Can anyone recommend some good tools for creating panoramas from multiple photos.
(Free and commercial)
Personally I use either Windows and Ubuntu, but I'm not fussy, suggestions for other platforms will help others.
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I use AutoPano Pro (commercial, 99 € -- Mac, Windows, Linux) with great results. It merges photos together automatically and is able to blend together photos with several different focal-lengths and even exposures. I now usually just hand-hold a series of shots for a pano rather than bothering to set up a tripod. As long as I am zoomed out enough to crop off the uneven edges, the slight shifts in perspective don't cause merging problems.
Its kind of neat to look at the program's detailed merge view to see the key points it has chosen and how it will wildly warp images to merge them together seamlessly.
PTGui (commercial) works fantastically well. It is available for Windows and Mac OX.
On Mac, I had bad luck with Hugin; it kept crashing. YMMV. DoubleTake ($25 currently) seemed promising, and is almost a one-step solution, but didn't seem to have vignette removal.
My best results have been with Photoshop's Photomerge. On CS5 (don't know about <=CS4), it has vignette removal, and the stitching is very intelligent. I ended up with a slightly curvy horizon and some perspective issues, but they're very easy to fix with Puppet Warp.
Plus, you can fill in the sky and other non-important areas with Content-Aware Fill to make it rectangular.
Hugin is the standard answer here.
I've used it very successfully on Windows, but there is a Mac download available on the download page on the website.
As I understand it, Hugin's not as easy to use as some of the paid-for competition (none of which I've tried), but it's worth persevering with.
I have played with various panoramic software tools over the years and without doubt, Autopano is the clear winner for me. It stitches images that I don't even expect it to be able to handle. I'm a wedding photographer and incorporate hand-held panoramic work at weddings which requires some great stitching technology when the images haven't been captured on a tripod.
I love capturing panoramas on my iPhone too and for this, I use Autostitch Panorama. I post examples to my iPhone Photography blog here:
Microsoft ICE and Auto Pano have worked very well for me. I tried most other solutions proposed here and most of them take the fun out of making panoramas.
If you want to simply put in your images and let the software do the work and not even need to learn what control points are, then go for one of those automated tools. At this point I almost exclusively use MS ICE because it lets the center and projection to be adjusted interactively. It makes a huge difference in precisely making the pano look the way you want. Furthermore it is available for free.
Having to instead adjust the angle (tilt or other stepped parameter) by specifying degrees in a dialog box as with many other software is simply ridiculous.
Personally i've only used photoshop's photomerge and the panorama creator built into windows live photo gallery. They seem to be about as good as each other to me - i.e both need to be 'cleaned up' if you want them to be flawless - but for just a quick panorama i now prefer photo gallery simply for its ease of use
(example done using WL Photo Gallery http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaips/4309314024/in/photostream/)
I use Arcsoft Panorama Maker 4. I got in a bundle it when I bought my point 'n' shoot Nikon, but it is a great and simple piece of software. Works on MS Windows and Macintosh.
What I most like is that it automatically stitches images, it doesn't require that you manually set the connecting points of images that are next to each other, and does it pretty well. Only condition is that you have a well contrast and "content filled" images (as opposed to monotone images with not much of subjects), but even then you can set the points in a matter of minutes and have a great panorama.
I even supports creating 360° panoramas that can be saved as interactive flash objects.
You can create one on an Android device very easily with the (little known) panoramic feature.
Camera > Settings > Shooting Mode > Panorama
Short video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txwdD11sW1s
Imaging Shop provides library called SharpStitch including command-line application for image stitching (including panoramas).
The company works on making GUI as well, so far one can use either the command-line or DLL.
The type of pano stitcher you want depends on a lot of different factors, such as the type of panoramas you're stitching and how much ease of use you want, and the hardware you're using.
If you just want to experiment with a handful of photos with free or already-owned software, and you want the most ease-of-use, the Windows-only application, Microsoft ICE, is probably the easiest to try. Similarly, if you purchased a Canon camera that came with a disk in the box, then Canon's Photostitch might be worth a go. There's also Autotstich, and Photoshop's PhotoMerge capability.
However, these "easy to use" stitchers typically don't give you a lot of control over how the images are stitched and combined, and while they'll work terrifically for most panos, for a few trickier types of panoramas, there may be stitching errors or ghost/clones that are more difficult to remove. And for gigapixel panos with a large array of shots, or mixing shots from different cameras/lenses, or sets with parallax error, or 360x180 sets taken with fisheye lenses, these stitchers may begin to struggle and might not accomplish the task you need them to do, and you might need to move to a more specialized stitcher.
Quite of a few of these are based upon Helmut Dersch's panorama tools. Hugin and PTGui are probably the most popular of these. There is also Max Lyon's PTAssembler (which he wrote to stitch the first gigapixel pano). These stitchers have a steeper learning curve, but more tools for correcting panos. And Hugin, in particular, has become a front-end gui for a number of different open source line command graphics manipulation tools, and can see a lot of "off-label" usage, such as focus stacking, lens correction, defishing, remapping, alignment, etc. that isn't strictly about stitching panos.
Autopano Pro is based upon Autostitch instead of Panorama Tools, but also has a great reputation as a pro-quality stitcher with great ease of use. And Gigapan offers their own Gigapan Stitch to go with their camera mounts to make super-high resolution gigapixel panos.