App Attack #016: Panorama Spectacular

App Attack #016: Panorama Spectacular

App Attack #016: Panorama Spectacular

Taking photos with your smartphone is so common today it just makes sense for advanced imaging features to make their way onto the mobile. Especially with the iPhone and its vast ecosystem of apps, which have made it that much easier to snap a picture and edit it on the spot.

With the coming of Apple's iPhone 4S and iOS 5's integrated image editing features such as red-eye reduction and image cropping, we take a look at imaging apps which help you get much more out of your iPhone. This issue of App Attack is all about taking panorama pictures.


360 Panorama

Price: US$1.99
Category: Photo & Video
Developer: Occipital, LLC

 

360 Panorama almost lives up to its name. Instead of shooting a straight, panning shot of a landscape, it also lets you shoot slightly above and below the frame to create a more comprehensive landscape. It provides a useful circular grid to help you do that, and the app is exceptionally fast when shooting images – simply move your iPhone around and the app captures images automatically. There are limited options after capture, but this app is as easy to use as they come.

360 Panorama is easy to use, but a downside is that there are no additional tweaks for the final output besides crop. It’s also the only app which doesn’t crop the final image automatically; you can choose to apply a crop manually or leave it uncropped and create a panorama with various curved edges against a plain background. If you’re shooting only a straight pan, you end up with better results than if you try filling in the upper and lower angles, which tend to create distortion.

 

  


Autostitch Panorama

Price: US$1.99
Category: Photo & Video
Platforms: Cloudburst Research

Unlike most other panorama apps, AutoStitch Panorama isn’t an app you use to take panorama images with; it’s an app you use to stitch existing photos into a single panorama. That comes with its own advantages and disadvantages: you don’t get a guide to help you take your images, but you gain more control over your shots since you’re using the native Camera app (or any other camera app). Because of that, you can determine where the focal points should be, adjust the metering, and even shoot and merge an HDR panorama together.

AutoStitch has average performance but does have some plus points. For one, you actually get to keep your original single shots since you don’t shoot them in-app. That’s useful for when a panorama doesn’t stitch according to plan and you want to have the original images to keep. For another, the app is dead simple to use. You can’t post-process the final output in any way, you can only crop the final stitch, which means that you won’t be able to change anything like brightness or contrast unless you use another app to then edit the panorama.

 

 


Pano

Price: US$1.99
Category: Photo & Video
Developer:  Debacle Software
Like 360 Panorama, Pano’s interface is straightforward – just choose your orientation and press Shoot. Unlike 360 Panorama however, Pano doesn’t come with any guides. Instead, after each shot it displays a transparent silver of the edge of the previous photo on the side, and you have to align the present shot with that edge. It can get complicated. Noticing small details on a transparent bar and aligning those details to the real-world on the 3.5” display of the iPhone can be really difficult.

Pano produces some of the best stitching results, producing clean panoramas with mostly smooth seams. It’s not perfect, but none of the apps do a perfect job each time, and it gets most of the shots right. Pano produces a cropped image automatically. You also can’t do any final tweaks of your photo before you export it, so you’ll have to rely on other apps to post-process the exported panorama.

 


Panoramatic 360

Price: US$0.99
Category: Photo & Video
Developer: Andrea Esposito
Panoramatic 360 offers up some impressive functionality, but the caveat is that it takes more time to learn – you really should go through the tutorial first – and it’s slow, the slowest app of them all in fact. There’s a useful Auto mode you can use when shooting a panorama; it shows you a triangular target which you align to when panning for the next shot. And in manual mode, a gyroscope graphic helps you keep level with your previous shots, using the same transparent edge method as Pano’s. It crams a lot more controls into the small space, making it a powerful, but not elegantly designed app.

Panoramatic 360 is a powerful app with the most options for output, with the ability to tweak settings like brightness, contrast, and compression quality. It even comes with auto exposure correction, which tries to normalize the difference in exposure levels between different shots. The final images aren’t always perfect, you might still see differences in exposure and white balance across the final panorama, but it does help to get more seamless panoramas.