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Old Sep 5, 2005, 3:44 PM   #1
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It seems like these two programs are the most advanced for panoramic work. Which one gives you a better ratio of work and productivity? Also, which one has a higher learning curve?
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Old Sep 6, 2005, 9:57 PM   #2
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I have used Autostitch several times recently, and I just tried out the demo version of Realviz Express.

Both programs require just a few minutes to figure out. There is only one dialog box in Autostitch, versus several in Realviz. Autostich takes a set of related photos in any old order and automatically assembles and registers them. Realviz makes you bring in images one at a time, and approximately register them, then the software zeros in the registration from there. Withan image with a lot of individual shots, you could spend a lot of time arranging them with Realviz, whereas Autostich can arrange even the most free form set of images automatically (provided they are actually related!). It is possible there are related set sof photos of a subtlepanorama that Autostich couldn't handle automatically that would still be stitchable by the more laborious Realviz method, but in fact Autostitch has yet to fail to register an image for me (in limited use).

In Realviz you can rotate, and geometrically adjust the image before stitching, but not in Autostitch. Autostich always defaults to "spherical" or straight-on perspective, the kind you see in most panos.

Realviz offers .jpg, .tif, .psd and QVTR output, Autostich outputs only .jpg. However Realviz twice crashed when I asked it to create a .psd.file. Psd's generate very slowly, on my system a ~3000x7000 image worked at making a .psd for 40 minutes before crashing. Jpegs take only a few minutes on either program.

No question that Autostitch is much faster overall. Once the images are aligned Realviz can generate .jpgs faster than Autostitch, but with Autostitch you spend zero time arranging the images.

On the one image I used for comparison, both Autostich and Realviz gave perfect registration (BTW Image Factory did not). The image had a lot of nearby grasses and lots of details, which made it a difficult image. The Reaviz image was maybe just a tad sharper, but both were good in terms of sharpness and sharpened nicely with both PS SmartSharpen and Unsharp Mask.

So bottom line is it would be nice to have both, but Autostitch is easier to use and very close in quality, and free! If I did panos for a living I would have both, but for me Autostitch is still the choice. Once again I tested the Express version of Realviz...one thing I did not test is the 16 bit capability in the $500 version of Realviz. That could make a difference if you want to work at the absolutely highest quality. But the $99Realviz Express only supports 8 bits, same as Autostitch.




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Old Sep 6, 2005, 10:14 PM   #3
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I've fiddled with autostitch, not a bad program and the free part is good, but it is 8-bit only.
Also there is a built in photo-merge function in Photoshop CS and CS2.
(FIles->Automate->Photo Merge) but it only works on 8-bit input too.

I'll have to give realviz a try on 16bit files, but I am really looking for something that will work on 32bit HDR files.

I got panorama-maker free with something or other, but never liked it at all.
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Old Sep 7, 2005, 10:37 AM   #4
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I believe Panorama Tools (with one of the graphic front-ends) deals with 16 bit images.

bill t. has a good point - a simple, fast stitching program is good to have. It won't do all of the things PTools will (I have no experience with Realviz). In particular, the output of PhotoShop masked layers (or TIFFs) to deal with the impossible situations where the stitch line will be visible unless it is carfully run down a tree, gravel road, or some other feature that can be distorted without being noticed. The simple programs generally do not deal well with shooting off level very well, nor do they deal with lens distortion. When they work, they are worth using, but they don't always work well.
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Old Sep 8, 2005, 10:10 AM   #5
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BillDrew is 100% right about Panorama Tools, especially with the PTAssembler front end. These programs are a little hard to use, but they can stitch stuff the simpler programs will choke on! You want to have these programs available especially if you're going to shoot multi-row images with wide angle lenses, and also when you have very curvey subjects (dream on, guys...).

After I wrote the piece above I stitched a few more pieces together and found that Autostitch was able toregister the overlaps on a few low-contrast, low-detail, multi-row images slightly better than Realviz Express.

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Old Sep 8, 2005, 3:34 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the replys!
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Old Sep 27, 2005, 6:30 AM   #7
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I have tried a few programs and these are my non-expert impressions (I use autostitch mode):
1- I like Autostitch; I find its autostitching is quite good but as pointed out I find it is too limited
2- I just tested the latest PTGUI5beta and was pleasantly surprised; I found it did a good autostitch job and has full control over the projection parameters/type in a real time preview window. Very easy to use, yet versatile
3- I also just tried the just released Realviz5 and I thought it did a worse job at autostitching and I found it difficult to adjust the projection; I like PTGUI5 much better.

I have not tried the PTAssembler/Autopano/Endblend combination; I understand that the major advantage of PTGUI4 over PTA is in the convenient adjustable real time projection preview window. Neither do I know how PTGUI5 compares to PTGUI4.

Update:
Realviz5 and PTGUI5.1 final were compared here:
http://digitalurban.blogspot.com/
their conclusion:
"RealViz have a lot of ground to make up, PTgui is streets ahead and a tenth of the price. The verdict is ultimately disappointing."
You can download the samples they used in their test and check for yourself.


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