App Roundup: Panorama apps for the iPhone
Apple’s latest software update, iOS 6, adds panorama functionality to the native camera app for iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 users as well as fifth generation iPod Touch owners. Several third party panorama apps already exist in the App Store. Has Apple rendered these apps obsolete for iOS 6 users?
To find out, I took a look at the capabilities of four of the most popular panorama apps and then compared their image quality against the built-in iOS 6 option in three common shooting situations, all shot using my iPhone 4S. These are the apps I chose:
- Pano (version 4.5) Debacle Software, $1.99/£ 1.49
- Photosynth (version 1.1.4) Microsoft, free
- DMD (version 2.3) Dermandar, $.99/£0.69
- 360 Panorama (version 4.2) Occipital, $.99/£0.69
Let's take a look at the interface and features of each app, beginning with the native iOS 6 camera app.
Panorama mode - iOS 6 Camera app
Let's start with what you get 'straight out of the box' with an iPhone 4S or 5, running iOS 6. When you open the camera app, tap 'Options' on the top of the screen and you will see a Panorama button. Tap that and you will be returned to the capture screen which now has a panorama outline for you to follow (see below).
iOS’s panorama capture locks the exposure on the first frame, so if you are in a mixed-light situation, parts of your scene may be over- or underexposed. You can manually set where the app locks exposure and focus by tapping the screen before you start your panorama.
Maximum output is a 28 megapixel, 10,800 x 2332 resolution image for a 240 degree image capture in either landscape or portrait mode, with a 16-second capture time.
Pano has by far the most labor-intensive interface of the apps covered here. Instead of using the iPhone’s accelerometer to measure the viewing angle, Pano relies solely on the user to manually line up the photos. Tap the camera icon on the bottom of the screen to take your first image. You will then see the shot you've just taken superimposed over the scene as a low-opacity layer on the left of your screen. You use to this to align the next image.
Be aware that Pano resets exposure and focus for each individual shot in your panorama series. You can tap to re-focus before taking additional photos. But there is no way to lock your exposure for successive images.
Pano claims a 24 MP, 4.6 mb output is possible, though I was unable to achieve those results. Capture times took as long as 3:10, and both landscape and portrait capture is possible.
In Photosynth, you start your panorama by simply tapping the screen. From here, you are basically painting your panorama on a black and white checkered grid. It takes about a minute to capture each panorama.
Depending on how many photos you are using for your panorama, stitching will either be near instantaneous or take several seconds. The result is what Microsoft calls a 'full-sphere panorama.' Viewing the panorama in-app is stunning as you can navigate the scene virtually (see a cool example of one from Pulpit Rock, Stavanger, Norway ). Photosynth maker Microsoft says the app is limited to panoramas of about 5.5 megapixels for a full sphere.
Upon export, though, the photos loose a bit of their magic as they are flattened to a typical 2.5 MB for a 4096 x 2048 flat image with a lot of distortion. Photosynth does not crop your panorama, so you have some jagged edges to clean up in your photo.
By default, Photosynth resets exposure for each individual photo of your panorama. In mixed-light situations, this can make your scene more evenly exposed, but may also cause seams in the stitching. Alternatively, you can lock the exposure on the first frame by going into settings and choosing the 'Exposure lock on' option.
Capture time takes as long as 1:20, depending on the scene. Both landscape and portrait orientation panoramas are possible.
DMD (Dermandar Panorama)
To being your panorama, tap the Start button on the bottom of the screen. Next, turn your phone slowly from either left to right or right to left to connect the yin-yang shaped icons that appear at the top of the screen.
By default, DMD resets exposure for every photo in the panorama. But you actually have two options for locking exposure. Just tap the sun-shaped icon on the home screen. The 'Locked' option will lock exposure based on your current image, ignoring the brightness levels of the various panorama photos. Choose 'Locked on start' to lock exposure on the first frame of your panorama.
The app produces a max 10.6 MP/1.6 mb image. Capture time is around 40 seconds for a full 360 degree image, but only in portrait mode.
Much like Photosynth, 360 Panorama allows you to paint your panorama onto a grid. You start the panorama by tapping the circular icon on the bottom of the screen. From there, you move your iPhone slowly across the scene and 360 will automatically take photos and add them to your scene.
The 360 Panorama app locks exposure on the first frame. But unlike the iOS panorama, you cannot tap to choose the point on which to lock exposure.
My highest image output was 4.2 MP and 1.7 mb. Both orientations are possible, and capture time took up to 1:30.
Summary: Interface and features
For simplicity, you cannot beat Apple's native panorama option in iOS 6. There is no guesswork; you simply open the app, tap and pan. The iOS app can't match the more advanced spherical panorama capabilities of Photosynth and 360 Panorama, however, and it lacks the additional exposure lock option found in DMD.
Next, let's take a look at the actual images.
|Saddle Bronc by Gerry Frederick|
from horsing around
|diamonds are forever by summicron|
|Reflections by Birdman50|
from No 6
After shaking up the Lightroom ecosystem with Lightroom CC last year, Adobe has released version 2.0 of the cloud-centric photo organizer and editor. We look at new features like People View, how far Lightroom CC has come in its first year, and where Lightroom is headed.
Today, at Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe previewed Photoshop CC on iPad, a full-featured, desktop-class version of Photoshop for iOS.
The weather and has most definitely taken a turn toward fall here, and our shooting opportunities have followed suit. We brought the Canon RF 35mm F1.8 along to a harvest festival of sorts and a few of our usual haunts.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed House Bill 1346 into effect, which imposes a fine upwards of $300 to drone operators who invade the privacy or harm the physical wellbeing of citizens.
Sigma is a company in flux, but CEO Kazuto Yamaki is undaunted by the upcoming prospect of developing lenses for eight lens mounts. The challenge will be keeping the company's identity along the way.
If you've been meaning to convert all of your old photos, video, and audio to digital formats, but simply lack the time or willpower to get through it all, a new service from Kodak will help you get the job done.
Almost all new cameras include impressive video features, but for the best results you'll often need an off-camera recorder. Chris and Jordan take a look at the brand new Ninja V from Atomos, and explain why it might just be one of the most useful tools you can add to your camera.
Collect allows you to transform 360-degree into a more easily digestible format by transforming it into directed traditional videos.
Sick of using your plain ol' keyboard to edit your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop? TourBox is hoping to expedite your post-production workflow using a clever combination of dials, buttons, and knobs.
Bag and accessory manufacturer Hex has launched two bags as part of its latest collection: the Clamshell Backpack and DSLR Sling.
Crank out instant photos with Holga Digital's new analog printer, currently being funded on Kickstarter.
We got some hands-on time with Leica's new S3 medium format camera, which boasts a new higher-res sensor as well as other improvements.
Luna Display started its life as a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter. Now, it's available to purchase directly online.
We sat down with the Google Pixel camera team to learn about key new camera features on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, and an explanation of the sophisticated software advancements that power them.
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday claims the cameras in Apple's iPhone 7 Plus and newer dual-camera models infringe on a patent that was granted in 2003.
Nikon's Coolpix P1000 has moved the zoom needle from 'absurd' to 'ludicrous,' with an equivalent focal length of 24-3000mm. So far, it's a fun camera to shoot with – if a bit over the top.
Like the LG V40 ThinQ the A9 combines a super-wide-angle, regular wide-angle and tele camera, but adds a depth-sensor to the mix as well.
The FAA has issued a warning to drone pilots in anticipation of disaster response following Hurricane Michael, noting that fines for interfering with emergency operations can exceed $20,000.
According to a report from Fortune, Apple acquired Danish masking technology startup Spektral in December 2017 for "more than $30 million."
Insta360's latest model comes with a range of features that allow for the creation of unique action cam footage.
The Photogrip can be used as a camera grip, mini tripod or phone stand and comes with a detachable remote.
At a time when manufacturers are adding triple and even quad-cameras to their flagship smartphones, Google is sticking with one main camera. But given the sophistication of the company's computational efforts, we think it's the right approach for now.
DPReview is hiring! We're seeking three Software Development Engineers at a range of experience levels to join our Seattle-based team.
The University of Dayton Research Institute created a video detailing what damage is caused when a drone strikes the wing of an airplane.
Lenovo's upcoming high-end smartphone will be the first model to feature four cameras on the back.
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL offer a second front-facing camera and a host of improved computational features such as digital zoom based on super-resolution capture, better depth mapping and a fill-light effect for low light portraits.
Canon has ported a large chunk of its Digital Photo Professional (DPP) Raw processing software's feature set to iOS and launched the DPP Express app.
The Panasonic LX100 II offers a higher-resolution sensor over its predecessor, but it's the addition of a touchscreen that makes the Mark II so gosh-darn enjoyable to shoot with. We've got some fresh samples from Panasonic's new premium compact camera.
Sony has announced a new "Alpha Female" program, a creator-in-residence opportunity that will award six-month grants to five female filmmakers and photographers.
The new 490, 492 and 492LCD are targeted at amateur photographers and come with a 4kg/8.82lbs payload.