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Hello :)

Having arsed around with a lot of panoramas & having seen a few questions about them on threads here, here's a summary of the last few years of experimentation with software. All mostly Windows-centric, presumably some of the commercial software will be out for Macs...

I'm going to list the software in the order I'd try it, if I had none & a proper 360� panorama to play with, but first:

Tips

  • If you haven't got a 360� panorama to produce, just a few rows of pics, then Photoshop (after CS2 I think) would probably work, just File -> Automate -> Photomerge, & play around with projections settings depending on what you've got. It's a total CPU hog & slow as hell with decent photos though, & if you've got any kind of 360� to do then forget it. Really. Unless the newest version has done something magical (I'm on CS5, CS6 is the same).
  • Don't worry about relative colour light balance too much, apart from real extremes most of the software will compensate surprisingly well, sticking a load of unaltered images in is always your best bet. Trying to change white balance on-site may result in patchy pics, sticking it all on auto is the best bet. Having said that if the sun comes in/goes behind a cloud half way through then try again.
  • If you can't use a tripod then try to rotate yourself around the camera, rather than standing in one spot & turning (if that makes sense). The closer the foreground objects are the more important this is.
  • If there are visible sharp shadows then you've got about 5-8 minutes before they noticeably move. So try & take any overlapping photos of shadows first, then complete the rest of the scene in rows so you can keep track of where you've been.

I'll add more to that when I think of anything.

Software

1: Microsoft ICE - link

Pros

  • Free
  • Lightweight
  • Very good auto colour & exposure correction
  • Tends to work if all your images are perfect

Cons

  • Tends to fuck up if all your images aren't perfect
  • No options for manual image tweaks
  • Less forgiving if you're standing a bit wonky

2: Panotools

Panotools is an open source set of, well, clue's in the name. At the moment there are 2 (worthwhile) programs which use it which I know of...

a: Hugin - link

Bit of a half arsed attempt, may work fine with the right source photos, with no objects too close, no repeating textures. Auto colour correction on source images tends to screw up too.

Pros

  • Free
  • Quick & lightweight
  • Manual tweaking possible

Cons

  • Tends to have trouble with challenging environments
  • Auto colour & exposure correction is a bit hit & miss
  • Manual editing may induce nausea, migraines, psychosis, &/or your PC to spontaneously jump through the nearest window
  • Ever so slightly shit

b: PTGui - link

Good program, & my default go-to program for checking things while on-site, will work on a relatively crap laptop to produce previews in a couple of minutes.

Pros

  • Quick & lightweight
  • Very good auto colour & exposure correction
  • Manual editing better thought out than Hugin

Cons

  • Manual editing on really awkward set ups can be painful
  • Pro (ie worthwhile) version is 150 Euros

3: Autopano Giga - link

Pretty fully featured, but the user interface seems to assume you've read some kind of manual. You have to kind of keel your way round by trial & error, & work it out, whereas with PTGui you can install, point it at a hundred photos & hit the button. I can see how some people prefer it to other programs too, it's just the learning curve, PTGui seems more intuitive.

Pros

  • Good auto colour & exposure correction
  • More scope for manual setting of point detection algorithms with tricky sets

Cons

  • Resource intensive program, not as quick for on-site
  • Not really for casual use, I got my head around if 6 months ago, have just fired it up to refresh my memory & can't remember a damn thing. Maybe that's just me...
  • 200 Euros

More to follow...

Edited by Fekneejit

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I think the key with panos is to make sure each pic has the same exposure otherwise not matter what program you use it will produce varied results. Great post though mate and helpful for sure.

Edited by Lenston

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As long as you use a decent camera & lens then the exposure, white balance, & lens model/settings (from which distortion geometry can be calculated) are stored in the file meta information, & most of the software packages will work it out for itself from that & adjust accordingly (& better than I can!). Photoshop, MS ICE & PTGui are really good at that for the most part.

I'm a photography noob, but I've been doing PC-based image manipulation for 20 years (shit I feel old now), so I'm coming at it from the other side of things (ie I trust my Photoshop-fu more than my camera skills!). If someone who knows how to use a camera properly & isn't familiar with panorama software works out some nice panoramas from this the results could be amazing, I've not seen many urbex 360 panoramas, & MS ICE is a piece of cake to use.

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I've just tamed my panorama nemesis tonight, the marble hall I posted already, you can see some big cracks in the one above :)

New pics, done with AutoPano Giga & a lot of patience, then fixed in Photoshop...

marblemandala1920.jpg

marblenew1920.jpg

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