Panorama Stitch Software Winner (& it's free)

Yesterday’s post described several hours spent fighting with Photoshop’s Photomerge Panorama software. Enough already – I looked for an alternative and found it in a program which is blindingly fast and free! It ingested 25 files and processed them in under 30 seconds. Also, once the files had been opened,  it took only ten seconds to reprocess the files using another of the five available stitching options. Saving the resulting nearly 170 megapixel file (41344 wide x 4040 high, 11 GB) took a few minutes but I’m not complaining.
By the way, in case the resolution of the image snuck by you – 170 MEGAPIXEL. That’s a good size; even the five $-figure medium format cameras are only in the 30-40 MP resolution range.
Full disclosure – done on a pretty fast PC, specifically a Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM running a 64 bit capable program in 64 bit Windows 7.
So what is this free speed demon? It’s called Image Composite Editor and is developed by Microsoft Research. Among several nice features it includes an Automatic Crop (if you’ve ever done a panorama this will make sense). Check it out – you’ll like it and the price is right.
Here’s a demonstration of the detail available in a panoramic image. This one is 17 stitched images (vertical with 1/3 overlap) resulting in a final image 28,889 pixels wide by 4042 pixels high for a total of 117 megapixels (8 seconds to process once the 17 files were opened). The version displayed below is only 4000 pixels wide (when enlarged by clicking; 450 pixels as you are viewing it now). If you enlarge the image (click it) you’ll see two red boxes. Below the panoramic image you’ll see two images showing the contents of those boxes at a 100% view (click each to enlarge). If I had used a longer lens (50mm here) and zoomed in tighter you could count the water droplets in the fountain at the left.
NOTE – If you enlarge the panorama you’ll see that your cursor becomes a zoom tool. Click to zoom and then you can scroll using the horizontal cursor.

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