How to create a Raw Panoramic file

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Can your phone shoot panoramic images? Sure it can,but the result is a badly compressed image that look horrible on anything besides your phone. This tutorial will show you how to capture and create a RAW panoramic image using any DSLR with RAW capabilities.

Panorama, Disappointment Peak, Grand Teton National Park

The Shooting Process

Obtaining a panoramic raw image is fairly straight forward, you just need to follow a few simple steps:

1: Set the file format in your camera to RAW

2: Make sure your main subject is in focus and set your camera to manual focus. You don’t want your camera changing focus as you gather shots to use for your panoramic stitch.

3: Set you camera to manual exposure, especially for scenes with harsh contrast. Images that have too much variance in exposure look un-natural.

4: Hold your camera in the opposite way of your intended output. For example if you want a landscape (wide) image, shoot vertically (portrait) and vice versa for a vertical shot. This allows for slight shifting mistakes to be when shooting. Those off-shifts can simply be cropped out in the post processing step.

5: Begin shooting. Overlap your images by at least 1/3. When using a wide angle lens, overlap by 2/3rd’s or more.

6: Try to be as level as possible. On your first few try’s, a bubble level may be useful, but those add time to the overall shooting process.

Overlap images by at least 1/3, with manual focus and exposure set. Don’t worry too much about getting it perfectly lined up. The mis-matched sections can be cropped out later.

Now that your images are taken you’ll need to combine them using a RAW editing software such as Adobe Bride or Lightroom.

1: Select the images you intend to combine inside the Bridge and hit Cmd-R or Enter on your keyboard to open the Raw Editor

2: Select all images you plan to combine

3: Hit Cmd-M on your keyboard or select the menu button on the top left hand side of the screen and select merge to panorama.

4: Click merge (spherical)

5: That’s it! now you have a panoramic raw image that you can edit in the raw editor.

Other Variations

This process is not limited to just landscape (wide) images. Experiment with vertical panoramas or even large squares that incorporate vertical and horizontal shifts. This technique can be used to get greater detail, increase megapixels, or get the look of a telephoto lens, but still get the entire scene in a single image.

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