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Panoramas the easy way

27th August 2012

Photographically speaking, a panorama is a photograph that encompasses a very wide view. I like panoramas because they reproduce a scene as if I were viewing it live by turning my head from the far left to the far right. I can view the photograph in small ‘chunks’ as I scan the entire image from the left to the right.

In the past, making a panorama was a complicated, multiple step process involving capturing the images and then stitching them together whether it be done chemically in a darkroom or digitally with a computer. I won’t go into details of making panoramas using either of these two “conventional” ways. Instead, I’ll point out the ease with which a feature on certain cameras enables me to easily make panoramas in one step.

For the past two years I’ve been using several Sony Alpha series and NEX series cameras to shoot panoramas. These cameras enjoy a feature called Sweep Panorama. When this feature is chosen, you simultaneously depress the shutter and move the camera in a sweeping fashion to the right. As you do this, the camera captures multiple images of the scene. The camera signals the completion of the sweep by halting the shutter. A few seconds afterward, the panoramic capture appears on the camera’s LCD for your review. Press the PLAY button and the image is displayed from left to right – in video fashion – but is actually a single, still panoramic image.

Above, I explained that the sweeping motion is from left to right. But in fact these Sony cameras let you sweep left to right; right to left; up to down; and down to up. These cameras also capture three dimensional appearing images using 3D Sweep Panorama that can be displayed on certain compatible 3D television sets.

Here’s a few of the panoramas that I’ve taken with various Sony cameras. You can click on each of the images to see a wide view of the panorama.
 


Red Rock Canyon, Nevada


Red Rock Canyon, Nevada



Bryce Canyon NP, Utah


Bryce Canyon NP, Utah


Chicago residential area


Chicago Skyline


Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah


Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah


McCarran Airport, Reno, Nevada


Kiva Beach, Lake Tahoe, California


Kiva Beach, Lake Tahoe, California


Spectators at Old Faithful, Yellowstone NP


Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton NP


Grand Teton NP


Badlands NP, South Dakota


Badlands NP, South Dakota


Grand Canon NP, Arizona
this panorama was photographed with a conventional Canon DSLR and stitched together with computer software


The full size of the panoramas is 8192 x 1856 pixels so viewing the above enlargements give you only an approximation of the size and detail of the full image. I am impressed with the quality of the full size images.

Additionally, the Sony cameras have a “wide setting” which extend the size of the panoramic image to 12,416 x 1856 pixels, so you can capture even more detail if desired.

As noted, the last panorama (above) was made using a conventional DSLR camera to capture eight separate images which were then stitched together using computer software. The process takes about 15 minutes.

All of the other panoramas were captured automatically with either a Sony Alpha 67 DLSR or the Sony NEX5 using the Sweep Panorama feature. If you’re looking for an easy way to get excellent panorama landscapes, this is the way to go.

Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


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