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Tips for taking good panorama shots on Android

A big part of the fun that is Android photography is being able to more than your typical point-and-shoot camera. It's a camera lens strapped to a computer, after all. And one of the easiest (and coolest) shots to shot is a panorama.

For the uninitiated (we know you're out there — it's OK), a panorama really is a series of images stitched together to form a single wide-angle shot. It's generally found as an option in your camera application, and you take a panorama by moving your phone so that it's able to capture much more than just a single field of view. Panoramas are fun, but they can take a little bit of practice.

Here are a few tips for getting the best panorama shots you can.

Hold your phone vertically

Hold your phone vertically

You often hear us say never shoot video when you're holding your phone vertically. But for panorama shots, we're going to recommend it. And it makes sense. You're already going to get a wide shot, so the extra depth you get from a vertical image will make a big difference. It's also makes it a lot easier to hold your phone when you're moving.

Vertical video: BAD. Vertical panorama: GOOD.

Rotate the phone, not your body

Panorama

This one feels a little weird, but it makes sense when you think about it. The smaller the pivot point, the better the image. You're going to be tempted to shuffle your feet while you're rotating your way through the panoramic field. (I'm a left-to-right guy, by the way, but most — but not all — phones let you go either way.) But it's actually better to keep the phone on an imaginary point in space and then rotate around that point. The more still the phone remains on that point as it rotates, the better the shot will be.

Now this generally isn't a huge deal when you're shooting panoramic landscapes. But it becomes more apparent if there are objects in the foreground, or if you're doing one of those fancy three-dimensional "Photo Sphere" shots.

Keep level

Barcelona panorama

Most camera apps will lend a hand with this one, but it's worth mentioning again: When you're sweeping your phone across the scene — pivoting on one spot, right? — you want to keep things as level as possible. And most camera apps will give you some sort of telltale for that. Maybe it's a single leveling line. Or maybe it'll tell you if you're getting off track. But the point is you want to keep level so nothing gets cropped out during the stitching process.

Use a different camera app

Panorama apps

It's a big world out there. You're not limited to the apps that come with your camera. And a quick search of Google Play (opens in new tab) turns up a slew of other panorama apps, a good many of them free. We also recommend trying out Google's camera app as well, as it comes with Photo Sphere shooting (opens in new tab) built into it.

Think about where you're sharing

Panorama on Instagram

Finally, think about what you plan on doing with your panorama shot. Google+ is great for them. Panoramas make great wallpapers. Or you can use one of the infinite (OK, it probably just seems like it) printing services to have something bigger worked up. Facebook is OK, of course (though it still basically murders any picture it gets its hands on. Flickr is reliable and excellent as well.

But stay away from sharing services like Instagram. Being constrained to a square box is no way for a panorama to be experienced.

19 Comments
  • All my oneplus one panaromas of grand canyon were blurry
  • The bezel is so huge on the M 8 /9 etc that you could probably take good panoramas because you can place your entire thumb completely flat on the bezel like a 2010 iTablet and still have a couple a centimeters left on each side to hold the phone steady. Via Nexus 6: "Takin updates for granted."
  • I hated the black bar. Asymmetrical with it and then you add on screen buttons and that's like another black bar. My hand cramped when I played minecraft on the m8,had to reach so far over..
    So glad I got a oneplus one. I don't have to deal with an ugly black bar or horrible 4mp photos Posted via Android Central App on 1+1
  • Yeah I actually broke down and got one and then I couldn't stop staring at the generous bezels and it just had to go. HTC should only sell their "M" phones in the darkest (night) possible. The color of the speakers just makes the bezel even more pronounced. Via Nexus 6: "Takin updates for granted."
  • With the M8? Nah b
  • Any tip for app that make Photosphere similar to Google Camera? I mean, not that ones that are just horizontally, but like 3d photos, that make pics from the sky parts too and the ground? (like iOS Photosynth) I searched a lot and haven't found it, just in Samsung phones the proprietary Surround mode pic.
  • I use the camera app built in on the HTC M8, I prefer it over Google Camera. Does your phone have a similar feature? or it doesn't do the job you want?
  • I use a Cyanogen based ROM. My phone is a LG G3, but even the stock rom there isn't a similar approach from the Photosphere function.
    The only one i know similar to iOS Photosynth is Photosphere. The other apps that i tried is just horizontal panorama function, not that composite pictures panorama from Photoshpere
  • Why don't you download the Google Camera app to take photospheres? Or do you not like Google Camera.
  • What the hell did you do to Alex's arm?!?
  • Marty McFly effect from BTTF, he is deleting his own future
  • I take a lot of pictures (got a kid) and I have yet to take a panorama via the beastly note 4
  • Good tip about holding the phone vertically. I've never tried it that way, but it makes sense. -- RCA Voyager
  • Yeh. Never occurred to me. Walking around with the phone as the central pivot is going to be difficult to keep still, especially at arms length and on uneven ground, and I will get some foreign visitors come up asking is that a local dance and can they join in - but all good fun. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Now I'm thinking, wouldn't it be cool if u guys put all those articles about photos and cameras in one specific section? So we could retrieve all of them at any time Posted via my mighty Nexus 4 and soon the Almighty HTC One M9
  • I shoot a lot of panorama's with my GS5. I like to hold the phone in landscape and go from down to up to take shots of trees or building ect... Holding you phone in portrait to take side to side panoramic shots definitely makes for a better photo. Posted via the Android Central App
  • When I had my Motorola Droid Razr HD, I loved the panoramic mode, it didn't seem to care if i wasn't truly horizontal in my pan from left to right, it would stitch everything together, and probably crop out the top and bottom to make one seamless image. I hate to say it, but it seemed to work a lot like the iPhone panoramic mode, sort of a mini-movie that it just sort of worked extremely well. My LG G3 on the other hand, I hate the panoramic mode. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to hold it level enough to make it stitch the pictures together without seeing a line where it snaps each individual photo. Anyone else with the G3 have this issue?
  • I use DMD Panorama, as it has on-screen graphics which really help line the phone up.
  • If anyone needs to get their panorama photos printed, we offer panorama prints from small to large sizes at iPanoramaPrints.com.