In general there are three different kind of panoramic photos.
1. You already know partial panoramas from landscape photography and from various point-and-shoot camera panorama modes and even mobile phone apps. Essentially they are wide angle views created by joining multiple pictures together. This kind of wide angle perspective couldn’t be created with a single shot.
Partial panorama example - this photo captures approximately 180 degrees (Yaxchilan, Mexico – author Jan Vrsinsky)
2. 360° panoramas a more advanced since they capture the whole field of view around you in all directions. The most simple explanation of how they are created is that you start taking a partial panorama and then you continue taking pictures until the first image overlaps with the last one.
Full 360° non-spherical panorama example (Oaxaca, Mexico – author Jan Vrsinsky)
3. Fully spherical 360° panoramas are the top of the line and they are most difficult to create. They not only capture the full view around you but also up and down. The better spherical 360s are even created in a way so that the photographer and their equipment is not visible in the panorama.
Fully spherical panorama example where you can look up and down - Interactive version here.
In the upcoming posts I will explain how these types of photos are created.
This has been an article from the Introduction to Effective 360° Panoramic photography.