Guide to panoramic photography
Généralités sur la panoramic photography Stitching a panorama Create a virtual tour Reviews equipment and software Links, books, DVD, VOD

Updated on March 22, 2021

Panorama softwares to Stitch the photos

There are two reasons why your photos might not Stitch correctly : a wrong setting of the nodal point and maybe even more, optical distortions of your lens or zoom lens. It is due to the form of the lens: an aspheric lens. Here is how to know it and correct it...

All the photos of the sphere have been shot and prepared and are ready to be Stitchd by a panorama software on one or several ranges. At that point, it is still not about using a virtual tour creation software like Virtual Tour 3DVista because the panorama isn't Stitchd yet. But this type of software needs a flat image, possibly on 180 x 360°. Few of them offer stitching qualities, flexibility of use, productivity and can thus be considered professional, or at least, top-range. In this page, I'll tell you all about my experience and the qualities of each of them.

When we were trying to stitch a simple panorama to print it for example, we saw in the tutorial dedicated to panorama stitching that the photographer had numerous choices to make in terms of geometric projections in order to convey HIS message. For the creation of virtual tours, only one geometric projection can be used: the spherical geometric projection. Let's see this now...

The key points if you're a beginner...

Here are the key points to remember about panorama stitching. The rest of this page is aimed at those who want to learn more.

A virtual tour is realized in two steps: firstly, you need to stitch all the photos together using a panorama software like PTGui. Then the panorama is opened in another software, a virtual tour creation software like Pano2VR in order to create this virtual tour in itself.

The only geometric projection to choose when you want to realize a virtual tour is the spherical projection during the stitching.

Nowadays, the three best pieces of panorama software are PTGui 12, in English only, its direct competitor and Hugin 2020, very similar to PTGui but available in other languages.

Next key points: Final editing of the panorama suivre




Basic principles of photo stitching

The panorama software has several things to do, completely automatically:

  • Compare the details of two consecutive pictures and and stitch them together, whenever possible automatically;
  • Transform and distort them, in the only way that interests us here, meaning in spherical mode.; It is the mode automatically picked by the software.
  • >Finally, harmonize shades and/or luminosity differences in accordance with the chosen panorama software.

Spherical shot with eight photos for a virtual tourGeometric transformations are detailed on the page dedicated to geometric projections but we'll see very quickly here that only one interests us: the spherical projection. Indeed, it is the only geometric projection that virtual tour creation software can handle. stitching software, when it's given photos to Stitch a panorama 180 x 360°, stitches them automatically in this geometric projection mode. They'll try to Stitch, for instance in the example here, eight photos shot with a full-format Fisheye, once the nadir corrected, to render a panorama that will look like that:


Panorama 360° rendu en mode sphérique

The central part of the photo is rendered "classically" but the more we get away from the middle part, the more the image is distorted... It is especially sensible at the bottom of the panorama.



Panorama softwares

There are many of them and I imagine that most of you already have an opinion on the subject. Each will have its favorite because lots of stitching pieces of software, once mastered, are amazingly efficient. You can also be attracted to one panoramic piece of software but because of your lens and its distortions, have to choose a different panorama software, more powerful in this case... Firstly, the aim of this tutorial is to introduce a few pieces of software that seem to be reference and I'll complete that list as my reviews go along.

Caution though! It is not a list of virtual tour creation software but of panorama software. Virtual tour creation pieces of software will be detailed in the last page of this tutorial.

A few pieces of panoramic software...

  Editor Spherical
PTGui Pro 12
The Best
IA 3 Pro
Hugin 2020
Photomerge CC 2021
Partly *
Autopano Giga 4.4
Autopano Pro 4.4
  AP Vidéo 3.0 Kolor - ***** Closed

: partial stitching of the sphere hence not in 180° x 360°.



PTGui Pro 12

€ 199.00 (Excl. VAT)

My opinion on PTGui Pro 12

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Logo Windows

PTGui is the best assembly software since the closure of Kolor. Its historical users obviously don't care and the new ones should largely find their place there because the 2021 latest update are really excellent. The transition from Autopano Giga to PTGui is becoming obvious, especially with the new version 12 - Learn more and download Suivre



My note : 10/10 - PTGui's first-time users love it and that's understandable. It was Autopano's competitor... but Kolor has just closed. We no longer have a choice, but it's no longer a problem because it's an excellent software, especially with the latest updates. The best on!



Hugin 2020

Free !

My opinion on Hugin 2019

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Logo Windows
Logo Linux

This multi-language, open source stitching software is highly valued by the discerning user community. Do not hesitate to put your hands in the grease! Quite close to PTGui it is also very powerful but some troublesome limitations compared to APG or PTGui. To always have close to you in case ... - Learn more Suivre



My note : 8,5/10 - Hugin is very close to PTGui in its interface and its use because it initially uses the same tools Panoramatools but it is free!.



Photomerge CC 2021

Subscription : $9.99/mo

My opinion on Photomerge de Photoshop CC 2021

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Logo Windows

Photomerge is a Photoshop plugin that allows to Stitch panoramas, possibly spherical but Attention! not complete. Photomerge does not know how to correctly Stitch a complete 180 x 360 ° image for example.
It is very easy to use but also rather limited and really lacking flexibility of use. That said, the little it knows how to do it does very well, that is to say multi-ranged panoramas that do not go from floor to ceiling. The latest version even includes the ability to Stitch Raw and generate a panorama in RAW format! - Learn more Suivre



My note : 8,0/10 - There may be cases where we need to Stitch a panorama punctually and it is possible to do it with Photomerge, a plugin integrated in Photoshop. Photomerge lacks flexibility and possibilities, but what it knows how to do is often very well Stitchd in an interface that is easy to understand without a learning curve. Credible punctual alternative.



PanoramaStudio 3.3.0 / Pro

$39.95 / $79.90

My opinion on PanoramaStudio 3.3.0 / Pro

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Logo Windows

This stitching software, multilingual, is very similar to PTGui in the approach and the interface. The tools therefore seem the same! And I happened to succeed panoramas with PS 3 that I did not manage - automatically - to do with Autopano Giga. The comparison stops there because APG is really more flexible to use ... but it costs is more expensive - Learn more and download software Suivre

My note : 8,5/10 - 8.5 because frankly it works very well and it costs significantly less than Autopano Pro version (3X cheaper!).






The process of panorama stitching

Here again, it is very simple even though each software has its own stitching process, always pretty much the same nowadays. In this tutorial, I describe the process extensively with Autopano Giga.

The steps

But schematically the steps can be summed up as follows:

  • PTGui 11 InterfaceOpen all the images you just prepared in the software in order to stitch them;
  • If the software doesn't detect automatically the lens with which the photos have been shot, check that the software is using the right lens model, meaning: fisheye or rectilinear. With certain pieces of panorama software, double-check that the software is using the model of your lens in order to correct its distortions. However, I'd rather do it before using Lens Correction in Photoshop's Camera Raw.
  • Caution! Unlike with a simple stitching, check that the geometric projection mode is the spherical one if you haven't Stitchd a 180° x 360°. In the event of a complete sphere, the software always chooses the spherical mode by default.
  • The software will then start working and give its verdict moments later. You may then have to edit certain zones if you think they haven't been Stitchd well and check if the photo is correct. Important for the creation of virtual tours.
  • If you harmonize luminosities, double-check that your software takes into account the fact that spherical panoramas are meant to be closed in the creation of the virtual tour. Both edges of your panorama must have exactly the same luminosity.

Saving the file of the panorama

Finally, you save the final picture in whatever file you want. The format, as for it, is important to make possible further edits in Photoshop easier. That's why I chose the extension PSD/PSB by default because it's a format:

  • Compatible 16 bits - not very important when you're making a virtual tour: 8 bits is enough and will be chosen for the final saving, to create the virtual tour. The file will then be twice lighter.
  • Multilayer - very important - We'll see in the next page, dedicated to final edits, how primordial it is to make your work easier when editing stitching artefacts or unwanted items in the field of view.
  • Compatible with a weight over 2 Go - PSD format, well-known of Photoshop-users, turns into PSB - B for Bold - when the weight of the panorama gets over 2 Go. And this often happens in multilayer panoramic photography with cameras over 10 Mo and when you stitch at least eight photos together.

Other options are detailed for Autopano Giga in its dedicated tutorial.

My tutorials...

Stitch a panorama with PTGui 12 suivre
Stitch a panorama with Photomerge CC 2021 suivre
Stitch a panorama with Hugin 2020 suivre
Stitch a panorama with Autopano Giga / Pro 4.4 suivre

Before creating your virtual tour, you still need to make the last edits on your freshly-Stitchd panorama, you'll make the last edits on your final panorama, the one that was just Stitchd in your favorite panorama software - Last final edits... Suivre

Next page 13/14 : last final edits... suivre


Pratical Guide N°1 :
The Nodal Point

$12.90 USD


My practical guides in e-books - N° 1!

"Find the nodal point or no parallax point accurately in less than an hour"... whether you are photographing a simple panorama or a 360° photo - PDF of 100 pages - More information... Suivre

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