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Author Topic: Good news for stitchers!  (Read 11962 times)
Ray
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« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2005, 11:11:16 PM »
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Bernard,
It's all right. You were clear enough. It's just I'm on a slow computer. I haven't bought the program yet because I haven't got the details of my previous purchase at hand in order to get a discount, and I can only save images in grey scale with the trial version.

I'm puzzled why the program won't import PSD files now I've changed the PS file preference settings to maximum compatibility. However, I can save a resulting image in multi-layered PSD format which gives me a layer for each individual image that was stitched and a mask in 'channels' that allows some degree of editing of each stitched image separately. However, I'm not sure of the usefulness of this. I generally find that getting the color balance and levels of each image reasonably close before stitching results in a perfect blend of hues; no abrupt demarkation line in skies, for example, which many stitching programs often produce. (Photoshop's photomerge is notorious for this).

The only problem that still remains, even with this improved version of IA, is the perennial proplem of parallax errors. I have yet to see how much this problem has been overcome in difficult images I previously failed to stitch, but I would expect at least some degree of improvement.
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Ray
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« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2005, 09:59:59 AM »
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Is there anything the new Panavue Image Assembler can do that PT Gui cannot?
Probably not, except save you heaps of time. I should try PTGui but I'm put off by the difficulty of this program that everyone seems to admit.

As a speed experiment, I've just timed how long it takes on my new computer to load and stitch 13 x 92.6MB 16 bit images, which result in a file size of 1.1GB. (These are 35mm negatives scanned at 3500 dpi).

The total time from the loading of the first image till the final stitched image appeared on the screen, including time spent on the 'find camera position automatically' option, which appears to be a substitute for 'lens definition', was 16 minutes. Yes, that's sixteen. Sixteen minutes to stitch a 1.1GB image. And what's even more remarkable, the stitch is flawless.

However, I admit that this was an easy stitch because there's nothing in the near foreground to cause serious parallax errors. It's a scene of an escarpment, waterfall, rainforest and coastline.

An interesting new feature of IA is the ability to save a stitched image in multi-layer PSD format to manipulate each individual image in PS later, if things did not work out quite right. This sounds to me like something to be avoided. Better to get the stitch right in the first instance, but for those advanced Photoshop users (I don't consider myself advanced) this feature might prove to be very useful. However, it seems Photoshop 3 PSD has a serious file size limitation. My 1 GB image is too big to save in multi-layer PSD. Following is an extract from Panavue's site on this feature.

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The Professional Edition of ImageAssembler allows you to save your resulting images as multi-layer PSD files. This allows you to do post-production retouching in Photoshop. When you open a multi-layer PSD resulting image in Photoshop, you see each source image as a separate layer. In each of these layers, the blending is saved as a mask. You may use all of the Photoshop tools to modify the colors of any of the images, to move one image with respect to another, or to change the stitch line or blending width. Probably the most useful feature is the ability to modify the stitch lines or the blending widths by working on the masks. You may make a mask visible, then add to it with the pencil or the brush tool, or remove from it with the eraser tool. Photoshop's rich set of features allows for unlimited control of the blending.
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Quentin
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« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2005, 06:15:07 PM »
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I use Autopano with PT Gui and this saves some time, but the main stitch is a little time consuming.  Still, PT Gui has provided me with the best stitched panoramas of all so far.  I may try the trial version of Panavue Image Assembler as I am entitled to a discount as a version 2 registered user.

Quentin
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Quentin Bargate, ARPS, Author, photographer entrepreneur and senior partner of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2013
Ray
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« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2005, 12:37:24 AM »
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But, hey! Why should I be plugging Image Assembler? What have they done for me, except provide a good program? When I first had probelems (years ago) with stitched images not opening in Photoshop and I sent Panavue's technical support a message, they replied 'contact Photoshop'. Didn't they know there was a 30,000 pixel limit in Photoshop, or were they just being very diplomatic?

When I later quizzed them about ultimate file sizes that IA could produce, they were very vague. Now they've specified it clearly in terms of pixels and file formats. The program has just got professional.

It remains to be seen whether their support is professional. I'm still waiting for a reply to my email requesting information on the original email address I used to download their product many years ago, in order to get my discount on this major upgrade. For some reason, the serial number and digital code (which of course I recorded) are not sufficient. They want the email address I was using at the time of download. I guess they're paranoid about piracy.

Okay, Panavue! Be paranoid if you like. Just respond to my email promptly, please!
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Ray
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« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2005, 02:33:37 AM »
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As an aside, this is the precise reason my main imaging lenses are shift lenses -- it is very easy to generate an almost perfect image overlap for later stitching, and by going flat, you have virtually none of the curved perspective distortions you get with sperical (panned or gimball-head) stitches or swing-lens cameras.
Almost is the key word. I have a series of test images, taken indoors with the TS-E 90mm plus 1.4x converter and 20D, of book shelves and sloping roof beams. There's a good mixture of horizontals, diagonals and verticals.

I was disappointed the previous version of IA could not do a flawless stitch. It was very close, in fact really close enough. A small amount of cloning easily fixed the problem, but it wasn't perfect and I felt it should have been because the parallax errors were not great. Through judicious cropping and minimum overlap, I was able to eventually get a flawless stitch. It just required some work.

I've tried version 3 with the same series of uncropped images. The results in fully automatic mode were as good as the previous version of IA using flags. However, this new version of IA has an option to use up to 8 flags per image. Using 5 pairs of flags per join, I was able to get a flawless stitch.

The resulting image is over 80MB in 8 bit.
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Ray
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« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2005, 09:57:15 AM »
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If you think about it, it's hardly surprising. "JPEG" and "TIFF" only help you when you store things to disk. The images are still X times Y pixels, aren't they? By going from 16-bit TIFF-RGB to 8-bit whatever, you've only saved half the effective memory space. Depending on implementation, you may not even save that much.
Sorry! I wasn't clear. I converted the 16 bit 92MB images to 8 bit, reduced the file size to 4MB and saved in jpeg. Autostitch was still not able to stitch all 13 images. It stitched just the last 6, but did a good job on those 6.

Could be the overlap between images no. 7 and 8 is insufficient for the automatic process. I tried stitching a row of 8 images converted from 20D RAW images and saved in jpeg. Autostitch was able to handle this, but for some reason was not able to to pull the images into a straight line. I got something with more distortion than a fish-eye lens, despite ticking the 'auto straighten' option.
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Ray
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« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2005, 12:56:54 PM »
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To clarify, with my flat-stitch method -- shifting the lens and counter-shifting the camera -- you get ZERO parallax
Yes. You mentioned this before and it certainly makes sense to me, but you need a special tripod head or bracket for that, don't you? My concern would be lost opportunities whilst stuffing around. As in auto exposure bracketing, one doesn't want to waste any time between shots.

Now it would be great if Canon would produce a motorised TS-E lens and sliding tripod head so all these movements could be co-ordinated  Cheesy .
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Ray
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« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2005, 10:06:12 PM »
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I have an RRS L-bracket on my camera with hash marks to index the camera shifts.
I can't quite visualise this. I understand the purpose of the RRS L bracket is to allow easy rotation of the camera from horizontal to vertical position whilst maintaining the weight over the centre of the tripod and keeping the perspective the same. Are you saying that the bracket slides sideways, or that the camera slides sideways in the bracket?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2005, 08:31:24 AM »
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Has anyone tried the same with one of the shift lenses available in Nikon mount?

Regards,
Bernard
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #29 on: June 23, 2005, 11:43:05 PM »
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$3000 US dollars is a bit steep for me.
I assume you are referring to the going rate for an Olympus 24 shift?

Yes, they are expensive. I believe there is one on eBay now with a starting bid of $2800. I know one sold recently on FM for $2400.  

But they are also very rare and thus highly desireable to Olympus collectors.  I have read but never confirmed that less than 100 of these lenses were ever produced.  I also heard they were individually hand-assembled and callibrated, and that the retail price in the early 90's was around $4,000 US.

Notwithstanding, it is a joy to use on the 1Ds2.  Not perfect as it does show some minor CA, but so far it is the best thing going in a wideangle shift.

Cheers,
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Ray
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« Reply #30 on: June 23, 2005, 10:25:55 PM »
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2) ALL the Canon TSE's will accept either Canon converter.
Jack,
You're right! The TS-E 24mm does accept the Canon 1.4x extender. I never even thought of trying it when I discovered this lens was hardly better than my Sigma 15-30 at 24mm (it was actually marginally sharper and I beleive I have a good copy of the Sigma).

What's the arrangement for the Olympus 24mm shift? Do you need an adapter for the Canon mount?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2005, 09:24:17 AM »
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Ray,

I downloaded the trial version, and gave it a try on 6 carefully shot D2X images in vertical mode.

The resulting 10000 pixels wide image is nice, with very few stiching marks visible. Impressive.

However, I was a bit disapointed by the .psd layered export function. I was expecting to be able to retouch in .psd the final image produced by editing masks... but this doesn't seem to work too well.

- Have you ever used this capabilty?
- Is the current v3 behaviour a bug, or was it working like this before?

I'll probably contact the company on this, as it seems important to be able to re-touch the result.

Thank you in advance for any feedback you might have on this.

Regards,
Bernard
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Ray
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« Reply #32 on: June 21, 2005, 12:15:42 AM »
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Jack,
By flat stitches, I take it you mean mosaics (or single rows) of 4, 8, 16 or 20 35mm images which end up looking like an ultra sharp 4x5 image (or 8x10 image) taken with a super lens impossible to build, rather than the whiz bang 360 degree QTVR panoramic effects.

That's what I'm interested in; exceeding the resolution limits of large format photography using small format cameras.

Image Assembler is very efficient at producing such images.
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Kevin M
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« Reply #33 on: June 22, 2005, 03:50:19 AM »
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For getting more megapixels from your camera, nothing beats Autostitch, pricewise.  It's free!

I don't do 360's, I don't stitch rows of stitches and I don't use a tripod. I find the quality amazing and I've been stitching for years.

Lack of control and filetype flexiblity are problematic at present, hopefully this will improve if the software goes commercial.
I certainly agree about Autostitch. Despite the interface shortcomings of the present free version - it does extraordinarily accurate stitches. I will be very interested to see how this software develops.
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Ray
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« Reply #34 on: June 23, 2005, 07:13:58 PM »
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My first TS-E lens was the 90mm simply because it's the sharpest in Canon's range, but I have to admit it's not the most useful focal length for landscapes. I now use my TS-E 24 much more, which is in fact a 38mm on the 20D. It's a pity this lens is a bit on the soft side.

By the way, the TS-E 90 accepts an extender. With 1.4x extender and camera vertical, it's necessary to take 4 images for overlap, resulting in a file size more than 3x larger than a single shot using a 1.6 crop camera. The 90mm is good enough to deliver a slight increase in picture resolution (as opposed to lp/mm resolution) through use of the 1.4x extender, but of course it's then no longer a fine quality prime but a medium quality zoom at around 126mm. I did a comparisom some time ago and found the TS-E 90 with 1.4x extender was almost as good as my 28-135 IS zoom at 126mm  Cheesy .
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Ray
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« Reply #35 on: June 23, 2005, 12:00:04 AM »
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The bracket slides sideways in the tripod head QR release plate.
Thanks for that. Interesting article. I guess I'll have to import this L bracket from the US. I anticipate problems getting it to fit my existing tripods  Huh
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #36 on: June 26, 2005, 12:07:26 AM »
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The 28 and 35 Nikkors perform very well within their range -- I would rank them on par or slightly above the Canon 45 TSE. Both fall off significantly at about 8~9mm shift on the horizontal, though in fairness to Nikon that is where they claim maximum shift is. You can get the full 11mm on vertical.
Jack,

Thanks a lot for your kind help. I'll probably get a second hand 28 mm Nikkor. Will keep you posted on the results.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Ray
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« Reply #37 on: June 19, 2005, 08:39:27 PM »
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Bernard,
I've been away from my studio and computer gear for the past few days and haven't given V3 a full trial. This claimed support of PSD layers is a new feature. The first images I attempted to stitch were in PSD format and IA couldn't open them (invalid bits/pixel message), which I thought was a bit odd, but redeading the list of features it appears that IA support for PSD is only Photoshop 3 *PSD. I just assumed that this was the cause of the problem. I hadn't set PS preferences to maximise PSD compatibility.

Generally, I use TIFF for stitching. With previous versions of IA I was often up against Photoshop's 30,000 pixel limit and had to edit the image in Corel's PhotoPaint. With PS CS the limit is much extended, but for long panoramas Image Assembler's limit then became the annoying factor. These file size limits, for all practical purposes, have now been abolished in both PS and IA, and for me that's a big step forward. 16 bit stitching is icing on the cake.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #38 on: June 20, 2005, 10:30:50 PM »
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Maybe it's because I only do flat stitches and hence only use that mode on Realviz...
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Ray
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« Reply #39 on: June 22, 2005, 04:41:48 AM »
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I certainly agree about Autostitch. Despite the interface shortcomings of the present free version - it does extraordinarily accurate stitches. I will be very interested to see how this software develops.
I've just tried Autostitch and I see what you mean. It can do remarkably accurate stitches. I tried it with the 4 TS-E images which Image Assembler V3 has a slight problem with in fully automatic mode. I had to use flags. Autostitch did the same flawless job without flags, so credit where it's due. I'll experiment further to see where the limits are regarding parallax errors.

However, in some respects Autostitch is quite abysmal. There's no stitch so bad as no stitch at all. Despite setting system memory to the maximum 2GB in Autostitch's options and increasing pixel width and height, I frequently got 'out of memory' messages. I found it impossible to stitch 13 images in a single row, even after I'd reduced the image size from 16 bit 92MB tifs to 8 bit 4 MB jpegs.

Without ticking the 'gain compensation' box (default unticked), the few images of that 13 image series I was able to stitch had obvious differences in hue and levels amongst the images in the final stitch. After ticking 'gain compensation' and increasing 'gain sigma' from 0.1 to 0.3, it took about 45 minutes to stitch just 2 images. At least there was a progress window, "rendering block 7 of 320; blending block 8 of 320 etc etc".

I get the impression that Autostitch could be ideal for owners of P&S cameras who shoot in jpeg mode. I'll experiment some more with this. I'd be interested to see how long it takes to stitch that 61 image mosaic featured on Autostitch's web site.
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