Setting up a new pano-computer. Software is on my mind.
Bottom line...should I upgrade my solid, utterly reliable, well understood, and rather fast PTGui Pro 8.3.1, or should I have a fling with some younger, prettier upstart?
Since you already have PTGui Pro, I'd upgrade to the latest and benefit from the improvements. Upgrading is cheaper than investing in a whole new application (and its timeconsuming learning curve), and frankly there is not much wrong with PTGui. In fact it's still at the top of being able to handle hard cases, and simple cases are easily done on full automatic in no time.
AutoPano Giga has improved a lot, especially since the improved control point editing, and being able to cope with more complex lens distortion models. Its use of the GPUs of you graphics card also improves the user experience with live updates of the display as you drag things around (just like PTGui Pro). My only reservation is that it attempts to do a lot of things automatically, which is not a problem when everything works fine, but becomes a bit of a struggle to override when a problem surfaces. I'm somewhat of a quality/control freak, so I prefer the PTGui approach which gives me full control over each and every parameter, but the APG automation can save a lot of time, especially on large image sets.
You can also have a look at the free Hugin, it has become a serious panostitcher with lots of useful features, and the price cannot be an objection.
I just tried out PSCS6 on my standard super stress test pano. It flunked miserably on an image that barely makes PTGui blink. So I definitely need something better than CS6, and I suppose the day I can forget about control point editing on complicated images has not yet arrived.
Exactly, the need to be able and intervene manually in Photoshop makes it a relatively poor choice compared to the dedicated stitchers. It is not possible to influence the position of the horizon or the centering of the lens, something I need when working with Tilt/Shift lenses, and there is no way of adjusting control points, so e.g. moving clouds may create issues.
So what are you using for your approximately 1/5 to 1/2 gigapixel panos, and how do you like it? And is it fast working? Would appreciate your thoughts.
PTGui Pro works very fast, AutoPano Pro works fast when multiple batches of large projects are started but will take time when the automation needs to be tweaked. Strangely enough, I often still use PTAssembler, because I know it best (it has the same roots as PTGui) and it offers a huge array of projections to choose from, and was/is often the first to offer some very useful practical solutions because it's programmed by a photographer. Occasionally I use Hugin to see if it can improve on others.