Being a frequent dabbler in photography, panoramas are something I pick up and play with every now and then, to occasional success; panorama software tends to be like scanning software, in that it is usually difficult to use and frequently produces undesirable results.
I’ve seen great strides made in both of those image editing categories, somewhat surprisingly. I recently heard of Autopano while researching HDR photography, and I figured that I’d share the love.
Autopano Pro lets you throw it a full directory of images, and then auto-detects any panoramas present. Personally, I find this amazing, as it’s found several panoramas I didn’t realize I’d taken, i.e., had no intention of taking, but they’re there anyway.
Using something called “smartblend,” the panoramas this program makes are relatively flawless, having less of the strange artifacting I’ve seen in some free panorama programs. You probably won’t need to put the panorama into Photoshop to ‘fix’ the blending, even if the picture includes a couple moving people/vehicles. Not that you won’t put it into Photoshop for other reasons – I prefer using PS for cropping and level adjustment.
Most of the panorama settings are configurable; if you want to mess with the points, format, size, etc, you’re welcome to. However, the default settings work just fine with most images. The program imports most popular image formats (including RAW), and now works with fisheye lenses, although not having one, I didn’t get to test that functionality.
Good UI design
This makes sense from a UI designer’s perspective; you start on the left, then go to the right, as is natural in western culture. Editing a panorama puts you into a separate window with several tools designed to fine-tune/fix the autogenerated match.
While the demo is nice, the full version costs EUR 99, a small fortune as far as personal software goes. If you’re a company or professional making a profit on images produced by this program (ex: if you’re a professional photographer, architect, real estate agent, etc), I would highly recommend getting a license. If you’re an amateur photographer in college eating ramen… not so much.
I’ve uploaded the images I generated using this program to Flickr; the set is here: Stitched panoramas – a set on Flickr. Their official website (with more detailed explanations, examples, a wiki, etc) is at autopano.net. I highly recommend watching this video tutorial to get a feel for the program. VRMAG published an in-depth review that you may also wish to read.