Depending on how fast your subject is moving and how far away it is, you could pan with a shutter speed as fast as 1/100 or as slow as 1/4. I usually like to start at 1/60 and work from there. Be careful about going too slow with the shutter speed. Depending on your lens length, you could start to get camera shake blur on top of your pan motion blur below about 1/30. A clear subject is the result of a steady hand or a tripod with a pan-tilt head. These tripods come with either a two-way or three-way tilting head and allow for the user to control one axis without affecting the others. In this case, you would want to lock all axes except the panoramic rotating one that gives you a smooth, steady view.
Good pan photography also depends on the quality of the background. The best backgrounds for pan photography have nice colors, a lot of details to blur, and allow the focus to stay on your subject. You can adjust your shutter speed to include more or less background detail—the faster the speed, the more detail your background will have.
Make sure to balance the light in the composition. Generally, the light that your subject is in should be the same as the background, but mixing the light in your frame can make some excellent compositions if you know what to look for. For example, you can place your subject in full-sun while the background is in dark shadow—creating even more of a focus on your subject.
The ideal time of day to shoot pan photos is during the magic hour—that's the time just before sunset or after sunrise. During this time, the light will be diffused and warm—great for slower shutter speeds. If you are shooting in mid-day sun, you may be limited by how small you can set your aperture. The Sony Cybershot, for example, can only go to f14 in full-zoom. Stick to the shade or wait for low light if you are limited to a fast shutter speed.
Be patient and good luck!
Pan photography is just as much luck as it is skill. Be patient. Once you get the right settings and background, wait for an interesting subject to come along and snap away. Link to your pan-motion photos in the comments!
Lauren Crabbe is a Macworld intern.