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How to use Panorama and Photo Sphere in Google Camera

Christopher Park

Published

Now that Google Camera is a standalone app, downloadable for anyone using Android 4.4 or higher, using the extra modes might be a little confusing.

Taking panoramic photos isn’t new to camera apps, but usability can differ depending on what app you’re using. Photo Sphere is a camera mode that can combine multiple photos into one large 360 degree photo. It doesn’t work all the time, but it can create some really interesting photos when it does.

How to use Panorama and Photo Sphere in Google Camera

The options for Panorama and Photo Sphere are located by a swipe from the left in Google Camera. This menu will display all the different camera modes available.

Google Camera photo modes

Panorama

Google Camera makes taking panoramic photos really easy. You start by picking a beginning point and tapping the panorama icon. This will take the first photo. The dots on the screen are guides to keep the alignment of the photo. Continue to line up the dots and Google Camera will automatically take the photo.

Google Camera panorama

My best advice is to make sure you don’t move around when taking these photos, or Google Camera will have difficulty combining them. Once you’ve finished the panorama, Google Camera will process the image and combine them all into one photo.

Google panorama complete

In the Photos app, you’re able to manipulate the panoramic photo or let it auto-scroll. Other options include creating a Tiny Planet which will combine the image into a circle.

Google Camera Tiny Planet

You have the ability to control the zoom and rotation of the image through the Tiny Planet editor. You can also use editing tools in Photo Editor to manipulate different settings of your photo to your liking.

Google Camera panorama tiny planet

Photo Sphere

Google Camera’s Photo Sphere expands the idea of a panorama photo by taking pictures to create a 360 degree immersive photo. It works best where all objects are stationary and taking a photo sphere outside may be the best use, because the camera can’t always process the images perfectly and outdoor photos are a bit more forgiving.

Taking a Photo Sphere starts the same as a panoramic photo. You line up the first picture with the on-screen prompt.

Google Camera Photo Sphere

Google Camera will place dots on the screen to guide where each picture should be taken. Capturing a photo sphere doesn’t take a lot of time, but on occasion the Google Camera app crashed, losing all the previously-captured photos. Once you’ve finished taking all the photos, the app will begin merging them all together.

Google Camera Photo Sphere

It’s much more immersive when you view the image on a device, because you can move the image around or let it auto-scroll.

Google Camera finished Photo Sphere

If you look closely though, you can see some image stitching problems.

Google Camera Photo Sphere problems

In most cases, a Photo Sphere works without major problems, but it’s still designed to be viewed online or on a device to get the full immersive experience.

Photo editing

Photo editing hasn’t changed since the introduction of the Gallery in Android 4.4 KitKat. The editor makes it simple by first offering to add a number of different filters, a frame, or crop the image. The more advanced options are under the exposure icon.

Google Camera photo editor options

The photo editor offers 16 different options to fine tune your photos. Some effect the photo overall like Autocolor, Negative, and Posterize, while others can be applied to specific areas of the image.

Photo Editor

Photo Editor lets you experiment a lot because after you apply an effect, you are able to remove it by tapping the back arrow. This means that any accidental edits you make can be reversed. Some of these tools will take time to learn exactly what they do, but even if you don’t make the effort, it’s good to be able to make quick changes to an image before you share it.

A decent, quick alternative

Any camera on a smartphone can’t match the ability of a proper digital camera and desktop photo editing apps. Even so, Google Camera offers a good amount of usability and versatility. The Panorama and Photo Sphere modes offer something different than just regular pictures or video, and are interesting ways to showcase a scene. The only drawback is that Photo Sphere really only makes an impact if viewed online to experience the immersive content; otherwise, it’s just a more complex panorama.

Google Camera is a simple camera app with great options. The editing options found in Gallery’s Photo Editor add usability, but some of the more advanced edits will require some trial-and-error to use them effectively.

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