Apple's iOS 6 Camera app turns Panoramas on their head

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
When Apple showed off its new Panorama feature in iOS 6, it didn't even demonstrate half of its capabilities--specifically the ability to capture vertical panoramas.

The unveiling of the new Panorama feature in iOS 6's Camera app left many observers unimpressed because they failed to see anything new. After all, there are already plenty of pano apps to choose from in the App Store.

However, as noted in the previous segment, Apple's new iOS 6 Camera app makes Panorama capture easy, Apple isn't just seeking to muscle into territory already staked out by third party apps, but is instead introducing Panorama as a new camera feature intended to capture something different.

Rather than outputting conventional, low resolution dynamic panos, Camera app's Panorama mode captures images as huge as 10,800x2332 and that weigh in at around 16.8MB. Note again that the example images below are highly compressed.

Putting the camera in camera phone

From humble beginnings on the first iPhone, which took only the most basic of photos, Apple has (particularly since the release of iPhone 4) become both a leading camera phone maker and a top innovator in mobile optics, geotagging and photo enhancing software ranging from iPhoto to iMovie.

In fact, the top two cameras of the Flickr Community are the iPhone 4S followed by iPhone 4, with the rest of the top five being the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and REBEL T2i and Nikon D90 (three models that cost around $600-$1500). Among the top smartphones on Flickr, Apple owns four of the top five spots with the iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS and 3G.

So when Apple adds a feature to its camera phones, it's kind of a big deal. It also doesn't happen too often. The last time the company significantly improved its Camera app software was the addition of HDR and face recognition, which were based upon its multimillion dollar acquisitions of IMSense and Polar Rose, respectively.

The Panorama feature in iOS 6 is the latest example of Apple's use of sophisticated software to enhance photos and work around the limitations inherent in mobile device cameras.

Panoramas looking up

While the last segment focused on horizontal Panoramas, Apple's new software is also designed to capture vertical panoramas, sometimes called a "vertorama." These are a bit tricker to capture, since it's more natural to pan from left to right than it is to sweep from the ground up (particularly if you keep going through a full 240 degrees, requiring a yoga-trained back bend).

The results, however, can be spectacular, even downright mindbendingly strange. Here's what one such vertical panorama looks like standing under the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, near Fort Baker, looking toward San Francisco. It was taken at an odd angle to the bridge deck, resulting in a twisted perspective.



More examples follow.


While horizontal panoramas capture an expected horizon of details, vertical panoramas let your camera look way up to portray the epic nature of buildings, trees, and other tall landmarks that can otherwise be difficult to adequately capture in a single shot.

As the previous article noted, panorama capture in iOS 6 acts more like a virtual wide angle or fisheye lens, but with less distortion and with greater detail in the resulting image. That's because you're melding several photographs together, rather than just optically compressing more detail into a single shot.



The above example of San Francisco's Transamerica Pyramid with Francis Ford Coppola's copper covered Sentinel Building in the foreground shows what you can do with a partial vertical panorama.

If you stand in Columbus Avenue and bend over backward, you can take a full vertical panorama that captures not just the Pyramid looking straight ahead, but also Columbus looking behind you to the northwest.



Get a little closer to the Pyramid and you can wildly distort both its leggy foundation and the surrounding street grid.




Sharing Panoramas is as easy as any other image. Send one via SMS or iMessage and they'll appear either wide or tall (as shown below). Oddly enough however, when you browse panoramic images in your iOS photo library, they're depicted as uniform squares, making them harder to select from.

Apple should badge them with an Panorama indicator or simply depict them in your library with at least some black letterboxing.



At Embarcadero Center, a vertical panorama captures the imposing height of two of its towers while also grounding the buildings with the iconically round brickwork of the plaza level.




In this shot at San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza, the Embarcadero Hyatt Regency and other buildings of Market Street appear to float above the Ferry Building's clock tower.



Panorama capture in Camera app largely forces you to follow a plumb line using the built-in gyroscope. If you ignore this, you can capture some really odd, twisted angles, but you'll also get black stair stepping you'll have to edit out later, as in this crooked panorama experiment at capturing the Bay Bridge.




Panoramas work great inside too, and vertical panoramas especially so, particularly when inside a building with an impressive ceiling.

Inside the Westfield San Francisco Centre, vertical panoramas capture a different slice of the layers of open floors and its historic Emporium dome.








Retuning to the middle of San Francisco, this vertical panorama of Dolores Park contrasts with the earlier horizontal panorama from the same spot.




Expect iOS 6 Panoramas in both wide and tall orientations to quickly deluge Flickr and other photo sharing sites as experimental photographers try out the new feature.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Fun, but I'm not sold on the usefulness of vertical panorama.
  • Reply 2 of 35
    Looks like somebody was having fun taking those shots. Nice though - even without going 180-degrees overhead, just making it easier to catch a shot of (for example) your kids standing in front of the Sears Tower without having to crawl on the ground seems great.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    gqb wrote: »
    Fun, but I'm not sold on the usefulness of vertical panorama.

    Vertical panoramas can be very cool if you just need a little extra vertical content and don't go too far with them. I'm looking forward to seeing how iOS handles them with less vertical content. It can be tricky to process images like that in Photoshop with traditional frame-by-frame photography.
  • Reply 4 of 35
    I still would appreciate a timer feature, is that so hard to do? Siri could even count down to the shot.
  • Reply 5 of 35
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,032member
    The killer would be a panorama app that could tile (horizontal and vertical) as well as create an image much larger than the amount specified in this article. I've done panoramas with my Canon 60D and the software I use is tied to a photo printing facility that can print really large panoramas. They calculate the largest size possible with the image submitted, trying to keep people from sending them low-resolution images and getting less than optimal prints in return. The 10K x 2.5K image isn't useful on anything much longer than 30" or so. Yes, that sounds big until you see printed panoramas in excess of 6 feet. This application is a great start, which I'll be trying on Friday or Saturday on my iPhone 5,
  • Reply 6 of 35


    Somewhere Microsoft softly weeps at the death of Photosynth... I recently rediscovered Photosynth and I'm pretty impressed with it, but having a panorama mode baked right into the OS/camera app pretty much seals it's fate as an app on my phone.

  • Reply 7 of 35

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rjbruce View Post


    Somewhere Microsoft softly weeps at the death of Photosynth... I recently rediscovered Photosynth and I'm pretty impressed with it, but having a panorama mode baked right into the OS/camera app pretty much seals it's fate as an app on my phone.



    Photosynth has 2 modes - until iPhone can stitch together 100s of photos for a "synth" i think it will stick around, if in limited capacity

  • Reply 8 of 35
    Another app did the 360 panorama before even Photosynth was 360
  • Reply 9 of 35

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post



    The killer would be a panorama app that could tile (horizontal and vertical) as well as create an image much larger than the amount specified in this article. I've done panoramas with my Canon 60D and the software I use is tied to a photo printing facility that can print really large panoramas. They calculate the largest size possible with the image submitted, trying to keep people from sending them low-resolution images and getting less than optimal prints in return. The 10K x 2.5K image isn't useful on anything much longer than 30" or so. Yes, that sounds big until you see printed panoramas in excess of 6 feet. This application is a great start, which I'll be trying on Friday or Saturday on my iPhone 5,


     


    In what sense would a smartphone app designed to produce 6 foot banners be "killer"? 


     


    How much does printing such a banner cost (a lot), and why would you create one with smartphone camera? 

  • Reply 10 of 35


    I can now see that 2012-2013 will be indelibly linked in history as the age of "panoramas" everywhere. Like too many fonts in early 1994 with desktop publishing, and the reflecting floor itunes thing we had in 2006.


     


    Not that I won't make them, share them, and throw them into brochures left and right. You have to embrace the design aesthetic of your age after all.

  • Reply 11 of 35
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member


    WooHoo! My downtown buildings photos just got a new dimension!

  • Reply 12 of 35


    Originally Posted by Fake_William_Shatner View Post


    Not that I won't make them, share them, and throw them into brochures left and right. You have to embrace the design aesthetic of your age after all.



     


    The trick is in making the mundane, overused, and dumbed-down into something unique, innovative, and beautiful. 

  • Reply 13 of 35


    Too bad you can't take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel:


     



     


    Underneath the Eiffel Tower.


     


    Petra:


     



     


     


    Straighten the Tower of Pisa?


     


    Rhonda


     



     


     


    Or, a pano inside the dome of St. Peters -- where you move as you move the camera.


     


    Canyon De Chelly ("Save a Deli for Canyon De Chelly")


     


    Anything/everything in Barcelona.

  • Reply 14 of 35

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post





    Originally Posted by Fake_William_Shatner View Post


    Not that I won't make them, share them, and throw them into brochures left and right. You have to embrace the design aesthetic of your age after all.



     


    The trick is in making the mundane, overused, and dumbed-down into something unique, innovative, and beautiful. 



     


    My 16-year-old granddaughter just got back from a trip to Chicago (her first) where she visited all the museums and tourist sites.  Just before she left, I put the iOS 6 GM on her iPad 2 and iPhone 4.


     


    She took loots of great pictures, but the pano doesn't work on her iP4... Sigh!


     


    She was thrilled with the Museum of Science and Industry and took many stand-alone images that panned both horizontally and vertically... she would have gone crazy with an iP4S or iP5.


     


    She;s already talking about an upgrade to her 8 month old contract...


     


    Anyway, these DED images certainly show some exciting possibilities...  well done!    The detail, itself is amazing in the iOS 6 panos.


     


    I suppose someone will come up with an app that will allow you to stitch together several of these iOS 6 panos (both vertical and horizontal).

  • Reply 15 of 35

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post


    Too bad you can't take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel:


     



     


    Underneath the Eiffel Tower.


     


    Petra:


     



     


     


    Straighten the Tower of Pisa?


     


    Rhonda


     



     


     


    Or, a pano inside the dome of St. Peters -- where you move as you move the camera.


     


    Canyon De Chelly ("Save a Deli for Canyon De Chelly")


     


    Anything/everything in Barcelona.



     


    Sweet Jesus, I was just at the Sistine Chapel last week, and was commenting the same thing to myself, my new Alpha 57 (with unbelievably great pano mode) clenched in my fist with lens cap securely in place.


     


    I did take a nice pano inside the Pantheon, however, as well as one that would have been beautiful in Pompeii if I had been wise enough to use a smaller aperture (my wife was slightly out of focus).


     


  • Reply 16 of 35

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tonton View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post


    Too bad you can't take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel:


     


     


    Underneath the Eiffel Tower.


     


    Petra:


     


    Straighten the Tower of Pisa?


     


    Rhonda


     


    Or, a pano inside the dome of St. Peters -- where you move as you move the camera.


     


    Canyon De Chelly ("Save a Deli for Canyon De Chelly")


     


    Anything/everything in Barcelona.



     


    Sweet Jesus, I was just at the Sistine Chapel last week, and was commenting the same thing to myself, my new Alpha 57 (with unbelievably great pano mode) clenched in my fist with lens cap securely in place.


     


    I did take a nice pano inside the Pantheon, however, as well as one that would have been beautiful in Pompeii if I had been wise enough to use a smaller aperture (my wife was slightly out of focus).


     




     


    Great shot!


     


    There are just so many historical sites -- and pano is now available to anyone.   There will be a lot of crap, but there will be some amazing tech-artistic breakthroughs too!

  • Reply 17 of 35

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    The trick is in making the mundane, overused, and dumbed-down into something unique, innovative, and beautiful. 



    Getting designers to turn tricks?


    You MUST be in marketing!


     


    ;)

  • Reply 18 of 35
    poochpooch Posts: 768member

    She took loots of great pictures, but the pano doesn't work on her iP4... Sigh!

    indeed. nor does it work on my $655.92 3rd generation 64GB ipad which was purchased 6 months and 12 days ago (you know, right after the launch). what an effing let down.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,571member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post


     


     


     


    Petra:


     



     


     



     


    Is that the location from the final scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?

  • Reply 20 of 35


    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post

    Is that the location from the final scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?




    Thank you. 


     


    For referencing that and not Transformers, in which it also appears. And is destroyed after a robot farts on it.

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