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What is a panoramic picture?

A panoramic picture is a photo with a horizontal and/or vertical visual field of view which is too large for a satisfying "flat" representation.

Examples: Landscapes, urban environments, interiors of buildings, architectural ensembles. A panoramic picture is typically a seamless 360° image taken from one viewpoint. To the extreme, it is a full spherical image allowing a vertical visual angle of +/- 90°.

Special technology is required for creating and viewing this kind of picture.

For an overview of software products for creating ("stitching") panoramas please click here. Let's now have a look on viewing panoramas.

What is a panoramic viewer?

A panoramic viewer is an applcation which enables you to watch panoramic pictures comfortably on a screen.

This is achieved by displaying a moveable section of a large picture within a window.

Typically, the user moves the mouse to indicate the direction where the visible section should be moved. On touch devices, he would use his fingers instead.

What is a "spherical projection"?

This is a technique for transfering a ball-shaped ("spherical") image to a flat surface. The resulting image looks kind of distorted (see above).

A panoramic viewer is able to display an arbitrary section of this image "correctly". This is a time-consuming operation, compared to displaying just a "flat" image.

Is a panoramic viewer suitable for "ordinary" pictures?

The "moving with the mouse" technology was originally developed for displaying panoramic pictures. If this is combined with flat projection, it is well suited for any case where a section of a large picture is to be displayed on a screen.

- Resolution of a Full HD monitor (22''+): 1920 x 1080 pixels
- Resolution of a 18-megapixel compact camera: 4896 x 3648 pixels

Large pictures in this sense is exactly what you get from today's cameras and smartphones -
so the answer is definitely yes.

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