Panoramic Images from Multiple Shots

If you’ve purchased a Canon camera in the last ten years (and maybe even earlier), you might have noticed the PhotoStitch software included on the CD of companion software which comes with the camera. I decided, after owning Canon compact and SLR cameras for more than 20 years, maybe I should give it a try.

Now, normally, the free software Canon provides works fine, although I much prefer Aperture or Lightroom to Canon’s Digital Photo Professional RAW converter software.  Doing a little research online, it looks like there are some pretty fancy and expensive panoramic photography software apps out there. I’m sure many of them do a better job and have more options, but I decided for a first attempt to just try what Canon put on my EOS 7D CD-ROM.

Washington State Capital

Washington State Capital

Anybody who is into architectural photography will notice some problems right away.  The building on the left is sinking into the ground at the far end. The capital building is leaning back like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This is what happens when you turn a 17mm lens on it’s side, tilt it up to take in the tops of the buildings, and shoot 7 exposures across the scene.  I just checked, and I actually set the lens at 24mm. Still, merged shots that each suffer from barrel distortion can create this kind of result.

It was pretty effortless to import the images into PhotoStitch and combine them.  But there don’t seem to be options for correcting the distortion problems I had.  I’m sure other software solutions out there do a much better job.

When I go out for a second attempt at panoramic series, there are some things I’ll keep in mind. First, keeping a wide-angle lens pointed straight (not tilted up or down) will help control the distortion. Second, try getting farther away and using a more telephoto focal length.  Third, I think I overlapped my shots far more than I needed to.

Port of Olympia

Port of Olympia

This photo was a series of 5 images shot vertically at 27mm. Above the boat masts you can see the Capital building, which is in the first photo of this post.  I think this photo exhibits less distortion issues, probably because the lens was pointed straight out and not tilted up or down much.

Because the PhotoStitch software will not work with RAW images, I did some slight adjustments (the same for every image in the series to avoid seams showing up when photos are merged) before exporting them as JPEG files. The JPEGs could then be pulled into PhotoStitch and merged. Then I imported the merged, panoramic image into Lightroom for a bit more touch-up.

All in all, not bad for running downtown after getting off work on a weekday evening for a first attempt. And I think I learned some things.  At the very least, now I know what that PhotoStitch software does!

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2 thoughts on “Panoramic Images from Multiple Shots

    • Thanks! I had no idea the first one would be so badly distorted until after the merge. Guess my eyes got used to a little edge/corner distortion on wide-angle single exposures. Trial and error, live and learn, right?

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