There is something strangely satisfying about stitching pictures together to create a panoramic image. If you’ve been out snapping consecutive images and looking for a program that would merge them for you, take a look at the free Panorama Plus Starter Edition.
There are two kinds of panorama-stitching programs; ones that are user assisted, where the user has to set ‘control points’ (e.g. Hugin), and ones where the computer automatically does most of the work (e.g. Microsoft ICE); this program also belongs to the latter category.
Note, however, that this free version of the program is restricted to exporting JPG’s with a maximum width/height of 3000 pixels, which makes it unsuited for professional image stitching, but is quite adequate for internet publication or personal photo sharing.
Compared to some of other free image stitching programs previously reviewed on this site, (Hugin, Microsoft Image Composite Editor), this program is not as powerful, not as flexible, has less features, and to top if all off, has the annoying restriction of image output width to 3000 pixels, to encourage buying the paid version.
So why am I writing it up then, you ask? Three reasons:
- The algorithm: is excellent. In my testing of it, it was able to stitch one somewhat problematic section of the images I threw at it quite well (although Microsoft ICE did a fairly decent job, Panaroma Plus’s rendering looked better and more natural).
- Stitching for dummies: no learning curve, 3-step wizard and you’re done. You couldn’t tweak the process if you wanted to.
- Give it the images and don’t worry about it: just like Microsoft ICE, you can simply dump in all the shots and let the software worry about it. But remember garbage in = garbage out; a little weeding out of bad images first can significantly benefit the final output.
Wish list: I wish they would take away the 3000 pixel width/height restriction, but seeing as they probably won’t I wish they would let me crop the image first before exporting, so as to let me get the full 3000 pixels for my final product.
Version Tested: 2.0
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx. 24.3 megs). You will have to supply a valid email address for the download link to be mailed to you.