Best stitcher IMO - PanoramaStudio2 Pro

Just getting started in panoramic tours so after getting my Nodal Ninja hardware and shooting some sample sets both indoors and outdoors, I downloaded trial copies of 6 or 7 different stitchers - Panavue, Autopano, Panoweaver, Panofactory, PTgui and one or two others. After trying each one with all my sample image sets, I bought PanoramaStudio2 Pro from www.tshsoft.com. After telling Paul about it, he encouraged me to share my findings here.

This program stitched every image set perfectly - on one set where I had accidentally left my lens set at 24mm instead of 18mm, the program warned me about minimal overlap and asked if I wanted to continue, but still delivered a perfect stitch. It's almost as fast as AutoPano, and about the same as PTgui. Panavue was a close 2nd in terms of stitching quality - but was literally 10 times slower. Autopano was far and away the worst in terms of stitching accuracy.

It does single- or multi-row panoramas, full or partial. It also stitches "Merge Documents" - multi-part scans or photos where the camera moves parallel to a flat surface. And you can import existing panos for further editing.

The workflow involves more steps than some of the others, but is very intuitive as the steps are laid out in order on the toolbar.

Step 1: Import your images - it supports a wide variety of file types including most common RAW formats.

Step 2: You can rotate all the images if necessary, and you can batch resize them for faster stitching. I didn't find any significant quality difference between pre-reducing my image sizes and doing it at the final render. But it worked quickly enough on full-res 6MP JPEGs from my D40 - about 1.5-2MB at Normal quality.

Step 3: Set parameters - it will auto-detect focal length from EXIF data, but you can also choose auto or manual correction of lens distortion and vignetting.

Step 4: Run the "Align" step to generate a preview stitch - this takes under 2 minutes with full-res images on my fairly slow machine.

Step 5: You can step through the individual images and adjust brightness manually, or adjust it globally for the entire pano. You can also fine-tune the alignment between any image pair using two different adjustments - one moves the adjoining edges up/down or left/right, the other is really unique. Instead of using flags, it divides the overlap regions into a grid. You click the grid segment you want to adjust, then drag it or use the arrow keys to move it one pixel at a time.

Step 6: When you're happy with the preview, you run the "Render" function to perform the full stitch - at this point you set the output size. Again, this runs in about 2 minutes on my machine.

Step 7: Now you can make brightness/contrast, sharpening (basic weak-normal-strong or more advanced unsharp mask with selectable radius and threshold) and color enhancements - color adjustments include a variety of control panels, including levels (simple sliders) and curves. You can also resize.

Step 8: Finally, you save the resulting image (again, lots of formats to choose from) and you can set the JPEG compression.

This sounds like a lot, but the whole process takes about 5 minutes per scene and like I said, it's very intuitive and I can't argue with the results.

Another cool feature - you can select a portion of the pano and output it with the perspective corrected for printing or online display as a still. And it includes a very nice Flash viewer with fullscreen (non-commercial license - you have to pay $59 per domain for commercial use) which I find works well for doing a local preview before uploading.

And perhaps the best part - it was the cheapest of all the options I looked at - about $90 with tax. There's a free trial available, so check it out!

Views: 477

Comment by Alan Pinstein on May 11, 2010 at 11:14pm
Great review! Thanks so much for taking the time to post this. TourBuzz photographers are always looking for the best software.

5 minutes per scene isn't too bad if you never have to correct anything manually. It's the manual mode cleanup that really hits you hard, especially when you're busy!
Comment by Bill Pohlmann on June 1, 2010 at 10:55am
Just a quick follow-up. I shot a few panos this weekend of outdoor scenes, and a couple of them had boats and cars that moved between overlapping shots. When I went to stitch them, I was afraid I'd have double images, and it looked like that would be the case in a couple of the initial "Align" previews. But in the final renders, the software actually eliminated anything that was in the overlap region on one shot and not the adjacent one, leaving a perfect result - and without any intervention on my part.
Comment by Gary Gunnerson on August 3, 2010 at 4:37pm
I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about Panorama Studio Pro 2 when I first read Bill's review. After all could it be better than Panoweaver or Autopano? I put all 3 + Photoshop CS3 through the paces using several panos that I shot of vacant rooms. It was not only fast, it succeeded when the others failed. Out of 4 different rooms, Panorama Studio Pro 2 only needed a slight edit in one room...and that was fixed very quickly and easily. The only thing that I wish it could do is to stitch fisheye images. I guess someday I'll plunk down the $500 and get the expensive version of Panoweaver someday.
Comment by BestHDTour.com on August 12, 2010 at 5:21pm
Panorama Studio is also what I've been using for the past few years and I've tried others but haven't found anything easier or better, the feature I like the best is in editing getting the lighting right you can adjust just the areas of the pano you want which really makes for a clean finished pano,
Comment by Rozelle de Bruyn on June 6, 2012 at 10:13am

Hi Bill or any other person,

could you please asssist me?  I am not THAT clued up with the technology, but needs to learn extremely fast.  Based on your post and feedback on this blog, I purchased the Panorama Studio Pro.  No problem stitching, but I find it difficult to know how to export.  Obviously I want to have the virtual tour hosted by Tourbuzz.    Can you please advise what settings you use for a panorama that needs to be displayed as a virtual tour?  Paul Rodman said I should save it as a cylindral jpeg with the right dimensions?  How do I do that in Panorama Studio?  Thank you for your assistance.

Comment by Alan Pinstein on June 6, 2012 at 11:25am

I looked on their support site for a manual on the export function but I don't see one unfortunately. They do have support, did you try emailing them?

I imagine that there should be an Export or Save As or Render option somewhere, and it should have choices for projection (cylindrical or spherical) and dimensions of the output. 

This is one of the primary functions of a stitcher, so it might be hiding in plain sight!

Comment by Gary Gunnerson on June 6, 2012 at 11:56am

I just save the stitched pan as a 2D image. If needed I open the file in Photoshop in order to do some final tweaks and resize the image if I didn't do it in Panorama Studio Pro. Otherwise just upload the saved image to Tour Buzz!

Comment by Rozelle de Bruyn on June 6, 2012 at 12:34pm

Hi Gary,

thank you, but if it is a 360 view, do I choose when uploading cylindrical instead of spherical? I uploaded one image to Tourbuzz, but it did not come out great, might be because my dimensions is slightly too small.

Alan, I also emailed Paul now, in the trial version you might be able to access the pdf manual.

Thanks for your quick reply - appreciate it a lot.

R

Comment by Alan Pinstein on June 6, 2012 at 1:01pm

TourBuzz generally auto-detects whether the image is a pano or a still, and whether it's a cylindrical or a pano.

If you have one uploaded that doesn't look right, send in a support ticket with a link to the tour and we can look at the pano and tell you why it looks wrong.

Comment by Gary Gunnerson on June 6, 2012 at 4:10pm

Hi Rozelle,


Think of your panorama as just one long regular picture. That's all it really is...As Alan says, the Tour Buzz system can detect that it's a panorama, not just another still, so it will display properly. Personally, I size my pans at 1200 pixels high, which I think is larger than they ask for and always looks good. Good luck and yes I love Panorama Studio Pro!

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