The iPhone built-in camera can provide surprisingly good results. But since it's a fixed focal length lens, capturing the breath of big scenes can be difficult. Panorama stitching software can solve the problem by enabling you to take a series of images, either vertically or horizontally, then stitch them together to make one big picture. I've been testing Panorama by the iFone Guys, and does a great job of extending the capability of my 1st generation iPhone camera.
When you first fire up the application, you're asked if you want to capture in landscape or portrait mode. This is a newish feature by the iFone Guys, and one that I much appreciate. I often like to capture in portrait mode because I feel the final images often look more realistic and less "pano."
Once you choose your mode, you take a picture. Start at one end of the scene (Panorama will let you add photos in either direction). You get a preview of the image and are asked if you want to keep it. If yes, then you're provided with another screen that asks if you want to take another shot, and if so, in which direction. You're presented with a live camera again, but this time with a 1/3 overlay from the previous shot. Line it up with the next shot, and take another picture. Keep repeating this process until you have all of the images you need for your panorama.
Then click the Finish button. You're presented with three output options. If you're shooting in Portrait mode, the options will be something like this for a 2-shot pano: 675x570, 900x760, or 1350x1140 -- add more pictures for more resolution. Tap the option you want, and Panorama builds your final image and saves it to your photo album. At this point, you can click the Done button, or go back and start another panorama.
The stitching is phenomenal with this application. The above shot from a Santa Barbara shopping center is composed of 4 images captured in portrait mode using Panorama. You can see the full resolution version of it on my Flickr page. Click the "All Sizes" button and view the original size (1600 pixels wide). There's only one stitching flaw that I can see, and that happened because someone moved the chair during the sequence.
You can also read more about Panorama on the iFone Guys web site. It is the most expensive iPhone application I've purchased at $9.99. But it works as advertised, and it has really extended my picture taking ability with the iPhone built-in camera.
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