Summer is the best time to go outdoors and practice your photography skills. If you’re at a cool vantage point on a day with good weather, you could try taking multiple photos at adjacent angles from the same point – then using the tools we’ve featured below to help you stitch them together and create stunning panorama photos.
Don’t worry if your photography skills are a bit rusty, because we have just the cure for that. Check out the simple projects you can do this weekend and online courses to perfect your photography. We have even have smartphone photography tricks. Also, read about the useful ways to quickly improve your photos.
We’ve rated each of the tools below on a scale of one (lowest) to five (highest) based on three categories – ease of use, the features they offer, and the quality of the final panorama file.
(Note: Before using any of the panorama-creation tools mentioned below, ensure you’ve saved all the photos that will comprise your panorama into a folder on your desktop. For convenience, name these photos 1, 2, 3, etc. depending on the position you want them to appear in your panorama – from left to right.)
Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor was sitting in a software graveyard for about seven years before they decided to revive it. We’re thankful for that because it’s the easiest program to use and produced the best results. Image Composite Editor can create panoramas from both images and videos. Make your selection when the program launches.
The program contains four buttons at the top that take you through each stage of the process – Import, Stitch, Crop, and Export. You’ll see options on the right, which let you further enhance your panorama. You can export your file in a variety of file formats and quality settings. Remember to change the Quality dropdown menu to Superb before exporting your panorama.
Ease of use: 5
Windows 7 and 8’s default Photo Gallery is primarily a photo organizing program, with useful tagging and basic editing options. Install it from the above link if you don’t have it. Windows 10 PCs don’t have the program, but you can add it with one click by first installing the free program Ultimate Windows Tweaker 4.
One feature you wouldn’t usually associate Photo Gallery with is creating panoramic images. Surprisingly, the program is one of the easiest to create them, though we were a bit underwhelmed with the final result.
To create your panorama, drag and drop your individual photos into Photo Gallery. Next, select them, click the Create tab at the top, then click Panorama, and wait until it merges your photos. You’ll be prompted to save your panorama to your PC – without any preview whatsoever.
Because of this, you’re likely to end up with a file that often needs editing – mainly cropping if you’ve not taken the individual photos properly. Of course, you can do this using Photo Gallery’s editing tools, but this means you’ll either need to save a copy of your original file, or overwrite it. This unnecessarily elongates the process.
Ease of use: 5
After launching Autostitch, click the folder icon and load your individual images. The program automatically stitches them to create your panorama. The results were not outstanding. In fact, one of our images even had some text that mysteriously appeared within the panorama.
It automatically opens in your default photo viewer program and is saved to your Desktop. You can tweak some of the program’s settings by clicking the cog icon. Autostitch has a paid-for Pro version, which might iron out some of these flaws.
Ease of use: 4
Hugin is an advanced panorama editing program. It lets you stitch photos taken from different cameras, and even merge multiple rows of photos (top and bottom) to create a large panorama. It also has options for calibrating your lenses and creating 360-degree panoramas.
None of the other programs offer these features, but they’re also tools that you probably won’t need. Thankfully, the program has a useful Tutorials page, which explains its different options as easy, step-by-step processes.
After importing your images, you need to align them precisely, then manually rectify any errors that the program detects. Only then will Hugin work its magic to stitch them together. That said, the end result (when we finally got to it) is worth the long-winded process.
Ease of use: 2
Dermandar is a website that stitches your photos in a couple of clicks. Despite being dead-simple to use, its panoramas were much better than some of the programs mentioned above.
We first wrote about Dermandar in 2010. Six years later, it has not only stood the test of time, it’s also expanded into (highly-rated) panorama-creation apps for Android and iOS. That’s commendable because both mobile operating systems have a Panorama feature baked into their default Camera apps.
Go to the website and choose from two options (360 View or Wide Angle). Now select, and upload your images, then wait for a few seconds as the website stitches them together. What you get is a gorgeous result that you can click and drag to pan across from one end to the other. Click the Fullscreen icon to expand the image. The Options button lets you download the file to your PC in JPEG format.
Ease of use: 5
Google Photos has quickly become the default photo storage service for millions of users. You can it across Android, iOS, the website, and even its PC program.After uploading photos, a useful Assistant feature kicks in. This analyzes your photos and looks for the best way to enhance them – be it creating a story from photos taken at a similar location, or adding cool effects to individual photos.
After uploading photos, a useful Assistant feature kicks in. This analyzes your photos and looks for the best way to enhance them – be it creating a story from photos taken at a similar location, or adding cool effects to individual photos.
Assistant automatically detects adjacent photos taken from the same point and stitches them to create a panorama. The drawback with Google Photos is that you only realize that it has created a panorama if and after it’s done that. Simple mistakes like not taking the individual photos correctly may cause the app to assume that’s it’s not part of a panorama, in which case the Assistant won’t come into play.
When it does create your panoramas, though, the results are brilliant. The app automatically crops out unwanted areas, adds color fixes, and gives you a high-resolution image. All you need to do is hit Save when you see it appear as an app notification, or when it appears in your library.
If you love Google Photos as much as we do, then read our in-depth review about its myriad features.
Ease of use: 0
What’s Your Favorite Panorama Tool?
Taking a panorama photo won’t usually be your first instinct when you’re out in the field. However, depending on the situation, subject, and context, they might make for better memories than ordinary photos. Once you perfect your art, you can even make money by selling your panorama photos online.
Are there any other panorama tools that we’ve not covered? Do you agree with our ratings for the aforementioned tools? Feel free to share links of your panorama photos and tell us what inspired you to click and create them.
Post all your thoughts, opinions, and links in the comments section below!