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

shim
12/14
Shim
Updated on January 17, 2018

Panorama softwares to assemble the photos

There are two reasons why your photos might not assemble 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 assembled by a panorama software on one or several ranges. At that point, it is still not about using a virtual tour creation software like Panotour Pro because the panorama isn't assembled yet. But this type of software needs a flat image, possibly on 180 x 360°. Few of them offer assembling 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 assembling 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 assembling. 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 Autopano Giga. Then the panorama is opened in another software, a virtual tour creation software like Panotour Pro 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 assembling.

Nowadays, the three best pieces of panorama software are Autopano Pro/Giga, my favorite, PTGui, in English only, its direct competitor and Hugin, very similar to PTGui but available in other languages.

Next key points: Final edits suivre

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Basic principles of photo assembling

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.

Schéma de la prise de vue sphérique avec huit photosGeometric 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. Assembling software, when it's given photos to assemble a panorama 180 x 360°, stitches them automatically in this geometric projection mode. They'll try to assemble, 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.

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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 assembling 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
assembl.
Assembl.
quality
Price
Autopano Giga 4.4
Yes
*****
199€
Autopano Pro 4.4
Yes
*****
99€
  AP Vidéo 3.0 Kolor - ***** 599€
 
PTGui Pro 10.0
Yes
*****
150€
 
IA 3 Pro
Yes
****
$150
 
Hugin 2017
Yes
****
Free
 
Photomerge CC
Partly *
****
Subscr.


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



Pointilles

 

Autopano Pro 4.4

99.00 € *



My opinion on Autopano Pro 4.4 - Kolor/GoPro

Logo Mac
Logo Windows
Logo Linux

If the assembly engine is strictly the same as in the Giga version, you will not be able to add some plugins to go, for example, from Lightroom or Bridge to Autopano Pro directly, or you will not be able to import some gigapixel projects with some heads motorized panoramas ... So you see - Learn more Suivre

 

 

My note : 9/10 - There are some options or possibilities in less than the Giga version above but for the assembly engine, it is strictly the same. And incidentally it is still developing ... And incidentally it is still developing ... since a version 4.4.1 is out to correct the bugs on Mac OS Sierra and High Sierra!





Pointilles

 

Autopano Giga 4.4

199.00 € *



My opinion on Autopano Giga 4.4 - Kolor/GoPro

Logo Mac
Logo Windows
Logo Linux

It's my favorite panorama software with Autopano Giga! In certain situations it is the best and in others, its main competitor PTGui takes the advantage. But it very powerful, original options and excellent value for money. I love it... New version 4.4.1 since February 2017 - Learn more and download Autopano Giga Suivre

 

 

My note : 10/10 - Always my favorite assembly software to assemble all kinds of panoramic projects: simple panoramas, gigapixel projects taken with or without motorized head, 360 ° images to realize a virtual visit. He knows how to do everything, in many languages and with great flexibility. And incidentally it is still developing ... since a version 4.4.1 was released in February 2017 and fixes many bugs on Mac OS Sierra and High Sierra!






Pointilles

 

PTGui Pro 10.0

149,00 € *



My opinion on PTGui Pro 10.0

Logo Mac
Logo Windows

In English only, it's also an excellent panorama software. Some informed users even prefer it to Autopano because they use it for a long time. Less directed to beginning amateurs from my point of view but really, the main competitor for Autopano Giga. - Learn more and download Suivre

 

 

My note : 9,0/10 - The users of the first hour of PTGui love it and that's understandable. This is THE competitor of Autopano. Too bad it is not in French, that the interface is not very glamorous and, I find, less convenient to use. Rather for advanced users.






Pointilles

 

Hugin 2017

Free !



My opinion on Hugin 2017

Logo Mac
Logo Windows
Logo Linux

This multi-language, open source assembly 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!.

Pointilles

 

Photomerge CC 2018

Subscription : $9.99/mo



My opinion on Photomerge de Photoshop CC 2018

Logo Mac
Logo Windows

Photomerge is a Photoshop plugin that allows to assemble panoramas, possibly spherical but Attention! not complete. Photomerge does not know how to correctly assemble 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 assemble Raw and generate a panorama in RAW format! - Learn more Suivre

 

 

My note : 8,0/10 - There may be cases where we need to assemble 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 assembled in an interface that is easy to understand without a learning curve. Credible punctual alternative.

Pointilles

 

PanoramaStudio 3.1.0 / Pro

$39.95 / $79.90



My opinion on PanoramaStudio 3.1.0 / Pro

Logo Mac
Logo Windows

This assembly software, multilingual, is very similar to PTGui in the approach and the interface. The tools therefore seem the same! And I happened to succeed assemblies 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 & 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!).

Pointilles

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The process of panorama assembling

Here again, it is very simple even though each software has its own assembling 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:

  • Interface d'Autopano GigaOpen 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 assembling, check that the geometric projection mode is the spherical one if you haven't assembled 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 assembled 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 assembling 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...

Assemble a panorama with Autopano Giga / Pro 4.4 suivre
Assemble a panorama with PTGui 10.0 suivre
Assemble a panorama with Photomerge CS 6/CC suivre
Assemble a panorama with Hugin 2017 suivre


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


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






     
 

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