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Pano: easy panoramic photos directly on the iPhone

If you are going on vacation and would like to use your iPhone to take panoramic photos, the advice to seriously consider the purchase of Pano (on the App store for 2.39 euros). This is the conclusion reached by our site after testing the program developed by Debacle Software. Pano, as the name clearly implies, an application that promises to make images, in fact, panoramas, a promise fully kept, considering all the limits of the camera and the lens of the iPhone.

The operation of Pano is very simple: download, install and launch it instead of the standard iPhone application "Photos" when you want to take a panoramic photo, meaning to take an image that embraces a vision, in horizontal mode or truthful. wider than that which enters the iPhone target. This can be interesting, for example, when you want to take a vast panorama or maybe even set a group photo better. Pano does his job in a very simple way: once the first photo is taken we will see a portion of a transparent image appear in the corner of the iPhone display before the second is taken. This is the track to which we must align the following image to facilitate the composition. In practice: we will see an edge of an already stored image that overlaps the image that is then framed by the iPhone. By taking this second image too, we will store it and, in the case of a third shot, it will be the reference for the shooting track.

At the end of our session (up to 12 images can be taken) Pano will carry out all the work directly on the iPhone: take the photos, place them in sequence and make the necessary corrections; since, in fact, in the manual alignment process it would not have been possible to have millimeter precision, the software will make adjustments in such a way as to make the edges of the two images match as perfectly as possible. Corrections are also made to the colors and lights in such a way as to make the various photos appear as possible as the result of a single shot. Finally save, if we like the image, the photo in our film.

The results obtained are in our opinion interesting. Pano manages to align the images very accurately; also the correction, pixel by pixel, and the convincing adjustment of colors and lights so that if we have been sufficiently careful in the alignment, the final effect really looks like a photo taken in one fell swoop.

To fully appreciate Pano, some aspects of its operation must be kept in mind, in order not to place expectations too high and think that it can replace, in all respects, dedicated software such as the one integrated, for example, in Photoshop Elements. Unlike the latter, Pano does not implement a prospective correction; this means that if you try to take too many images in a close-up view, you risk having a photo with incorrect perspective. Even on panoramas with subjects located at long distances (such as a valley, a glimpse on the beach or on top of some viewpoint for a panorama of a city) adding too many shots there is a risk of distortion.

Attention must also be paid to alignment. Although Pano is able to analyze the images rather accurately, if you keep iPhone not perpendicular to the ground, you risk putting the software in great difficulty with the consequent appearance of "ghost" details in the final image. Often this operation is not simple because there is a tendency to pay close attention to aligning the image in semi-transparency and not, on the other hand, to pay much attention to the right side of the iPhone which may drop a few degrees of inclination too much. We will realize it with the second photo that we are going to take when we have to further tilt iPhone to align the third image.

Just the use of a semi-transparent portion of an image or another element that can give you some problems. In bright light you can hardly see the display and therefore even the alignment at that point becomes not very simple; without seeing the semi-transparent image it is practically impossible to obtain adequate panoramic images.

We must also keep in mind the time taken to process the images. When adding more images, you can be forced to wait around a minute when using an iPhone 3GS, which is longer than the original iPhone 3G, given the slower processor. This is not surprising given that using all 12 shots provided by Pano you would get a 6800X800 pixel photo.

Finally, the last caveat, Pano reduces the resolution of the shots to 800 pixels in height; This is to cope, says Debacle Software, with the iPhone's Ram limitation.

Having become aware of these limitations (and of a bug in iPhone Os 3.0 which tends to block on some occasions Pano which we have personally faced, but which should be resolved shortly), largely related to the same hardware, it must be said that the application, as we mentioned earlier, does its job very well. The outcome is not surely and logically on a par with that of dedicated software, but Pano surpasses the dedicated applications in that it can produce panoramic photos "on the fly", directly on the shooting site; the images can thus be sent via email, perhaps directly from the place of vacation, from a boat or from an exotic place, without returning home or to a hotel, or subsequently saved directly in iPhoto. It is also possible to create 360 ​​degree photos of great effect (always bearing in mind the fact that the best results are obtained when the objects that are photographed are at a certain distance).

Overall, therefore, an excellent program to take into account for our (virtual) suitcase for holidays with iPhone.

To get a more precise idea of ​​the quality of the images obtained with Pano, you can visit this gallery of images published on Flickr.

Pano for iPhone costs 2.39 euros and you can download it by clicking here.

Pros – Convincing panoramic images – Ability to create original photos directly on iPhone and send them immediately – Easy and intuitive operation

Cons – Difficult to operate in bright light – Lack of a perspective correction – Some manual skills are necessary to obtain good results on the first try – A little slow on the iPhone 3G with more than 4/5 shots to combine in the panorama