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Panoramic, 3D photo apps put to test for journalists


360 Panorama shot inside the Ohio Union at Ohio State University. Hint: To view on a computer, click with one finger while swiping left to right with another, then releasing.

 

Think of the possibilities.

You’re in the middle of an intense news scene that words alone cannot describe. A fire has engulfed a block of houses, or a multi-vehicle crash shuts down the interstate.

Or maybe you’re writing a travel piece and stumble into a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Or maybe the town’s star football player just got a new tattoo or broke his nose.

Two-dimensional photos are great. Yet what journalist hasn’t come across a scene that could be captured much better in 3D or panorama?

Time was (just a few years back) your photo staff would have to rent a GigaPan mechanical device to rotate a series of cameras, then spend hours calibrating and testing it. Kiplinger has one of those in storage.

But now a number of apps allow you — Reporters! Photographers! Anyone! — to capture surprisingly good-quality 3-D and panoramic images with simply a few taps on your smartphone.

After hearing a lot of buzz at recent journalism conferences, Kip decided to check some photo imaging apps out. We asked a photographer to test drive several. To be sure that they’re basic enough for everyone, we wordy types gave them a whirl, too. Big surprise: The photog liked them so much he decided to use them on assignment for his newspaper.

What we found:

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