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I want to stitch lots of photos together since getting my Sigma 10-20mm. I've got a couple of projects in my head I want to do as well. However, my experience using Hugin for stitching hasn't been wonderful (I'm probably just bad at using it) and RAW is far nicer to edit in. It's been particularly annoying to move out of lightroom, convert everything into TIFF and hope that it looks ok.

Additionally are there any better recommendations people could give me on stitching software in general (doesn't have to be open source)? I'm aware that photoshop 3 has a stitcher but I'm still used to using lightroom.

Thanks!

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Someone already answered your actual question in the negative, so the next step would be to get better software. I know some people who have produced wonderful images from Hugin but it is a tedious process using a poor interface that I am happy to avoid. I use MS ICE (free), AutoStitch (free) and Auto Pano (Paid version of Autostitch) with great success. The beauty of these is that the process is automatic. In the case of AutoPano you do not even have to tell it which images are part of a panorama, show it a directory and it will detect and assemble the right images! –  Itai Feb 15 '11 at 18:33
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Hugin is a visual processing nightmare for me and my brain so thank you very much for the recommendations. Wonderful, that seems like a great way to go. I'll try it out. –  Comrade Stokesi Feb 15 '11 at 18:42
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Hugin is as straightforward as the other tools, it just has a lot of bells and whistles to influence whatever you want. If you don't need this, go to the first tab "Assistant" and let yourself be guided. –  Leonidas Feb 15 '11 at 20:26
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One extra bit of advice: regardless of which stitching software you use, the 10-20mm lens probably is not ideal for panoramas. Short zooms have enough distortion to make stitching relatively difficult. A 35 or 50mm prime is really the ideal (just takes more shots to cover a given area). –  Jerry Coffin Feb 15 '11 at 21:10
    
@Leonidas: Visual processing nightmare = I have a visual related learning disability and it's a nightmare. I've worked with laboratory programs more user friendly than it. –  Comrade Stokesi Feb 15 '11 at 21:12
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3 Answers

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There's unlikely going to be anything that takes several RAW photos, stitches them together, and then produces a RAW pano, which is what it sounds like you're after. The Photoshop + LR (and other pano software that take RAW as an input) combo makes it seem like it may because it loads up your RAWs to use, but its still TIFF converting and you still end up with TIFF.

RAW isn't really a file format like you're thinking. Its a collection of raw sensor data in a container. By nature, running it through the pano process will make it not RAW.

Use Lightroom to exposure balance your pano individual shots first, and then try Hugin with the TIFFs. Personally, I've had reasonable success trying that lately.

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Cheers, sounds like I just need to get better at using Hugin then. Your third paragraph has been what I've been doing with variable results. –  Comrade Stokesi Feb 15 '11 at 18:10
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It's not possible for any software to do stitching while the image remains in the RAW domain, it always needs to be converted to a raster format before stitching can occur.

While still in RAW format, the images are in a format where you cannot do any rotation or resizing, and you can't do any shifting up or down or cropping by anything other than units of exactly 2 pixels in either direction. Panoramic stitching needs to be able to rotate images and to shift and crop them by precise, less-than-one-pixel amounts.

In RAW, the image data is not yet in a rasterised form, where one pixel represents only one location on the image. Instead, it is a matrix of values according to a Bayer filter, where at least four pixels in the RAW, representing different colours, are needed to determine the colour of any pixel in the output.

It is, however, possible to do panoramic stitching on 16-bit-per-channel TIFF images, which will retain all the dynamic range you'd need to be able to perform the same sort of corrections you might otherwise perform in RAW. Sorry but I don't know off-hand which open source software can do this.

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I use MS ICE with great success for stitching photos RAW

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Hi Mikael, welcome to PhotoSE. When answering questions, we generally look for more "meaty" answers that offer detail, examples, and reasoning. Any chance you could fill out your answer a bit more? –  jrista Apr 30 '12 at 3:22
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