How many exposures do you need for a 360˚ Panoramic Photo?

When it comes to shooting panoramic photos, there are a number of choices to be made. One of the biggest is the number of exposures needed will depend upon your shooting style and equipment.

Portrait Aspect Ratio

The best choices for shooting panoramic photos is a portrait orientation. If you have the option to shoot in portrait mode, do so. You’ll be able to minimize distortion by creating sizable overlap and will get a higher resolution end image. If shooting a full 360˚ panoramic image, turn the camera in 15˚ increments. This means you will need to take 24 pictures for a complete loop.

Landscape Aspect Ratio

If a Landscape orientation is your only option, then you won’t need as many exposures due to the wider images. You can try shooting with 20˚ increments (18 pictures) or 30˚ increments (12 pictures).


About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on June 3, 2011, in Panoramic, Tutorial and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Isn’t this heavily dependent on the focal length of the lens you use? For example, if I am using a 200mm lens on an FX camera, the landscape angle of view is 10 degrees and portrait is about 6 degrees. For a 20mm lens, they grow to 83 and 61 degrees.

    Shouldn’t you give an overlap percentage (say 33%), then using an angle of view calculator base your increments on the angle of view times the percentage?

    • Richard Harrington

      Rob, there are many ways to do math. This is just a simple approach I use. I try to overlap by 25–50% to minimize distortion.

  2. This is absolutely meaningless… and in most cases utterly and completely wrong, as it doesn’t mention effective focal length (taking in account effective focal length).

    On a full frame Nikon D3, a full cylindrical 360 can be achieved in 6 shots with a 14mm equirectangular lens, though 8 shots is a safer choice (more overlap). To reach for the full sphere, 2 3- or 4-frame rows are needed at about +/- 55 degrees. 6 shots means of course shots 60 degrees apart, and 8 shots means 45 degrees apart.

    On an APS-C sensor, the 8+2*4 frame setup works with a 10mm equirectangular.



    • Richard Harrington

      I am talking about just 360˚ Cylindrical (not spherical).

      The Photomerge command thrives on lots of overlap. Yes, you can use fewer pictures, and there’s nothing wrong with either approach. No need to get so pissed off.