Photography

Panoramic Software

A number of years ago I did a post on panoramic photography back in 2007. Stiching software has come a long way in the past 5 years. It used to be that packages were free/easy and limited in features or expensive and complex. Free solutions that had lots of features were buggy and complex. It seemed like the classical features, price, and bugs triangle you got any two. Software has evolved quite a bit since then and in my experience there are a number of good packages out there to create great panoramic photographs.

AutoPano Pro 2.6 Hugin 2012.0 Autostich
Platform Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac, Linux iOS
Automatic & Manual Control Point Recognition Yes Yes Yes
Multiple Projections Yes: 4 Yes, 21 although most don’t offer unique value No
Drag and Drop edits No, adjustments are numeric calibrations Yes, projection and rotation No, it’s fixed
Autodetection of Panoramas Yes, it will search a set of directory for matching pictures No No
Batch Mode Yes Yes No, but stitching can run in the background
Ease of Use Very good. Panoramas reliably compile. Mixed. The feature set is rich, but the product has bugs in it. About 1 in 10 panoramas fail to compile. The limited feature set is well implemented and very stable.
Overall (out of 4)
starstarstarstar starstarstar starstarstarstar
Price 99 Euros Free 2 Dollars

Good, but it still requires a bit of geek in you. The software is very stable and outputs in all the right formats. The problem is that each piece of software has caveats to it that make it more or less relevant to any given user.

AutoPano Pro

This one is the more polished application of the PC world. I upgraded to this solution after I had a number of panoramic photos not compile in Hugin. It seems like their newer releases have become much less stable as time goes by. AutoPano Pro has a few features that make it a win for me:

  • Directory Search – AutoPano will search your photos looking for matches that can work together. It’s a great way to see what you might have in any given photo set. I still separate out photos intended to be panoramas in folders by panorama. This feature just allows me to find anything I might have missed.
  • Batch Compile – AutoPano will render all the panos in the background in bulk. Hugin has a related feature but it’s not quite the same. It’s less integrated into the app and harder to use.
  • Control Point Editor – I think it’s better than Hugin’s.
  • Color Correction – AutoPano has a nifty feature to auto correct colors in the pano. It’s a nifty feature that save me a round trip with Photoshop.

Hugin’s killer feature in my opinion is the drag and drop rotate, perspective change, and morph. AutoPano doesn’t even come close. If AutoPano had a similar feature, it would be a clear win.

Hugin

I’ve used Hugin forever. Being the cheap Linux bastard I am (though morphing to Mac) I started with Hugin. It’s clearly the engineer’s playground but compiled versions were not always available for all platforms. There tends to be more features in Hugin than other programs, but at the cost of more bugs. I love the drag and drop edits. It’s been fun to follow over the years to see features added like auto crop and better UI improvements. I don’t expect to completely switch to AutoPano Pro as the drag and drop edit is a must have for me. I expect as I get better with AutoPano my usage of Hugin will decline, but for now it’s a regular part of my workflow.

Autostich

I’ve used Autostich for a few months now and while it appears there is a discrepancy between the stars and the number of red boxes, it’s more of a refection that Autostich is limited. Autostich does what it does however really well. It’s great for taking photos on the phone and delivering a quick, no frills panoramic photo. I’ve used it often to take photos of whiteboards at work to capture meeting notes as well as out on the road to upload a panoramic photo to Facebook. The real value here is speed. The software knows the iPhone camera really well so it makes several assumptions about how to stitch a photo from it. My only real nit here is that it would be great if it compiled an optional high resolution panorama by default in the background.

Categories: Photography

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