I'm going to continue this thread rather than start another, to preserve continuity which is important. Jack has tantalising raised the issue that PS3's Photomerge is as good as any dedicated stitching program. Some reader have suggested the new CS3 Photomerge cannot compete with PTGui. I think this is probably true.
My favourite stitching program is Panavue's Image Assembler, which has continually improved over the years. I was therefore very interested in how PCS3's Photomerge would compete.
It simply cannot. I'm led to the conclusion there is no substitute for a dedicated, professional stitching program.
Okay! let's not denigrate the improvement of Photomerge in PCS3. It is improved (over CS2) and it is possible with just a few images, of the right sort, to produce a perfect stitch, automatically.
However, with big projects it doesn't pass muster. For 2 or 3 or 4 images though, it's sometimes quite good in automatic mode.
Most stitching programs have an automatic mode. Sometimes it works perfectly. More often than not, it doesn't.
How do we handle a series of images, in CS3 photomerge, that doesn't work in automatic mode? Not easily, I suspect.
It so happens I have a huge stitching program on my hard drive (and of course backed up on DVD) of a view of Brisbane from Mt Coot-tha, right out to the Bay on a clear day. (That's Brisbane, Australia. Not Brisbane, America ).
The shots were taken with a 20D and 400mm lens (100-400 IS) and the completed stitch will consist of 2 rows of 33 images each, ie a total of 66 images.
I tried stitching the first 16 images, top left segment, using CS3. It couldn't handle it. Zero result.
Below is the result from Image Assembler.
This is not satisfactory, but at least the joins are perfect.
As I mentione PS3 could not handle 16 images, but it could handle 12. Here's the result.
The joins are also perfect. But both of these images are no use to me. How could I print such images on a rectangular piece of paper. I'd have to crop them so severley, I'd have nothing much left.
There's a solution to this problem in Image Assembler. I select just 3 images from the row and create a 'lens type' using the 'Lens Wizard'. Very straightforward and quick. I then use this lens type for the whole 33 image stitch, but not unfortunately in automatic mode. I have to use 3 pairs of flags at each overlap. Positioning these flags is tedious to say the least, but it produces the goods, as can be seen below in the full top row of 33 images.
Now, you should notice in the first 2 images, the sea is sloping dangerously. This could be catastrophic for the city of Brisbane.
In the third stitch, everything is just right. The sea is perfectly horizontal and minimal cropping is required for a rectangular print.
Accept my word for it; all joins in all 3 images are perfect.
But, there may also be another advantage of a professional stitching program. I think all of us who have tried these procedures are aware of the problems of subject movement during the time it takes to move the camera from one frame to the next.
Here's an example of such movement in the above stitch, which is a screen grab showing the positioning of the flags before running the stitch.
As you can see, between one frame and the next, the yacht has moved and someone in a speed boat has appeared on the scene.
How will Panavue handle this? Will it produce a double image of the yacht? Not on your Nelly. It'll include all relevant image detail and exclude all duplication, as can be seen in a small crop from the final stitch below.
Well, what more can I say. I think Panavue should send me a cheque for all this free advertising .