Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Sue Anne Rush
Sue Anne Rush Senior Member • Posts: 3,120
Re: Smartphone Vs Camera / Panoramas (PICS)


As usual - excellent photographs. 

Marco Nero wrote:

Julian Sutherland wrote:

I took my Canon EOS M6 mk2 and a few lenses on a recent trip to the San Juan Islands but did not use it. Here is one of the reasons why: Set the iPhone 11 to "pano" press the button, steadily move the scene around the horizon, stop and press the button again and you have your picture.

With my Canon or any of my other cameras I would have to take several pictures and stitch them together later. With the phone, no problem, fine picture in seconds. I'm not surprised that camera sales are down.

I think I've only posted just a few Panoramas in the 18? years I've been here on the Dpreview forums. It's not often a subject that comes up but I'm glad to have been able to render wide views into a single image in the past. The whole point of a lens like the EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens is to be able to take a single picture that encompass the entire scene... and yet you may not always have that lens on hand.
Your phone, on the other hand, is always likely to be on you. An iPhone 11 is a fairly modern iPhone model and it has a fairly advanced camera onboard. But it's still limited by physics and you'll find there are many things it can't do in relations to general photography. If your camera was lost or stolen or damaged, would it have impacted you as much (or less) than if it had been your camera? I'm sometimes photographing areas that are sensitive to phone transmissions but are fine with my cameras (as long as the WiFi isn't on). I've attended some concerts where people's panoramas (with SmartPhones) were just blurred mush from all the movement and sometimes people complain when the person in front of them is holding up their LCD screen, obscuring the view with their bright illumination. Your camera also tells you to "SLOW DOWN" as you pan and if you're off-center the camera may produce some frightening results. I recently tested the speed of taking three pictures Vs a panorama with the iPhone and it took 10-13 seconds to capture the same amount of the view as my camera took 5 seconds to capture the same view. A guy was walking his dog in frame for the iPhone shot in the direction I was panning... and the dog ended up with 20 pairs of legs.
I also can't use a Phone legally while driving and yet I often see things that I'd like to capture without having to pull the car over. I've learned to shoot one-handed with the EOS Ms - without taking my eyes from the road. And if I'm a passenger I'd be at risk of committing offense if the driver can see my phone screen (yes, that law is finally in place here). When I use my phone camera, it's usually to send pictures to my wife to see if I've found the product she wants me to buy her. I imagine that if I were in a car accident I could take pictures for the insurance company with it.

There's some places you can't use your Phone but you can still use your camera.

I've used my iPhone to take panoramas numerous times but I'm rarely impressed with the results. On occasion it's been acceptable and, in the absence of a wider lens, it's useful. But even on the latest models the distortion and exposure issues (which are to be expected) can be problematic. It's slightly convenient but the image quality is usually poor when there's a bright light source like the sun in frame. Exposure issues are less common than the "centipede scenario" where a moving person or animal may track across the entire frame, resulting in hilarity. I myself have taken pictures just as a vehicle has started moving, resulting in a stretch jeep or an incredibly long taxi with one door. Panoramas as a feature of smartphones are simply the byproduct of the phone camera technology. So it's nice to know it's there if you want it. I took a shot just two weeks ago with mine (before the new lockdown here came into effect). It's handy to have access too although it's always much faster to take three images with a camera+lens than it is to slowly have to pan.
Problems caused by using a Smartphone for Panoramas:
* Aspherical Distortion tends to be very high and unflattering.
* Moving Subjects can produces amusing and horrific distortions.
* Exposure bias often exists where bright light sources are present.
* You risk having your phone snatched in a public place when holding it out.
* It might be a slow process to access your phone's camera.
* In-camera color saturation/rendering might be exotic.
* Artifacts like banding, noise, anti-aliasing, etc can be problematic.
I've actually seen someone slowly panning with their SmartPhone, only to have it snatched from their hands by a thief who ran into a crowd with it. Considering the price of the higher end models with the better cameras, I think I'd prefer to have lost an EOS M instead. But having a decent camera on your SmartPhone means your don't need to have a camera with you everywhere you go. And it also allows you to carry a camera with a longer lens - so you can fall back on the SmartPhone for your wider shots.

The first panorama I ever took was in 1982 with a Canon SLR camera. It was also my first picture with a 35mm film camera. I developed the film myself in my school darkroom.

I can remember taking my first 35mm film shot at school with one of the supplied Canon SLR cameras and shooting a Panorama, which caught the teachers and fellow students off-guard since they had expected me to center the subject (the old car) in the middle of the frame. But I chose to project only this portion of the image onto the photographic paper before cutting off the sky and producing a "wide shot".
Recently we had some VERY peculiar clouds occur in the sky for just half an hour and I only had my iPhone with me because I was walking for exercise at the time. You can see the image directly below. The images I took did not really do the strange sky justice. But this vertical panorama had to be done three times to try and avoid the overexposure from the sun. The middle of the frame has strange horizontal banding from where the camera attempted to stitch the images together and failed to make a smooth transition. The Aspherical Distortion makes the image look strange as well.

iPhone Panorama - taken recently. note the 'Horizontal Banding' in the middle of the frame.

But the first Digital Panorama I made was the image (below) depicting a view over an Island in the Pacific. This was taken with my first personal digital camera, the Canon IXUS (Digital Elph) S100 - which only had a 2MP sensor and was incapable of properly exposing a scene without over-exposing the highlights. It had no stabilization and no manual controls. Literally point-and-click. It didn't even have a Live View LCD on the back. But I knew I might be able to stitch images together later using software so I took a few shots side by side, back in September 2001... just a few weeks after the September 11 attack on America, if I remember correctly. Panoramas were indeed possible but only after merging the images manually in Photoshop.

Taken in 2001 with Canon's 2PM Digital IXUS s100 - with three handheld JPEG images. * Long before Smart Phones and RAW in subcompact cameras ever existed.

Since then, I've enjoyed taking Panoramas with various different digital cameras. Panoramas are often completely unnecessary if you are taking clear images with a wide angle lens. Years ago I had to manually line them up and try the merge them together in Photoshop. Although these days I can just click on either Auto-merge or Script (load files into a stack) to automatically merge the images into a single photograph. It's virtually instant too. Of all the images below, the only one that gave me some grief was one of the large NASA Deep Space Array antenna that was comprised of 4 images. I had to render two sets (4 images) of two and then combined those resulting two images into one. It was still an automatic procedure.
The one thing that modern smartphone (from the last two years or so) can offer is a better result than previous generations when it comes to camera-rendered Panoramas. They still require some sensibility from the user when operating them. The latest crop of iPhones is particularly impressive although the usual disadvantages (see above list) still apply.
Looking back over some of these images together, I can see much more appeal in the panoramas taken with cameras instead of Phone Cameras. I thought I had about three or four images to share but with the range of locations and subject matter, I'm a little surprised at how many Panoramas I've taken over the years. There's been a few times when I have tried to access my iPhone camera to unlock it, only to find that damp fingers caused the phone to remain locked, forcing me to manually type in my passcode and then being confronted by several apps that were left open than needed to be closed or bypassed.... resulting in me missing a shot. The bokeh is bad from most smartphones as a matter of physics although you can fake it with some modern cameras. Unfortunately the fake bokeh filters still cant identify glass well enough to mask it from the background, resulting in abysmally embarrassing shots where the subject itself was masked out. But this is more about Panoramas so have a look at the sorts of images I've been photographing in Panoramic views in recent years:
I normally avoid posting more than 10 images in a single post (as per the site's founder's request). The reason no hard limit is applied is for rare instances like this. These images are slim so you can scroll past them quickly. My iPhone sample panoramas are at the bottom of the post.

Taken with a tiny Canon PowerShot S400 - with three handheld JPEG images auto stitched.

Taken with the Canon EOS Ra + RF 85mm f/1.2L USM lens - shot last year.

A two-shot vertical panorama - with the EOS M6 + super-wide EF-M 11-22mm lens. One shot for the land, then rotated the CPL filter and shot the Sky.

Sunset shot from a gap in the wall of a carpark

Sydney Harbor Bridge with three shots.

Three shot Panorama with the EOS M - showing the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds.

My view from the local Pie In The Sky cafe.

Hawaii - A three shot panorama with the Canon PowerShot Pro1 compact camera.

Three shot Panorama of the Milky Way core - EOS Ra + RF 85mm f/1.2L USM lens.

An 18 shot photograph producing the 'Brenizer Effect' (AKA Bokeh Panorama).

A wide view of the NASA Deep Space Communication Array in Canberra (Australia)

My first and last RAW photograph with the Canon Pro1 - Noctilucent Clouds over Canada - 2004.

A 2.5 vertical image Panorama in the Goldfields - Golden Gully, NSW.

A rather wide Panorama - EF-M 32mm f/1.4 lens during day 1 of testing (EOS M6)

A three-shot Panorama from the EOS R6 + EF 85mm f/1.2L lens

2-shot vertical Panorama of the old 1870s bakery at Hill End (EOS M + 28mm Macro lens).

A 4-shot panorama - from the Barrenjoey peninsula (NSW) - PowerShot S400.

Morning Storm. Behind me was nothing but blue sky. EOS 6D + EF 85mm f/1.2L II lens.

A panned shot/burst of a Fruit-Bat drinking water. - EOS 6D.

I think this was taken with the IXUS 870is

Panorama from a property in Qurindi (NSW) - taken with the Canon PowerShot G1X

An ultra-wide multi shot Panorama taken when testing the EF-M 28mm f/3.5 lens.

Panorama of Sydney from the Zoo - EOS 6D + EF 100-400mmL II lens

I guess I could have "corrected" this... a multi indoor pano with the EF-M 11-22mm lens.

A dried out river in the Goldfields - EOS M

My neighbor's Christmas lights.

In the goldfields with the EOS M camera

A tornado storm behind our car - Alberta, Canada - Canon PowerShot Pro1.

My view after Breakfast at a seaside cafe - EOS 6D + EF 100-400mmL II

Hiking south of Sydney with the EOS M + EF-M 28mm Macro

It's actually a panorama... with the EF 135mm f/2 lens.

Testing the EOS R6 camera with a wide EF 24mmL lens.

Three or four shot Sunset Panorama - EOS M6 + EF-M 32mm f/1.4 lens

Two-shot Panorama with the EOS M + EF-M 22mm lens

Three shot Panorama (trimmed) with the EOS M

Too wet to get out of the car. Would have been an offense to take this shot with my Phone.

A super-wide view of the rocks at the end of my beach.

Wet Day with a Crimson-orange sunset - EOS M + EF 24mm f/1.4L II lens.

Only a 5-shot panorama would capture this scene for me. EOS M + 28mm Macro.

A three shot panorama in the State Forrest.

3 shot Panorama with the EOS 6D + EF 100-400mmL II lens.

A 3.5-shot horizontal panorama - EOS M6 + EF-M 32mm f/1.4 lens

Panorama of a creek in the Canadian Rockies - PowerShot Pro1.

This dish is 70 meters across so I needed 4x shots to get this scene in frame. This was the only image I've had trouble merging automatically into a panorama for some reason.

A two-shot vertical panorama at max zoom. EOS R6 + EF 100-400mmL II + 1.4x II Extender.

A three-shot panorama with the EOS M + EF 135mm f/2 USM lens.

Two-shot horizontal panorama at min zoom. EOS R6 + EF 100-400mmL II + 1.4x III Extender.

Flat Water at dawn in Gosford - with the Canon PowerShot G1X

A golden hour view of the Goldfield town of Sofala (Australia) - PowerShot G11

Two shot Panorama with the EOS R6 + RF 85mm f/1.2L USM lens

Three shot vertical Panorama with the EOS R6 + EF 24mmL lens.

2 Shot vertical Panorama. My second Panorama with a digital camera - shot with the original Canon Digital Elph S100 (2000 model) - taken over the Canadian Rockies as I flew home by myself in a light aircraft ... on the way to an international jet in Vancouver.

A panorama of the district of Oberon (NSW) - Canon PowerShot G1X

A three shot vertical panorama - with the PowerShot Pro1 - (Canada)

iPhone Panorama - displaying issues with exposure bias

iPhone Panorama - displaying issues with aspherical distortion

iPhone Panorama - the usual problem with exposure and distortion.

iPhone Panorama - not a bad result. Some exposure issues with the top left corner.

iPhone Panorama - with an attempt to slightly correct the distortion.

iPhone Panorama - Prince Alfred Park (formerly 'Executioner's Green') - Parramatta.

iPhone Panorama - the Norah Head Lighthouse (sky has been repaired)

iPhone Panorama - In the mountains during the 2019/2020 Australian bushfires.

iPhone Panorama - One of the better panoramas from the iPhone - Volcanic basalt outcrop

-- hide signature --

Sue Anne Rush

 Sue Anne Rush's gear list:Sue Anne Rush's gear list
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
(unknown member)
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow