With the popularity of digital photography, panorama photography has emerged as a growing passion that any shooter can readily achieve. Digital panoramas are created by shooting multiple overlapping images, and then stitching them together on the computer.
To produce acceptable panoramas, the ordinary shooter simply needs to be mindful of a few basic constraints. But to shoot an exceptional panorama that is a treat to display, two factors that contribute to image quality must be carefully considered:
- Keep it Level: keep the camera level as you pan left/right. This is critical and can be accomplished in a variety of ways. See Keep it Level for more on this.
- Eliminate parallax: Unless your subjects are distant landscapes, it's essential to eliminate image parallax. Do this by positioning the optical center of the lens over the point of rotation.
See Eliminate Parallax for more on this.
See how the light rays all originate from a point under the lens instead of directly under the camera? When shooting a panorama, the point of rotation needs to be under the optical center of the lens.
Single-Row or Multi-Row?
- Single-Row: Pan left to right and shoot a single row of overlapping images. This set-up requires that the panning axis remain perfectly level (parallel to the ground) throughout the pan. Since this setup only requires that one axis remain parallel to the ground (let's call it the "x-axis"), the equipment needs are minimal. See Single-Row Panos for more on this.
- Multi-Row: With the camera pointed down, pan left to right and shoot a row of overlapping images. Go back to the beginning, rotate the camera up, and shoot another row of overlapping images (this row will overlap left-right in addition to up-down). This setup is more complex because the vertical axis (let's call it the "y-axis") must remain perpendicular to the x-axis throughout the shoot. The equipment needs for this are more demanding. See Multi-Row Panos for more on this.