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Panoramas are an exciting creative application of photography and recently, of computing. Panoramas offer a unique, immersive perspective to the viewer. To the photographer, panoramas present an interesting artistic and technical challenge.

Panoramas come in different shapes and flavours, so let's set a definition. A dictionary tells us a panorama is "a picture (or series of pictures) representing a continuous scene". This continuous scene can come straight from a (special) camera or it can be assembled from multiple images using special software such as the panorama tools.

Technically two different types of panoramas are distinguished.

Partial panoramas

A partial Panorama is an image created from assembling together 2 or more images to create a single wide angle image. Partial panoramas are created in exactly the same was as full spherical panoramas, but cover only a fraction of the view sphere (less than 360 degrees in longitude around the horizon, and/or less than 180 degrees in latitude). Example partial panos include Max Lyon's GigaPixel image, created with 196 source images!

Immersive panoramas

Immersive or full-spherical panoramas are panoramas viewed through special viewing software that allows you to look everywhere around you, including straight up and straight down. Immersive panoramas come in two subflavors, depending on the projection type of the input image: spherical and cubic. Note that partial panoramas can also be viewed in the same way, blurring the difference between them. (this needs text, example immersive panoramas)

Partial panoramas are often printed, whereas full spherical panoramas are more often viewed online with special panorama viewers.


A fundamental concept in the production and viewing of both partial and full spherical panoramic images is the type of input and output projection used. See Projections for more information.