How to Shoot Panoramic Photos on an iPhone

The need for panoramic photos is on the rise, so much in fact that even phones are getting in on the action. Whether it’s real-estate tours or just wider snapshots to capture the memories, panos are seeing much more play.

If you search the term pano in the App Store, you’ll get many hits… but the first result is often the best.

One of my favorite iPhone apps is simply called Pano.  Made by Debacle Software (http://debaclesoftware.com) it is both easy and elegant.

Simply fire up the app and take your first picture. The user interface is very simple and easy to understand.

(Please note… taking screenshots on an iPhone involves ninja thumb-work of pushing all the physical buttons at once.  Hence a little shake in the “demo” photos).

Next the application shows you a sliver of the previous image as a ghosted overlay.  This helps you align the image and take the next photo. If you get interrupted by a phone call or bad button push, you can relaunch the app and resume shooting from where you left.

Keep panning and snapping until you have all of the photos you want. You can take up to 360˚ photos with sixteen source images.

Click the check mark button when done and choose merge.

Pano quickly merges the photo.  In my own tests I found it very good at dealing with motion as well as exposure tone.  The app can fix color variations and makes a believable merge.

Yes…  it’s a lame test shot…  but it has lots of clutter, shadows, and even a moving subject.  

Here’s a tough shot where the distance to subject was simply across the table.  The merge point was down the middle of the subject (3 exposures were used).  The blend is quite good even for a lowlight shot.

You probably won’t go printing on canvas, but they make great images for web and multimedia uses.  The final images produced are up to 6800×800 pixels.

Even has built in tips to get better results.

The app is currently on sale in the iTunes app store for $1.99

http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/debacle-software/id293709032

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This post sponsored by Adorama – More than a camera store

About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on July 13, 2011, in Gear, Panoramic and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I have used quite a few of these iPhone panorama apps and I have to say the best to date is a Microsoft product called Photosynth.

    You just pan the camera without having to take individual photos and it stitches the view together for you. And best of all, its FREE!!!!

  2. I have to agree that Photosynth is the best I have used. Not only does it execute very well, but the photosynth website will allow you to upload, share and embed your photos anywhere you want!

  3. Photosynth is free on iPhone does the same (plus the 3d like view) and let you upload them to PhotoSynth.net and Facebook :)

    • Richard Harrington

      I like Photosynth too… I just think that Pano does a better job for some situations.

      1. Less distortion.
      2. Higher resolution
      3. Better blending
      4. Better lowlight performance.

      But since having both will set you back less than $5… go for it.

  4. Did a blog post on phone panoramas a while back… Not with an iPhone, but close enough:

    http://www.wolfnowl.com/2011/01/cell-phone-cameras/

    Mike.

  5. Nice app, Thanks for the information, i will try soon.

  6. I have to disagree with everybody. AutoStitch is way better (also $1.99). It lets you take pics outside of the app and select them from your Library. So if you don’t have time to do the whole panoramic right then you can do it later. It lets you shoot out of order, multiple rows, keeps original resolutions, has different levels of accuracy it does it depending on how long you want it to take, does a MUCH better job of curving the images so you don’t get weird breaks, you can do fish-eye/wide-angle-type pics in tight places, and exports to your Library, Facebook, AND Twitter. I had Pano and took it off my iPhone after using AutoStitch. Cannot say enough good things about this app. Love it.
    Example:

    IMG_3440

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