How to take panoramic photos with a DSLR

A panorama view of The Bund in Shanghai
Most compact cameras will have the panorama photo creating feature built-in and some will have the feature to guide the taking of pre-panoramic photos to be stitch in a PC software tool. A DSLR camera generally takes better quality photos compare to a compact camera, but it does not have the feature to create panorama photos or guide you in taking the pre-panoramic photos. This blog post will show you how to setup your DSLR and take the pre-panoramic photos that to be stitch using a panorama photo stitcher software tool in a PC.

Setting Up
  1. Switch to Manual mode.
  2. Set your aperture to around f5.6 to f8.
  3. Set your ISO appropriately according to your lighting.
  4. Meter your scenery from left to right to get a good shutter speed (that will get you a good exposure from left to right). 
    • If you are taking the pre-panoramic photos handheld, please be mindful of your minimum shutter speed you can use handheld.
  5. Find an object that is far away but not infinity.
  6. Get a focus on that object.
  7. Fixed the focus or switch off the auto focus.
Start Shooting
  1. Shoot the first photo from your left.
    • Usually many like to take landscape oriented photos for panoramic stitching. That will get you a very horizontally long panorama photo. Portrait oriented photos will also gives you good result, but at least the panorama photo does not look so long.
  2. Move your camera to your right and overlapping at least 30% of the first photo, shoot the second photo. 
  3. Example how parallax error look like
    • Using your built-in focus points in your DSLR, level your horizontal line between your first and second photo. 
    • To get about 30% overlapping of your second photo to your first photo, use the built-in focus points in your DSLR to guide you as well.
    • You can shoot the photos without a tripod, but it is recommended.
    • Try to avoid a scenery with close foreground objects as this will create parallax error in your panorama photo after stitching.
  4. Shoot the consecutive overlapping photos to your right until you are satisfied.
Example pre-panoramic shots
Stitching The Photos
  • There are many free and commercial panorama stitchers in the market. I am using Hugin Panorama Photo Stitcher to stitch all my panoramic photos.
  • Refer to their tutorial section on how to use the software tool to help you stitch your panoramic photos.

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