Panorama Imaging (2) - Open Source and Shareware on the Mac
I recently looked at a couple of ways to create panoramas, using the special hardware of the Gigapan system and some simple software [iTunes link] on the iPhone. These were two extremes and most users who want to try this sort of image manipulation will be working with a combination of hardware and software: camera, computer, and a suitable program. This week I am looking at two examples of panorama software for the Mac: Open Source and shareware. I will examine some commercial software next time.
When in the UK earlier this year, I wanted a photograph of the family home, but it was a large house, close to the road and I had a narrow lens (52mm). Using the Open Source, Hugin, I joined some photographs to give me a complete image of the house.
Hugin is available for OS X, PC and Linux. The latest version for OS X (0.8.0) has several improvements over the previous version. Several types of image can be produced, but the operation is initially not wholly clear. In typical Open Source fashion, there are sophisticated controls, but I found that most could be ignored once output was set. The user can rely on three main buttons: Load Images, Align, and Create panorama.
I used two sets of images: a single set of 12, and another set of the same view taken at different elevations, giving 36 in all. All worked perfectly so Hugin is able to match images vertically as well as horizontally.
More recently I used the images I had specifically taken for this article from the roof of the Faculty of Engineering at Mahidol University. A couple of times during the process I managed to crash the software but this was probably due to selecting images that were not fully matchable: the preview showed me a snaking image that was not what I wanted at all. I went back to the same images I had used for Hugin and they worked fine. When I used the three-level set, the software was able to match vertically in the same way as Hugin.
The final preview (and the finished export) had the proper exposure adjustments made and the image offered is cropped in the right places: any black areas (where no image exists) are offered for removal. If one misses the preview, the cropping is automatic.
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