Many of today’s cameras and drones allow you to get ready-made 360̊ panoramas, which for some users remain fully satisfying. Or at least until… they don’t see how much more can be achieved from the same photo or photos, but in RAW format! Yes, such processing requires special software, at least a minimum amount of time and even a pinch of skill, but the potential effects are definitely worth it!

For me, the source of the 360̊ panorama RAW files is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone. It should be mentioned that in order to obtain raw RAW files (.dng) in addition to the panorama stitched by the DJI software, you need to change Save original panorama -> ON option in the settings in the application (in my case, DJI Go 4) and the type of files – > RAW.

Ustawienia DJI Go 4 do tworzenia panoramy

As for the creation of the panorama itself, the comments are obvious; in case of a camera it is best to use a tripod, and in case of a drone to avoid strong winds. And also the exposure, which should be averaged for the entire scene, because it may turn out, that if we set it appropriately for the sunny side, the other may remain quite underexposed…


When the panorama is made and the files are ripped onto the disk, we proceed to the first stage – opening and initial procesing of RAWs. In terms of software, there are a lot of paid options like Lightroom, Capture One, or even Photoshop, and free ones like RawTherapee or Darktable. Often, the equipment manufacturers themselves also add their own applications for free. I personally use Adobe’s photographer suite, so Lightroom is the natural choice for me. Regardless of which one we use, the rules are the same at this stage: global changes, i.e. the correct setting of white balance, exposure, noise removal, contrast, saturation, sharpening options, or others that we consider appropriate should be the same for the entire series. It is most convenient to apply a change to one photo and then synchronize the changes to the others (Sync… option in Lightroom).

Synchronizacja wszystkich zdjęć panoramy w Lightroomie

One of the many advantages of working with RAWs is that it is not destructive, so we can always return to the starting point without loss. When we decide that we have achieved the intended effect, we can export the photos using the appropriate settings, for example thinking about publishing on Facebook we should:

  • keep panorama dimensions not larger than 30,000 pixels in any dimension and 135,000,000 pixels in total,
  • not exceed the size of 45 MB in .jpg and 60 MB in .png.

Facebook recommendation are files within 20-30 MB. Of course the photos are different, but I usually export single .jpg files in the size of 2000-2500 pixels on the long side.


The second step is stitching individual photos into a panorama. For this purpose I use the free Image Composite Editor program from Microsoft (often also called ICE). The program can be downloaded from this link from the Microsoft website. Considering the paid ones, PTGUI is recommended, but so far ICE has never disappointed me. If there were no problems with taking photos of the panorama, stitching should be quick and smooth. We start with New Panorama From Images and then search for the folder where we saved the photos, select all of them and click Open.

Import zdjęć do programu ICE

Then click Next and the photos are stitched. At this stage, we can choose what kind of panorama we want to get, but in our case it is of course the Spherical option. Moreover, if necessary, you can either manually drag the mouse cursor, or after entering the appropriate Auto orientation value, modify the image, for example straighten the horizon. After the correction, click Next.

Ewentualna korekcja zszytej panoramy w programie ICE

In the next step, we need to crop the image to get a rectangle. You can use the Auto crop option, thanks to which the image will be cropped to a minimum.

Funkcja Auto crop w programie ICE

And then only exports. Several simple options to choose from. I use 100% scale and .jpg and Quality 100 format. For my files, which were around 10-12 MB, the panorama file is 36 MB.


The last stage is working in Photoshop. There are two ways to import a panorama; in the 3d -> Spherical Panorama tab, click Import Panorama, or simply open the file in Photoshop and then use the same path instead of Import… select New Panorama from Selected Layer (s). Photoshop will also suggest changing the working space, the so-called workspace in 3D, which will allow us to rotate the image using the appropriate tool.

Zaimportowana panorama w przestrzeni roboczej 3D w Photoshopie

What we need to do is first of all change the aspect ratio to the ideal 2:1. On this occasion, I will also show you how to work non-destructively with panoramas. On the right side below Layer 1 we have PANO00-1, that’s the name of my imported panorama. You have to click through it and the panorama will open in the second window, but already flattened. Here we choose Image-> Canvas size from the menu and change the height to exactly half the width! In my case it’s 5376 pixels, we also change the Anchor option so that the space is added at the top, and click ok.

Zmiana wielkości przestrzeni roboczej w Photoshopie

Then with the rectangular selection tool we select this additional area by gently hovering over the sky and choose the option Edit -> Content-Aware Fill… and after a moment of analysis we click ok. This amazing function of intelligent filling based on similar areas of our image will fill the added area. Then Ctrl + D deselect the selection. We click Ctrl + S to save the changes and transfer them to the 3D panorama.

Panorama z wypełnionym dodatkowym obszarem w Photoshopie

My panorama has a dark sky, conditions have not changed, so the stitching line is not visible. In the case of panoramas made during the day, you will probably need an additional correction of the seam line in the area where it was added. You may also need to remove, for example, a visible tripod, when the panorama was not mde by the drone. Finally, you can also make more local adjustments. One thing must be remembered; we need to add a new layer to the flattened panorama and leave it active, regardless of whether we make changes to the flattened panorama or the 3D panorama. You will probably need three basic tools to correct the sewing line; Clone Stamp, Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush. Working on a flattened panorama is the same as with any picture; you can, for example, add curves, masks, etc. You just have to remember to save the changes at the end of the work, so that they will be applied to the “proper” panorama in 3D. The last step is export; for this purpose, select from the 3D menu -> Spherical Panorama -> Export Panorama. My panorama as a .jpg file took less than 32 MB and in this form I posted it on Facebook (here is a link to the panorama).


Hope you found this guide helpful. Of course, I omitted here a few issues related to working in Lightroom or Photoshop regarding the detailed techniques of applying specific corrections, but the entire work path remains the same. Happy creating!