Today we’re going to be looking at Pano, a camera app that currently goes for $2 on the Android Market. Pano has no built-in effects; it doesn’t have advanced shutter controls or a built-in timer. It doesn’t do Lomo, and you can’t say “cheese” to have it take a picture. It does just one thing, but something no other camera app I reviewed so far can do – it helps you take large, beautiful panoramic images.
How Pano Works
If you have a point-and-shoot camera with a panorama mode, Pano will probably feel familiar. The app guides you through taking a series of pictures – you take the first shot, and then Pano takes a bit of its right edge, and shows it on the left side of the screen, semi-transparent.
This sounds complex, so here’s a screenshot:
The strip you see on the left was on the right of the original image I took. The black part in the screenshot contains the “live view” from the camera (can’t really make screenshots of the live view in most camera apps). You then gently rotate the phone to line up the image you’ve already taken with the new image – jut try to overlay them one on top of the other, as best as you can. Then tap the shutter button. Lather, rinse, repeat. The direction, by the way, is always left-to-right. If you mess up, you can always tap Undo.
Making The Final Image
Once you’re done taking your screenshots, tap the inviting-looking checkmark button, and Pano will set to work crunching your data and making it into a (hopefully) breathtaking vista of natural beauty and awe.
This actually takes a few moments, especially if your panorama contains five or six images.
Pano works best for taking scenic images of distant views. Here’s what happened when I tried making a panorama of my workspace:
I do have two 24” monitors, but I can assure you the one on the right does not look that warped in real life. On the other hand, here’s what Pano created when I tested it with the view out of my balcony:
In fact, this screenshot doesn’t the the panorama justice. Here’s the panorama image in full width. You get extra-creepy points if you use it to figure out where I live.
For something that came out of a smartphone, this is very impressive. That is not to say it’s perfect; obviously the shot was handheld, and I was unable to match each image perfectly to the previous one. This results in artifacts like this one:
See that blurry-looking satellite dish in the middle? The one that looks like it has a halo. That’s what happens when Pano can’t stitch the images perfectly together. But other than that artifact, the full-scale version of the image doesn’t show any other noticeable defects. I wouldn’t necessarily make a poster out of it, but it does give a very good sense of what this particular view looks like (scary, and with lots of cranes, yes).
One last thing you should know is that Pano doesn’t export full-resolution images. My panorama was 645px tall, and the phone is capable of taking images that are at least 1400px tall (more than twice as much).
Pano is not just another camera app. It is very task-specific, and it does what it say on the tin. If you want to preserve a beautiful view, Pano provides one great way to do so. Let us know if you prefer another Android camera app for taking your panoramic views.
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