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Review: AutoStitch - Panoramic Photos for iPhone

The iPhone is fantastic for having handy when you want to take a quick picture. The original and 2nd gen iPhone had crummy cameras, but with the new iPhone 3GS, it now has more than acceptable image quality with it's 3MP camera. In fact, so good, I find myself taking more pictures than ever.  Sometimes you have an image wide enough that just can't be harnessed in the default range of the iPhone's sensor. This is where AutoStitch comes in handy.

How it works:

You take a series of pictures, side by side, as if you were going to take them in such a way that you would paste them together. This creates a wide angle panoramic effect. Great for taking pictures of stadiums, large family photos, outdoors, etc.  Anything that you need to photograph that the iPhone's camera isn't wide enough to handle. 

After you take the series of pictures with your iPhone Camera (usually 3-6 will do), depending on how wide you want to go, you launch the AutoStitch App.

It opens up two window panes. The top one shows your Photo Albums on your iPhone, and the bottom pane is where the stitched photos will go for processing as you select them. Once they are done, you click the 'Stitch' button. The app then goes to work extracting and aligning the images, and finally rendering the panorama. It shows the photos coming together during the rendering process, which usually about 30 sec on a 1st gen iPhone, shorter on the 3GS. It really depends on how many pictures you are trying to add. 

After the render is complete you will notice that all four sides may have some jagged edges. That's easy to fix, you simply click the 'Crop' button to remove them.

In fact, there is really little to do here, because it automatically sets the crop markers so that the jaggies are gone. I found in most cases you can hit crop and then save it, all without even moving the crop markers around. 

After cropping, hit Save and it adds it to your Photo Library, which you can then use as any other picture for sharing, emailing, or syncing back to your iPhoto library. 

Results:

The final results are quite good. So good in fact, perople aren't afraid to show them off. There is even a Flickr group that has been created to show off the great stitching. Usually they have a little wavy/fish eye look, but in most cases, it actually enhances the look. In my testing, the results usually depend on how well you shot the photos, how steady your hand was, etc.  You may see some phantom ghosting and blurring in areas where it has trouble interpreting the connection points, but overall this provides excellent results. 

Conclusion:

Hands down the best $1.99 I've spent on an photo app for my iPhone. The only thing I would like to see added is the ability to take the pictures from within the app, so that I don't have to go to the camera app and switch back to AutoStitch. It adds such an enhancement to the camera you have to wonder why it's not built in. Buy it!

AutoStitch - Cloudburst Research

Autostitch $1.99