Panorama Tips

  • Photos taken using a wide-angle lens often suffer from barrel distortion, which makes it more difficult to correctly join them, and also often causes ugly breaks within what should be straight lines. You can counter this problem by using a larger focal length in the panoramas wizard than the one that was actually used when taking the source pictures.
  • When manually fine-tuning your joins, enter primarily points in the middles of the transitions between pictures. Also, emphasize places with high contrast (objects' corners, etc.).
  • Keep in mind that the final image can be relatively large, and this means large memory requirements. For example, a panorama containing 10 pictures from a 6-megapixel camera has, assuming 30% overlap between pictures, roughly 22,000 × 2000 pixels, and occupies over 130 MB of memory (!) if it is perfectly flat, and even more if it is not. Therefore you need to ensure that the computer on which you compose the panorama has enough memory. If you do not need to have the panorama at a large resolution (if you will not be printing it), we recommend that you assemble it from reduced-size copies of the original files. This significantly lowers the process's memory demands, making the work of assembling the panorama much faster.

How to Take Pictures for a Panorama

  • The individual pictures should be taken using a lens with a large focal length. Source pictures from wide-angle lenses (and especially zoom lenses) often suffer from barrel distortion, making it impossible to precisely join them. If you cannot use a lens with a larger focal length (because you cannot get far enough away), it is a good idea to at least take pictures with the camera turned on its side. (You will need to take more source pictures, but they will be easier to join.)
  • While taking pictures, you should be turning the camera around the center of its optical apparatus. If you do not do so, then the individual pictures will each be taken from a slightly different angle. This too makes joining more difficult (especially for close objects). This requirement can only be met completely using special tools, but even just placing the camera on a tripod will help considerably. When taking pictures by hand, it is practically impossible to meet this demand, and thus it will also be impossible to join your pictures with complete precision.
  • During picture-taking, the camera should rotate around its vertical axis only. Once again, the easiest way to achieve this is using a tripod. (The ideal is to keep the camera straight using a level. Tripods often have a level built-in.) When taking photos by hand, just try to rotate the camera on only one axis.
  • The overlap between pictures should be from 30 to 50%. If it is smaller, then it can be difficult to find points shared between neighboring pictures, and it also becomes necessary to join pictures towards their very edges, where lens defects are the most apparent, making the seams between pictures much more noticeable. The program does not expect overlap greater than 70-80%, and so larger values can cause bad joins.
  • If there are no great changes in lighting conditions throughout the scene you are capturing, it is a good idea to use exposure locking. If, however, the lighting conditions differ significantly among pictures and some of them could therefore be overexposed or underexposed, we recommend that you set exposure manually and even out exposure differences among pictures using exposure correction. Naturally, you can make use of automatic exposure, but in this case the exposure levels can differ significantly between neighboring pictures, and even though the joining algorithm generally does a good job of evening out such differences, joins between pictures can be quite noticeable. If your camera enables it, then we recommend in any case that you manually set white balance.