I’ve been reading about and trying out a couple of panorama apps for the iPhone that let you merge multiple photos from the iPhone’s camera into one larger image. The two that I’ll be talking about here are Autostitch and Pano. Both are very simple to use and both have individual strengths and weaknesses that I will attempt so address. If you’re already familiar with how panorama images are created, bare with me for a moment here.
The way these apps work is they take a bunch of photos and look at the area that overlaps in order to put them together like you would put together a puzzle – match up the edges. Keeping this in mind, that you need to match up the edges, there is an optimum amount of overlap, and the overlapping area needs to look as close to the same in each other image that it overlaps with.
The first app I’ll address is Pano.
In Pano, you take the photo from within the app and only need to worry about overlap on one side. It only allows for overlap on one side, and gives you a transparent overlay for you to match up as you move the iPhone to take the next image. This makes it super easy to use and easy to produce good, clean panoramas. You want to hold the iPhone still and rotate it around a point as you take the photos in order to keep the perspective the same in each image. This is easier to do as the subject(s) in the photo are farther away. The best is scenery that is far away from you, but it is possible to match things up that are closer.
Here’s an image made with Pano:
The second app is Autostitch.
Autostitch is more flexible than pano in that you can have overlapping images in all directions – up, down, right and left. The built-in camera app is used to take images to be used in Autostitch. After the images have been captured, you tell Autostitch which images to use for building the panorama image.
You can shoot horizontal and vertical images without needing to tell Autostitch what you’re doing. What this means is that you can get a super wide-angle image, similar to what you would get with a fish eye lens, but without the extreme distortion. You can also create the horizontal panoramas, just like you can in Pano. This does make Autostitch a bit more complicated and a bit tougher to get a good clean image than Pano, but it’s still pretty easy to do.
Here’s an image made with Autostitch, showing off the super-wide angle capabilities:
Note that you could have made the first example image in either Pano or Autostitch, but you can only make images like the second in Autostitch. Autostitch also gives you the option to crop the images, or to leave them as they are from within the app. This only requires the tap of the crop button.
If you’re not sure about making Panoramas, but want to give it a try, I would lean towards Pano, but only slightly. If you are willing to experiment a bit to figure out how the app works best, Autostitch is more flexible, but will require some trial and error to get really clean panorama images. I will say after using both that Pano taught me how to shoot better images for Autostitch.
Let me know in the comments what you think and if you have tried either of these apps or perhaps a different iPhone panorama app.
Pano website link >>
Autostitch website link >>
I’m definitely becoming much more astute with Autostitch and find if to be quite flexible and to my liking. One nice aspect of shooting multiple images, especially on the 3Gs, is that you get to expose properly for the subject that is in the frame at that moment. Take for instance a shot with a bright sky and a foreground in shadow. Normally you would have to do an HDR or sacrifice one or the other. On the 3Gs, I touch the area to focus on and set the exposure for and all is well. So far I have seen remarkable results in high contrast situations such as this: