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"Medium format" phone photography with panorama and dolly

Joshua Robert Dy

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I was browsing through a wikipedia page, doing research for a homework, when it showed me a panorama picture; this immediately reminded of that Apple iPhone 5 panorama ad.

What impressed me the most about these two pictures were their relatively flat perspective distortions as in the panorama of the giant Buddhist sculptures, the flatness is very much due to distance. It was very different for the iPhone ad because it shows the kids neatly lined up in a straight line in the final photo; there are two ways they could have achieved this:

  1. Kids were on a straight line
  2. Kids were in a semi-circular formation around the camera

Based on feeling, the ad likely went with option 2 because I could feel a circular movement of the camera. Option 2 would also make more sense for the ad because it advertises the panorama to be done handheld in one smooth motion.

I however found the possibility of option 1 to be interesting and so I looked for online materials, but I could not find any methodologies about trucking or dollying to do a panorama shot; so then that is what I set out to do.

I took a panorama photo on the 52mm of the iPhone 11 Pro on a gimbal and had my mom pull my chair. There are two things in this picture to notice especially:

  • minimal perspective distortion (at least to me personally)
  • the appliances and furniture in the background are very elongated

Both the jagged and elongated parts of the image may be attributed to the inconsistent speed at which the dolly was being pulled, however it is also very likely that the camera's processing had trouble dealing with motion parallax.


I wonder if there is a speed that is just right to get the proportions of the background corrected or if this method just wouldn't work. My image clocks in at 10860x3960, but had the method been executed flawlessly, the height of the image could go up to 4032 and the width at 15 or 16k. Personally, the most interesting thing about this to me is that it makes me feel like I am working in medium format, but on the cheap.

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Yep Karim, photographing two dimensional mediums is probably where this works best!

I just had a realization that in a way this method kind of works like a scanner except that in the way I used the method I was trying to capture the 3d world instead of paper. The photo I took has its flaws, but I personally think that this is still worth a look into!

Edited by Joshua Robert Dy
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