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Newer Sony cameras offer "sweep panorama" mode where you just pan the camera and it stitches the panorama picture in the camera. This function is starting to appear in models from other manufacturers too (can't find the relevant link at the moment).

Apart from the obvious limitation to one picture height/width (one cannot create 2xN or Nx2 panorama in this mode) - can anybody tell how sweep panoramas compare to traditional panorama montage? Is the result comparable/better/much worse?

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Havent used it myself, but I would be concerned about lack of control –  reuscam Jul 16 '10 at 11:33
    
I wonder if all the CPU cycles uses up the battery faster? –  DarenW Jul 29 '10 at 6:12

6 Answers 6

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I tried a model like this in the store, both horizontally and vertically. I was not satisfied with the quality. The particular model that I tried used seemed to be using the HD video imaging pipeline to do its stuff. Also, when used vertically, it required you to change the orientation of the camera by 90deg. In the end, the small dimension on the pano was always 1080. You can do way better than that with stitching with a hand held p&s that has man exp and focus.

So my advice is try before you buy.

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In addition to the format limitation you mention (can't do 2x2, 4x2 etc.) you also can't choose the panorama projection. The sweep panorama will use a cylindrical projection, which is usually the best choice, however it does bend straight lines. Up to a certain width of panorama, the rectilinear projection is usually better.

See: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/image-projections.htm (scroll down to look at the pictures!)

Also I would question how well it is able to cope with large changes in brightness as you pan. If shooting manually you can vary the exposure as you go, or shoot multiple exposures to produce an HDR pano.

In general you sacrifice control (and in the case of Sony, resolution) for convenience.

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The truth is that it gives you a compromise which may be what some are exactly looking for:

Motion panoramas are extremely easy to do, up to 360-degrees now. Within seconds you have a circular panorama right in the camera. You can try it as often as you like on the spot until you are happy with it or have reached its limit.

The output (as already mentioned) is limited to a single row with a limited vertical resolution, usually between 1024 and 2560, depending on the camera. Stitching quality does not hold up to scrutiny and any of your movements will affect the final image with no option of correcting other than starting over. For example, I found it relatively difficult to keep the horizon perfectly straight and if it is bare (the ocean for example) it is easy to see the problem.

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Sounds like it's basically the same as the myriad iPhone instant-panorama apps. –  mattdm Jan 11 '11 at 3:17

It might just be a personal thing, but I prefer to let my computer do the heavy lifting of stitching (Microsoft ICE for me) and processing my photos.

Other than the limitation that you pointed out, I wonder about the ability to individually edit the photos - if the camera just produces one image instead of allowing you access to each one or something like that.

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It's ridiculously easy to use - you just point and pan the lens. It stops when it runs out of space, or when you shake/move in such a way that it can't stitch the results. You don't get to see the individual photos, just the resulting panorama. The result looks comparable to doing it yourself, as far as I can see, but I still prefer to take individual photos and stitch with AutoPano.

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The final result is never that good (at least in my Sony Nex-5 camera). Lots of abrupt cuts.

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