Panoramic photography and stitching pieces of software are now very numerous, but few offer stitching quality, flexibility of use, productivity. They can't thus be considered professional, or in any case, top-range. In this page, I'll share with you my experience of the qualities of each of them after making a non-exhaustive list...
If you're a beginner...
A new part of this guide is now dedicated to you. There you'll find simple pieces of advice to implement to stitch beautiful panoramas, choose your software, your hardware...
There are many of them and I imagine that most of you already have an opinion on the subject. Each will have its favorite because lots of stitching pieces of software, once mastered, are amazingly efficient. You can also be attracted to one panoramic piece of software but because of your lens and its distortions, have to choose a different stitching software, more powerful in this case...
Firstly, the aim of this tutorial is to introduce a few pieces of software that seem to be reference and I'll complete that list as my reviews go along.
Then, you have to know that some pieces of software will only allow you to make flat panoramas and others, flat or cubicles. Flat panoramas can be visualized like a classic panorama, meaning when necessary with the help of the horizontal navigation bar if the image is too big for the screen or in a visualization window in which we'll move inside the picture with the mouse. Cubicles, which more spectacular shape is a virtual tour on 360×180 °, can only be visualized in a window with a determined size. The mouse allows to move in all directions but also to zoom in the image.
* (1) : full management of a gigapixel project shot with a motorized head. * (2) : partial management of a gigapixel project shot with a motorized head. * (3) : Photoshop is now only sold on subscription between 12 and 60â‚¬ per month depending on the option.
Autopano Pro 4.2 - Kolor/GoPro
It's my favorite stitching software with Autopano Giga! In certain situations it is the best and in others, its main competitor PTGui takes the advantage. But it very powerful, original options and excellent value for money. I love it... New version 4.2 since september 2015.
OK, I'll take the risk: maybe the best stitching software on the market! The only thing you have to do is read my tutorial to see the depth of its possibilities. Automatic but can be taken in hand, quick, very powerful, original options and excellent value for money.
* Download Autopano from my links to contribute to this site and its being free. Thanks!
PTGui / Pro 10
In English only, it's also an excellent stitching software. Some informed users even prefer it to Autopano because they use it for a long time. Less directed to beginning amateurs from my point of view but really, the main competitor for Autopano Giga.
This open source, multilingual stitching software, is very much liked by the community of informed users for good reasons, it's very good and very similar to PTGui, only available in more languages! A few annoying limitations though compared with APG or PTGui for an informed user.
For Windows only, I started with this stitching software seven years ago. It's now outdated but is among very good stitching software. Unlike Stitcher, the long-time leader, ImageAssembler is still here!
Photomerge is a Photoshop plugin allowing to stitch panoramas. It's very easy to use but also very limited. With that said, the few things it does, it does them very well. As many photographers shoot few panoramas, this allows them not to invest in another stitching software, in terms of money but also of training time.
ICE - Image Composite Editor - is a free software from Microsoft allowing to stitch panoramas. It's very easy to use but also quite limited. With that said, the few things it does, it does them it very well and above all very quickly. As many photographers shoot few panoramas, this allows them not to invest in another stitching software, in terms of money but also of training time.
It is, once again, really very easy although each software has its own stitching process. But schematically the steps can be summed up as follows:
Open all the images you just prepared in the software in order to stitch them;
Indicate the software what you want to get - simple panorama, closed, geometries -, etc.;
Indicate with what focal the photos have been shot and more and more with what camera. It's not a gadget indeed because, in most cases, the software will take into account the distortions induced by the lens during the shooting. Numerous zoom lenses for digital cameras distort the images shot in a wide-angle position. However, I prefer to correct this type of defect BEFOREHAND because it often doesn't work so well and I think the software already has enough to do without that!
The software will then start working and give its verdict moments later. You may then have to edit certain zones if you think they haven't been stitched well and that's it!
And finally, you save the final picture in whatever file you want. The format, as for it, is important to make possible further edits in Photoshop easier. That's why I chose the extension PSD/PSB by default because it's a format:
Compatible 16 bits - 8 bits is enough most of the time, above all if you developed your photos from RAWs and the file will then be twice lighter.
Multilayer - very important - . We'll see in the next page, dedicated to final edits, how primordial it is to make your work easier when editing stitching artefacts or unwanted items in the field of view.
Compatible with a weight over 2 Go - PSD format, well-known of Photoshop-users, turns into PSB - B for Bold - when the weight of the panorama gets over 2 Go. And this often happens in multilayer panoramic photography with cameras over 10 Mo and when you stitch several photos together.
Other options are detailed for Autopano Giga in its dedicated tutorial. Other examples below:
In the last page of this tutorial dedicated to panorama stitching, we'll make the last edits to our final panorama, this one that was just stitched in your favorite panorama stitching software - Last final edits...
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