermore, the Sony Creative Center design team was challenged with multiple offices working remotely on the design of the exhibit in tandem. With SYMMETRY, the design teams were able to collaborate and experience their designs at 1:1 together which greatly enhanced communication between the different teams and accelerated approval times.
One of the main problems of the industry is the discrepancy in understanding between architects and clients, which rise approval times and prevent creative solutions due to lack of trust or understanding. How can VR and SYMMETRY help solve this problem?
By removing ambiguity and allowing the client to experience the vision of the architect at 1:1 scale prior to construction. This helps clients to fully understand proposed designs and ultimately leads to more effective review feedback. Architects can show clients the effects of revision requests at 1:1 scale and discuss alternatives while experiencing the design from within.
One of the main advantages of VR is the ability to see the built environment at scale 1:1 before it ever gets built. That can be very interesting in universities to be able to teach architecture students the basis of space and proportion. What are your views on the matter? In your experience, do practising architects also benefit from this specific feature?
Certainly, as an architecture student, one of the first big hurdles is understanding scale and how design concepts might play out at 1:1. Professional architects have an understanding of scale through years of trial and error, and VR allows students and recent graduates to significantly accelerate their understanding of scale without the need to wait for designs to be constructed, which can take years.
Architects can benefit from the accelerated understanding of the younger members of the studio as they will be able to take on more responsibility at a faster pace.
Another advantage that is explained often is that thanks to VR, architects can clearly convey what they have in their head, which can be sometimes difficult with only sketches. What are your views on the matter? Do you have an example that illustrates this point?
Explaining a 3D space on a 2D surface, whether via drawing or 3D model on a screen, carries limitations, even for a seasoned architect. Most clients don’t have the background of architectural education coupled with years of experience, and showing a design on a 2D screen is leaving too much to the imagination which inevitably creates a gap in understanding between the architect and the client.
For example, let’s say an architect decides to raise the ceiling height by 1 meter and slightly increase window sizes. That small adjustment can have a significant impact on how the space is perceived, though it can be difficult to convey that on a 2D surface.
Even for something as simple as signage on the exterior of a building or retail store, if the client can’t see it at 1:1 how effectively can they comprehend the scale of it?
Do you think that VR allows for quicker experimentation? Could you give us an example of that?
Absolutely. While working on schematic designs architects can experiment with spaces and utilize VR to experience those spaces in context with their clients before progressing into the design phase.
For example, an architect designing a hotel in a cityscape can drop a schematic design into context with surrounding buildings and experience the scale of the building and refine their ideas on how they want people to connect with the building from street level while leading them through the transition from exterior to interior.
Explaining a schematic design to a client is inherently more difficult than with a detailed rendering, and utilising VR early in the design phase will save the architect from rushing through a schematic design to present more polished design proposals before they’re ready.
In which sense can VR improve the presentations with the client and the approval process?
Architects will no longer need to rely on InDesign and Photoshop to share design concepts and renderings with clients. VR allows architects to immerse the client into a design to experience it at 1:1 scale as they guide them through the design and discuss ideas.
The approval process is accelerated as a direct result of enhanced communication between the architect and the client. Clients have a greater understanding of proposed designs and as a result, can more effectively provide feedback when needed. Clients know what they want, but it can be difficult for them to explain and increasingly difficult to provide effective feedback when they don’t fully understand or can’t imagine what it will be like to occupy the space when built.
Do you think the client appreciates more an Architect that experiences with new technology such as VR in order to improve their service?
Certainly. Clients want a high quality and well functioning design at the lowest possible cost. Any technology that allows clients to more effectively envision the proposed design, enhance and accelerate the review process and save money is a highly desirable addition.
Apart from the above advantages, does VR provide an improvement in any other area?
VR allows architects to effectively review, revise and validate their designs with clients while accelerating the approval process and enhancing the communication of design ideas.
Naturally, the VR process doesn’t stop with clients or during the pre-construction phase, allowing architects to more effectively communicate designs with contractors and their teams as well and verify construction milestones to the original design with improved accuracy.
Utilising VR post-construction with effective data gathering allows architects to monitor building usage and continue to improve the well-being design for the occupants as well.
What are the current downsides of VR against more traditional modes of representations such as physical models or drawings or sketches?
We are approaching VR as a communication tool, not as a tool for creation.
We fully understand that some architects prefer to think with their hands, be that via sketching or building models, and we’re not at all interested in trying to replace that with VR.
The advantages of VR are numerous, but even so, an effective use of VR does not inherently make a design great in the same way a beautiful hand-drawn perspective may not necessarily lead to a great building.
At the core of the design process is the creativity of the architect in coming up with novel and effective solutions to the challenges presented by the client. VR is just a tool, like a pencil or a CAD program, there to help architects more effectively communicate their design intent and reduce the pain points inherent in the pre-construction phase. Our hope is that utilising VR will free up architects to spend more time doing what they enjoy and less time selling their designs to clients.
In a previous interview, you mentioned that SYMMETRY was researching AI and the ability to add capabilities like 3D object recognition into VR software, which would make the design review, edit, and share process more visceral and rewarding. Could you elaborate a little bit more on this? Are you still developing it?
Yes, we are currently in the R&D phase of working out how to effectively incorporate deep learning in regards to 3D object recognition and natural language processing in a VR environment. Our goal is to continue to enhance the design process by making it easier for architects to utilize VR to communicate their designs while lowering the bar to entry for VR. We are constantly looking for the most intuitive way to allow architects and their clients to experience designs in VR, and that starts with making the VR space more interactive and easier to navigate.
We aren’t quite ready to share specific details yet, but we’ve already made significant advancements and are more excited than ever for the future of VR.
What are the next steps for SYMMETRY?
In the near future, we are planning to include support for point cloud data in *.las and *.laz format with the ability to import two models at once with added functionality for working with point cloud models in VR. Furthermore, we will continue to work toward support for other file types while working toward our long-term vision of AI-integrated VR.
We experience our world in 360 degrees, surrounded by sounds and sights. In the last years, an option for capturing videos and photos in that context has appeared. The use of a special camera known as the 360º cameras. These cameras allow you to shoot 360-degrees videos and photospheres thus, capturing your reality in an interactive and fully immersive way.
Besides capturing dazzling videos and photographs, what are 360 cameras used for and are they even worth spending your hard earned money on? Which professional jobs could employ the use of this technology now and in the future? How can you benefit from the use of these cameras? In this post, we are going to explore the uses of 360 cameras, the main fields that could benefit from its practical applications and other creative ways in which you can use this technology in your day-to-day life.
Let’s get started!
Architects are one of the major beneficiaries of photography, and this trend does not seem to end anytime soon. With the invention of 360 cameras, the rise of VR and 360-degree videos, Architectural photography just got better and better.
One of the major importance of 360 cameras is its ultra wide-angle feature that is especially useful when it comes to taking ultra wide-angle shots or shooting traditional videos with 360 cameras. Architects can now set their field of view beyond what is achievable with traditional cameras or real wide angle lenses when they convert their 360 videos for traditional footage. The outcome is an ultra wide-angle look with a trippy effect. While taking 360-degrees videos and photospheres is cool, it’s what architects can do with this incredible pictures and footage that is the really interesting part.
In this era of Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, you can capture different perspectives of your work, building or property with this camera and post them on Facebook or YouTube for your viewers to see. And since the footage captured by a 360 camera allows a view of your work or building to be seen in every direction, your viewer can now have a detailed perspective of your work. This will make your viewers feel like teleporting into your location and experiencing your work as if they are actually there, and you never can tell the level at which this can help to transform your business and help you find new clients.
The 360 cameras are also ideal for capturing the environment maps of an architect’s location to create a 3D model of his project. And since a 3D model can reflect the real environment, the end results will be much more realistic. At Architect Gadgets, we have done an article reviewing the Best 360 cameras for Architects. Check it out to find out what the best 360º cameras for Architects are.
Journalism and crowd shots
Apart from the Architects, journalist and reporters are also beginning to explore the potential of 360 cameras for capturing the photos and footage of events around them. The photos and videos captured with these cameras pan smoothly for a highly professional look, and provide the viewers a 360-degree view that will help deepen their admiration of an event or place.
For instance, a video from the New York Times that depicts some people in Niger who escaped the Boko Haram militant group shows a crowd receiving provisions from aid groups. You start by seeing a man unloading sacks from a truck, and when you change the view by panning the video, you would see the crowd gathering to claim the supplies and the improvised carts they use to carry it.
This 360-degree format irresistibly evokes attention and interests and is gradually becoming the standard for raw video recordings of events and news. So, whether you want to capture a scene at a stadium during a concert or big game, a wedding, festival or incident happening in your locality, the 360º camera is always there to help. And while your viewers will get to see things from their own perspective as if they are actually there, it will translate to a lesser job for you as you won’t have to worry about moving the camera around. The camera will simply capture everything around you while you focus on the event or action in front of you.
Creating photo and video diary
Visiting an interesting place or city with a lot of amazing structures and goings-on like a light show or outdoor festival? A 360 camera will help to capture more lifelike pictures and videos of the world around you with more depth, emotion, and feeling, to create a diary of your vacation, party and other events that happened in your life. This will help bring back the memories of those big moments in your life, and you will recall them as if it was yesterday, even if you are watching after so many months or years.
Apart from that, people who get to see the photos or videos will get a fuller sense of what the location looks like when they can adjust their view to see the world around you, even if they have never been there before.
The power of today’s VR technology paired with that of the 360º cameras can do some really incredible things. Imagine getting home after a stressful day at work, picking up your VR headset and teleporting yourself to a park in the countryside, a café in Paris, a beach in Barbados or anywhere you like to experience or relax. Isn’t that amazing? Of course, it is!
With this technology, you would be able to see every angle of the hotel room you want to splurge on or the house you’re planning to rent – all from the comfort of your home. You would also be able to take your hospital-bound patient on adventures in the great outdoors to help improve his mood. The possibilities are simply endless!
Another great benefit of 360 cameras is in the creation of 360º videos which can transform the world of video conferencing. The integration of 360 videos with video conferencing may not be readily apparent, but this idea makes a lot of sense. It will provide a great way for you to see where your friend or family is, and uniquely show where you are thus, giving you the benefit of live interaction.
Recently, Microsoft combined VR technology and 3D video to develop a lifelike VR teleconference system. Well, maybe soon, 360º cameras will replace their 3D brothers to create a more true-to life-teleconference system. This will probably be the new best thing to bring your family, friends or teams together in a room with you even when they are thousands of miles away. That’s the future!
Advanced filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Felix and Paul, and Chris Milk, are already delving into the use of 360 cameras and VR and exploring their potential for cinematic movie-making. With the 360º cameras, completely new immersive cinematic experiences are achievable. And since these cameras can create ultra wide-angle shots, its user’s can capture all actions without missing a scene. With this, filmmakers can now capture all actions to immerse their viewers in their creation.
No doubt, the advancement in the optical technology (such as the 360 cameras) is becoming revolutionary. The opportunities these cameras offer Architects, real estate agencies, journalists, event planners, travel companies, entrepreneurs, innovators, and the likes are staggering.
In this edition, we tried to answer the question “what are 360 cameras used for” by highlighting some fields or areas where this amazing technology is utilized and where it can be beneficial to you or your business. Even at that, it is important for all professions to explore and come up with new innovative ways on how this flourishing technology can be more beneficial to their business. If you have some thoughts that you’d love to share, or figured out some innovative ways to use the 360 cameras, kindly share them with us in the comment section below.
Nowadays, tablets are considered an essential aspect of the modern architect’s business toolkit. This is because they combine the convenience and handy features of a smartphone (portability, ease of taking pictures and quicker access to information) and a PC (writing notes and comments, viewing and editing floorplans).
There are many different tablet brands and models available on the market today. This can make selecting the best tablet for architects a challenge. For this reason, we have created this article, to show you some brands that have a lot of positive review from architects in the real world (based on our research). Moreover, we will provide you with a couple of buying suggestions. We are also going to discuss the most important tablet features to look out for to help you in making the right choice.
Let’s dive right in!
Don’t feel like reading the whole article and product reviews? Here are our top 5 picks for architects, designers, and contractors.
Note: the battery life of these devices depends on their user’s usage patterns.
How to choose the best tablet for architects
Tablets do not come at a cheap price tag. But having none or buying a wrong device might be even more costly. Not only would you have to deal with the loss of information due to the crashing of the apps or the tablet itself but might also have to deal with other performance issues and insufficient battery juice thus, wasting your precious time and money.
The bottom line is, you need a quality tablet to boost your productivity.
When selecting the best tablet for your work, below are some of the most important tablet features to look out for and factors to consider to help you in making the right choice.
The decision on what screen size is best for you is personal, and it has to do with what you intend to do with the device on the job site. For instance, if you only intend or plan to use the device mostly for taking pictures, then you can rely on a smartphone. But if you want to use the device to work with floor plans, change your designs, and edit (or write) long texts, then you need a device with a bigger screen such as a 10” or 13” screen.
Apart from determining the convenience of typing text, editing and reading of documents, the size of the tablet screen will also determine how easy it is for you to carry your device in your back or suit pocket. Such as Android tablets with a 7.9” screen or the iPad mini with the same screen size; these devices are more convenient for typing, reading, opening, and editing documents than a smartphone.
Although the best Operating system (OS) to go for depends on the user’s preferences, the choice you make can affect your productivity. If you already own an Android device or smartphone, it makes sense to stay with Android; you will easily understand how to operate the device, how it works and how it can be synchronized. If you own or already familiar with an iPad, iPhone or Mac, it is advisable for you to stay with iOS.
Shifting abruptly from an OS to the other may have an adverse effect on your productivity since you may have synchronisation issues between your devices. Moreover, in the beginning, you will have to spend time to study and get used to the device and its OS – the time that could be used for other important projects. We give devices with the iOS operating system (Apple devices) a slight preference due to their quality but the latest Android devices are also of good quality. Not only that, they are cheaper than Apple devices and are also available in a variety of choices.
Last, but not least, there are lots of useful apps available for architects, designers, and construction engineers compatible with Android or iOS devices. But for devices with Windows OS, the available selection of apps is still limited.
As an architect, you may need to send a field report, share your designs with your client right from the job site or download the recent version of a blueprint. A device with 4G internet connection might be very useful here. Devices with 4G are costlier than Wi-Fi only devices, but most construction sites are without good Wi-Fi hence, the need to get a device with good internet connectivity.
The Random Access Memory (RAM) determines the speed and smoothness of your tablet’s performance. 1GB of RAM is okay for most apps, but for heavy use and guaranteed smooth operation, more RAM would be needed. For this reason, we recommend devices with 2GB of RAM or more for architects, designers and construction professionals.
Having to continuously delete files before you can receive new ones just because your device memory is full is not a fun thing to do. It can even waste the time that could have been used to handle other important things. Every minute counts and architects all around the world will agree with us that time is money, especially on a job site. To avoid the headaches of having to remove files due to insufficient memory, we recommend a minimum storage space of 32GB to save your documents, videos, pictures, etc. You can go for a device with expandable storage (support for external SD card) if you are looking to save a lot of documents, videos, and pictures. Note that most Android device’s memory can be expanded with an external SD card, but this is impossible with Apple (iOS) devices.
How will you feel if you are running a project with a 100% battery full tablet and it suddenly shut down a few minutes after you commenced the exercise due to insufficient battery juice? Frustrated right? The worst part is, you would probably lose the information or files you are working on and end up wasting your precious time. That’s a more reason why you must go for a device with a strong battery life.
Architects can remain on the road or their job site the entire day so, it is best to have a device that can last through the day without recharging its battery. We recommend a device that offers a battery life of at least 9 hours without having to recharge it.
Handy and convenient tablet accessories can help to improve your productivity and protect your device. Accessories such as protective case and screen guard can help to protect your tablet against occasional bumps or drops on the floor, dust, and rain. A stylus also comes handy when it comes to sketching or drawing on a white background, pictures or plans. Tablet keyboards are not left out and can help when you need to continue working without having to drag your laptop along.
A car charger is a cheap and handy accessory that can help you prevent low battery misery when you are far away to a job or construction site. So, we recommend a device that supports or come with some useful accessories that can simplify your work and make you more efficient.
The best Tablets for Architects are not cheap, but you do not have to empty your bank or life savings to get one that suits your needs. Set your budget and try to look for a tablet that offers the maximum value and quality that your budget can allow.
It’s one thing for a tablet to have a good specification, it’s another thing for it to have an excellent performance in real life. Apart from the tablet’s specifications, the best way to identify a tablet with awesome performance and ease of use is to consider its users’ reviews and feedback as well.
To provide you with a list of the best tablet for architects, we reviewed several tablet models and brands on Amazon to select 10 high-performing tablets recommended for architects. Then, we narrowed down the search by picking 5 tablets with the best users rating out of the 10 devices we selected earlier to come up with the list of the 5 best tablets for architects in the section below.
If you own an Apple product and you’re looking for a fast, responsive, beautiful and easy to use tablet to handle your architectural work, then you probably need to get yourself this iPad Pro from Apple. The device comes with 11-inch liquid retina display with a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating and runs on the iOS 12 which is the latest and most advanced mobile OS from Apple.
It also comes 4GB Ram and with a fast and powerful A12X Bionic chip processor, so the device is capable of running any app or program without a hitch. The device is available in different internal memory sizes (64GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1T), so you can select the memory size that suits your needs and store your pictures, documents, music, and floor plans.
It comes with a 12-megapixel camera for taking crystal clear pictures and 4k video recording of your work to share with your clients or post on Facebook and Instagram via its fast Wi-Fi or 4G connectivity. Above all, the device supports convenient accessories such as a keyboard and Apple pencil and comes equipped with 29.37 watt-hour rechargeable Li-Polymer battery that offers up to 10hours of rigorous use.
Fast, intuitive and with a sleek and beautiful design
Compatible with Apple pencil, Bluetooth keyboard, and smart keyboard folio
Featuring High Dynamic Range on a Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy Tab S3 delivers cinematic vividness, detail, and deep contrast to a screen that fits in your hands
Our revolutionary S Pen is more precise and pressure-responsive than ever, and never needs to be charged, liberating you to create, translate, and navigate without limits
Powerful Quad speakers, tuned by AKG, calibrate with your movements as you rotate the Galaxy Tab S3, and intuitively reflect what's playing on-screen
If you are looking for the best Android tablet to handle your work, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 might be perfect for you. The device features an elegantly designed metal and glass with a 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display that delivers cinematic vividness. It comes with a stylus (S pen) out of the box which gives it a real value over Apple tablet (since you’ll have to buy Apple pencil separately).
The device comes with Android 7.0 (upgradable to 8.0), 4GB Ram, 32GB internal storage, and processor speed clocked at 2.2GHz, this ensures fast, and smooth performance, and efficient running of apps. It also includes a dedicated slot that supports micro SD card up to 512GB, so you do not have to delete old files to collect and store new ones. The 13MP camera that comes with the device help to take clear and sharp pictures of your work and 1080p video recording at 30 FPS.
The device supports keyboard (sold separately) for fast and convenient typing, as well as wireless, and 4G network for fast and reliable connection. Its battery life is impressive; it features a 6000mah rechargeable battery that delivers an average of 12 hours of heavy usage.
Comes with an S pen that does not require pairing or charging
The latest Microsoft Surface Pro Features a 7th generation Intel Core M Processor, 128 GB of storage, 4 GB RAM, and up to 13.5 hours of video playback
Our fastest Surface Pro ever* thanks to a powerful Intel Core laptop-grade processor
Go all day with up to 13.5 hours of battery life. * 50% more battery life than the previous generation
Are you looking for a laptop or tablet to work anywhere with no hassle? If yes, then the Microsoft Surface Pro might be all you need. The device features a 12.3-inch touchscreen and works perfectly with 3D creation tools, Office, Surface Dial, and Surface Pen and runs smoothly on Windows 10. It delivers a longer battery life (an average of 13 hours of heavy usage) as well as more performance and speed, thanks to its powerful Intel Core processor.
If you have to work in areas with no Wi-Fi, slow, poor or unsecured public Wi-Fi, the Surface Pro has got you covered. The device is available with 4G LTE advanced and it supports a removable SIM card from your service provider. Moreover, it allows you to buy data for the embedded SIM. The processor starts at Core m3 paired with 4GB RAM and goes up to Core i7 with 16GB RAM version.
The storage memory starts at 128GB and goes all the way up to 1T, little wonder why it can open high memory programs faster and run multiple apps at once. So, if you need a fast and amazing device to work all day, try out this Microsoft Surface Pro and thanks us later.
A 360 camera is great, especially when you need to capture the full view of your work at your job site and your surrounding architecture and share with your YouTube or Facebook friends so that they can pan around and experience your work as if they are actually there. A great 360 footage and image are usually as important as a great building and designs – sometimes even more. This is because it can help your viewers to have a deeper sense and perspective of your work which could land you more clients and employment.
Sure, you need the best 360 cameras for architects to take high-quality photograph and footage which is crucial for contemporary architecture. However, choosing the right 360 cameras for immersive architecture can be a challenge – selecting among the prototype, the ones already in stores and the models that would be released into the market in the future. This post will not only show you how to select the best 360 cameras for architects but will also provide you with the review of some of the best 360 cameras for immersive architectural photography in the market today to help you make the right choice.
How to Select the Best 360 Camera for Architects
Since there are lots of makes and models available on the market today, the most important question that you need to clear in your mind is how you can get the best 360 cameras for architects from the market. The best way to choose is to consider your requirements and the product’s features as well as its advantages and disadvantages to select the one that suit you best. In this section, we are going to show you some of the features to look out for and the factors we consider while making our selection.
Let’s get started!
Video and image resolution
360-degree media must have a very high resolution for them to have the match the high definition quality of traditional videos. The standard resolution that is required for the production of High Definition video in regular cameras is1080p for HD video. However, a minimum requirement is 4K video resolution, for a 360-degree camera to produce content that appears HD in quality. So if you are looking for a professional grade 360 camera to capture your work and the world around you, you should look for those that can produce videos with 4k resolution or more and images with 15 megapixels or more.
Images and video from 360 cameras are formed by combining two or more images of the same scene together to form a single image or video. This process is known as stitching. The best 360 cameras for architects should be able to stitch the pictures captured by the camera lenses together on an accompanying mobile app or do so automatically in the camera software.
You also need to consider the quality of the stitching to select the best. A good 360 camera with good stitching quality will have little or no noticeable lines at the point where the pictures meet. To check the camera’s stitch quality, you can watch the 360 videos produced by each of the cameras and pan around the video to check if you can easily discover the lines where the pictures meet.
This feature is a must if you intend to move the camera while using it. Some 360-degree cameras come with excellent stabilization software that you can use to smooth out the vibrations and bumps.
Waterproofing and accessories like a protective case is another feature that can help improve the longevity and durability of your 360 cameras (since it can save you from accidental damage that can be caused by splash or immersion in water). This feature can increase the cost of the camera and should only be required if you plan to use it in a more challenging environment such as waterlog areas or areas that are prone to rainfall.
Buying an expensive 360 camera with lots of features that are not easy to use will only amount to a waste of resources. So it is important to select a 360 camera that is easy to pick up and use at your job site. Check if the camera is backed with good software that allows you to control it with ease.
Most cameras rely on the external memory card as their primary storage. A camera with external storage of 64GB or more would be perfect, but you will have to check the camera to see the maximum external storage capacity supported. 360 media occupy more storage space than the traditional media files, so it’s advisable to buy a 32 GB micro SD card or more to store your files.
A good 360 camera should be able to offer you up to 70 minutes of non-stop recording. You should also note if the camera’s battery is inbuilt, removable or interchangeable. 360 cameras with interchangeable batteries are often better, but they are not that common. However, you can go for a 360 camera with an inbuilt rechargeable battery that can offer up to 60 minutes of shooting as it is more convenient than using a camera that only offer a few minutes of non-stop shooting at a time.
Check the review and users feedback
Whether a 360 camera is good or not cannot be determined by just looking at the camera’s specification since the camera can be falsely advertised. That is why you should check the review and customers feedback before you make your decision. We selected different 360 cameras with great specifications, features, and support and later selected 10 cameras with the best ratings. From there, we checked their reviews and users feedback and selected 5 cameras with outstanding features and lots of positive feedbacks which you will see in the review section below.
Breakthrough stabilization: with breakthrough stabilization and horizon leveling automatically built in, Rylo Makes your videos look Like they were shot on a professional stabilization rig.
Front back: put yourself in the action with a picture-in-picture that shows your facial expression as you capture a moment.
Points: control the camera's perspective, after-the-factor, by tapping on specific points of Interest in your video. Rylo magically produces a fluidly smooth video that connects each of your points.
The Rylo is an innovative 360 camera with 4K resolution and excellent stabilization. It can shoot smooth and clean 360 videos and images in almost any situation. The best part of this camera is that it comes in a portable design that makes it super easy to carry anywhere you go and even attach it to any moving object such as your helmet and capture great pictures or footage of your work at your job site.
The Rylo360 camera stabilization is one of the best you would find on the market. It feels like your camera level is kept by a physical gimbal, you won’t have to worry about holding the camera steady to take great pictures and videos. Moreover, it comes with an excellent, intuitive and user-friendly app that allows you to edit, watch or share professional grade 360 media files from anywhere. Finally, it is compatible with Android or IOS devices so you won’t have to wait till you get home or lug your laptop around to edit raw footage.
The camera comes with a protective casing, a tripod mount, 16 GB memory card, and charging and sync cable. It supports micro SD card up to 256 GB and comes with 830mah battery that offers an average of 60 min non-stop recording. The camera itself is not waterproof, but you can buy the adventure case to make it waterproof.
4K Ultra-HD 360 Video; 20 MP 360° Photos, Turn your iPhone into a 360 camera
Nano S new features: MultiView + MultiView Live + MultiView Chat, 360 Live-streaming, Advanced real-time stabilization, FreeCapture, SmartTrack, Color Options
All-new 360-Degree video chat lets you share an immersive, real-time view of your world
Insta360 One is one of the best value portable 360 cameras we tested that pack a lot of amazing features even in its tiny body. It comes with 2 fisheye lenses (Sony CMOS sensors) that are capable of shooting smooth, sharp and clear 4K videos and 24 MP photos in RAW.
It comes with FlowState stabilization software that let you capture smooth, captivating video while you’re working or moving, and also choose where your camera is pointing even after you captured the scene. With this camera, you can capture impressive, immersive images and videos with its standalone control, control with Bluetooth or connect to your Android or IOS device to capture, stream live 360 videos or share your work and designs in full VR.
Just like the Rylo, Insta360 One is not waterproof but can also be used with a waterproof casing. It features 1/4-20 tripod connector, 1 lithium-ion battery that offers up to 70 minutes of non-stop recording and 8 GB external storage that is expandable to 128 GB.
5.7K Resolution: Records 360 videos in up to 5.7K resolution at 30 frames per second with the 'Auto-Stitch' option in the app or in the in-camera menu turned off, ready to stitch in the accompanying YI 360 Studio (Windows) （Note: Compatible devices and software is required to playback 5.7K videos).
In-Camera Stitching: 4K/30fps in-camera stitching, shoot then share complete 4K 360 videos and pictures without the need of post-processing.
4K Live Streaming: Live stream 360° videos in up to 4K resolution with the built-in 2.4GHz & 5GHz Wi-Fi (5GHz recommended).
If you are looking for a high quality 360 camera to create professional grade 360 images and videos to fully immerse your followers and clients in your work and designs, the YI 360 VR is perfect for you. The camera comes with dual 220° lenses that are capable of shooting vivid fully immersive images and videos up to 5.7K resolution.
The camera comes with a portable, lightweight design and can be mounted to any 1/4″ thread mount. Even though the camera can shoot amazing videos, it lags behind when it comes to image stabilization. The camera can hardly smooth out the bumps or vibration, so it works best for capturing still videos. It is compatible with 2.4 GHz and 5GHz WiFi for streaming live 360 videos up to 4K resolution.
Although the camera can be used as a standalone device, it is compatible with both iOS and Android devices and also include the YI 360 app that allows you to connect to your phone and view, or download your 360 media files or instantly share to your preferred social media. It’s replaceable 1400 mah battery lasts up to 50 min of non-stop recording and also offer in-camera stitching that reduces long post-processing stitch time.
Theta V shoots hi-def smooth 360 Degree video at 30 fps @ 3840 x 1920 pixels or 4K. It supports the H.264 file format for video recording ; Remote release: CA-3-compatible
Hi-res 360 Degree spherical stills & video with improvements to the image quality. New Qualcomm Snapdragon processor has completely enhanced the exposure accuracy and white balance algorithm
Theta has a 4-channel microphone that supports 360 Degree spatial audio recording built in Omnidirectional audio is recorded not just in the horizontal direction but also in the vertical direction
The Theta V from Ricoh is another high quality 360 camera you can rely on to capture stunning pictures and video and fully immerse your viewers in your work. The camera features a slim and portable design that fits into the hand like a small TV remote. It includes a few buttons like the power button, mode, wireless on/off, and shutter; this made it one of the easiest 360 cameras to operate.
The camera is capable of shooting smooth and more realistic 360 videos at 30 fps at 4K resolution and clear images at 14 megapixels even in a low light condition. The camera also includes a 4 channel mic that is able to record 360-degree spatial stereo sound that pairs up with the video to produce a true to life 360 videos of the environment where you shoot the video and more immersive experience when viewing and listening with earphones.
The image processing is 10 times faster than its predecessor, thanks to the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon processor included in this model. It can also be connected to iOS or Android devices via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to transfer 360 contents, control the camera remotely, or adjust its settings. However, it lacks the software stability that is implemented in the Rylo and Insta360 One. It offers 25min of video recording, supports no external SD card, and comes with 19GB internal storage which is small considering the memory demands of 4K videos. But the good news is that the cam supports an external hard drive that allows you to offload contents faster than wireless transfer.
Stunning architecture deserves the best standard of photography that will produce gallery-worthy images, this goes without saying. To this end, making use of some of the latest gadgets and most up to date technology can help even an amateur photographer to take their architectural photography to the next level.
Here is a curated list of cool gadgets from our friends over at ComputerPlanet.co.uk (who know a thing or two about the new tech) that will help to make your architectural photography more professional.
Full Frame DSLR
Your camera is one of the most important gadgets to take professional architectural images. This kind of goes without saying. The full-frame DSLR camera is the best choice when it comes to capturing images that are high in detail. In fact, the use of a full frame sensor helps the photographer to capture minute details with high ISO performance, even in low light. The main difference between cropped sensor cameras and full frame DSLRs is their enhanced ability in its field of view. When your purpose is to capture shots of architecture, I’d recommend selecting the most advanced and budget-friendly full frame DSLR camera. The good news is that there are many choices on the market today, and for a number of them you get a huge amount of bang for your buck.
Canon offers a great choice of lenses when it comes to architectural photography. These two Canon lenses, the Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Lens and the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Lens are most popular for those who want to achieve the required level of tilt and shift for architectural imagery. Nikon also offers equivalent alternatives where a wider angle, and thus a wider lens, is required for better depiction. Varying degrees of angles can be achieved by using the tilt and shift lenses, and this is why they are so popular for those who want to shoot buildings.
The use of bubble levels has a significant role in architecture and its photography. A bubble level, or a camera spirit level, allows the photographer to know whether the surface they are on and thus the image that they will take, is level, just like a spirit level used in the building trade. The bubble level can make your life easier in getting your camera or tripod accurately levelled to take architectural images. This is obviously very important, as if your images are wonky or not level then you will not get the desired professional result. There are a number of options available on the market to suit any budget.
Taking architectural photos includes handling glare from shiny objects, darken the shade of sea layers or sky, as well as increase colour saturation of the objects. The filter comes in handy for taking pictures of architectural objects having a colour tends to reflect more of the same colours absorb some of the basic colours such as red, orange, green, and yellow. The polarization filter can be used in front of the camera lens. These filters can also reduce glare from the glass windows and haze from the landscape even in the bad weathers to shoot architectural pictures. You can feel free to use other filters to match your photography needs matching with the environmental factors for awesome pictures.
The traditional tabletop tripods will add value to your photography when a lower camera angle is required than that given by the large professional tripods with centre column commonly used for architecture photography. These tripods will help in taking pictures in close proximity, or if there are quirks in the landscape such as narrow steps where larger professional tripods cannot be used. These mini tripods are also called tabletop tripods and due to their compact size, they can be easily carried. The small folding legs of the tripod support height adjustments, and so you do not need to feel that you need to compromise on the quality of your photos. You may still need a traditional tripod with a centre column to take pictures in other settings, but tabletop tripods will give you a more portable option that you can use ‘on the go’.
Pan and Tilt geared heads
A number of tripod heads are available on the market to cater to your specific requirements.
However, the pan and tilt head is recommended for architectural photography. This is because the geared ball enables the camera to be tilted and levelled accurately to your desired specifications. The geared adjustments of the tripod head allow you to set up the camera level to the perfect angle so you can get the perfect shot. The drawback of this type of head is that it takes up slightly more space than the more commonly used ball heads. However, this is a trade-off, as you get a more customisable set up with this option.
The Colour Checker
Colour checkers such as X-Rite ColorMunki Display and ColorChecker Passport Bundle ergonomic design are used to enhance monitor and projector profiling. This helps
in shooting the true to life colours of the architectural images, meaning that those who see your photos will see what you saw when you took them. They are particularly helpful when shooting architectural images in mixed lights, for the aforementioned reason: architectural images require you to shoot an image that is as close as possible to the real images. Therefore, using a reputable colour checker system can help you achieve professional results.
As we have seen, architectural photography can be a metaphorical minefield. You need to take images that are as true to life as possible, whilst also making sure that you get the wow factor into your shots. Though this balance may seem difficult and daunting, if you use the correct gadgets (assuming you already have the right pro-spec camera), then this will become easier. And this is really important, as architectural photography is actually quite an important public service: the architectural photographer helps us to see our more cherished and beloved monuments in a way that allows us to visit them even if we are far away, and it also allows us to dream a little.
So, the time has come to buy a new laptop! If you have arrived here, you might be looking for the best laptops for Architects. If so, you are probably overwhelmed by all the jargon and options. Do not worry anymore, because you have come to the right place. In this post, we will explain what is what in the laptop world in a clear and entertaining way. We will not speak about any specific laptops here. We will talk about what you need to look for and about which components suit the Architect working requirements.
This article will help you navigate through your buying process so you will know better and faster whether a certain laptop is a good match for you. After reading this post, you will be able to distinguish which components you should pay attention to and what they do. Moreover, you will have a rough idea of the specific brands and product families you should be looking at for each component. In the next post of this series, Best laptops for Architects – The Recommendations, we have created imaginary Architect personas and we have looked at which components and which laptops would suit better their needs. Our idea is that, with these two posts, you will have all the knowledge, background information and context to choose the laptop that suits best your needs.
So, what do you need to know to find the best laptops for Architects?
Well, you need to look at the following components, which, due to the nature of our jobs, are the most important:
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
Screen and resolution
So, let’s get a bit more into detail about these components and what you need to look for.
CPU (Central Processing Unit):
The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is the brain of the computer. It is the part of a computer that performs calculations, actions, and runs programs. As a result, it is a crucial part of the buying decision.
However, if you have already been looking around, you will have realised how confusing CPUs’ names are. We will keep it really simple here, but you can follow the links added if you are interested in learning more. Currently, the main CPUs in the market are the following:
Intel Core family: The most common option. This family includes the Intel Core i3, i5 and i7. The page Best Intel processor: Core i3, i5 and i7 explained from trustedreview.com explains this complicated family very well, with both a short video and a long article. Moreover, their page Intel 7th Generation CPU listhas all the different Intel Core processors and their characteristics. It can be very useful as a sort of anchor point when checking computers, as you will know easily all the characteristics of the CPU in each laptop. As far as Architects go, within this family, you should be looking only at i5 and i7. Which one is suitable will depend on your intended use, which we will look at in the following post of this series.
Intel Xeon family: This family is the one you should be looking at if you are really serious about using your laptop for architecture. Because the Xeon family has more cores, it performs better in tasks like rendering or structural calculation. Why? Well, each core is basically one processor. As a result, in software that takes advantage of multiple cores (like rendering), you have more processors doing the same job, so it gets done faster. For example, a rendering done with a CPU with 8 cores would be done roughly twice as fast as one done with a CPU with 4 cores. You can see that this decision can actually have a massive impact on your efficiency depending on what you use your computer for. Apart from the number of cores, Intel Xeon processors are more stable and therefore crash less often. There are more reasons why Xeon is better than Core for CAD applications. A good and quick explanation can be found at the following link. CAD Workstations: Xeon vs i7 vs i5 Processors. The downside? It comes with a big price increase, so it might not be a good compromise depending on how much you use your laptop and which programs you use more often.
AMD processors: They are not that common, so we will not go into detail about them. If you come across one laptop with an AMD processor, just make sure it is a multi-core processor and that it is equivalent to at least i5 (depending on the use you want to give it, of course).
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit):
A GPU, or graphics processing unit, is used primarily for 3D applications. It is a single-chip processor that creates lighting effects and transforms objects every time a 3D scene is redrawn. These are mathematically-intensive tasks, which otherwise would put quite a strain on the CPU. A dedicated GPU is a massive boost in your work, especially when using any 3D application such as 3DS Max, Rhino or Revit. Therefore, our recommendation is that your laptop has a dedicated GPU and not only the graphics card that comes with the CPU.
If you have researched a little bit about GPUs, you will have seen that both Nvidia and Radeon produce the highest quality products. However, programs such as Rhinoceros do not recommend Radeon, so we personally think that you are better off going for Nvidia cards. Within Nvidia, the GeForce family is the most common one in the laptop world. Nvidia GeForce GPUs, however, have been designed for gaming, so they are not the ideal option. Nvidia has a specialised (and more expensive) family of graphics processing units called Quadro. A good explanation of the differences between Nvidia GeForce and Nvidia Quadro can be found in this Quora Page: What is the difference between Nvidia Quadro and Geforce? How each of them performs on CAD and Gaming?
As with the CPU, your choice will depend on how much time you will spend using 3D applications and how much money you can spend. If you are looking for top performance in 3D applications, you should choose a laptop with Nvidia Quadro. If not, a good Nvidia GeForce will also do a good job. As an example of this difference, you can read the Autodesk 3ds Max 2018 Graphics Hardware Certification. In here, you will see that Autodesk recommends that you use Nvidia Quadro for 3ds Max, although they also note that they have tested certain Nvidia GeForce GPUs successfully.
RAM (Random Access Memory):
This is basically the memory of your computer. According to Wikipedia:
Random Access Memory (or simply RAM) is the memory or information storage in a computer that is used to store running programs and data for the programs. Data (information) in the RAM can be read and written quickly in any order. Normally, the random access memory is in the form of computer chips. Usually, the contents of RAM are accessible faster than other types of information storage but are lost every time the computer is turned off.
This will depend on the use you plan to give to your laptop and how portable it needs to be. We think that your choice should be between 14″ & 17″. In my case, the last personal laptop I bought was 14″ because I wanted to use it also while commuting, so I could you use to write this article (for example). However, if portability is not one of your major priorities, you should go for either 15″ or 17″. As far as resolution is concerned, FHD (full high definition) resolution should be enough for the work involved. However, higher resolutions such as UHD (ultra high definition), 4K or 5 K can be a good add-on.
HDD vs. SSD vs. Hybrid Drive:
There are currently two different types of drives on the market. The traditional HDD drives and the SSD drives. What is the difference between them? SSD drives are faster and more reliable than HDD, but they come with a higher price tag. It is like choosing between a donkey and a horse. The horse will carry you faster and will be more reliable, but you will have to spend more money on it. We would recommend that you get at least 500 GB of storage, as architectural files tend to be quite big. If you can afford it, we would recommend that you pick SSD or, if not, a hybrid drive.
Mac vs. Windows:
This is, we think, more of a personal preference. Macs tend to be more reliable and faster and they have the added value that the brand brings. On the other hand, some of the most used programs for architecture are not available on Mac. That means you might end up having a Windows system within a Mac, diminishing the advantages of having a Mac. We are personally more inclined towards Windows, but both are good options to consider, depending on your personal preferences.
So, to summarise, these are the minimum requirements for your laptop. That doesn’t mean they are adequate for all the tasks you might need it. But it is what we consider the basics for any Architect.
CPU: Intel Core i5 minimum. Better i7. Go for Intel Xeon if you are will be rendering or heavily using the computer with CAD applications a lot. If you come across an AMD processor, check for an equivalent to the Intel you have picked up.
GPU: Nvidia GeForce as a minimum. For some 3D applications such as Rhino or 3DS Max, Nvidia Quadro is a much better choice.
RAM: Minimum 8 GB. Better 16 GB.
Storage Drive: Minimum 500 GB. Better if it is SSD (or hybrid) than HDD.
Screen size and resolution: From 14″ to 17″, depending on how portable you want your laptop to be. FHD for the resolution as a minimum.
And that is it! If you want to see which specific laptops we recommend, please check our Best Laptops for Architects – The Recommendations. There, we have chosen the best laptops for different Architect personas; such as the commuting Project Architect, the struggling Architecture student or the perfectionist Senior Architect.
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