Taking panoramic photos of your travels can help you preserve memories and share experiences with friends. Unlike regular photographs, panoramic photos offer a more realistic perspective of what the human eye sees when looking at the horizon. Before setting off on your trip, make sure you have the right equipment and skills to capture your travels with panoramic photos.

Cameras

Carry the Right Camera

Having the right equipment makes it easier to take panoramic photos. Since you probably don’t want to carry a heavy camera while traveling, look for compact, lightweight options. Some people travel with cameras specifically designed for panoramic photos. Unfortunately, those cameras are usually large, heavy, and expensive.

It often makes more sense to carry a multi-purpose smartphone like the iPhone 6 Plus with an 8-megapixel iSight camera. The more features a camera offers, the less stuff you have to carry while traveling. A great smartphone will lighten your load so you can travel quickly without getting tired.

Use a Tripod for Stability

Using a tripod can significantly improve the quality of your panoramic photos. Not many people can hold a camera perfectly level while taking several photographs. That challenge gets even harder when you need to swivel your body for a wide-angle shot.

Tripods are often overlooked, but they are one of the most important pieces of equipment you can carry. Luckily, you can find plenty of reliable tripods for under $50. That’s a small investment when you consider how much a tripod can improve your pictures.

Several companies make tripods for smartphones. If you use a phone to take pictures, choose a tripod designed for your model.

Set Your Camera Manually

Your camera may have a panoramic setting, but professionals say you should still shoot in manual mode. This will give your photos more consistency, so you don’t have to tweak them as much after downloading them to your computer.

While different cameras and environments call for unique settings, you should get good results by:

  • Adjusting your aperture to f/10 or higher
  • Using a light meter to choose an appropriate shutter speed that will not overexpose or underexpose the image
  • Focusing on a distant object before turning off auto-focus

This may sound complicated, but it gets easier with experience. Spend some time experimenting before your trip. Even half an hour of practice will help you make quick decisions so you can capture the perfect photo.

Include Plenty of Overlap in Your Pictures

Since you’ll need to stitch your photos together to make a full panoramic shot, you should include plenty of overlap while snapping pictures. A 30 percent overlap should do the job, although the exact amount depends on your equipment and preferences. When in doubt, include more overlap than you think is necessary.

This is another area where a little practice goes a long way. It’s always a good idea to learn about your equipment and software before going on a trip. The more experience you get at home, the better your travel photos will look.

Assuming that you have a digital camera, it’s important to remember that you can take as many pictures as you want without running out of film. Don’t be afraid to snap dozens of pictures in a row.

Choose Reliable Photo Stitching Software

Unless you have a panoramic camera, you’ll probably need to use photo stitching software that turns multiple shots into a continuous wide-angle image. There are literally hundreds of programs that can stitch photos together. Some of the best free photo stitching software includes:

Even though these are free programs, they come with plenty of features that make stitching photos together relatively easy.

If you’re taking pictures with your iPhone, you may want to use an app that lets you make panoramic photos without using a computer. Apps that get the best ratings include:

DMD Panorama and Photosynth are free apps. 360 Panorama only costs a few dollars.

Have you had good luck taking panoramic photos with your current camera? What tips can you share to help other travelers take great panoramic pictures without spending a lot of money on new equipment?