I’ve been using Autostitch iPhone a lot this summer. It makes it easy to combine shots and so makes wide-angle panoramic photos a possibility, despite the fixed field of view of the phone’s camera. (You can see an cropped example, of Tromsø from the Hurtigruten coastal steamer, on Flickr. Above is the raw image that the phone produced.)
However, not all of my photos are with the iPhone, and so I need a desktop equivalent too. So I downloaded four Mac panorama stitchers and ran some photos I had previously stitched on the phone together.
Annoyingly, despite all costing at least ten times as much, they (with one exception) all performed far worse. Calico Panorama at least managed to get everything in the right place, and smoothed out the variations in exposure (which are unavoidable without manual controls). AutoPano Pro was also competent, but that UI is eyebleedingly awful. PTgui also did fairly well, but DoubleTake was clearly completely confused.
I also tried PhotoStitch, which was bundled with the Canon PowerShot S90 I recently bought. It needed to be told what the alignment was, and crashed after producing a version that was worse even than DoubleTake’s attempt. Poor show.
I suspect I’ll try a few more sets of images in Calico before deciding whether or not to stump up the cash, but there seems to be a wider lesson here. A piece of $2 software with barely any UI feels more able to do its job than a variety of desktop applications costing anywhere from $20 to $80, and it’s making me consider rethinking my workflow just to take advantage of it.