After my last blog piece on How To Shoot Amazing Drone Photos, I got a lot of messages asking for more information about the methods I use to shoot and stitch panoramas in panorama mode with the Mavic 2 Pro drone. So here is my quick guide to shooting panoramas with DJI Mavic 2 drone.
Shooting Panoramas With DJI Mavic 2 Drone – Set up
You need to make sure you are in photo mode in your Mavic 2 pro and shoot in raw. In photo mode, you will see three sliders below the shutter button. Hit these and your menu will appear on the side of the screen. At the top of this window, you will see a picture of a camera in the middle. Tap this and the first option on the list is Photo. From the Photo menu, you will see a range of options, you want the Pano option at the very bottom. This will give you 4 Shooting Panoramas With DJI Mavic 2 Drone options:
- Sphere – Shoots a 360 degree image
- 180 degrees panoramic – wide panoramic stitched from 20 different images in a 2×10 grid format
- Vertical – 3 separate images taken in a vertical pattern. Great for portrait images
- Horizontal – A combination of 9 images in a 3×3 grid formation to create, large format, wide angle images.
All of the above menu options can be accessed and changed in flight so you don’t have to choose your format right away and can vary it as often as you like. Just leave your drone hovering and scroll through the steps above to select the desired Shooting Panoramas With DJI Mavic 2 Drone format. I would suggest that you get to grips with menu system whilst on the ground first so you know what you are doing in flight.
Portrait or Vertical Panoramics
As the DJI Mavic 2 Pro doesn’t have a rotating lens your only option is to stitch images or crop the single frame. The latter isn’t really an option as this will half the resolution of your image so stitching is by far your best and only option when shooting panoramas with DJI Mavic 2 drone.
So you have selected the vertical pano option and are ready to go. You will notice that the shutter button now has an outline of the vertical pano layout. This is a nice easy way to know what orientation you are in. Compose your shot with the starting point of your middle frame of the three frames. As you won’t always want objects in the centre of the frame you need to try and visualise the shot in your mind and make adjustments based on the centre frame which can often mean partially cropping things from your first frame. This feels a little weird to start with but you will get used to it pretty quickly with practice.
Now you have your frame and settings in place, make sure the drone is still and has been for a few seconds before hitting the shutter button. Once pressed you will see the gimble moving to take the three shots. Just let it do its thing and make sure not to move your drone. Under the shutter button you will notice the completion percentage and when done a Pano Complete notification will flash up on your screen. To view the stitched pano (low-res JPEG only) it the small play button at the bottom right of your screen. This is a great tool just to make sure you got what you wanted before you are back on the ground and it is too late.
The horizontal pano is my favourite and most used option when Shooting panoramas with DJI Mavic 2 drone. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that it allows you to shoot a much wider angle image than would otherwise be possible with a single 28mm lens on the Mavic 2 Pro. The second that I use even when not required is to improve file size and detail. The Mavic 2 sensor is impressive for what it is but its still very small when compared with a full-frame DSLR or Mirrorless systems.
Another nice thing about the Horizontal Pano is that you can just use the three centre images to achieve a vertical Pano or portrait image the same as the vertical option. Great for when you have to be quick. Shoot horizontal panos and you can select the best orientation in post.
The method to select and compose (centre frame start point) your image is exactly the same as the vertical pano but this time you need to think about distance. As you will be shooting a much wider image you need to think about starting off with a much tighter crop as you will be including 8 other shots around your centre frame once the pano is complete that will include other details such as the foreground and sky. Again you can check the result by hitting the play button on the bottom right of your screen.
Shots and stitching
There are few different options in terms of software that can be used to stitch your RAW file shots. I personally use Adobe Lightroom and will be using this for reference as it is the most common piece of photo software and most people will already have a copy. Some other good options are PT Gui and Microsoft Ice (free for PC users).
Panoramic images will be saved on your drones memory card in a separate file for each pano in a control file named PANORAMA. Simple import all the images from a folder into Lightroom. Once this is complete, select all the images and right-click on the selected images, from the menu hit Photo Merge and Panorama. Lightroom will process the image and give you options of Spherical, Cylindrical & Perspective for your image. These come with previews so just check and choose the one you like best and Lightroom will complete the stitch and place it back in your catalogue ready to edit.
Crop and edit
It’s worth noting that all these software’s can struggle to produce smooth stitches if you have a lot of moving objects. A prime example of this would be when shooting rough seas that have moved a lot during the capture process. Other than this issue its a very easy and effective process.
Your new image will look a little strange, almost spherical and with large white borders. To resolve this in Lightroom simply select your crop tool, change the aspect ratio to 2 : 3 and click constrain to image. You are now left with a standard image format with no white borders. As the file is now so large you have room to make further slight adjustments to crop and composition should you need to do so. Once you are happy with your crop you can edit the image before exporting and we are done.
Hopefully, you have found this guide to shooting panoramas with DJI Mavic 2 drone useful. As always when using a drone, don’t forget to fly safely and tag us in your images so we can see how you got on.
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Jordan Banks is a travel photographer with almost 20 years of experience shooting assignments and campaigns for some of the worlds leading brands and companies.
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