There are two reasons why your photos might not stitch correctly : a wrong setting of the entrance pupil and maybe even more, optical distortions of your lens or zoom lens. It is due to the form of the lens: an aspheric lens. Here is how to know it and correct it...
All the photos of the sphere have been shot and prepared and are ready to be stitched by a stitching software on one or several ranges. At that point, it is still not about using a virtual tour creation software like Panotour Pro because the panorama isn't stitched yet. But this type of software needs a flat image, possibly on 180 x 360°. Few of them offer stitching qualities, flexibility of use, productivity and can thus be considered professional, or at least, top-range. In this page, I'll tell you all about my experience and the qualities of each of them.
When we were trying to stitch a simple panorama to print it for example, we saw in the tutorial dedicated to panorama stitching that the photographer had numerous choices to make in terms of geometric projections in order to convey HIS message. For the creation of virtual tours, only one geometric projection can be used: the spherical geometric projection. Let's see this now...
The key points if you're a beginner...
Here are the key points to remember about panorama stitching. The rest of this page is aimed at those who want to learn more.
A virtual tour is realized in two steps: firstly, you need to stitch all the photos together using a panorama stitching software like Autopano Giga. Then the panorama is opened in another software, a virtual tour creation software like Panotour Pro in order to create this virtual tour in itself.
The only geometric projection to choose when you want to realize a virtual tour is the spherical projection during the stitching.
Nowadays, the three best pieces of stitching software are Autopano Pro/Giga, my favorite, PTGui, in English only, its direct competitor and Hugin, very similar to PTGui but available in other languages.
The stitching software has several things to do, completely automatically:
Compare the details of two consecutive pictures and and stitch them together, whenever possible automatically;
Transform and distort them, in the only way that interests us here, meaning in spherical mode.; It is the mode automatically picked by the software.
>Finally, harmonize shades and/or luminosity differences in accordance with the chosen stitching software.
Geometric transformations are detailed on the page dedicated to geometric projections but we'll see very quickly here that only one interests us: the spherical projection.
Indeed, it is the only geometric projection that virtual tour creation software can handle. Stitching software, when it's given photos to stitch a panorama 180 x 360°, stitches them automatically in this geometric projection mode. They'll try to stitch, for instance in the example here, eight photos shot with a full-format Fisheye, once the nadir corrected, to render a panorama that will look like that:
The central part of the photo is rendered "classically" but the more we get away from the middle part, the more the image is distorted... It is especially sensible at the bottom of the panorama.
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.
Caution though! It is not a list of virtual tour creation software but of panorama stitching software. Virtual tour creation pieces of software will be detailed in the last page of this tutorial.
* : partial stitching of the sphere hence not in 180° x 360°.
Autopano Pro 4.2 - Kolor
OK, I'll be honest: it's my favorite stitching software! 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... Version 4.2 since september 2015.
OK, I'll be honest: it's my favorite stitching software! 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... Version 4.2 since September 2015.
* 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 and maybe the best to stitch a complete sphere.Some informed users even prefer it to Autopano with, that's true, stealthy enough reasons. Really, the main competitor for Autopano Giga and I'd understand your hesitation.
This open source, multilingual stitching software, is very much liked by the community of informed users. You needn't hesitate to get your hands dirty! Quite similar to PTGui it is also very powerful but with a few annoying limitations compared to APG or PTGui. To keep within reach, just in case...
This piece of software, quite old like ImageAssembler, is good for spherical stitching but caution, it can't handle a complete sphere on 180° x 360° from fisheye images. It is the very first stitching software I tried! Nowadays, unfortunately, there's no unlimited free version anymore.
Photomerge is a Photoshop plugin allowing to stitch panoramas, possibly spherical but caution! note complete. Photomerge can't stitch correctly a complete 180 x 360° photo.
It's very easy to use but also very limited. With that said, the few things it does, it does them very well, meaning multi-range panoramas but that don't go from the floor to the ceiling.
Here again, it is very simple even though each software has its own stitching process, always pretty much the same nowadays. In this tutorial, I describe the process extensively with Autopano Giga.
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;
If the software doesn't detect automatically the lens with which the photos have been shot, check that the software is using the right lens model, meaning: fisheye or rectilinear. With certain pieces of stitching software, double-check that the software is using the model of your lens in order to correct its distortions. However, I'd rather do it before using Lens Correction in Photoshop's Camera Raw.
Caution! Unlike with a simple stitching, check that the geometric projection mode is the spherical one if you haven't stitched a 180° x 360°. In the event of a complete sphere, the software always chooses the spherical mode by default.
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 check if the photo is correct. Important for the creation of virtual tours.
If you harmonize luminosities, double-check that your software takes into account the fact that spherical panoramas are meant to be closed in the creation of the virtual tour. Both edges of your panorama must have exactly the same luminosity.
Saving the file of the panorama
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 - not very important when you're making a virtual tour: 8 bits is enough and will be chosen for the final saving, to create the virtual tour. 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 at least eight photos together.
Other options are detailed for Autopano Giga in its dedicated tutorial.
Before creating your virtual tour, you still need to make the last edits on your freshly-stitched panorama, you'll make the last edits on your final panorama, the one that was just stitched in your favorite panorama stitching software - Last final edits...
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