I’ve been talking a lot about using primes lenses, lately (thanks, and how great they are for growing your vision. I mentioned in the first post that when your prime lens is too limiting, you can shoot a panorama to get the view you desire. Well, I found myself on a rooftop in Chicago the other day (more on that below) and my widest lens was the terrific Olympus 17mm f/1.8 for Micro 4/3, which is similar to a 35mm lens on a full frame DSLR. However, when Chicago is spilling out before you on a beautiful night, it’s just not wide enough. This image is the most I could get in the frame with the 17mm.


Lumix GH4, Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens, f/5.6, 2 seconds, ISO 200.

I remembered something Scott Bourne often used to say on the podcast, “If you want to make an impactful image, try a vertical panorama.” A great benefit to the panorama over using a wider lens is that there isn’t the usual distortion at the edges a super wide lens yields. I like this pano because it shows the perspective I had–I could see the rooftops of the buildings below me, but I was still looking up at the Willis (né Sears) Tower.


Lumix GH4, Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens, f/5.6, 2 seconds, ISO 200, five frame panorama stitched in Photoshop.

Normally to shoot a panorama, you tip your camera into portrait orientation and shoot across. In this case, since I was shooting up and down, I  kept the camera in landscape orientation. I didn’t have lots of time that night, but if I were shooting again, I’d do a couple of things differently. If I used the 17mm, I’d shoot two rows of images instead of just one so that I’d have a little more room to crop the sides. Also, I’d try a longer lens as well, maybe the 45mm I had in my bag. This would yield a higher resolution, as well as less distortion.

How did I end up on the rooftops of Chicago? I was there for the Out Of Chicago Conference, which was really an incredible event. During the photowalk I lead, we talked to various people on the street and made portraits with them. Well, my new friend Z. was one such person, and he invited me and a couple others to come back later in the evening to see a different view of the town. It was really fun to see the city from the 60th floor, but I liked this portrait we made in the alley at least as well.

Lumix GH4, Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens, f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 400.

Lumix GH4, Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens, f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 400.

See Levi’s other tips here, and join him on Twitter.


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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. i am a big fan of nifty fifty,s or plastic fantastic the famous 50 mm F2.8 i really love that prime lens great bokeh it gives and the angle is very nice too everybody should have one in there kit especially if you go too dark places like a church etc.

    nice article :) greetings hans stellingsma

  2. Great Photo’s. nice to look at!

  3. […] L. (2014) Vertical Panos Beat Wide Lenses [online article]. Available at: [Accessed 28 July […]


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About Levi Sim

Passion drives Levi to make photographs, teach, and help new friends. He tells people he's a photographer, but he really does more than just make pictures. His professional photography is primarily commercial work for businesses, both small and large, and he really helps show how great it'd be to work with those companies. He excels at photographing people, from two-year-olds to oil field workers to couples married for 60 years, everyone has a good time making pictures with Levi. Besides people and businesses, Levi enjoys all other aspects of photography, and practices landscapes and still life, as well. Other people enjoy photographing everything, and Levi wants to be able to help, so he practices as much as he can to be ready to help. He also runs a local photography club, is a Rotarian, actively helps at church, is a husband, and poppa to a peppy four-year-old girl. Levi writes regularly for and is co-author of books on Adobe Lightroom.


Architecture, Landscape, Panoramic, Photography, Shooting, Technique & Tutorials


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