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Editorial: Why I can't stop taking iPhone Panoramas

By dpreview staff on Sep 24, 2013 at 17:00 GMT

DPReview editor Barnaby Britton spent his weekend taking pictures on the new Apple iPhone 5s, which among other refinements features a new camera, larger sensor, built-in filter effects and a unique two-color flash. It also offers an improved panorama mode with adaptive 'live' metering across the frame. In this short article he explains why even if you don't have any interest in the new iPhone, you should definitely pay attention to the iPhone 5s' panorama feature.

Comments

Total comments: 300
12
Hasa
By Hasa (7 months ago)

Amazing engineering feat!
- of course I would be kind of disappointed if this phone-camera replaced even my old Sony R1 + PTGUI Pro stitching SW + Tower-cabinet-once-upon-a-time monster PC - or
my 1 year old D800 + portrait-mode stitched rectangular-fisheye images or 20mm wide-angle stitched images.
However I am sure my wife would be thrilled with the 5s - The only issue is the price of the device and it is not waterproof - I'm sure it will be left in the garden until dew-time :-(
I hope Sony comes up with a waterproof solution as neat as this one.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (6 months ago)

"I hope Sony comes up with a waterproof solution as neat as this one."

Hope so... the Z1 "Honami" isn't.

0 upvotes
birdbrain
By birdbrain (7 months ago)

My Sony RX100M2 does very nice panoramas.

0 upvotes
Northgrove
By Northgrove (7 months ago)

I had no idea it could do this despite following several news sources covering Apple news daily. Good job there. :)

0 upvotes
mckracken88
By mckracken88 (7 months ago)

thanks to this thread i have found out that you can costumize news.

and "connect" is now off. But it still shows this iphone news item :)

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (7 months ago)

It's on dpreview because it's about a new development in photo technology (something that you're not alone in missing) which is dynamic exposure in 'sweep' panorama imaging.

2 upvotes
Un4gettable Photography
By Un4gettable Photography (7 months ago)

I had forgotten all about the panorama aspect of the Iphone. Am now incorporating it in the shots that I send clients.

0 upvotes
Vladik
By Vladik (7 months ago)

Wow, so much hate, insanium in the cranium! Can't you simply say "Thank you" and call it a day?

1 upvote
xiod_crlx
By xiod_crlx (7 months ago)

the brand is dying... more articles needed!

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (7 months ago)

?

0 upvotes
RC
By RC (7 months ago)

Have some of you actually READ the article? The author specifically mentions the iPhone 5S in the article OVER and OVER and OVER again. So NO, he doesn't mean ANY other smartphone, he means the iPhone 5S. Not the iPhone 4, not the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5S.

Understood?! Oh boy...

Little hint for Android fanboys: The specific features he mentions in the article are mostly NOT available on ANY Android phone. This is why he points them out.

0 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (7 months ago)

Sadly, "iPhone" has become synonymous with "smartphone" . There are other phone brands out there that can do this trick (Galaxy S4 for example does it very nicely and with decent highlight management as well), so why not say "smartphone" in the title, and then reveal the brand in the text ? It's not a shame to use an iPhone for a smartphone, quite the contrary, but to trompete out how good a particular brand is, is not exactly the unpartiality that would be expected from a lead DPR staffer , imho...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

smartphone means iPhone.
they can copy the design but not the name.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"smartphone means iPhone. "

Maybe in the US but definitely not here in Europe...

11 upvotes
babalu
By babalu (7 months ago)

@yabokkie : call it what you want ; I meant a modern mobile phone of the types sold by HCT,Samsung,Nokia, etc. I thought that was clear. And incidentally, your point of view exactly corroborates my statement about iPhone.

0 upvotes
HappyVan
By HappyVan (7 months ago)

yabokkie,

Yet the truth is that Android has ¾ of the global market share, with 90% in China. The Android advantage is likely to widen as Apple isn't particularly interested in developing nations.

Eventually, Android will be synonymous with smartphone.

3 upvotes
PDidd117w3n7y
By PDidd117w3n7y (7 months ago)

HappyVan,

Um are you comparing Android vs iPhone? Thats like saying Accord vs Toyota... Here is a graph showing developer jobs globally with break down. http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://thumbnails.visually.netdna-cdn.com/android-vs-ios-jobs_50291530dc248.png&imgrefurl=http://visual.ly/android-vs-ios-jobs&h=1077&w=1280&sz=442&tbnid=kDKmTueS1t4GMM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=107&zoom=1&usg=__Mhyc-1V9H_IB5JAe_WD8A6saa8E=&docid=AF6YC0oFZ1i0CM&sa=X&ei=ehRFUsjVDbil4APO2oDwBg&ved=0CDIQ9QEwAQ

You may sell more devices even when looking at the OS level, but # of devs and profits paid to devs pales in comparison. You can have your shiny new big screen quad core. I will take my 64bit dual core and be able to USE is more. Check Dev #'s, Profits, and web usage. Especially when android makes everything from semi basic - Smart devices. I should hope they sell more... i my self find it sad that globally with handfuls more Mfr's Android only manages a 2x %age gain. but your world we're just livin in it

0 upvotes
HappyVan
By HappyVan (7 months ago)

PDidd117w3n7y,

Quite frankly. I couldn't care less about developers' profits.

All it means is that consumers are getting more freebies at Android. Yah!

0 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (7 months ago)

""smartphone means iPhone. "

Maybe in the US but definitely not here in Europe..."

Not in the US either but the liberal media behaves as if there is no other brand.

0 upvotes
Marvol
By Marvol (7 months ago)

It does look impressive, although whether it really warrants yet another "hail to the almighty iPhone" article I don't know.

Would it be an idea to test several in-camera systems side by side and see what works best (well, "best").
Sony pioneered this, Android phones have had it for a while, now the iPhone adds the auto exposure, and other camera brands have followed suit, too. Would be interesting e.g. to see if this auto-exposure can compensate for lack of sensor DR.

If you do such a test please do include Canon, if only to name and shame them (as far as I'm aware they still only offer the 1990s-style semi-manual PP stitching with their crapware) :p.

4 upvotes
HappyVan
By HappyVan (7 months ago)

the title of the article is provocative.

Not sure what Barney is trying to do. But, I'm sure that he is not saying that panorama can only be done by a iphone. Or that panorama is best done on a handheld device. Or that the iphone represents a magical user experience.

On-camera panaroma has been around a while. That's the nature of digital devices.

Here's the important thing!

Anything photographic that a small device can do. A dedicated camera can do better.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Anything photographic that a small device can do. A dedicated camera can do better."

Again, the vast majority of dedicated cameras shoot auto / in-camera panos far worse than the iPhone 5, let alone the 5s. For example, the majority of Sony P&S cameras still shoot 1080p sweep panos only - at a rather bad quality. Panasonic's (even those of the latest TZ / ZS cameras) / Nikon's (e.g., the entire P3x0 enthusiast line) panos are even worse with their around-600 height.

Of course, you can always shoot stills (with the necessary overlap) and create the pano in PP, on a desktop. (You can even do this via AppStore apps like AutoStitch Panorama, which can be configured to save the original stills and doesn't force you to create the, when using the default settings, sub-par panos on-iPhone.) However, it's not as fast as just doing a quick sweep pano. If you want to quickly share a pano, in-camera sweep panos are the easiest way to go.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

(cont'd):

An, IQ-wise, pretty dreadful example of the recent Sony WX50 showing how (comparatively) bad sweep panos Sony P&S cams shoot:

http://i.i.cbsi.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2012/11/27/Sony_Cyber-shot_DSC-WX50_0598sweeppan.jpg

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
mckracken88
By mckracken88 (7 months ago)

menneisyys:

are you working for apple?
how many replies do you have now in this thread?
over 50?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Lolz, the last time, over at Connect (see http://connect.dpreview.com/post/2177560755/apple-new-iphone-5s ), I was accused of working for Nokia and "badmouthing" Apple because I was overly dissatisfied with the lack of OIS / stereo audio recording / 1080p60 and other stuff like cheating (not true) 720p120 in the 5s :) (See photogeek's post: "Judging by the number of posts, disparaging Apple is Menneisyys's day job. :-)")

The thing is: while I don't particularly like the iPhone 5's / 5s' camera (it IS pretty much handicapped compared to, say, the 1020's camera), I *love* its sweep pano function. It's just so much better than the panorama of most other smartphones & dedicated cameras out there and allows for creating quick panos without the need for any kind of desktop pp.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HappyVan
By HappyVan (7 months ago)

Menneisyys,

The issue is not the nice pano feature on the iphone. Many cameras have a neat feature or two of their own. The issue I raised was the point of an article praising this pano feature.

Is it revolutionary? Nada. Is it critical for photography? I doubt it.

Is it some kinda of harbinger of the future? I really don't think that pano will become a popular new past-time for the masses.

It isn't important that this iphone has a better implementation than dedicated cameras. This is just software. Any of the camera brands can implement a better pano feature if they wanted. In fact, Sony will probably add this pano technology to their cameras!!!

There may be fans of handheld devices who think that cameras are obsolete.

This is obviously a mistake. Here's an analogy....

1 upvote
HappyVan
By HappyVan (7 months ago)

.... Both pencils and pens write. You can sell a lot more pencils if you make a better pencil. However, the pen will always be in demand because it is a better technology with greater functionality.

So, camera phones and dedicated cameras each have their uses. Better camera phones won't make cameras obsolete. When the phone market is saturated (80% already own one), better camera functions (in phones) won't increase phone sales.

The phone brand with better camera implement may compete better than other phone brands. However, I seriously doubt if the masses want 41mp cameras if it costs more to upload images. Most phone users will forget that they have advanced features, once the initial enthusiasm wears off.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"The issue I raised was the point of an article praising this pano feature."

Well, I think it's quite easy to understand the author. I'm too very enthusiastic about the sweep pano of my iPhone 5 - and the 5s is even better. While, otherwise, the iPhone 5 / 5s' camera isn't really something to write home about (no OIS, no large sensor, no video goodies like stereo audio or 1080p60 and the 720p120 seems to be 360p120 only, effective resolution-wise) it's quite hard NOT to love the pano feature.

"It isn't important that this iphone has a better implementation than dedicated cameras. This is just software. Any of the camera brands can implement a better pano feature if they wanted."

Yes, the COULD. However, ATM, they don't have. I'd too prefer a decent pano app on my Nokia 808, better than on the iPhone 5. Regrettably, there isn't (and with Symbian, won't be).

0 upvotes
Soupisgoodfood
By Soupisgoodfood (6 months ago)

HappyVan:

"Just software" huh? You say that as if software isn't very important, or that it's easy to make good software. Sure, companies can include this feature as a software update, unlike hardware. But that doesn't mean they will, or that they will within a reasonable time frame, or that they'll be able to do an implementation as good as another company's software.

0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (7 months ago)

Which was the first digital camera to have a "sweep panorama" feature?

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (7 months ago)

A Sony Cyber-shot something-or-other, at least five years ago I think.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

www.dpreview.com/products/Sony/compacts/sony_dschx1

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

it may look like small tricks, but sweep panorama, handheld twilight and anti motion blur are a great start in camera history. that we are likely to use multiframe stacking/stitching for most if not all the photos we take, just like we ourselves have been doing it for millions of years.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Photato
By Photato (7 months ago)

Phones outwitting Cameras in their own turf.
How pathetic.

2 upvotes
Higuel
By Higuel (7 months ago)

Its called "omitting caractheristics that the camera already can do by hardware(!) on purpose so you might had them in future models"

In that regard, the guys at Magic Lantern really REALLY deserve a huge amard for their amazing work!!!

They are better then canon in using their own sensors!!! Even dpreview recognised it!

0 upvotes
WaltFrench
By WaltFrench (7 months ago)

Maybe on a pixel-by-pixel basis, that theater shot is a bit grainy. But how many thousand pixels wide is it? If this were downsampled to any other camera's capability, it'd be incredible. I'm quite impressed by a shot in theater-level light.

My old Canon G series had a stiching feature that allowed multiple photos in a rectangular grid, resulting (on my laptop) in a huge increase in pixels for a shot (assuming the stitching was perfect, which it often wasn't). If this camera were to guide the shooter in scanning multiple rows of panos, and especially if one were to get a bit of a telephoto lens, this could make for some awesome hi-res shots.

0 upvotes
ferbis
By ferbis (7 months ago)

I´m very impressed by not only the HDR, but the quality and definition of the panos as you enlarge them.
Are there any side by side D800 / iPhone 5s comparison?

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

The D800, when using a decent desktop stitcher, produces way better panos. After all, the stills it shoots are of far better quality (DR, noise etc).

As I've mentioned below, the iPhone auto sweep pano is a great way for _quick_ shots without any need to stitching. For quality, you'll still want to prefer making multiple / cancelled, overlapping photos (to get rid of moving subjects, for example - something impossible with the iPhone client) and heavy pp on the desktop.

Comment edited 13 minutes after posting
1 upvote
NewForce
By NewForce (7 months ago)

That's shallow. Many dc and Android phones already have this feature, so nothing new for the world, but just apple fanboys.

1 upvote
drh681
By drh681 (7 months ago)

Oh great! Apple figured out how to make a PhotoSynth!

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Actually, as I've pointed out below,

1, PhotoSynth delivers results of far lower resolution. This means I don't recommend it unless the disadvantages of iPhone's pano shooting approach make PhotoSynth preferable.

2, the two use entirely different approaches to shooting. PhotoSynth uses the traditional still + stitching combo (also usable in "sphere" mode), while the iPhone uses continuous sensor sampling with all its advantages and disadvantages.

0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (7 months ago)

I was disappointed that my fourth generation ipad did not get the panorama feature.

Any idea why? It's has to have the horse power, there are like 20 apps that seem to manage.

Thanks!

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Fewer people would buy the iPhone if the iPad also had panos.

The same stands for variable exposure. I'm pretty much sure the iPhone 5 could also store panos with variable exposure. If nothing else, then, by reducing sampling speed. However, then, the iPhone5s would have _really_ few new features and most people wouldn't upgrade from the 5.

We can only hope iPhone 5 (4s) users also get at least variable exposure when an iOS7 jailbreak is released. (Albeit I don't have high hopes. For example, noone has managed to port the iPhone 4s/5 camera app to the iPod touch 5G / iPad 3 or 4 so that they also have cameras. It's highly unlikely we'll get variable exposure even if there is a jailbreak.)

0 upvotes
Larrykacherri
By Larrykacherri (7 months ago)

I really appreciate this article on the iPhone 5s, and any other camera phones that the seasoned photographers here at DPreview feel that have enough merit to be used for photography, and my own piece on mind knowing that little device you carry around in your pocket; one has a good photographic tool that can drawn in a moments notice!

I am inspired by your results, especially the theater shot, looking down on the audience and stage, and all the spots of light from the cell phones; Very Funny! a work of art, and the tool was right at hand! Yes, you stated the camera could not cope, but never the less a work of art in my eyes!

I am in the market for a cell phone with a reliable fast camera, and this is a serious contender and one that you just cannot leave in your pocket for the sake a photography as you have aptly demonstrated, and an inadvertent endorsement that caters to the photographer in me...thankyou

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Yes, you stated the camera could not cope, but never the less a work of art in my eyes! "

Well, actually, it would have produced WAY better results with shooting stills and doing the stitching in either post (the best approach) or with a decent in-camera stitcher like DMD Panorama or AutoStitch.

I've posted a lot of info & comparative shots on the comparatively weak performance of the in-camera pano of the iPhones below - check out my other, earlier comments. Basically, you do NOT want to use the stock pano mode of the Camera app in (very) low light.

0 upvotes
Larrykacherri
By Larrykacherri (7 months ago)

I misinterpreted the caption under the photograph, as thinking the camera was not coping with the lowlight; my mistake. When I tried to edit it, I was locked out...??

The caption read:

"At a show inside a local theatre the iPhone 5s made an excellent job of stitching this highly complex panorama. When the lights went fully down a few minutes later the phone couldn't cope, but here with house lights on, but dim, exposure is accurate."

I checked out your photos on flicker, very impressive. I will have to try this stitching.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Yup, in very low light, the pano useless. However, panos using traditional still stitching (even in in-camera auto mode, via e.g. DMD or AutoStitch) may have worked even then.

0 upvotes
dklimek
By dklimek (7 months ago)

What is there in the way of bi directional panorama apps for iPhone? That is, an app where you can move the scene in both the vertical and horizontal direction to fill the field of the entire image you want to capture. I have played a little with the Photosynth app, but have not been terribly impressed by its stitching accuracy. Are there others out there?

0 upvotes
Actrurus
By Actrurus (7 months ago)

I use 'AutoStitch' for multi-row panoramas where I need some vertical coverage as well as wide. Takes multiple images which are then stitched together. I find it quick and painless, has got better over the years too.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

For this, use a third-party app. As I've explained below, for this, I recommend AutoStitch Panorama or, if you don't mind the lower resolution, the free Photosynth. Both have excellent sphere stitching. The latter has better exposure difference smoothing.

Here are two spheres I've shot with these two apps:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9445337694/in/set-72157634934859658

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9440017228/in/set-72157634934859658

(Tampere, Finland, in front of the church)

And here's a sphere with 360 Panorama (which I don't recommend as much as the two other apps):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9439539840/in/set-72157634934114218

(Tampere, inside the church)

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Sorry, I've messed up the Photosynth sphere link. It should have been

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9440010036/in/set-72157634934859658

0 upvotes
Erik Ohlson
By Erik Ohlson (7 months ago)

Looks like it has fixed-focus at somewhere around 20 feet. And it has stitching errors. My Panasonic ZS25 with stitching by Photoshop Elements kicks it entirely out of the park. Just a gimmick.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Looks like it has fixed-focus at somewhere around 20 feet."

Wrong. The pano mode locks focus to the first frame - at least on the iPhone 5. (Dunno if it's dynamiclaly refocusing on the 5s. Doubt it.) The focus distance can be very close. For example, this is a crop from a pano I started shooting with an A4 page fully filled by the ISO 12233 chart:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9438305362/in/set-72157634931737846

As you can see, while the subject was about 0.5 metres away, it was in perfect focus.

The rest of the shots in the same set (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/sets/72157634931737846/ ) show how third-party apps fared. Note that AutoStitch Panorama couldn't include the first frame in the final pano as the subject of it was very different from the rest of the subject - hence, no AutoStitch Panorama crop.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"My Panasonic ZS25 with stitching by Photoshop Elements kicks it entirely out of the park. "

1, you can also shoot stills with guidance for further desktop processing via, say, AutoStitch Panorama. While the iPhone doesn't have zoom or OIS, it still shoots images comparable in IQ to the ZS25.

2, if you compare the in-camera sweep pano of the iPhone 5 / 5s to that of the ZS25 (this, of course, has nothing to do with shooting stills and doing the stitching in post), the iPhone's implementation is vastly superior. Even the latest ZS models (25/30) suck badly at sweep panos with their ridiculously low resolution.

0 upvotes
ChrisKramer1
By ChrisKramer1 (7 months ago)

Why all the fanfares? The Samsung Galaxy S4 has an excellent panorama function as well. Was there an article entitled "Why I can't stop taking Galaxy S4 Panoramas?"

The fact is, the Iphone looks nice but enthusiasts need a bigger screen and image stablisation. On a recent visit to Russia, I used my Samsung S4 more than my Sony NEX5n but really, image stablisation is a must in low light. The only problem with the Lumia 1020 / 925 is that the apps are so sparse. Why no Snapseed, Photoshop Touch etc? Tragic...

5 upvotes
Mister J
By Mister J (7 months ago)

It's because the iP5S is a new phone, hence newsworthy.

I expect the next Galaxy will be featured when relevant.

Image stabilization on the iP5S could be a useful addition, but the screen size is just right for me.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Cane
By Cane (7 months ago)

Someone call a whambulance, every phone wasn't given 100% equal billing.

2 upvotes
ZorSy
By ZorSy (7 months ago)

Sony Xperia Arc had it almost two years ago when we bought it and it works great - this may be excitement for iPhone users but proves they obviously missed a lot... OK, they now have that feature so they can enjoy it. Good for them.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Sony Xperia Arc had it almost two years ago when we bought it and it works great - this may be excitement for iPhone users but proves they obviously missed a lot... OK, they now have that feature so they can enjoy it. Good for them."

Sorry to disappoint you, but the Sony Xperia Arc shoots equally bad sweep panos as even the latest WX-series Sony P&S cameras - 1080p vertical resolution, oversharpening, no dynamic exposure correction and everything you can think of. It just can't be meaningfully compared to the vastly superior iPhone 5, let alone the 5s.

An example of how bad these panos are: http://cdn.gsmarena.com/vv/reviewsimg/sony-ericsson-xperia-arc-s/camera/gsmarena_010.jpg

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
mrdancer
By mrdancer (7 months ago)

I am using an app on my BBQ10 called 360 Panorama. It takes a little practice, but does a decent job of shooting quick panos. The cool thing is that when I open the panorama in an app called TurnMe Panorama, you are immersed in the panorama and it is georeferenced, so that when you turn north, your panorama is facing north. When you turn south, your panorama is facing south. Pretty cool technology.

Only problem with in-camera panos is they usually shrink the panos by quite a bit. I still prefer taking individual pics and stitching them together into a high-res 50mb image (or larger). Micro$oft's free ICE (Image Composite Editor) makes stitching photos a piece of cake.

0 upvotes
Wye Photography
By Wye Photography (7 months ago)

You may want to put the BBQ10 on the BBQ if BB goes to the wall.

Joking aside, what would you do if that happened?

1 upvote
mrdancer
By mrdancer (7 months ago)

They will have plenty of support well beyond my 2-year contract (actually, my phone rep let me go without a contract :).

I chose the Q10 over the competition due to good phone call quality, replaceable batteries, non-proprietary connections, non-proprietary tunes, durability and, of course, the great keyboard. This is my third BB. I'll cross the bridge to whoever has the best features when the time comes for a new phone.

The only thing lacking with BB is app support. Rumor is that the company may go private and continue on as a niche brand. Maybe a 'droid2BB app interface would fix things.

0 upvotes
dwilli
By dwilli (7 months ago)

Nice Editorial! Thank you. Even though i didn't have much interest in cell phone photography (at least before i read this editorial) This is very interesting/enlightening. Your point was that the new dynamic range feature improves pano's. As one who has done hundreds of pano's with a DSLR, i am blown away at the quality achieved in 5 sec.of user effort. Sure i can get better quality with my dslr but i can't do it in 5 sec (setup, post processing etc). I guess some missed the point that this was an editorial and not a review, and not trying to claim no other cell phone or camera can do pano's. Keep up the good work. And for those not interested in this type of article.... don't read it. :-)

0 upvotes
ludwik123
By ludwik123 (7 months ago)

I tried taking panorama photos several years ago using an oylmpus and it's stitching software on a computer. It was a painful failure.
Now using the samsung note 2. It is great fun and works properly.
I understand why you are doing it on the iphone.

0 upvotes
imoan
By imoan (7 months ago)

love the theatre image, pretty impresive for a phone when you consider where we were with technology a few years ago.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
zigi_S
By zigi_S (7 months ago)

"Why I can't stop taking iPhone Panoramas"

Because you are paid to do so?

25 upvotes
Gibbosa
By Gibbosa (7 months ago)

NEWSFLASH:

A new App from Apple/Android called 'subbing' which will automatically take care of problems like this:

"A late afternoon panorama from the rooftop of our Seattle offices, shot in late afternoon."

(Sorry, Barney - couldn't resist! Hope the hip gets better.)

1 upvote
AshMills
By AshMills (7 months ago)

Why isnt this in Connect?

15 upvotes
ThaQuest
By ThaQuest (7 months ago)

because its about photography

3 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (7 months ago)

Hahahaha!
Seriously, though, I think the OP was talking in earnest...

0 upvotes
Stealthy Ninja
By Stealthy Ninja (7 months ago)

Any excuse to mention the iPhone...

24 upvotes
Soupisgoodfood
By Soupisgoodfood (6 months ago)

Any excuse to post an anti-iPhone comment...

0 upvotes
Kotecinho
By Kotecinho (7 months ago)

I'd like to share a panoramic composition made ​​with iPhone 5

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kotecinho/9075790199/

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 53 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Great! Too bad the sky is burnt in in all panos except the second and fifth.

Well, this is the biggest problem of the iPhone 4s / 5 pano...

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
MichaelRChan
By MichaelRChan (7 months ago)

That's a fantastic composition.

1 upvote
Mike Wee
By Mike Wee (7 months ago)

Brilliant!

1 upvote
Jerry Ci
By Jerry Ci (6 months ago)

I don't understand mania and hysteria about average snapshots with mundane composition (not "fantastic") and overexposed skies. Don't knowledgeable photographers frequent this DPreview section?

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (7 months ago)

Should have bought some Sony camera years ago. They got Sweep panorama mode long before anyone else implemented it.

10 upvotes
Boissez
By Boissez (7 months ago)

Stitching images together is the easy bit. Doing it seamlessly and nailing the exposure is the hard part and it seems Apple has nailed that part too.

Comment edited 23 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Antimateria
By Antimateria (7 months ago)

Actuals Sony cameras have the same function and work very well.
On A99 full frame too and is way better tnan this.
Only dinamic exposure is better here, but using big sensors you can perform same good post.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Antimateria
By Antimateria (7 months ago)

And you can use evf too, not only lcd, evf is way more stable and accurate for this.
No comparision for overal performance.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"you can perform same good post."

The point in sweep panos is that, most of the time, you don't need to do any post.

0 upvotes
Antimateria
By Antimateria (7 months ago)

Results are good before too.
You have control on focal and f, and IQ is way better than a phone.

0 upvotes
Mister J
By Mister J (7 months ago)

Wow that rusting (oil?) installation would look good in a steampunk drama.

Love panos, and it'll be interesting to compare it with my 3rd party AutoStitch app.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Love panos, and it'll be interesting to compare it with my 3rd party AutoStitch app."

I've done it pretty thoroughly (see my posts below) - and will also do it in my forthcoming "iOS Panorama bible".

0 upvotes
Beat Traveller
By Beat Traveller (7 months ago)

Those are some awesome shots. Mobile photography is getting better all the time.

0 upvotes
sharkcookie
By sharkcookie (7 months ago)

For the past 30 years all my cameras (including film cameras) were very mobile :-)

1 upvote
minzaw
By minzaw (7 months ago)

What about battery discharging so quick with panos??

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

are you serious?

if you are, you can carry a backpack packed with battery and circulating cooler.

1 upvote
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

It doesn't. Sometimes I shoot several dozens of panos with the iPhone 5. No real battery hit.

I don't think the 5s fares much worse in this respect.

0 upvotes
Antimateria
By Antimateria (7 months ago)

Error, excuse me

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Stuart001
By Stuart001 (7 months ago)

Don't get me wrong--I don't mind panoramas, but as Samuel Goldwyn said, 'A widescreen just makes a bad film twice as bad.'

5 upvotes
wetsleet
By wetsleet (7 months ago)

be positive - maybe it also makes a good film twice as good?

7 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

it may depend on if the guy's eyes are horizontally (Europeans), vertically (some East Asians), or independently (lizards) aligned.

1 upvote
M Jesper
By M Jesper (7 months ago)

True for a crop, but not when it's actually that wide a view. Also there are ways to view panorama's full height filling the screen and then panning from left to right. Even better of course is to make a huge wide print and put it on the wall, which will look 100 times better than one touching the ceiling because it has too much height instead of useful width.

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
BBking83
By BBking83 (7 months ago)

Can you take them with the phone being held in landscape orientation?

0 upvotes
rneugebauer
By rneugebauer (7 months ago)

Of course: Landscape orientation of the phone us for vertical panoramas.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Can you take them with the phone being held in landscape orientation?"

Only if you shoot vertical panos.

Otherwise, only third-party apps (for example, AutoStitch Panorama) will allow you to shoot horizontal panos with the iPhone in landscape orientation.

0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (7 months ago)

"Why can't I stop taking panoramas with an iPhone?"
"Because it requires little effort?"
"Yeah, that's it."

7 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (7 months ago)

Absolutely. Easy, great-looking panoramic images in a single capture - what's not to like?

3 upvotes
jose vu
By jose vu (7 months ago)

I am very impressed with the panorama capability of iphone5, actually I'm surprised that it works much better (in panorama mode) than all of my sony camera (5N + some compacts) ... If only the screen were larger ....

1 upvote
Impulses
By Impulses (7 months ago)

Better how? The dynamic exposure is an improvement for sure, but outside of that Sony's Panos are pretty comparable (as far as stitching, ease of use, etc)... Plus with a NEX you can shoot them at any focal length and aperture, which is just as huge as dynamic exposure (which you could always sorta do in post).

Not trying to knock the 5s, but Sony's been doing impressive panos for a while and they popularized the whole sweep method to begin with.

4 upvotes
barry reid
By barry reid (7 months ago)

Got a NEX-6, got an iPhone 4S and carry both fairly often. I use pano a lot on the iPhone but almost never on the NEX. The iPhone is more convenient, 'good enough' for most of what I'd want to do* and it's free from the irritating clacking noise the NEX makes.

* I have a 1D x and 17/24 shift lenses for when I need real quality.

0 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (7 months ago)

Better than my Nex 5N in regards to exposure in these panos.

1 upvote
Jun2
By Jun2 (7 months ago)

much faster than any other phones

0 upvotes
Rodrigue Zahr
By Rodrigue Zahr (7 months ago)

Excellent review. Thanks a lot Barney.
Me too, I'm considering upgrading my iPhone 5 to the new 5S so I can use it as my travel camera when in LA next week. I got a DSLR and wanted a smaller camera for the vacation trip, had many compacts in mind but now I'm thinking that instead of buying a compact I better get the 5S.

1 upvote
sting
By sting (7 months ago)

iPhone 5S gold is still grabbing headlines ...

0 upvotes
Chillbert
By Chillbert (7 months ago)

Barney, thanks for the great article! I absolutely consider the iPhone to be a serious camera for this use case. I have been taking hand-held panoramas for literally decades, and I have always sought out small and light cameras so that I will actually have the camera with me when the panoramic opportunity reveals itself. My first panos were shot on a Yashica Samurai half-frame film camera circa late '80s, where I hand-cut a series of prints with an X-acto knife and taped them together to get the pano. I extended this habit into earlier digital cameras using stitching software. When I bought my Sony Nex-5N, I was thrilled with its panoramic mode... until I started to use my iPhone 5. The ability to capture a spacious scene with the camera in your pocket greatly increases the chance that a panoramic image will be born. I've also found that in good light my iPhone is as good or better than the Sony for my needs. The increase in quality in the 5S is impressive and noteworthy.

2 upvotes
Phil Askey
By Phil Askey (7 months ago)

Just don't upload them to Facebook or Twitter because they'll be downsized to ~1,500 pixels... The only sensible built-in upload option for Panorama's is Flickr.

4 upvotes
madmaxmedia
By madmaxmedia (7 months ago)

Tumblr actually has a really cool implementation for pano's-

0 upvotes
Soupisgoodfood
By Soupisgoodfood (6 months ago)

That's more than enough for most people who just want to quickly share it with friends, which is what smartphone camera is best suited for, anyway.

0 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (7 months ago)

While I am an avid digital photographer, a while ago I bought a Horizon Perfekt panoramic film camera. It is quirky yet gives great results. I discovered that vertical panoramas can be seriously impressive as well.

Of course an iphone is more convivial but the Horizon makes for a nice experience. Worth investigating, it is not that expensive. I plan to take it with me on my holiday trips (next to my digital camera).

0 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (7 months ago)

The iphone can finally take panoramas as any other phone? Good to know.

4 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Show me another phone that is capable of shooting sweep panos this fast and well.

3 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (7 months ago)

Any recent android?

9 upvotes
armandino
By armandino (7 months ago)

While Apple product lovers just care about how well their gadgets works, android lovers are all about comparing to Apple products and criticizing them.
Is this an inferiority complex?

8 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Any recent android?"

The stock Android client produces small panos. The GS4 surely produces a large one but it's pretty much an exception to the rule. For example, the LG G2 produces some 10 Mpixel panos - that is, pretty small.

1 upvote
Knute
By Knute (7 months ago)

Well fortunately Android users aren't limited to stock software and can easily download pano software that can do large panos. Can you do that with any other iPhone?

2 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (7 months ago)

Apple lovers make headlines of features every other phone has. Stop worshiping them, and nobody will criticize you.

2 upvotes
CheetahCJ
By CheetahCJ (7 months ago)

"While Apple product lovers just care about how well their gadgets works, android lovers are all about comparing to Apple products and criticizing them.
Is this an inferiority complex?"

Nope. Fact is though Android phones have done panos for a while now. It's not a huge deal that any phone can do it really. I just say "Welcome to 2012 iPhone users! Took you long enough!" hehe kidding. Enjoy your iPhone, but don't make it's "new" features sound like it was the first to have it.

Wanna see Apple fanboys making fun of Android? Check out MacRumors...Apple's programmed them well to attack anyone who says anything bad about iOS or the iPhone or mentions Google/Samsung/Android. The common attack is "Ewww plastic phones" ... now they can't say anything now that the 5C is plastic...well they'll say "But it's APPLE'S plastic"

Yes they are programmed well!

0 upvotes
CheetahCJ
By CheetahCJ (7 months ago)

"The stock Android client produces small panos. The GS4 surely produces a large one but it's pretty much an exception to the rule. For example, the LG G2 produces some 10 Mpixel panos - that is, pretty small."

Considering most who use the pano feature in mobile phones probably won't be printing them, at least not wall-sized, that point is moot. If you plan on printing wall-sized panos, then you shouldn't be using a mobile phone in the first place.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Well fortunately Android users aren't limited to stock software and can easily download pano software that can do large panos. Can you do that with any other iPhone?"

I myself have only tested the stock pano in Android 4.3 running on the Nexus 7 FHD.

Do you have any recommendations WRT decent pano apps on Android?

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Can you do that with any other iPhone?"

There are a lot of pano apps on iOS. However, none of them can access the camera in a way the stock Camera app does - that is, sweep pano is simply not possible in third-party apps. (Unless you shoot video behind the scenes and, then, stitch video framegrabs. The resulting quality is, of course, pretty bad in that caase.)

Nevertheless, the traditional still stitching-based approach does have a lot of advantages over the sweep panorama employed by the stock iPhone camera client (e.g., variable expsoure on all kinds of iDevices, not only the 5s.)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (7 months ago)

Y'all sound pretty foolish, please tell some of you were just being ironic and reenacting bad fanboy stereotypes... It's not like panos are new to iOS either, they've been available for like a year no?

I do think the dynamic exposure is pretty well executed tho... Certainly seems to cope with varying lighting conditions better than my older Sony HX5. Couldn't tell ya how it compares to the three Android phones I've had since I rarely take panos with them (big Android fan tho), and I haven't tested my Panasonic LF1 enough either.

2 upvotes
Crf450r420
By Crf450r420 (7 months ago)

My first Motorola Droid from 2009 did pano, you sweep and it would snap and stitch them together. Last year I was taking sweep panos 45 feet under water with my Sony TX-20 in and enclosure. I usually have this camera in my other pocket for when I want a good picture. I'll be checking out the 5S because it has the finger print reader I've wanted for over a year now. Not that and the camera will be enough to get me to reduce and limit my storage to only 64GB.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (7 months ago)

You should be able to do sweep panos in 3rd party software on iPhone as well, Microsoft's Photosynth did it ages ago after all.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"You should be able to do sweep panos in 3rd party software on iPhone as well, Microsoft's Photosynth did it ages ago after all."

I don;t recommend Photosynth as it delivers far lower-res final panos than either the sweep pano of the 4s/5/5s or the best AppStore pano apps (DMD, AutoStitch). This applies to both iOS and WP.

See my flickr gallery and other comments linking to some of Photosynth panos I've shot.

0 upvotes
madmaxmedia
By madmaxmedia (7 months ago)

The main point was about the dynamic exposure, not that it can do panoramas. Or did you just rush to post after reading the headline???

0 upvotes
maxnimo
By maxnimo (7 months ago)

Wide-angle-lens panoramas are mostly useless unless you're into goofy art. Image distortions are beyond ridiculous. Plain silly.

0 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (7 months ago)

What's the equivalent focal length for the iPhone 5s lens, like 29mm? Most P&S will lock the lens around there or even wider, I guess that's a nice upside of shooting panos with mirrorless models or any ILC/DSLR in general.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

30mm

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Most P&S will lock the lens around there or even wider,"

Not necessarily. For example, the Nikon P3x0 series locks at around 45-50 mm (see my posts below).

0 upvotes
Soupisgoodfood
By Soupisgoodfood (6 months ago)

Useless for who? Useless for high-end photography, perhaps. But not for most smartphone camera uses.

0 upvotes
thx1138
By thx1138 (7 months ago)

Yes they look great at thumbnail size, then you enlarge the shots especially the concert pano and it's OMG, this impresses people. Base ISO, good light and it's pretty darn good, otherwise IQ falls off a cliff rapidly.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

In low light, as I've explained below several times, you'll want to use non-sweep AppStore camera apps.

0 upvotes
calking
By calking (7 months ago)

Some of you are crazy. It's still possible to use an older DSLR and shoot panoramas. It's called a TRIPOD and STITCHING SOFTWARE.

I'm referring to the whiners below that are bemoaning the fact that their camera doesn't offer this. A panorama isn't magic and you don't need this built into a camera to be able to do I, and do it as well or better than in-camera stuff.

I shoot panos with my Sony rx100 and fuji xe1, but also with a nikon d80 on a tripod if that's what I have with me.

1 upvote
thx1138
By thx1138 (7 months ago)

You don't even need a tripod to get excellent results on a DSLR.

1 upvote
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

Yes, we know this. However, sweep panos have some advantages over panos stitched from 7-15 images; for example, in general, they have fewer stitching errors.

Surely, they have problems as well (I've listed these several times below: bad low light performance, hugely sensitive to flickering e.g. street lights etc).

0 upvotes
mckracken88
By mckracken88 (7 months ago)

there are no stitching errors with modern software. (of course overhead should be at 30 percent for that)

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (7 months ago)

Every Sony DSLR and SLT got sweep-panorama build in since... like... ages.
IDK why all the excitement. Canikon shooters discovered something they didn't know about? lol

1 upvote
madmaxmedia
By madmaxmedia (7 months ago)

RTFA

0 upvotes
berni29
By berni29 (7 months ago)

Hi

I never really thought about this type of photography (panoramas) before reading this article. They always seemed like too much effort. I also did not want an Iphone 5S, but now I am seriously interested!

I am not interested in mobile phones so would not have seen this article on the connect site. But I am interested in photography so am pleased to find it here.

Thank you for posting it.

1 upvote
deleted-13120401
By deleted-13120401 (7 months ago)

it's really convenient. Just a tip that you don't need the iPhone 5s. I've been getting great results on my 5 since the software supported this, and I bet the 4 does it too. In parallel, my windows phone (a Nokia 920) also does it, equally conveniently. So there are choices out there :)

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (7 months ago)

The only 'new' thing here is the dynamic auto exposure - which does really make a difference in some situations. It's something we're hoping to see developed for cameras too, although (for now) I suspect that it's only possible because of the enormous processing power available in top-end smartphones.

3 upvotes
deleted-13120401
By deleted-13120401 (7 months ago)

Right, yes it would make a difference. Thanks!

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (7 months ago)

"Just a tip that you don't need the iPhone 5s. I've been getting great results on my 5 since the software supported this, and I bet the 4 does it too. "

1, the 4 doesn't - 4s (running on at least iOS6) and up only.

2, unfortunately, as Barney has also pointed out, old models don't support dynamic exposure. Also, even the iPhone 5 becomes dreadfully unreliable and slow in very low light. Then, you'll want to stick with AppStore pano apps like AutoStitch Panorama or DMD Panorama, which don't have such issues in low light (they're MUCH faster to shoot with) and produce far better (less noise & brighter) results.

0 upvotes
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