Being one that likes to take landscape shots, at times you just cannot convey the depth of the scene in a 4×6 shot. You can’t really get a good sense for the skyline or how for instance the mountains fit into the mountain range….
The great thing about digital photography is that you can do so much more than you can with traditional film photography. Since everything is digital, computers can run analysis on your shots much like any other data. A panoramic shot basically sews up smaller pictures into one big picture. For instance if you want to capture a shot of ABCDEFG you can take a picture of ABC, CDE, and EFG. The computer can analyze the images and see the C and E overlap between the two pictures. It will then sew up the three little pictures into one big one. Your three 4×6’s become one 4×10. Some cameras ship with software to do the stitching. If you don’t have one, I’d recommend PTGui, for a turn key solution. It’s about $90, but does a really good job at exposing the right details you need to know. For the cheap or more focused, I’d go with Hugin which is open source. Both turn out equally good images.
Once your images are created… the next big hurdle comes in printing. I’ve not found a great solution as most of the printing services are geared toward single image photography. I’ve looked at Ez-Prints and they look good, but I’ve not ordered a print from them. Framing tends to be spotty as there are not many standard frames for panoramas, but there are 4×10 or 4×12 frames starting to become more common.
It’s been fun to challenge myself in thinking through how to take a panorama… I’ve found it is more than sewing images together as panoramas need to (in my opinion) have some type of closure at it’s end points. Tripods are really your friend here, as it makes the edges of the images much easier to sew together. Ah… the joys of photography.