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Recommended settings for panoramic photos?

Rising Star

Hello Experts,


I was wondering if there's such a thing as recommended settings for panoramic photos? By settings I am referring to focal distance, focal length, Tripod, L Bracket, Manual focus, manual settings, etc.?


Lastly, what would be the ideal number of photos needed for an optimal panoramic photo? 3, 5, 7, 9? How much overlapping would you be taking?


Thank you,




There are no recommended settings, just recommended best practices.  No one can predict camera settings.  You have to figure that out for each shooting scenario.  I like to shoot landscape panoramic shots, though.


  1. I use a leveling base on my “landscape” tripod.  You need to more then level the camera.  You also need to level the tripod head so that you it does not begin to pitch and roll as you pan along the horizontal plane.  Besides, it is far easier to level a tripod head than a set of tripod legs.
  2. I like to roll the camera to a portrait orientation, so that merged image has a taller aspect ration, instead of looking like a ribbon.  Most ball heads have a fairly accurate 90 degree notch cut into them, but you do need to check it.  I have become hooked on using my 70-200mm lens, which has a tripod foot that allows me to loosen it, and rotate the entire camera/lens rig to any angle.
  3. The better cameras have a built-in level, which is the last thing that i use.  When I level my rig, I start with the legs and work my way up.  Because I use a leveling base, my goal with the legs is to make sure they are stable.  Next, I use the leveling base to get the tripod head in a vertical position.  
  4. Next, you want to level the quick release clamp on the head, many of which have a built-in bubble level.  This can be done before you arrive at the shooting location.  Finally, I mount the camera, and check its’ built-in level.  
  5. Use manual camera and lens settings.  You do not want the lens to refocus when you press the shutter.  Neither do you want to alter the exposure when you press the shutter.  Use manual mode, and use a fixed White Balance setting, not Auto WB.
  6. Typically, I will use Av or Tv mode to meter the scene, and then use those settings in Manual mode, so that they do not change from one shot to the next.  It is crucial that each frame have an identical exposure, especially if there is significant amounts of sky in the frame.
  7. I try to overlap successive shots by 1/3, which gives the merging software more of something to work with. This works out very well for nearly any application that merges frames into a panoramic image. 
  8. Typically, I try to keep the total shots down to 3-5 shots.  You will find that your application software will usually have some undocumented limit on file size.  While it is not a hard ceiling, merging too many images can and will reduce the resolution of the individual frames when you have too many of them.

Hope this helps.

"The right mouse button is your friend."

All good advice on Waddizzle's list.


There is one more thing that *can* be an issue ... especially if you have things in the near-foreground as well as background (some landscapes are mostly just "background" so you don't notice the issue)... it's the issue of "parallax".


The common example is to tell people to hold their thumb up out at arm's length and close one eye and notice the position of your thumb relative to the background... then switch to the other eye and notice your thumb appears to shift (even though you know you didn't move it).


This "parallax" problem occurs becasue your "lens" (in this example it's your eye) moved.


When a camera is on a tripod and you slightly rotate it to get overlapping frames, the lens does move.  But there's a cross-over point in the lens as it focuses the light in to the camera (the image in the camera is always upside & backward).  That cross-over point is called the "nodal point".


You can do a Google or even a YouTube search for landscape photograhy and look for the term "nodal point" or sometimes called "no parallax point" and get lots of good tips on how to find that point.  


If you do not have foreground objects in the image, there's really nothing to appear to "shift" from frame to frame ... but if you do have foregorund objects, they can become problematic if you don't mount the camera in the right position.  


This point will be diffferent for every lens and probably for every focal length (if it's a zoom lens).  Some mounting rails to attach the camera to the tripod have index marks and photographers will note the correct position for each lens they use.  That way when they shoot future panos... they don't have to work out the location of the nodal point, they can just slide the mounting rail to the correct position.



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Tim, my man, you have a talent on how to make things more difficult than they are.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

@ebiggs1 wrote:

Tim, my man, you have a talent on how to make things more difficult than they are.



I don't get to write the laws of physics.  I didn't invent the parallax problem.  In many (possibly most) cases, you wont need to worry about it.


It happens when (a) you have some reasonably close forground object and (b) a background (you generally always have a background so it's really whether or not you have a close foreground object) THEN you may have to worry about parallax.


If you do have a close foreground object, then that object will be in a different position (in each fame) relative to the background.  This has some complications because the foreground may be blocking out parts of the background or software can have problems trying to put the pieces together because the frames don't really match up ... sometimes the software tries to make it fit (and it looks like it tried to make it fit) ... but you don't get a nice quality result.


Parallax depends on the relative distance to the objects.  Unless you find the no-parallax-point there's technically always some parallax, but it's really small and not noticeable.  The closer foreground objects are in relation to the background (and the farther away your tripod axis is from the nodal point of your lens) the more parallax you'll observe and the more of a problem it becomes.  At "some point" you decide it's enough that you want to make it go away (by moving the camera forward or backward in the tripod saddle.)


But if this happens... better to know that the solution has already been worked out and there are tutorials in how to solve the problem by finding the nodal point for the lens.


Those making a living selling photography as art and shooting panoramic landscapes use this technique.


Again, just to be clear... I didn't create the parallax problem... nor am I the person who worked out the solution.  I'm just conveying the information.  I'll appreciate it if you don't blame me for complicating anything if you don't like how the universe works.


Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

"In many (possibly most) cases, you wont need to worry about it."


Bingo!  Smiley Happy

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!

Perfect explanation for the process for perfect panoramas. There is nothing worse than realizing you messed up an amazing shot because you took shortcuts and now your image is distorted or will not stitch together. Your explanation is not difficult if you have more than just a beginner understanding of photography. Keep up the good work. 


No different thant shooting any scene.  Just do what the conditions tell you.  This one I recently posted in another thread was just a series of hand held snap shots. I wanted more in the photo than my 24mm lens could show. So, pano ................




The particulars are 28mm, f9, 1/320 and ISO 200. Pretty standard settings.  It was six or seven shots as I recall.  The best way for you to learn is, go do it.  Do it a lot.  Smiley Happy 

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!


I recommend you make any post-processing image adjustments after your images have been stitched into the final panorama. If you need to make adjustments prior to stitching, be sure to apply the same adjustments to all of the images that will comprise the final panorama. see: Bluestacks TextNow Photomath

@zimou13 wrote:

I recommend you make any post-processing image adjustments after your images have been stitched into the final panorama. If you need to make adjustments prior to stitching, be sure to apply the same adjustments to all of the images that will comprise the final panorama.

But the final panorama is a JPEG file, isn't it? Which limits the range of editing that you can do, doesn't it?


If you edit the RAW files in DPP, you can use a recipe file to ensure that the same changes are made to each component. Lightroom probably has something similar.

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