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Photo and Video Software on iPhones and some other smart phones

Built in camera app.iPhone Built in camera:  With the release of iOS 6, the camera app has been significantly improved.  It already did a tolerable job of HDR pictures, the main problem I had with that is that it did not save each of the original pictures it used to create the HDR picture.  The major new feature is the ability to take a panorama.  To take a landscape panorama picture, hold the camera as if taking a portrait picture, select Options at the top then choose "Panorama".  You start at the left of the desired image, tap the camera icon to start the process then sweep the camera to the right at about the same speed you would use in making a video.  If you go to fast, it will give you a worming message.  You also need to sweep in a fairly strait line.  It gives you a target arrow to help in doing this.  Try to keep the point of the arrow on the line.  It does not keep as many pixels as you might expect, it is like a 5.7 MagaPicel camera on the iPhone 4s not a 8 MegaPixel camera like normal.  Of course, since you have panned over a large angle, the total pixels count can be quite large.  I got a 20 MegaPicel picture panning over about 90 degrees. It does a better job of dealing with people moving than AutoStich (see below) does.   Click HERE for more info from Apple.


Link to Pro HDR notes PRO HDR:  HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  Pictures taken with this technique do a better job of capturing the the lightest and darkest parts of the picture.  For an example and more notes, click HERE.   Pro HDR is also available for Android phones but as of 8/2/12 not for Windows phones.

Photo Shop Express Icon PS Express:  (PhotoShop Express) A good photo editing program by the makers of Adobe Photoshop.  The free version does most of what you want but it is so good that you may want to send a little money their way anyway.  I use it to Crop, straighten, change the exposure (lighten or darken) or sharpen but there are other options also.  Since the camera in smart phones only does a digital zoom meaning that it basically just crops the picture ahead of time, I always do the cropping afterword as there is no more loss of resolution and I have more flexibility. A video review is available.  It is also available for Android phones but not Windows phones as of 8/3/12.  There is also an on line version that I have not explored yet. You will need to crate a free account to use the online version.
Adobe now has a program just for the iPad and Android tablets called Adobe Photoshop Touch that should be considered if you have on of those devices.  I have not used it but it looks promising.  $9.99

Icon for paragraph on Photos app on the iPhoneThe Photos app that comes with the iPhone was significantly improved with iOS 6, the operating system released in September 2012.  It is now possible to have multiple folders.  It used to be that it was only possible if you had a Mac.  It still leaves something to be desired but it is still a big help.  The catch is that while you can add folders to sort your pictures and videos into a master copy of the picture or video needs to reside in the "Camera Roll" folder.
It also has an edit capability as of iOS6.  You access it by taping on the word "Edit" in the upper left corner of the initial screen.  It will edit a bigger picture than PS Express or at least a big picture loads much faster.  Creating a panorama can create very large files and they may need cropping.  It also can crop a picture so the it fits any of a number of photo sizes such 3x5, 8x10, or 16x9 as .   To get to this click on the desired picture, then EDIT in the upper right corner, then the CROP icon in the lower right corner, then Constrain in the bottom center.

Synth Cam Icon SynthCam:  This program uses video to post process into interesting stills.  It will take a lot of playing with this program to figure it out. Some uses are:
  
1) Mimic the shallow depth of field that like a SLR camera so only the subject is in focus.
2) Mimic a slow shutter speed to do things like blur moving water. (My favorite use)
3)Take pictures in low light conditions.  (Although I have not been able to make this work)
4) Get rid of moving objects like people because because they are only in a few of the frames being averaged together.
For examples and more notes, click HERE.   SynthCam is free and is also available for Android phones but not Windows phones as of 8/2/12.

Auto Stich icon AutoStitch:  Like a poor man's Photosynth.  You can take a series of pictures and stich them together to make a larger one.  AutoStich is also available on the Android and Windows platforms.  There is also a short video showing how to use this app.  It costs $1.99 for the iPhone.  It was updated in August 2012 to make it much easier to use.  You can also use it to merge a series of pictures already taken.  I did this once when I wished to merge a series of pictures I had taken inside a cave with a flash.  Both AutoStich and PhotoSynth do not work with a flash.  It stitched the picture together great.  Unfortunately is was still a lousy picture (My mistakes, not theirs).
I usually now use the panorama option in the built in camera but this is better in certain situations. For example, if you want to use pictures already taken, you want to use a flash or you want to take a bigger matrix of images, for example 2 rows of images.

Video Editor for Free Icon VideoEditorFree:  A very simple to use video editing program.  It will clip and combine video strips.  If you want to do more such as adding a sound file, text or still images, it is pricy.   (There is also a paid version for $1.99 that only adds the ability to add still images for free.)
User Notes:
Tap "New Project", add title, Then "+" to load first video you will be working with (Typically from the Camera Roll.  Select video clip then "Choose" in the lower right of the screen.  The program will then convert the video to its own working format.  If you wish to append a second video to it, just tap the "+" sign again and pick the second video.  You will notice a preview window at the bottom showing each video.  If you want to interchange the order, just tap and drag.  When you are satisfied with it, tap "Save" in the upper right corner.  It will save the video to the standard iPhone format.
To trim the video to just the portion you really want, load it in with the "+" as discussed above then double tap the image if the video at the bottom of the screen.  A window of the entire video clip will open along the bottom.  You can drag either end of the video towards the middle to just retain the desired part.  Then use the scissors icon in the upper left to complete the process.
Note: From  iOS 6 on the saved files are in separate folder in the iPhone.  From the iPhone it looks like it is in with all the other pictures, but if you try to copy it to your desktop PC, you will find it is in a separate folder within the DCIM folder.  You may have to unplug and re-plug your iPhone in to your desktop to see it or alt least refresh the screen with all the picture folders on your iPhone.  To refresh the folder, choose VIEW > REFRESH. 

There are many other video editor programs that I have not struggled enough with yet to evaluate: iMovie (by Apple, 4 stars, there is a pay and a free version but I think the pay version is now free also) and Vid Editor Free (3.5 stars)

Phtosynth Icon Photosynth for the smartphone is a free Microsoft program that permits you to take picture that you can rotate to view in any direction.  Basically a 360 degree panorama in both a horizontal and vertical reference.  Example 1, Example 2. Microsoft calls these panoramas. As you can see particularly in the second example, things can get a little jumbled up where the pictures are joined together.  To minimize this hold the camera in as close to the original spot as possible.  Also if there are any people in the photo, get them entirely within the center of one frame.
The reason this powerful program is free is that Microsoft is encouraging you to upload the photos to Bing Maps to drive more users to Bing Maps rather than Google Maps.  To see Photosynth photos on Bing Maps, Click on Map apps in the upper left then select Photosynth.  It has a very good free app on the iPhone and windows phones.  As of July 2015 it is not yet available on Android phones.  For a YouTube video on Photosynth, click HERE.   
To share the images with others you will need to create a free account at:  http://photosynth.net

There is also a significantly different version for the desktop that works much differently.  It combines many pictures of the same general thing taken from different places and builds a composite image that can be viewed from many different angles. Microsoft calls these synths. For a clip of this use in a CSI episode click HERE.   For a video of what this program does, click HERE.  For an example of a synth image click HERE.   I have made a few attempts to do this kind of picture but have never succeeded at all.   As of this time, 8/2/12, this type of picture can only be built up on desktop computers with a fee program you can download from Microsoft.

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Rev 7/19/15 fixed