How to Use the Panorama Camera with iPhone to Take Amazing Panoramic Pictures
The Panorama camera is one of the better features of the iPhone Camera app, it makes taking incredible high-quality panoramic pictures ridiculously easy without adding any additional apps to your iPhone. The feature is built directly into iOS now and works on all modern iPhone devices. If you’re unfamiliar with the feature or you just haven’t used it yet, here’s what you’ll want to do:
Using the Panoramic Camera on iPhone
In modern versions of iOS, accessing and using the iPhone Panoramic Camera feature is very easy, it’s one of the options within Camera app:
- Open the Camera app and swipe over on the lower options until the “PANO” option is selected
- Tap on the camera button as usual, this starts capturing the panorama image, keep the iPhone steady as you pan the image slowly
- When finished, tap on the camera button again to complete the panorama image capture
Taking a Panorama Picture with iPhone and Earlier iOS Versions
In prior versions of iOS, accessing Panorama Camera mode is slightly different:
- Open Camera (from the lock screen is the fastest way)
- Tap “Options” at the top, then tap “Panorama” from the menu
- Tap the camera button to start taking a picture, then move slowly while keeping iPhone stable as the panoramic image is drawn
- Finish by reaching the end of the panoramic guide line or by tapping the camera button again
There is virtually no wait time while the final picture is rendered as a result of how Apple basically “paints” the picture live as the panorama is taken.
4 Tips for the Best Panorama Photo Results
- Hold steady and aim to center along the provided line
- Move slowly horizontally to allow for lighting adjustments as image pans
- Tap an area of neutral lighting for the initial exposure, avoid exposure lock in dramatically varied lighting situations
- If you do end up with artifacts and/or regions of black pixels, use Crop directly on iPhone to clean them up instantly
Once Panorama is active, moving slowly and holding steady to “paint” your panoramic photo gives the best results. If you move too quickly the camera won’t have time to adjust properly to lighting changes, and artifacts can appear on the final image either in the form of black pixels for areas that are missed or out of the guide line, or in the form of chunky transitions. You can see an example of the chunky transition artifacting that can occur from a quick motion at the far right corner of this otherwise very nice sample panorama image from an iPhone 5.
Panoramic pictures are stored in the Photos app Camera Roll as usual, and you can email or send them through messages as you’d expect. If you want the highest quality version of a panoramic image, you’ll need to connect the iPhone to a computer and transfer the photos by USB, otherwise it will be automatically compressed and reduced in file size and resolution down to somewhere between 5000×1000 and 8000×2000 to save data usage and make it reasonable to open on iOS devices and in email. The original panoramic photos are gigantic, coming in around a whopping 20,000 x 4000 pixels, so be prepared for iPhone storage space to disappear rapidly if you take a lot of these.
Click below to launch an absolutely beautiful sample iPhone panorama shot, the resolution is reduced from a full size 20k x 4k to 5597 x 1024 (a big thanks to Ryan for taking this amazing picture and allowing us to post it!):
Finally, though the built in Panorama Camera is limited to new devices like the 6s, 6 Plus, 5S, 5, and 4S, older iPhones are not totally out of luck… if you have an iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, or you want to take panoramics with an iPod touch or iPad, an excellent third party app called Dermandar is available for $2 on the App Store.