Panorama Project


I recently took a bunch of pictures of Boston from across the Charles river. I wanted to stitch them together into a panorama and tried a variety of programs to accomplish the task. I decided to do a short writeup and put my results up on the web for anyone looking for examples from common panorama stitching programs. If you'd like to see me try any other stitching programs, please email your suggestions to Please remove the word "boston" from the domain name of the email address when writing.

The panoramas were composed of five 30 second, manually-metered exposures taken with a 20mm lens. The lens introduced a fair amount of distortion which made it more difficult to create a panorama.

I tried the following programs:
  • Panedit Lite
  • Panorama Factory
  • PanoTools GUI
  • Manual Stitching in Photoshop
  • Canon's PhotoStitch

  • -phil

    Panedit Lite

    The first program that I tried was IBM's Panedit Lite. I dragged my images into its window and tried to have it automatically stitch my photos together. It failed pretty badly. After this, I manually moved the guide lines to denote parts of each image that overlapped. I clicked on "stitch" and tried to have it automatically stitch the scene again. My computer (pentium 3, 850mhz) spent about 5 minutes attempting to automatically match patterns, but once again failed to do so.

    I finally manually lined up each seam using the rotate icons within the stitch menu. After that, I set the stitch sliders on "Tweak" to fine tune the image. This made the image look much better. I used panedit to further adjust the exposure and then I clicked on "blend" to blend the images together. Below is the final product.

    how well did it work?

    Panedit Lite did not work very well. You can see that it had some problems on the pier by where the boats are docked. Also, the horizon isn't completely horizontal. I should note that the program is prone to crashing on my computer. It is moderately easy to use. Panedit Lite also had a problem matching some of the buildings. I've circled the offending areas, though the blending of the images and resizing for the web makes it harder to detect. Compare images between programs and you can see the difference.

    Panorama Factory

    I decided to try this program after reading about it in a forum. I had the program automatically stitch the images together for me, and it did so without much intervention. It probably took about 5 minutes for this program to complete its work.

    how well did it work?

    I'm not happy with the results. It changed the exposure of the images to the point of blowing out some of the highlights. I used the shareware version which had warned about a watermark, but it is pretty glaring. Also, it may be difficult to see because the panorama has been resized for the web, but Panorama Factory failed to match some of the buildings that were in overlapping pictures. In the second image, I've circled areas where buildings did not match up. On the plus side, the horizon does appear to be lined up pretty well. Overall, I was unhappy with the results and I uninstalled this program afterwards.

    PT GUI

    PanoTools GUI - It took a while to set up this panorama for stitching, but the wizard makes it pretty easy to use. From start to finish, I probably spent about 20 minutes with this program.

    how well did it work?

    Since PTGUI allowed me to choose my own control points for pattern matching, the buildings match up very well. I neglected a bit of the rail on the right hand side of the image, so it does not match up completely. This was my fault. You can easily see the distortion on the far right and left of the image. I don't mind this so much because it is similar to the distortion of using a wide-angle lens. One unfortunate effect of the distortion is that the lack of pixel data in the distorted areas has yielded a resampled look with lower resolution. PTGUI could have blended the images a little better. I suspect that there is an option for that but I didn't feel like spending any more time with the program. PTGUI did a decent job of lining up the horizon.

    Manual Stitching in Photoshop

    I also tried stitching the images together manually in Adobe Photoshop. I manually aligned each image and skewed, distorted, and rotated as necessary. After I matched up the images the best that I could, I created a mask for each overlapping layer so that I could mask out areas that did not match and so that I could create a seamless blend. This took me at least an hour to complete.

    how well did it work?

    I think this image turned out the best of all of my attempts at creating a panorama. It also definitely took the most time of all

    Canon Photostitch

    Canon's PhotoStitch came as part of the software bundle with my Digital Rebel 300D. The program was really easy to use - I just dragged the images into the window, clicked two or three buttons, and it went to work. It was also pretty fast - definitely the fastest program of the bunch. Stitching probably took less than a minute.

    how well did it work?

    Canon's program did a decent job. I can only see one building that didn't match up well. It is easy to see, however, vertical lines in the sky where the seams between images are. The image would look better with better blending. Also, the horizon looks unnaturally curved in this panorama.