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Author Topic: Panorama Stitching Software  (Read 17853 times)
Peter McLennan
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« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2005, 07:17:14 PM »
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Digi-T, I'm glad you're having success with Autostitch.  My only worry is that it will vanish.  I've had to download a new copy once already and I'd hate it if it was unavailable.  My D70 kit lens has significant barrel distortion which I remove wit PTLens before stitching.

Mark, your comments re JPG's are totally reasonable.  I do see some softness out of Autostitch JPGs even at the highest quality setting.  I found Stitcher 3.0 unusable and the other assemblers had equally daunting learning curves.  Autostitch and PhotoVista are no-brainer stitchers.  That's me.  No-brainer.

One Autostitch anomaly I've noticed is it won't stitch more than three verticals.  Annoying, since that's the optimum way of shooting panos.  Anybody confirm this?

Peter
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Digi-T
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2005, 10:57:26 PM »
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Peter, I share your concern that Autostitch may vanish and I have had to download a new version as well. I am not sure why your version is having difficulties with vertical shots. I agree that vertical shots are the best way to shoot for panoramics and I just successfully stitched 11 vertical shots that I am very impressed with. I didn't find a flaw with the stitching except that it might be a little softer than from some other stitching programs. Even though it is just a jpeg at slightly less then optimal quality I am still very pleased with it and will probably print it as is. It is so large with so much information in it that I will likely not print it so large that any of the minor flaws will reveal themselves in the print.

T
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2005, 11:09:37 PM »
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Hmm.  I'd given up on verticals.  I'll try again.  Thanks, Digi-T.

I agree, output is a little soft, but heck, my image dimensions are frequently 6-8K pixels wide.  With that size a file, I can take a tiny bit of JPG softness for now.

We should keep bombarding www.autostitch.com with requests to make it commercial.  UBC is my alma mater, too

P
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2005, 08:33:44 AM »
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Quote
Autostitch and PhotoVista are no-brainer stitchers.
Photovista is also a no-brainer stitcher in the sense that even though their website says it does, when you download the program and try it - it does NOT accept TIF files. Also it downloads bundled software I didn't ask for (e.g. "metamail") and it insidiously puts you on their junk mail list unless you UNCHECK a selection box. This is socially incorrect behaviour on today's web - they are supposed to give you the option to check the box if you want their advertising. Photovista is now uninstalled - as is metamail.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Peter McLennan
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« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2005, 10:44:18 AM »
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Mark, Photovista was my default stitcher until Autostitch.  I actually paid money for it about three vendors ago.

With Autostitch, there's no going back.  PV is far inferior, less forgiving and puts a grid of nasty black lines into the stitch.  I shouldn't have mentioned it.  Bad me.  Bad, bad, bad.

P
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2005, 11:47:31 AM »
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No sweat Peter, it only took a few minutes to download, discover it doesn't work and uninstall.

Actually, from eveything said above and what I've tried myself, the software aspect boils down to several simple provisonal findings:

(1) ArcSoft is the most cost-effective of the lot, with emphasis on the "effective".
(2) Autostitch would be more promising with TIF capability.
(3) RealViz Stitcher 5 remains to be assessed once it hits the market.

Turning from the software to the prior issue of capture requirements, it seems to me the key issues relate to (i) camera to subject distance (the further away the better?); (ii) using manual exposure and retaining one setting that avoids clipping important highlights in the brightest part of the panorama (digital capture); (iii) probably better to use the longest focal length feasible (better convergence at the seams?); (iv) don't overlap more than 20 to 40% (can create problems for the software). Comments on these items and additional suggestions welcome.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Peter McLennan
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« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2005, 12:44:39 AM »
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I agree with most of your pano shooting points, Mark.

I occasionally use different exposures for each source shot, rather than sticking to one constant exposure.The idea is that you present the stitcher with the least colour and density differences between source frames.

For maximum quality, shoot and stitch verticals.

Keep horizons scrupulously level and in the middle third of the frame if shooting with wide lenses. Use a distortion remover before stitching.

The longer the lens, the easier it is on the stitcher.

I almost never use a tripod for panos. Only exceptions are if light levels demand it or if there is subject matter close to the lens.

Panos wider than 90 degrees are frequently boring. I seldom make them wider than 180.

Panos can work in the most unusual situations. It's amazing what you can get away with. Experimenting is fun.

There's no easier way to get more bang for your camera buck.

Peter
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drew
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« Reply #27 on: September 19, 2005, 03:13:00 AM »
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Just add another recommendation for panotools, PTassembler and the enblend and autopano plug-ins. There are, in my view only two drawbacks to this package:
1/ It will only handle 8-bit files (autopano will not work at all with 16-bit files).
2/ With enblended tiffs, you get a bit of banding in overlap areas of clear blue sky. The patch tool in Photoshop can repair this.
BTW there is a review of PTassembler on this site.
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Andrew Richards My Webpage
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2005, 06:43:46 AM »
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I don't see the 8-bit issue as a drawback, considering (a) the file sizes one is dealing with making a panorama, ( the fact that the most "destructive" image editing can be done in 16 bit then converted to 8 for stitching, and © the evidence Dan Margulis has presented on the 8 versus 16 bit issue in general.

The two main drawbacks of this software are: (i) three programs needed to do the job of one because of a dense, complex. non-user friendly base program followed by the need to do yet more touching up in a 4th program, and (ii) with ArcSoft the interface is simple and there is no such banding. I acknowledge that experienced users of Panotools/PT who are getting good results have every justification to recommend it, but for someone now getting into panorma-making, there would need to be compelling reasons to use four programs instead of one. Are there such compelling reasons? Am I missing something here?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
drew
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« Reply #29 on: September 19, 2005, 08:59:36 AM »
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Mark,
The simple answer is if Arcsoft does exactly what you want it to, then look no further. Why the discussion?....
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Andrew Richards My Webpage
jmb
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« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2005, 10:12:23 AM »
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The most compelling reason is quality and flexibility. The quality you can get from PanoTools is significantly better than the other programs. Secondly, the program is significantly more flexible allowing you to easily (in photoshop) correct stitching misalignments/parallex errors, eliminate duplicates (of people, cars, etc), etc.

WRT to PTAssembler needing three different programs, it has very little to do with being a dense, complex, non-user friendly base program (unless you are of course talking about PanoTools which is a script based program...). The reason Max hasn't included Autopano and Enblend with PTAssembler is that they aren't his programs to distribute (but they are available freely from their author's sites). In truth, you don't need Autopano or Enblend at all. It is quite simple to select 3-5 control points per seam and to do all the final touching up/blending in photoshop by editing the layer masks. Enblend and Autopano are for lazy people like me (of course, I've gotten a little less lazy recently and am rarely using Enblend...).

So, my suggestion is to give Max's program a shot for about a week (or say 5 panos), and see what you think. You appear to be very willing to try other "simple" programs but are unsatisfied with the results... Give the more "complex" program a shot (using the Autocreate function) and see what happens... (the forums that Max hosts are very good for advice...)

JMB
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #31 on: September 19, 2005, 10:38:29 AM »
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drew, the answer to your question is that I have given these various softwares ONE - albeit stiff - test. Once I get into doing others different issues I am now unaware of could arise, requiring software with more tweaking options. While ArcSoft passed my first evaluation with flying colours - superior to everything else I tried, it is a one-shot program with not much tweaking allowed. Also it does not have an option to automatically amend the warp, which could be handy - but in truth this is manageable in Photoshop manually. So I am still in a research phase, not necessarily settled on a one-size-fits-all solution just yet. The views I'm getting in this discussion thread are most interesting and useful.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
drew
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« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2005, 11:53:48 AM »
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Well, as someone who has been through a research stage on this very issue (albeit not an exhaustive one), I still give the thumbs up to PTassembler etc. I do not seem to be the only one.
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Andrew Richards My Webpage
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #33 on: September 19, 2005, 12:24:20 PM »
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Drew, thanks, I appreciate the advice. The way I intend to proceed is that when I next make a number of panorama sequences, I shall first try stitching them in ArcSoft, simply because from my first test, it seems so darn easy and successful. If that runs into problems, then I shall try PTAssembler to see whether it has features that would resolve those problems. This conforms with my approach to not make things any more complicated than they need to be.

By the way, as I write I have beside me a 14.5 inch print of that panorama test I did, processed in Arcsoft. It is a composite of 14 portrait-mode photographs. There isn't a shred of evidence that it is any more than 1 photograph. That's how good it is. I regret that I cannot post it, due to arcane restrictions my ISP imposes on hyperlinking images from a website on their system to a discussion forum.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
digidon
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« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2005, 09:49:35 PM »
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After trying photomerge in PS CS2 with some of my handheld and tripod tile shots I usually ended up saving the layers and performing endless manipulations to correct out the mismatches. On your recommendation I downloaded the ArcSoft demo. On two of my most difficult to merge sets it did an almost perfect job, leaving only a superficial cosmetic adjustment for PS....the manual tuning in ArcSoft did nothing to fix it. But, the auto stitching was so near perfect, compared to PS, I don't care. Adobe should call these guys. I'm tempted to buy ArcSoft immediately but tomorrow I plan to do a 3x3 handheld tile test. This software is deceptive because of the appearance - it's not professional looking enough to do that good of a job.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #35 on: September 19, 2005, 10:02:02 PM »
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You're right - the interface does look too simple to be "professional"; but does "professional" necesarily have to mean "convoluted and difficult"? Maybe the summit of professionalism is to do very complex things in an apparently simple way? Well, looking forward to hearing about your results with tomorrow's acid test.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
digidon
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« Reply #36 on: September 20, 2005, 10:44:31 PM »
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Mark,
I agree-simplicity is a mark of genius, or was that professionalism.  Anyway, I did the 3x3 hand held test today.
The results of this sloppy unscientific test is that neither PS CS2 nor ArcSoft would do a perfect stitch of nine shots.  But, I found the best way to do a 3x3 in ArcSoft and still have to try it with PS.  Check out the result on this web page.
http://www.higherworld.com/stitch/
Don
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #37 on: September 20, 2005, 10:56:17 PM »
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Hi Don,

It's neither sloppy nor unscientific. Very methodical. And the results are most interesting. Clearly the ArcSoft result "out of the box" was better than that from Photomerge, but your two-step process, by simplifying the stitching challenge to two unidimensional steps really worked. Clever. I don't think one could ask for a more satisfactory outcome. I'll stick my neck out and hazard a guess that Photomerge won't be quite as good even with the two-step process, but really looking forward to seeing the outcome. Thanks for doing this.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #38 on: September 21, 2005, 12:39:32 AM »
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I've been using PTAssembler to do my stitching. While there is a bit of a learning curve, the control you get makes stitching very difficult images possible. I use the multi-layer PSD output where each component image is a separate layer, and blend by hand. This makes dealing with movement like grass blowing in the wind and waves on a lake possible to deal with in a way that no auto program can match. While it takes time, I've made 24x48 prints with no visible seams whatsoever.
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BryanHansel
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« Reply #39 on: September 21, 2005, 12:34:46 PM »
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I've been doing a lot of 360x180 degree images lately for websites.  I'm using a 360Precision pano head (sweet!), D70, and a 10.5DX lens.  I've gone through the whole search for the perfect software that does everything perfectly, with no input from me, and in record time, but I haven't found that piece of software yet.

Someone mentioned Hugins in this thread before, and it is what I've settled on.  It is much like PTGui and PTassembler, but it is open source and free.  Only lacking for me is that ability to apply a template to each project, which would speed up stitching of multiple exposures to later combine to increase dynamic range.

Also, I had a few questions about what I use from visitors to my website, and my father wanted to learn how to do this also, so I wrote a couple page article and posted it at my site.  Hopefully, it explains a bit more about Hugin, autopano, and enblend.

As a side note, Autostitch seems just to be using the SIFT method of finding control points, which is exactly the same as autopano and autopano-SIFT both of which are free and usable inside of Hugins.  With Autopano, enblend, and Hugins ability to output .tiffs, etc... it would seem that users of Autostitch would benefit from the switch to the free and open source Hugins.

Anyway, at this point with Hugins, it takes me about five to ten minutes to stitch a 360x180 image made from 8 level pictures, one up, and two down.  Then using the photoshop 16 bit plug-in for PTtools, I add in the nadir point.  This adds about 15 minutes.

Hope this helps,

Bryan

Here's the link to the article:

Quick and Dirty Hugin Panoramic Stitching
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