Panorama Overlap Calculator

Check out this quick calculator for determining the proper angles to pan and tilt your camera for proper panorama overlap when shooting a multi-row panorama. Also calculate the resulting resolution and number of rows and columns needed for any desired field of view.

This tool was originally published and created for our large format astrophotography tutorial. I’ve found that it’s very helpful when configuring a panorama head to pre-determine the right angles of panning and tilting necessary to achieve adequate, regular overlap of individual panorama frames. It also calculates the resulting resolution of your panorama based on your desired output parameters. Just enter your gear details and the calculator will update in real time:

I recommend starting with about 50% overlap between frames. The output angles are calculated based on your camera, lens and whether your camera is mounted in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) orientation. The calculator assumes the same overlap percentage in both panning and tilting directions.

Once you’ve determined the degree values needed for your panorama, set your indexing head so that it sweeps that amount between each shot. These angles are also helpful for entering into PTGui’s panorama stitching software’s “Align to Grid” feature.

The default overlap is 50%. As you learn the capability of your gear and stitching software, it can be helpful to slightly reduce overlap in order to reduce the total number of frames necessary to cover any given field of view, but at a higher risk of potential stitching errors. I’ve successfully used about 30% overlap on certain panoramas and PTGui claims to be able to stitch with as little at 10%. If you’re just starting, shoot 50% overlap for the best results, especially with astrophotography panoramas.

Landscape or Portrait?

In the case of multi-row panoramas, if your overlap is consistent, the orientation of the camera doesn’t really matter. For any given final field of view for a multi-row panorama, either orientation will require approximately the same total number of photos. You might find that you prefer one orientation over the other, depending on your panorama head, lens, or camera design.

After trying both orientations for my setup, I found out that I usually prefer the landscape orientation because my camera’s LCD screen on my a7S only tilts for that orientation. That said, shooting in portrait allows me to shoot with less total number of rows in my panorama.

If you have any questions about the calculator or astrophotography in general, please feel free to comment below or contact me!

12 Replies to “Panorama Overlap Calculator”

  1. How come chosing vertical orientation results in more rows? Are we swapping the terminology of row and column? Or is row always relative the the cameras orientation. I found that confusing. Also, a user input for custom exposure times when using a star tracker would be awesome to see the total shoot time and sky movement during that time. Still, this is a valuable resource, thank you!

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