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Thread: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

  1. #1

    Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    Hi,
    I've just purchased the Sony NEX-5 for the primary use of Panoramic Photography, Im already proficient in Photoshop for any post editing. I need advice on, which is the best program to use for the "stitching"?
    also...
    A tripod is needed, any suggestions for a good one?

  2. #2

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    Re: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    Photoshop will 'stitch' (File->Automate->Photomerge) or have a look at Hugin, a free open source package that was really quite good the last time I used it and has apparently got even better over the past couple of years. Google Hugin to find the information/download site.
    Tripods ? partly depends what you're going to use it for or rather where. It's got to take the weight of the camera, it has to extend to the height you want, it's got to be stable and vibration free. (that last one got me when I was testing a lens on an old tripod, convinced myself that the lens was rubbish between f8 and f16 and replaced it. Later realised that as I stepped down to f8 I hit the sweet spot on the shutter/mirror 'clunk' that was making the tripod vibrate and throwing the image a little out of focus ) Furthermore weight may be a consideration if you need to carry it around on a shoot although really that doesn't bother me personally that much, finding a comfortable means to carry it is more important to me. I had a look at some carbon fibre tripods at an photo expo in Paris recently and apart from the large models (where weight might be an issue) I wasn't that impressed. I flicked a couple with a fingernail and one or two seemed to resonate for quite a while.
    Slik and Manfrotto are two names that spring to mind, I have both in a couple of sizes and both manufacturers do a range of models. Giotto also but very pricey. Suggest you stay away from mini tripods (the ones that collapse to about six inches in length and extend to about 5 feet) Not bad when they're collapsed but really not good on full extension - I only use mine to put a flash on.
    Either way I suggest you get one, anything is better than hand held at 1/8th of a second

  3. #3

    Re: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    Thanks for your reply paul, Very useful. especially regarding tripods.
    I'm wanting to produce interactive 360 "virtual tour" when i say "interactive" i mean being able to pan around the the stitched image clockwise, anti-clockwise up and down. Does Hugin let me do this or would i have to use another program?
    Any help is greatly appreciated.
    Cheers guys.

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    Re: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    Hugin will do the stitching for you both horizontally and vertically. Not sure about the interactive tour (actually I doubt it) but as far as I'm aware aren't the interactive tours just a window into a 360 degree panorama. My guess (underline guess) is that for something like the web you can probably get a Flash component, on a monitor I'd guess there's some software out there that does it, just a matter of scrolling a window on your image ... or is it ?

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    Re: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    PTGui and Hugin are probably your best candidates. The big advantage of PTGui over Hugin (at least in its default configuration) is that you can get layered & masked Photoshop output from PTGui if you need to hand-edit out clones or ghosts.

    Tripod-wise, I'd actually recommend that before you go and make a decision, figure out what sort of scenarios you plan to shoot panos in. Given that your NEX is a small light camera, and you're likely to only need to support it and a fisheye lens combination with a panohead, chances are good you might be able to get away with a smaller, lighter tripod for portability purposes. I tend to use a really cheap and tippy tiny Velbon, or my monopod with a 2-axis bubble level most of the time just for the ability to carry my gear with me all day. Like when I'm at Comic-Con:

    Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?
    (XT and Sigma 8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye mounted on a Nodal Ninja on a monopod, cable release and 2-axis bubble level used for no-parallax-point rotation).

    Also, see it in Seb Przd's flash-based interactive viewer

    Obviously, though, if you plan on doing longer shutter speeds for member images, you're going to want a more stable tripod.

    For a panohead at relatively low cost, I'd look into the Nodal Ninja. I've been very happy with mine with an XT/50D and Sigma 8mm circular fisheye combination. Of course, the reason I got the Sigma 8mm was to go handheld. It's entirely possible to get away without using a tripod at all.

    Additional software you're likely to want to look at would be Pano2VR and the other Garden Gnome goodies. The ability to map out to cube faces for retouching is a huge advantage, and if you needed to put together virtual tours, the software for doing so is here, although you may want to avoid using QTVR as a file format, given that Apple's pretty much stopped supporting it with the advent of Snow Leopard--they're pushing the use of HTML5 standards for delivery of this kind of content, instead.

    Welcome to the extreme end of panostitching. I bought my first dSLR to do this, too. Do not ignore the fun that can be had in remapping equirectangular panos. I love giving people headaches.

    Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?
    Underside of Scripps Pier, handheld equirectangular, remapped with MathMapCocoa and the Mathmap Quincuncial script, with Droste.

  6. #6

    Re: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    I asked this question before on this forum too. It seems that interactive 360 panoramas can only be created using some expensive software, or by using (Adobe) flash. To this date, I still have not managed to achieve what I want. Oh well...

    I'll be keeping a close eye on this thread.

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    Re: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    I just recently started using PTGui, and after some fiddling am finding it to be a very capable program. It allows me to stitch panos in equarectangular image format (360*180) that can be played by DealVR Player, a Javascript player that utilizes your video card for buttery smooth immersive viewing (even with different projections like fisheye, stereographic, and dome view). Found it pretty good, even opened a 200 megapixel image in it without incident (though it does seem to be puking at this 312.5 megapixel one I keep trying to feed it). Still, quite good (and free).

    I find the blender for PTGui rather lackluster, and I think the smartblend plugin crashed when I tried to use it (and I haven't tried again). What I've come to start doing is rendering a Photoshop file in layers with PTGui without blending, then using Photoshop's awesome blending engine on the layers. I have tested this with a system up to 500 Megapixels (with only 2 gigs of ram too) and it was successful (also the source files were captured in RAW). Now just to figure out what the hell to do with a 500 MP file...

    I can't tell you how much of a strugle it was to find quality software to do this in, and am happy to share what I've finally found. I somewhat recently got a Pano Tripod head for my birthday, thinking it would solve all my problems, only to discover that my lens has significant barrel distortion that's incredibly pervasive, Photoshop cannot stitch up to 180 degrees, and it lacks the ability to set the horizon or level the pano. Not only that, but the immersive program that seemed to be abosolutly AMAZING, KRPano, was not only expensive but based in command line scripts and talored for the internet. All in all, there didn't seem any easy way for me to take a group of pictures and paste them into a digital sphere without selling my soul to the devil. It is, therefore, rather nice to pass along what took so frustratingly long to find. Hope it is helpful.

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    Re: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    I asked this question before on this forum too. It seems that interactive 360 panoramas can only be created using some expensive software, or by using (Adobe) flash. To this date, I still have not managed to achieve what I want. Oh well...

    I'll be keeping a close eye on this thread.
    Those 360° interactive panoramas require some remapping on the fly (see the one referenced by Inkista above, which is a very nice job )

    Hugin (and I suppose PTGui) isn't designed for that, though I guess you could create a series of different mappings from your base images (probably through some scripting once you have the control points linking the images).

    For static panoramas, Hugin does a very nice job, even from handheld shots:
    Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?
    (Igaçu falls, brazil, above the falls, 3-shot pano, handheld)

    I know, not the most spectacular shot from a waterfall. Not the simplest to combine in a pano either

    Remco

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    Re: Which is the best program to use for Panoramic 360 Photo Stitching?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazing fire View Post
    I asked this question before on this forum too. It seems that interactive 360 panoramas can only be created using some expensive software, or by using (Adobe) flash. To this date, I still have not managed to achieve what I want. Oh well...

    I'll be keeping a close eye on this thread.
    Not sure if this fits what you're looking for, but given your non-Flash-based comment, PangeaVR is an interactive equirectangular viewer that works on iOS. How frustrating is it that you can't view a QTVR on iOS?! [grumble grumble]

    Quote Originally Posted by revi View Post
    Those 360° interactive panoramas require some remapping on the fly (see the one referenced by Inkista above, which is a very nice job )
    Yeah, but that's flash-based. The nice part is that all I have to do is upload the equirectangular to Flickr, and I can display it interactively.

    The Spi-V viewer for Flickr lets you use Flickr notes with links in them to create links to other panos. But it requires Shockwave.

    Hugin (and I suppose PTGui) isn't designed for that, though I guess you could create a series of different mappings from your base images (probably through some scripting once you have the control points linking the images).
    Uh.... Hugin and PTGui don't do the interactive display, but they do stitch and produce an equirectangular, which is the most typical input format required for those type of interactive viewers (they usually can also use cube faces in the cross format). You definitely need something like Hugin/PTGui to stitch an equirectangular. Most standard stitching software, like Photoshop's merge or the Canon Photostitch can't handle the extreme angles of coverage and the distortion you get from fisheye lenses (assuming you're using a fisheye to do this).

    Of course, if you're willing to go with Quicktime, you could just simply output QTVRs from either package, too.

    I'm not into the virtual tour thing and my knowledge is a little out of date (if you really want the goods on panostitching techniques, software, and gear, I highly recommend hitting the Panoguide forums), but something like Pleinpot might help you out in terms of VR delivery

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua View Post
    I find the blender for PTGui rather lackluster...
    Have you tried using Enblend? That's always been my default in PTMac (no longer viable software since it doesn't run on Snow Leopard and the developer's dropped it as a project), and is, of course, the default blender in Hugin. Most of the Panorama Tools-based packages these days do both enblend and enfuse, so you can do exposure blending and panostitching simultaneously.

    And now, just because it's the hint someone passed along to me that I wish to hell I'd known about sooner, it's the technique of using a Y-string for handheld panos.

    Ok, that and the fact that you get a lot more coverage if you remove the collar on the Sigma 8mm when you shoot with it. [d'oh!].
    Last edited by inkista; 2nd February 2011 at 07:52 PM.

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