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Good Stitcher for Mac?

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Good Stitcher for Mac?

Postby BSquared » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:39 am

I'm a pretty casual photographer, but like most people who take outdoor shots I'd like to stitch together the occasional panorama. I've tried the various "stitchers" I've found for free -- mostly software that's come with point-and-shoot cameras I've owned over the years -- but none of them seem to be particularly smart, especially w/respect to exposure matching (e.g., I'm looking at a two-frame vertical pano of a giant sequoia I took last summer, and the top half has a blue-sky background while the bottom half has a much grayer background, and the stitcher has put a fuzzy blue line running horizontally across the picture). I'm guessing the state of the art is way, way beyond these relatively simple (and slow!) programs; what do people recommend for a panorama-stitcher for the Mac, preferably one that won't break the bank? If you think my expectations are just too high for my inexpensive equipment, don't hesitate to say so...
—B²



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Re: Good Stitcher for Mac?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:33 am

I usually use Gimp for anything photo edit. Can't beat free. Haven't stitched yet but that's one of the next things on the list to do.
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Re: Good Stitcher for Mac?

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:20 am

Photoshop CS 5 has gotten pretty good, but Autopano Pro and Hugin(which is free) are
still probably some of the best, you can down load free trial version and play around
with each to see which suits your purposes the best.
When taking a pano you have to make sure you camera is perfectly level, a bubble
helps, but add in a tripod and things get better, much better(still need that bubble).
Also focus in on your subject, then turn off you autofocus, shoot in "M" mode, and do not
use auto white balance (set it to either cloudy or sunny), this way all your frames will
be the same, with no variations from shot to shot ( also do not use a polarizer because
the sky will not be consistently blue across your shot).
Make sure you over lap each shot by 1/2 or a little more, and do not introduce any
close foreground because things get complicated and your framed will not stitch
correctly unless you find your lenses nodal point, which is a whole other issue, which
I will not get into, and you do not need anyways to make regular scenic panorama's.
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Re: Good Stitcher for Mac?

Postby copeg » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:12 pm

Mav gives some good advice...if you have the ability to control your exposure (eg manual on your camera), use this mode to get a constant exposure for each frame. Also, if possible, manually set the white balance (if not shooting in raw). In the end, doing so results in little need to adjust for exposure on the software side. If you don't have manual, you might be able to fake it by always composing on a single location to initially set the exposure/focus, hold the clicker half way then recompose (I've used camera's that do this and others not). As for software I've always used photoshop. I've played with gimp, but never to stitch. Its free so you could give it a try.
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Re: Good Stitcher for Mac?

Postby fishmonger » Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:39 am

I do all my stitching in Photoshop CS4 these days, even if I am feeding it to applications like ICE to make deep zoom panoramas. Photoshop's stitcher can be found in the File - Automate - Photomerge menu dialog.
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Re: Good Stitcher for Mac?

Postby fishmonger » Thu Oct 07, 2010 7:54 am

maverick wrote: When taking a pano you have to make sure you camera is perfectly level, a bubble
helps, but add in a tripod and things get better, much better(still need that bubble).
Also focus in on your subject, then turn off you autofocus, shoot in "M" mode, and do not
use auto white balance (set it to either cloudy or sunny), this way all your frames will
be the same, with no variations from shot to shot ( also do not use a polarizer because
the sky will not be consistently blue across your shot).
Make sure you over lap each shot by 1/2 or a little more, and do not introduce any
close foreground because things get complicated and your framed will not stitch
correctly unless you find your lenses nodal point


If you shoot enough images with plenty of overlap, you don't have to be anal about level and tripod at all. similar exposore helps, but a lot of that can be adjusted in photoshop before you even merge the images. Overlapping 1/3rd of the frame is plenty, even with my crude hand-held approach. If you use a tripod and a panorama head (Nodal Ninja or robots like Gigapan or Automate), you'll see image overlap of maybe 100-200 pixels on a 4000 pixel wide frame, so you can assume that with a tripod and keeping things level you should get away much less overlap than my 1/3rd frame hand-held approach (I use a grid viewfinder and remember a grid point on the right before I move the camera over and use a grid point on the left side of the frame to line that up with that remembered point).

Close foreground is ok, too if you are familiar with how to stack of multiple focal ranges - need to use geek tools for that, though:
http://www.tawbaware.com/ptasmblr_help_ ... m#example3

although to do these more advanced things (exposure blending for HDR and foval stacking for depth of field), you really need to shoot things on a panorama head to have high repeatability of frames.

I've done just about everything wrong on some panoramas (auto white balance, auto exposure, hand held, not even remotely horizontal pan, moving around with the camera so nodal point was off by feet, but the images stitched just fine and fully automatic in ICE and Photoshop, even up to 44 frames 3 row x11 columns grid shots), so if you ever find yourself in a situation where you want to take a panorama, just shoot it - you can probably get something out of it, even if you forget some of the recommendations here. My daughter shot a few of them this summer, hand held with a point and shoot, and the results weren't half bad at all. All she knew about it was that I was overlapping images.
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Re: Good Stitcher for Mac?

Postby John Dittli » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:18 am

Not to beat a dead horse here, lots of great info. Like Peter, I too have handheld many panos that work out fine (many of the panos in Walk the Sky were hand held). While you can match exposure and color balance in PS, you can save yourself a lot of post processing work by shooting manually and not changing exposure/color balance between frames.

Stitching a vertical image such as the tree you mentioned can be challenging in that as you tilt the camera upward the angle of convergence changes making it difficult (but not impossible) to match straight (but converging) vertical lines.

I use PS on my mac.

JD
Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
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Re: Good Stitcher for Mac?

Postby ericZ » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:54 pm

we're experimenting with 360 panos at my newspaper and though i'm close to success with our chosen software, others on staff have been much more successful than me. we use PTGui on our macs. at a little over $100 it might be out of your range but there's a free trial version available if you want to try it out.

http://www.ptgui.com/

eric
fresno, ca.
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