Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1] 2 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Panorama stitching  (Read 8788 times)
didger
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2030



« on: March 12, 2005, 10:38:16 PM »
ReplyReply

Unless something has snuck by me recently, there's NO stitching software that's very reliable and easy to use with wide angle lenses. PTMac works quite well, but it's pretty cumbersome and there's still lots of bugs and problems. Stitcher 4.0 works really great when it does work, but in my experience it doesn't always work (depending on the nature of the image content and lenses used). When it doesn't work, you're in real trouble because there's no way to specify control points manually. Stitcher also requires inconveniently large overlap of frames and the price is prohibitive for most people.

For my requirements none of the existing stitching programs even work well enough with world class 50mm lenses. You said Canon Photostitch gives you "pretty decent" results. This is of course a flexible concept, depending on your personal standards and subject material, and print size. I've found Photstitch and the Photoshop stitching program to be the two absolute worst of many programs I've tested, both for Mac and PC.  It's not just a question of the parallax errors that can't be fixed period, but also alignment problems that occur due to lens distortion that's greatest the shorter the focal length, but not absent even for long lenses.  Additionally, good blending is difficult sometimes. Jack Flesher and other experienced folks have gone to only doing stitching with shift lenses because there's NO stitching programs that work well enough. Now PTMac finally does produce truly perfect results, even for very distortion prone lenses and very challenging blending problems, but for doing the thousands of images I have to stitch, it's still too time consuming and cumbersome in many ways.

If you only do occasional stitches and since your quality demands are not very high (Photostitch good enough), you would probably be quite pleased with PTMac with any lenses whatsoever. You'll get excellent results, but you need a Mac and there's a bit more learning curve than for the easy automatic programs (that never produce good results consistently).
Logged
jmb
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 31


« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2005, 10:37:42 PM »
ReplyReply

Hey Didger,

If you've got access to a PC, give PTAssembler another shot. In the most recent version (using Autopano and Enblend), you can pretty much auto-create your panorama (especially since you are using a pano head). I don't rely on Enblend too much anymore, but the Auto-Create does make the control point selection much easier (in most cases you really don't have to do anything else...).

Give it a shot with or 3-4 pictures and see what you think of the results...

JMB
Logged
Jonathan Wienke
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5759



WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2005, 09:22:58 PM »
ReplyReply

No stitching program will handle wide-angle images that have parallax problems. The lens distortion/perspective adjustments offered by a real stitching program make hand-blending easier, but there's no way to compensate for parallax problems without building a 3-d model from the images and re-rendering back to a 2-d projection. I don't know of any software tool that currently does this.
Logged

MarcV
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1


« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2005, 10:47:12 AM »
ReplyReply

I have been using AutoStitch lately with success. It is very good at blending differences of exposure among frames. You can get it for free at the AutoStitch web site
Logged
didger
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2030



« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2005, 01:52:24 AM »
ReplyReply

Sorry if I sound cranky. Everybody thinks I'm "cranky" where stitching software is concerned. It's not "cranky", it's just that I won't settle for less than perfect results with cheap automatic software or without a huge amount of hassle with clumsy imperfect software or without having to fix things with Photoshop. Stitching with just about any software works OK some of the time, especially if you don't ever make large prints and you never look very carefully at stitch lines at 100% view.

If you handhold and there's close subject matter, you'll have some parallax every single time and there's NO way to fix that except very tedious Photoshop work that's almost impossible to do perfectly. If you shoot with a tripod and a panorama head you'll have no parallax and sometimes you can get nearly perfect results with cheap automatic stitching software, but with wide angle lenses and with some kinds of subject matter you'll never get perfect results and even with longer lenses you'll generally only get "pretty good" results.

The issue everyone has with me is that they can't see why I don't settle for "pretty good" most of the time. Well, I'm not particularly trying to convert anyone into insisting on perfection themselves. Most people just do stitching as a hobby experiment now and then, with no intention of trying to sell the images or to make large prints or to do large scale production. I'm trying to explain the realities and then let everyone decide for themselves if they want to do stitching and how good the results have to be for them. Several people over the past year of stitching discussions have insisted that "program X" is giving them perfect results and then at my insistence they would look at their stitch lines carefully for the first time and find misalignments, sometimes rather gross ones, but usually still insist that their stitched images are "good enough" or "easy enough to fix with Photoshop".

Thanks for the reminder that no one really seems to care about stitch alignment perfection or a little Photoshop correction or an occasional complete stitching failure. Jack Flesher also has found that stitching does not work well enough with any of the present software options and he only does stitching with lens shift, but he doesn't ever seem to participate in these stitching discussions for the benefit of those that may want perfection and not waste time with software that won't deliver that. This seems to be a non-existing audience. I think I'll do as he does in not continuing preach to a vacuum to explain things that no one wants to hear. Just in case anyone does care, PTMac is now probably only weeks away from being good enough to get consistently perfect results with a reasonable investment of time once you learn the program well enough.

I also seem to be about the only one on this forum that defends the Ansel Adams and Edward Weston approach where "rules of composition" are concerned. I keep getting into discussions about that too, for the encouragement of the occasional person that may want to try intuition rather than learning rules, but perhaps in this case also the "occasional person" doesn't exist and I'm preaching to a vacuum and just irritating those already totally committed to rules.

So, my somewhat belated "New Years Resolution" is to not keep harping on stitching perfection or creativity vs "rules".

Crankily yours, Didger  
Logged
didger
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2030



« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2005, 12:17:40 PM »
ReplyReply

Lisa, your message came in while I was posting the last one.  There's no issue of "bad mood" or disagreement.  We don't do photography with the same intensity of commitment or with the same amount of freedom and time and I imagine I've also spent several times the amount of money on equipment.  Moreover, I want to do huge prints to sell in galleries.  If I only wanted to do an occasional panorama stitching project I'd certainly go your route (cheap pano head and easy cheap software), since as you've experienced, it IS possible to get good results at least now and then.  However, as Jonathan and Jack and I have learned, to get consistently best possible results is not possible with cheap auto-everything programs and is NOT easy in any way.

As for your ideas about not bothering to discuss your way of doing compositions without rules, well, I reckon you're just smarter than me.  I had to learn the hard way (several flame wars).

There's no issue of consolation.  The fact that I'm having a great time with what I do and that even with absolutely minimal marketing efforts I've sold stuff and that Ansel and Edward so clearly touted "no rules" is more than enough "consolation".  I'm sorry if I've given you the impression that I'm picking a fight with you.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I've always found your contributions to all my threads very positive and constructive (and even polite).  No worries.  Please forgive my crankiness.  Maybe it's male menopause or something.
Logged
Lisa Nikodym
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1702



WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2005, 09:40:12 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Alabama Hills (just North of Lone Pine on the road to Whitney Portal).

Been past it a time or two on the way to Whitney Portal, but never stopped.  Clearly, must to plan to do so sometime when I'm in the area (which is about once every couple of years).  Thanks for the info.

Lisa
Logged

Andrew Teakle
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 90


WWW
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2005, 09:57:35 PM »
ReplyReply

I have been using Canon Photostitch for several years now to create panoramas (came free bundled with a digital camera). I have generally found it to be easy to use and it gives pretty decent results. Recently I took a four shot series using my 17mm lens and 35mm film. I know one gets the best results using 50mm or longer, but I needed the FOV. The trouble is, Photostich corrects for down to 20mm and I get ghosting that is impossible to correct successfully. Can anyone recommend good, inexpensive, easy-to-use panorama software that will handle such wide-angled shots.
Thanks in advance. :cool:
Logged

Jonathan Wienke
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5759



WWW
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2005, 10:30:26 PM »
ReplyReply

I second the recommendation, but you probably have a parallax error due to not having the camera pivoting aroung the nodal point (or entrance pupil) of the lens. This introduces parallax errors that cannot really be fixed by software.
Logged

Jonathan Wienke
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5759



WWW
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2005, 11:27:50 PM »
ReplyReply

I'm using Pano Tools Assembler from Max Lyons / Tawbaware and get reasonably good results down to about 20mm or so. The biggest challenge is getting the camera mount set up properly so that the camera and lens are pivoting on the nodal point of the lens; if this is screwed up, it's hard for any stitching method to work well because nearby objects appear to move around from frame to frame and the stitcher has no fixed frame of reference to work with. It's a PITA even blending manually under those circumstances.
Logged

Gary_Berg
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 105


« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2005, 10:35:13 AM »
ReplyReply

I've had fair luck using PTGui along with the Enblend plugin.
Logged
didger
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2030



« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2005, 11:16:17 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
If you've got access to a PC, give PTAssembler another shot
I have a good PC laptop, so I could test PTA again easily enough, but my Macs are much better and have bigger displays than my PC's.  If PTMac doesn't come together a little better fairly soon, I'll have to try PTA again.  For now, I'm about to head out for another big long shooting excursion.

I'm a little skeptical about auto selection of control points.  Stitcher 4.0 does OK with that most of the time, but most of the time isn't good enough.  There needs to be an option for efficient manual control point selection as well.  The PTMac system for that is fine, except for a bug so that it doesn't actually work the way it's supposed to.  I'll have at it again when I get back and if I still haven't heard anything by that time from Kevin with PTMac, I'll have to try PTA, uneager as I am to get back into using a PC for anything.
Logged
Andrew Teakle
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 90


WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2005, 12:58:00 AM »
ReplyReply

Thanks for your advice. I'll try PTAssembler, but I suspect you're right about the parralex error. I just used my normal ball head so will not have had it rotate around the nodal point.
Logged

Andrew Teakle
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 90


WWW
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2005, 07:14:52 PM »
ReplyReply

Thanks Jerry, I'll take a look at those.
Logged

didger
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2030



« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2005, 01:23:25 AM »
ReplyReply

True, there's no way short of twighlight zone sci-fi software to fix parallax, which is not just with wide angle lenses.  If you have close subject matter and you aren't rotating precisely about the nodal point of the lens you WILL have parallax.  Depending on subject matter and print size and personal slop tolerance you may be able to live with it.

As for alignment problems, these are worst with wide angles due to distortion, but even for very high quality longer lenses with extremely low distortion, no automatic stitching program gives perfect results consistently as far as I know (after testing many).  Stitcher 4.0 comes the closest, with excellent results even for distorted wide angle images when it works, but for some combinations of lenses and subject matter it flat out doesn't work at all; won't do a render period because the program can't find enough matching control points.

As for all the reports of OK results with the various cheap or free automatic programs, well, OK for one user is not necessarily OK for another one.  I want absolutely invisible stitch alignment lines with very careful scrutiny at 100% view because otherwise you'll also be able to detect misalignment on large prints.  No thanks and also no thanks to extensive Photoshop fixing of misalignments.  PTMac gives you perfect alignment and perfect blending even for very challenging images, but the program is not automatic or very user friendly and there's a real learning curve.  The biggest problem, however, is that there's a serious bug in the program where manual control point selection is concerned.  There's a new beta with major changes in progress, so hopefully after I get back from my next big shooting trip (leaving in a few hours) there will be some good news; otherwise I'll have to try PTAssembler again.
Logged
didger
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2030



« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2005, 06:58:47 AM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Not all the time, but often enough.....Even with imperfect stitches at 100%
Well, how often is often enough, and how good is good enough are individual decisions and this will also vary with different lenses and different sorts of subject matter.  I tried Panorama Factory when I was trying everything I could get demo versions of and decided definitely to pass on Panorama Factory.  I have thousands of frames to stitch and if "not all the time" were good enough, I'd buy Stitcher 4.0, because when it does work (not all the time, alas) the results are excellent, and the convenience of the intuitive and very versatile interface would make it definitely worth spending $400 for the program IF it worked all the time.  PTMac does work all the time and gives perfect results, but the control point selection hassle is too much of an issue for me to commit to dealing with for thousands of images.

As for any program sometimes coping well with foreground objects, that's strictly luck unless you're accurately rotating about the nodal point of the lens.  Hand held you can maybe occasionally accidentally come closer to nodal point rotation than other times, but if you're far off then you WILL have parallax for near objects and NOTHING can can fix this parallax without implausibly sophisticated science fiction software or extremely tedious and generally marginally effective manual Photoshop work.
Logged
Lisa Nikodym
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1702



WWW
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2005, 11:20:18 AM »
ReplyReply

Didger, rather than trying to find the "perfect" stitching program to try to fix stitches with parallax errors (which is somewhat a case of GIGO), you might instead try getting a panorama head to do it Right.  Then, you can use any stitching program you want.  I recently got one, and am amazed at how well it works.  I used to have major parallax problems with things up to a half-mile away or so.  My one test so far with the panorama head, which was of my living room, stitching a half-dozen frames ranging from about 20 ft to 3 ft away (a pretty amazing range), was automatically stitched together perfectly.  Even studying closely, I couldn't figure out where the stitching boundaries were.  The pano head I got was a cheap one that weighs less than 2 lb, so it's not to big a deal to carry it while hiking (a little bulky, but at least not very heavy).

Lisa
Logged

didger
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2030



« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2005, 12:05:17 PM »
ReplyReply

Yeah, J. Tweed, if you want professional quality stitching you can do the limited shift lens route or you can do some sort of major hassle like you describe. Actually, PTMac is a lot easier than what you're going through. The only problem is that the control points are not too easy to nail accurately. It's possible, however, and once you have a few accurate control points the automatic stitching and blending is phenomenally good (if you use Enblend). You don't need to output layered PSD files. You can go straight to a single 16 bit tiff. The PTMac interface is getting much better now too, so once the control point bug is fixed I'll be ready to rock and roll. Kevin is finally clear on the fact that he MUST fix this soon.

If you had to do as much stitching as I'm looking at, you'd switch to Mac for that reason alone (though if money is no object a G5 and 30" monitor is an additional nice reason...my brother just got a full on G5 system and we'll be setting it up today). For us top quality (p25) MF will probably be out of reach for at least a couple of years, so we'll do the max possible with 1ds and D2X and a lot of stitching and a lot of bracketing and blending. I expect to end up with quite a few 50+ Mpixel images.

I suppose I should have said that there's apparently only one other person on the forum that understands about pro quality panorama stitching and that thinks like Edward and Ansel and me, that rules of composition are not as cool as no rules, but lots of inspiration and intuition. However, preaching to a choir of one is not too much more appealing than preaching to a total vacuum. I'll just enjoy my unpopular way of doing things without trying to share it with unwilling minds. Pearls before..... ooops, ignore that.  

Below is a 22Mpixel image done with overly fussy stitching technique and no regard for any rules.
Please don't tell me how badly I've missed a composition that's painless to look at because I disregarded the rules. I might cry on my keyboard and cause a short or maybe I'd crash my head onto the keyboard as I nod off in boredom. Anyway, don't waste your time. You're free to tell me it's a wonderful image and to place a very early order for a large print. It could go up to 30x40" easily with good detail and NO parallax or stitching misalignment visible PERIOD. As for composition, inspiration beats imitation and calculation any time (unless you're building bridges, but that's engineering, not art).

I have thousands of images ready for stitching that will allow perfectly defect free final images from 20 to over 100 MPixels. It's a lot of work, but it beats the hassles of carrying a 4x5 outfit and dealing with the expense and various limitations of film. I'm having huge fun doing it my way and you really want to bet against success for me because I don't do rules?

Logged
Jonathan Wienke
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5759



WWW
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2005, 01:53:45 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Actually, PTMac is a lot easier than what you're going through. The only problem is that the control points are not too easy to nail accurately. It's possible, however, and once you have a few accurate control points the automatic stitching and blending is phenomenally good (if you use Enblend). You don't need to output layered PSD files. You can go straight to a single 16 bit tiff.
The current version of PT Assembler supports the enblend plugin; I've just not been totally happy with the results. But setting the control points works quite well; there's even a "micro-position" button that tweaks their alignment sufficiently well to be useful in the vast majority of situations. I'm all for automated solutions as long as I have the option of tweaking and adjusting things if I'm not happy with the auto results. Unfortunately, when using enblend, the result gets flattened down and can't be adjusted afterwards.

Does this mean I'm even more of an anal-retentive perfectionist than you?!?!??

Nice image, BTW. If it was mine, I'd crop the top to make it square and burn in the sunlit patch of mountains just a teeny bit to bring out a touch more detail, and then leave well enough alone.
Logged

Lisa Nikodym
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1702



WWW
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2005, 05:04:03 PM »
ReplyReply

Cool image, didger.  It has the "alien planet" look that I really enjoy looking at in photos.  The background looks a little like parts of Death Valley, but I don't remember anything like the foreground there; can you tell us where it was taken?

Lisa
Logged

Pages: [1] 2 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad