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Having recently bought a travel tripod, I am getting started into panorama night photography. The tripod has a ball-head with a notch for turning camera into a portrait orientation. My typical workflow involves fixing the camera into portrait orientation and using the base rotation function for several shots.

I read somewhere that if I do not rotate the camera around the center-point the images would not be properly aligned. So far I have been getting good results with Photoshop Elements 13 "photomerge" tool.

My questions are:

  1. Did I misunderstand the part about "rotating around the center point"?
  2. Is that rule not applicable to subjects at infinity? I guess most panoramas are land-scapes, right? At least that is what I am shooting.
  3. Do I need an L-bracket? I don't want to add any more bulk to my gear.

My use cases are sharing on FB, flickr and occasionally printing. The max size I have ever printed is 24"x36".

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Did I misunderstand the part about "rotating around the center point"?

No, you didn't misunderstand, but as you rightly guessed, parallax is less critical in some cases than others.

Is that rule not applicable to subjects at infinity? I guess most panoramas are land-scapes, right? At least that is what I am shooting.

It applies, but it generally doesn't matter enough to stop a clean stitch. If you rotate the lens at a point other than its no-parallax point, objects in the frame will appear to shift position relative to each other, between member images of the panorama. The farther away from the camera the objects are, the smaller the apparent shift. So rotating around the no-parallax point for panorama shooting becomes far more critical when shooting in smaller spaces or with a close subject in the foreground.

Do I need an L-bracket? I don't want to add any more bulk to my gear.

It doesn't sound as if you do. If you're not having any problem with visible seams or mismatching details across images when stitching a panorama, chances are good your setup is perfectly fine. Many people have no issues even shooting panoramas hand-held.

Panorama heads and L-brackets become more important when you need precision in rotating around the no-parallax point, or when you need some way to track coverage (say, you're shooting a panorama with a telephoto lens and will require hundreds of member frames in multiple rows for the pano). Panorama heads are often marked off and have detents for specific intervals, so you can precisely take an image for a specific number of degrees of rotation in yaw and pitch.

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    To put the point about foreground objects another way: it's not only the distance of the subject that matters, but the "depth". While stitching a handheld series of pictures of a flat wall mural might display very little visible error even when taken at a fairly close range, the same technique probably won't work as well in a landscape photo with many "layers of subject" that will shift in relation to each other due to parallax error. – junkyardsparkle May 9 '15 at 0:13

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