I've been spending a lot of time lately trying to take my iPhonography to the next level, including playing with a lot of outdoor panoramic shots (links to my latest photos). I've tested a number iPhone apps for the job, here are the 4 that are left on my device after trying out twice as many:
This app is the easiest to use of the lot. It's a great idea: you just slowly take a scrolling video of whatever scene you want to capture, and this app stiches the video together in a panoramic photo, like the one here of my backyard during a snow storm:
+ easiest to use, just pan your video camera across a scene
- medium image quality output
Pano offers a more standard process for panorama shots (like you find on digital point and shoot cameras), that gives you an overlay of the previous image, as you line up each shot for a series of photos. This one is better than any of the other apps I've found that offer this kind of multi-shot interface; it outputs the highest quality pamoramic images. Here's an example:
+ provides an overlay of the previous image to line up each shot as you take the series of photos
+ high image output quality
- can not make multiple passes across a scene (e.g. 2 horizontal passes, for a taller, more inclusive panoramic shot)
AutoStitch is more "open ended" that the other apps -- it'll take whatever photos you select from your camera roll, and stitches them together. You don't actually take the photos from within its interface. The upside of this is that you can do any pre-processing edits you want to clean up the images that get stitched together, and you can combine any number of images, not necessarily 1 straight horizontal or vertical pan across a scene. It really gives the you the most flexibility of all the apps.
A downside of this is that it doesn't help you line up the images while you are shooting, but I've found despite this, it actually procudes some of the highest quality panoramic shots of all the apps:
+ can use HDR photos, or make pre-processing edits to photos, for highest quality panorama images
+ can make multiple passes across a scene, not just one pan
- no guides, so have to estimate ~30% overlap for each shot
You Gotta See This!
This iPhone app offers the most unique take on panoramic photos, really a collage of images similar to what is called "Hockneyesque" after artisrt David Hockney.
+ most unique panorama, more of a collage
+ can make multiple passes across a scene
- poorest photo quality
And the winner is...
Of these, I recommend Video Pano for its ease of use, or AutoStitch for it's flexibility. Both of them let me shoot on the iPhone's native camera, and then trim or edit as needed before turning into a final panoramic photo.