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.
The Profot B10 is the first studio flash system that can be used when shooting with an iPhone camera.
The Pixii camera is an interesting little rangefinder camera that features a 12MP APS-C sensor and lacks a rear LCD display, opting instead to pair with your mobile device, which can be used to view and transfer images.
Sirui is launching an Indiegogo campaign for a wide-angle answer to its existing 50mm F1.8 anamorphic lens. The 35mm APS-C lens will come in a Micro Four Thirds mount with adapters for other systems.
Sony has added a 12-24mm F2.8 to its top-shelf 'G Master' series of lenses. It's the widest constant F2.8 zoom currently offered for full-frame, with a hefty price tag to match: it will sell for $3000 when it ships in mid-August.
Take a look at the view from Sony's new ultra-wide F2.8 zoom – we paired it with the a7R IV for some initial shooting.
Canon's EOS-1D X Mark III is one of the best DSLRs ever made. With fast burst speeds, great video quality and impressive autofocus, the 1D X III is equal parts cinema rig and sports shooter. Find out how it fares against steep competition in our full review.
Nikon Rumors is reporting that Nikon will announce successors to its Z6 and Z7 camera systems by the end of the calendar year.
Canon says the event, set to take place at 14:00 CEST in two days on July 9, will be its 'biggest product launch yet.'
The Verge Video Director, Becca Farsace, shows how she built a custom Raspberry Pi camera with effectively zero coding knowledge over the course of just three days.
The EOS R5 has been in the works for some time, and Canon has published a handful of specifications, but there's still plenty we don't know. What are you hoping to see from Canon's forthcoming flagship camera?
Canon's CE-SAT-IB satellite camera was destroyed alongside six other satellites during Rocket Lab's ironically-named 'Pics or It Didn't Happen Mission.'
This sample gallery includes images from our recent review of the Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD zoom lens. Check out these photos to see how it performs, from wide-angle to telephoto and everything in between.
The Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD provides a wide zoom range in compact, weather-sealed design. Find out why it's Chris and Jordan's new favorite travel lens.
Kodak Portra 800 is a wonderful and versatile color film. And any rumors of it being discontinued, we're pleased to report, are simply untrue. That's a good thing, because it's capable of producing lovely results in all sorts of conditions.
Boering has left the World Press Photo without much of an explanation from either him or the organization, but he tells DPReview the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the WPP to change the way it makes money.
The standard-size deck of playing cards features unique photography-oriented artwork and act as cheat sheets for photographers.
The Sony ZV-1 and Panasonic Lumix DC-G100 are the first cameras we've seen that are overtly designed with vlogging in mind – and the changes they represent could have implications for the future of all cameras.
The utility allows the E-M1X, E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III and E-M5 Mark II cameras to be used with video conferencing apps over USB.
Olympus is showing final images of its under-development 150-400mm F4.5, which it says will arrive this winter. An unspecified macro and 8-25mm F4 Pro have also been added to the lens roadmap, and the E-M1X's AF gains bird detection.
The scam, which involves sending fake copyright violation notices, has been circulating on the social media platform since at least June 9.
Fujifilm is one of just two producers of tape media (the other being Sony) and it is hard at work on a breakthrough that will allow single tape storage drives to offer 400TB capacities in the coming years.
The National Parks Service says it's investigating the incident, which took place just two days after the park opened following a shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professional full frame lenses are usually large and have fast apertures. In this episode of DPReview TV, Chris and Jordan argue that there's a need for slow professional lenses – inspired by some of their favorite Micro Four Thirds lenses.
The camera maker joins Olympus, Fujifilm and others is a legal tussle over US digital camera technology patents held by DigiMedia Tech.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) photographs the sun every 0.75 seconds. In its first decade in space, the SDO has captured more than 425 million images of the sun. NASA has compiled these images into an amazing time lapse, come check it out.
The lens is available for Leica M, Sony FE, Nikon Z and L-mount camera systems, and now holds the title as the world's widest rectilinear lens for full-frame camera systems.
Tamron's new 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 is a versatile zoom lens for Sony E-mount. Well-suited for travel photography, it's compact, lightweight, and fast/quiet to focus.
Fujifilm has announced that its GF 30mm F3.5 R WR wide-angle lens for its medium format cameras will ship in late July or early August.
Fujifilm's latest lens is a sharp, reasonably compact and well-built wide-angle for the company's GFX medium-format cameras. We took it out and about in the warm Seattle summer with the company's 50 and 100 Megapixel camera bodies to see what it can do.
Fujifilm has issued firmware updates to the GFX 100 and GFX 50 models, with the 100MP camera gaining the most significant improvements.