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I'm interested in doing pano stitching digitally. There are several apps that look promising. I'm looking at learning Hugin (http://hugin.sourceforge.net/), but before I start investing the time in it, I thought I'd solicit opinions on what a good beginner pano stitching app might be...

I'm intending to stitch together single row pano's so I don't think I'll be stressing the app too much.

EDIT

I've used Hugin for a few months now: it's really easy to use (at least for the simple pano's I'm making). It has a few warts, but overall I can't imagine I'd want much more out of a pano stitcher.

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Not an answer, but wanted to share a couple of good articles on Hugin from lwn.net: lwn.net/Articles/351053 (a bit dated), and lwn.net/Articles/412977 (newer). –  mattdm Jan 6 '11 at 0:32

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The only program I've used is Hugin, but I'm really happy with it. I think it's pretty easy to use, and for the most part it's an automatic process. You'll spend most of your time waiting for the software to process the photos, so your best bet is to just install some software and start using it so you can get your results sooner!

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Agreed, it works very well. –  labnut Jan 8 '11 at 14:01
    
I actually just dug in with Hugin as it turns out. It's not that painful actually, but it has a nearly log of time per picture added. It couldn't process 11 18 meg RAW files successfull--would crash every time. smaller jobs it could handle ok. I will try the other FOSS ones though. –  Kevin Won Jan 11 '11 at 22:57
    
It might be buggy working with big files (memory issues), but for other things it works very great, it can even create HDR bokeh panoramas, you can play a lot with the options it offers. –  tomm89 Feb 18 '11 at 0:09

In addition to picking your software, you'll want to remember a couple things while shooting.

First, always shoot in manual mode, and use the same exposure for all your shots. If you let the camera adjust aperture and/or shutter from shot to shot, even the best stitching software will have a hard time avoiding a patchwork quilt look.

Second, although I see PTGui's claim that your images don't have to be aligned, my experience with Hugin is that better inputs always help, so use a tripod if you can. You can buy specialized pano tripod heads (as Jay mentioned in his post), but you should absolutely be able to get started without one.

Finally, when you're using Hugin, pay attention to whether you've got any lines in your photo that are supposed to be straight. I've found that Hugin does a better job if you can point out some straight lines in your photo and let is use those to help with alignment. Obviously, this won't work on some landscapes, but for scenery that's got buildings, docks, towers, etc., this can help avoid "swimming" panos.

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THE beginner pano app has to be Autostitch. There is almost no interface, you open a bunch of files and select the output size. That's it! It does not get any easier than that.

Then there is also Microsoft ICE. It's the same principle in that it stitches without user input but it does let you tweak the horizon, center-point and projection interactively.

Between the two, Autostitch does a better rendering job but run out of memory on very large panos before MS ICE does.

By comparison, Hugin is complicated and it's interface is not the cleanest. It's enough to deter you from panoramas! (At least that's my impression after trying several versions)

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I have to agree. Hugin is great - I've used it successfully and was very happy with the output - but it's not very intuitive. I only figured out how to use it by following a tutorial; all my initial attempts resulted in total rubbish. –  Max Sang Jan 6 '11 at 12:11

Well... I suspect that your probably more looking for FOSS applications, I will put in a vote for PTgui. The thing I really appreciate about using it is although there's a lot of feature depth to the program if you want to dig in and get your hands dirty, it's super-simple to get started... you only have to be able to point to a folder with your initial photographs in order to generate a basic panorama. It's also a solid enough app that I feel comfortable enough using it for client work... such as this pano that I shot for AT&T last year.

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You did that 360 office pano? Wow, nice. –  rfusca Jan 6 '11 at 4:08
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Thanks! It's made up of 6 (well technically 18- it's an HDR) shots with a Canon 15mm fisheye rotated around a Nodal Ninja pano tripod head. It's actually a house here in Spokane, WA where I live that was rented for the shoot... Almost every piece of furniture and art in the shot was brought in especially for the shoot. –  Jay Lance Photography Jan 6 '11 at 4:15
    
+1 for PTgui. You can have it do almost everything for you or take as much control as you want. –  Mike Fitzpatrick Jan 6 '11 at 5:40

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