Dec 28, 2011 — by: Karl Johnson
Categories: iOS Applications, iPhone

Smart-phones have been replacing point-n-shoots as the main camera for most people. The iPhone is the most popular smart-phone and has one of the best cameras. The camera is even more useful with the applcations in the App Store.

Applications in the App Store augment the camera features to create some amazing effects. One of those effects are panoramas, which takes multiple pictures and stitches them together. There are a number of panoramic tools in the App Store, and we are going to look at which is the best one.

The four applications that were a part of this test are Photosynth, 360, Pano, and AutoStitch. These four are broken up into two groups. One group automatically takes the pictures and stitches them together in real time. The other group has the user take the pictures and the application stitches them together after all the pictures have been taken. Each group has some interesting features and with both there are advantages and disadvantages.

Photosynth and 360 stitch the panoramas on the fly. All the user has to do is to pan around and the appication will take care of the rest. The method is fast and easy to use, but the output is poor with lots of seams or problem areas between each photo. These applications cannot be recommended because of the unacceptable photo quality.

Pano and AutoStitch processes the panorama after all the images have been taken. While this is slower, it produces a much better result. The disadvantage is the users have to take each picture. Each photo should include about a third of the previous photo to get the best results. Pano gives a transparent guide of the previous photo to help the user when taking the next one. While this is nice, it does slow down the process since users will try to line things up. Pano also can only process photos that were take in the line, creating a long panoramic. AutoStitch allows for multiple lines of images to create a much larger panorama. It does not have a transparent guide, but that can be an advantage. All the users have to do is grab a bunch of photos without panning around too fast and AutoStitch will produce a really nice panoramic.

While Photosynth and 360 can be fun to use, the results are not acceptable. Pano produces a better result, but the panoramas are long and narrow. AutoStitch produces the best results and is still pretty easy to use. AutoStitch is the best panoramic tool for the iPhone and it is $1.99 in the App Store.

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