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Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Lesson 2 of 30

Field Techniques, Camera & Lens Choices

Mike Hagen

Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

2. Field Techniques, Camera & Lens Choices
Unlike film, you don't need a specialized panoramic camera to create a digital panorama -- just something with some megapixel power. Don't assume that all panoramic views are captured with wide angle lenses, however. While the result is a wide field of view, Hagen explains when he shoots with a 14-24mm lens -- and when he shoots with a 70-200mm or even a 200 to 400mm lens. Discover the right gear for panoramas and why you don't necessarily need the most expensive lenses in this lesson.

Lesson Info

Field Techniques, Camera & Lens Choices

A few weeks ago, we, I came up here to Seattle and we did a bunch of pre shoots and we went up to this place called Gas Works Park and we created a bunch of videos to show you the process of creating prints in the field and that's what we're gonna do right now for the next basically hour and a half or so. We're gonna talk about field techniques and how to use your gear to get great photographs. So to do that, we're going to go back and forth between videos and then I'll kind of expand on the videos once they're done. Let's go ahead and start that process with what camera gear do we need and what lenses do we use when we are creating photographs for panoramas. Here we go, first video. Hey everybody, I'm Mike Hagen. We're here in Seattle at Gas Works Park with CreativeLive to teach the panorama and printing workshop. Today I'm gonna use this outdoor setting to show you how to create beautiful panoramas in an outdoor location and we're gonna talk a lot about camera settings, lens choices,...

tripod setup. You know, menu options in the camera that impact the final result. Okay so let's talk about camera choices for panoramas. I'm a Nikon guy, I shoot Nikon cameras but Canon, Fuji, Sony, they all work great. I like shooting with the full-frame cameras, mostly because of the high resolution. This is a 36 megapixel camera. You know, Canon has 50-something megapixel cameras. The higher resolution cameras are generally better for panoramas because you can pick and choose portions of the photo for your final print. I also use smaller-sensor cameras like this here is the Nikon D500. It's a DX size sensor or an APS size sensor. This has 20 megapixels on the sensor. If you can, if you're a DX camera shooter, try to use one with maybe 24 megapixels or higher. Trust me, you're gonna be happier with more pixels. If you're a mirrorless shooter, maybe the Sony mirrorless or the Olympus, or the Fuji, they also you can do great work with those cameras. Again just try to find ones that have the higher pixel count. The other tool I use for panoramas, sometimes a lot of fun, is I use my cell phone. All the mobile phones now have apps built right in to em and you can actually make really nice prints with your cell phone panoramas too. You just have to put the right thought into the composition. You'll be good to go. Alright, so beyond the cameras, let's talk about lens choice. Your lens choice really comes down to how close you are to your subject. Let's say I'm doing a panorama, maybe inside of a church, inside of a big cathedral. In that case, I'm gonna need a really wide-angle lens and therefore, you'll need something like this lens. This is the Nikon 14 to 24 mm lens. Super wide angle, great for interiors or maybe even in like the urban streets where you've got big buildings that you need to incorporate into the photo. The next lens that I use sometimes for panoramas is this one here. It's like a 24 to 70 mm focal length. This is good for mid-range panoramas, maybe you're outside, maybe you're photographing the city street or the houses on the block, something like that. Beyond that, my next favorite lens for panoramas and I actually use this a lot is the 70 to 200 mm focal length. These are fantastic for panoramas. Later on, we're gonna talk about doing a panorama of the city skyline. It's a few miles away. This just really helps fill the frame with good content. The other cool thing about these longer lenses is they don't distort as much as the wide-angle lenses. So the panorama actually looks cleaner when you do the final merge. And then finally, for lenses, sometimes you just have to pull out the big boys. This is a 200 to 400 mm lens for panoramas that are really far away or sometimes for specific elements like the side of a tree, really specific photographs. you might wanna use a long lens like this. Cool. Cameras and lenses, they kinda matter and sometimes they really matter. I mentioned my cell phone. Sometimes I create panoramas with my cell phone. In fact, I have some little prints here that I've taken with my cell phone and printed off of my cell phone, and they can do a good job. In fact, given the right circumstances, you can even make really big prints off of your cell phone but if you wanna do really big, honkin, giant panoramas, I highly recommend bigger DSLR cameras. I, like I said, I'm a Nikon guy. This is a Nikon D800. It's 36 megapixel camera. When I create panoramas with this camera, my final image size is often like 20,000 to 30,000 pixels wide. It's a lot of data. I mean these files are sometimes like a gigabyte or more in file size. The cool thing about panoramas is they're so many pixels and so many images that you don't always need the highest resolution cameras. Here's a Nikon D500. This is a 20-megapixel camera. I use this as well and can make any print that you'll see today, in this class, with a 20 megapixel camera. Lenses, one of my favorite panorama lenses is this one here. This is a 24 to 70 mm. It's a F2 8 and I typically, as we'll talk later, I typically shoot around F8 or so for my panoramas. You don't necessarily need the F2 8 lenses to do great work. In fact, on this camera, I've got a little kit lens. It's the 18 to 105 and as we're gonna talk about in a little while, sometimes the least expensive lenses are just as sharp as the more expensive lenses. Don't worry so much about your gear. Really, the most important thing that you'll learn today is it's all about technique and method and approach. It's all, a lot of panorama success is here in the photographer. One more thing, I just wanna give you a warning about using really wide-angle lenses. This is the Nikon 14 to and Canon also has a really wide-angle lens, I think it's 11 to I forget, something around there but super-wide-angle lenses, people think that they'll be great for panoramas but you gotta be really careful because a lot of times, there's significant distortion in those lenses and all that distortion makes it really difficult for the software to merge it together. If you are using these really wide-angle lenses, just overlap a lot. That's one of the keys, is to overlap your frames quite significantly from shot to shot. There's camera gear and camera lenses. You didn't mention a 50 mm, did you? I didn't. And so, somebody had said, "Would the 50 mm "because it's just a normal lens "and doesn't have distortion, "would that be a good lens for panoramas?" Yeah. Absolutely. I thought I had my 50 over here, I don't. But the 50 mm lens is a really great lens for panoramas. There isn't a lot of distortion. Really, the most, here's how I select my lenses and this is maybe the best answer to lens questions. I mentioned in the pre shoot video that you wanna fill the frame with valuable content. In other words, you don't want a lot of negative space or empty space in your panoramas. As humans, we see the world and we kinda focus in on the things that we find interesting. Let's say you've got your and you're shooting your panorama and maybe the building's over here, you know go from bottom to top of the panorama, but as you pan over to the right or over to the left, maybe you've just got a little bit of body of water down there and a lot of sky, that might not be the best lens choice because there's a lot of negative space in that frame. Even more than what I was talking about, the distortion component, think about the best lens to fill the frame with interesting visual content. That's the best answer.

Class Description


  • Shoot a variety of 360 degree panoramas (skylines, landscapes, vertical and horizontal) with the final print in mind
  • Stitch your images together to create a panorama with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Print large images to sell or display in your home


From the skylines of New York and Los Angeles to Switzerland's mountainous backdrop, some scenes are just too spectacular to fit inside a 3:2 frame. Being surrounded by and immersed in a beautiful vista is part of the joy of being a photographer -- but how do you capture what it feels like to stand there in person inside a single image? Panoramas capture that feeling of wonder and squeeze it into the limited form of a two-dimensional print.

Take the experience of seeing a magnificent vista or panoramic view home with you. Join Mike Hagen, director of the Nikonians Academy, and learn his techniques for mastering the art of the panorama, without a dedicated panoramic camera. In this class, he will teach you:

Learn everything you need to make a breathtaking panorama from capturing that spectacular view to hanging the panorama above your couch. Shoot dynamic panoramas in the field that fit together easily when stitched in post-processing. Stitch them together with an eye for printing. Get your color toning right to minimize your reprints, and learn how printing can help you notice things that you may miss when the image is in digital format.


Adventure, travel and landscape photographers looking to improve their final product, make it print-worthy and potentially sell their work.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC 2016, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5


Join photographer, author, and educator Mike Hagen on the journey to perfect the panorama. Hagen has taught hundreds of workshops spanning topics from landscapes to using flash, all while running Visual Adventures and working with the Nikonians Academy. The USA-based photographer has led destination workshops from America-based destinations to bucket-list international locations like Iceland, the Galapagos, and Italy. Hagen is known for his humorous teaching style while presenting complex topics in an easy-to-grasp lesson.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Panorama Checklist & Gearlist

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Fred Morton

Get it, get it and get it. I bought Mike's Speedlight course and this is on the list after watching it on line. The course design by Mike with the Creative Live staff is a successful blend of content and presentation. I absolutely loved how Mike took us on location for several shoots, where we could see the setup and problems that he had to resolve. This is a must have course for photographers interested in landscape work. Another powerful part of this class is Mike's willingness to demonstrate and show us what didn't work. The practical experience in his course was just like being in the field with Mike.

user a5f3c6

Mike combines two characteristics of a great teacher: he's obviously knowledgable and competent about his subject matter and he's relaxed and confident in how he presents his ideas. This class covers everything I need to know about photographing and printing panoramas. But, it is much more. It is a class that shows the essential skills involved in shooting, post-processing, and printing photographs and how to apply them to a specific application: panoramas. I learned a lot! Thanks, Mike.

Sue Sirius

This workshop was terrific! I learned so much about taking, processing and printing panoramas (and photos in general). I found the presentation very easy to follow with great examples and instructions. Highly recommend this!