Advice for pano settings - photos from compact/phone cameras  

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rjllane
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Advice for pano settings - photos from compact/phone cameras

by rjllane » Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:50 am

Hello fellow Autopano users.

I would appreciate any advice and wisdom that you can share. I often take a series of photos with either a compact camera or phone camera that I wish to compile into a panorama. This is not the perfect situation, because you cannot ensure that (1) the camera is always pointing at the same inclination, (2) that the exposure is the same for each shot (if exposure is "automatic" and cannot be fixed for all shots), and (3) there is likely to be relatively strong distortion around the edges related to the short focal length of the lens (I think this is why the distortion occurs). I try to achieve 20-30% overlap on each photo boundary when taking the photos. What settings would be recommended with v2.5? My initial thoughts are ...

(Detection) Auto color correction (Default)
(Optimization) Lens distortion correction (Default)
(Optimization) Multiple viewpoints (**Not the default)
(Panorama) Color correction - gamma, exposure and color tone (**Not the default)

I start with these settings, render the panorama, and inspect the output at 1:1 resolution. If I observe misalignment problems, as I often do, then my general strategy is to try the following. I re-optimise the panorama and render after each step. Of course, I stop if/when the misalignment problems have been fixed!

1) Remove any geometry links for pairs of photos which are not immediately adjacent to each other.
2) Remove geometry links with high RMS levels (i.e., those that are colored red)

Tackle each of the remaining misalignment problems one at a time, starting with the biggest problem ...
3) Define rectangles on the problematic pair of images and use the auto control point option to add extra geometry control points to this region.
4) Add manual control points to the problematic pair of images.
(Repeat (3) and (4) for the next largest problem)
5) As a last resort, fix any remaining (hopefully small) problems manually in an image editing program.

What are other users doing in these situations?
Last edited by rjllane on Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by GURL » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:32 pm

rjllane wrote:3) Define rectangles on the problematic pair of images and use the auto control point option to add extra geometry control points to this region.
4) Add manual control points to the problematic pair of images.
(Repeat (3) and (4) for the next largest problem)
5) As a last resort, fix any remaining (hopefully small) problems manually in an image editing program.

What are other users doing in these situations?

Besides adding control points, deleting some of them often helps:
- delete CP on moving objects (like clouds on windy days, etc)
- delete CP on the nearest parts of the ground because they suffer from parallax errors.
- delete red CP or dark-colored CP which are surrounded by green-colored ones.
Georges

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by rjllane » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:36 am

Thanks for the good advice, Georges.

I'm very unsure whether I should be using the "Multiple viewpoints" option during "Optimization", or the "gamma, exposure and color tone" option for color correction in the "Panorama" settings. Does anyone have knowledge or experience whether these are reasonable settings in the situation that I have described?

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by klausesser » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:51 am

rjllane wrote:Thanks for the good advice, Georges.

I'm very unsure whether I should be using the "Multiple viewpoints" option during "Optimization", or the "gamma, exposure and color tone" option for color correction in the "Panorama" settings. Does anyone have knowledge or experience whether these are reasonable settings in the situation that I have described?

I guess, without a pano-head "multiple viewpoints" might be preferable. The rest depends on the actual images. A problem might rise with the focal-length of the device and lens distortion settings. Try it! :cool:

best, Klaus

P.S.: there is a stitcher-app for iPhone - i know it works well on this (!) device because it knows the lens parameters.
Last edited by klausesser on Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by rjllane » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:11 am

Hello klausesser.

I know and use the iPhone app "Autostitch" which I believe shares (?) some of the same algorithms as Autopano. It is very impressive for a phone app, and fanned my interest in panoramas. It does an excellent job of color balancing and blending, but the geometry of the stitching tends to show small errors. It also has memory limitations that cap the number of input photos to around 20-25 for my iPhone4's 5 megapixel images. And finally, the output of larger panoramas is subsampled rather than being saved at full resolution.

So I looked for a similar PC routine that would overcome these hardware limitations, and would provide more manual control of the process. Hence, I came across ... Autopano.

I am still a learner with "real" photography and the fundamentals of panorama stitching. How does the focal length of the device come into the process with Autopano? Where do you enter this information? And perform the "distortion correction" that you mention?

(P.S. I still use Autostitch to produce immediate feedback on my iPhone indicating how a panorama may look, and to decide whether it is worth starting an Autopano project to produce the best result that the individual photos will allow.)
Last edited by rjllane on Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by rjllane » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:40 am

I note from posts under other topics that there are are group of users out there (such as marzipano) that derive pleasure and satisfaction from assembling panoramas from photographs taken with compact or phone cameras. Autopano Pro and Autopano Giga are not just for the professionals and those with top-of-the-range cameras, lenses, tripods, motor drives, etc. I admire the technical excellence and results achieved by these high-end users, but achieve my own joy from doing the best that I can with the camera that goes everywhere with me.

Updating the workflow given in an earlier post under this topic based on recent experience ...

The high degree of distortion towards the margins of the photographs means that I seem to do better if I aim for 40% overlap between adjacent photographs (rather than the 20-25% mentioned for better cameras). I have also noted that it appears to be better to under-expose photographs than to over-expose them. Not quite sure why this is the case!?

(Detection) Auto color correction.
(Optimization) Custom settings ...
Local approach, Strong algorithm, First optimization, Clean up control points - remove points with RMS over 40.0, Final optimization, Lens distortion correction, Multiple viewpoints.
(Panorama) Color correction - gamma, exposure and color tone.

I start with these settings, render the panorama, and inspect the output at 1:1 resolution. If I observe misalignment problems, as I often do, then my general strategy is to try the following. I re-optimise the panorama and render after each step. Of course, I stop if/when the misalignment problems have been fixed!

1) Remove any geometry links for pairs of photos which are not immediately adjacent to each other.
2) Remove geometry links with high RMS levels (i.e., those that are colored orange or red)

Tackle each of the remaining misalignment problems one at a time, starting with the biggest problem ...
3) Define rectangles on the problematic pair of images and use the auto control point option to add extra geometry control points to this region.
4) Add manual control points to the problematic pair of images.
(Repeat (3) and (4) for the next largest problem)
5) As a last resort, fix any remaining (hopefully small) problems manually in an image editing program.
6) If the color balance across the panorama is poor, carry out some trials using different combinations of color anchors (changing the reference image, using different adjustments on the other images). However, I have not had a great deal of success with other combinations. It seems that the results achieved initially are as good as can be achieved.

Enjoy the software and achieving your own level of excellence!

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by marzipano » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:21 am

Hello rjllane

I see I'm not the only amateur enthusiast here who just enjoys walking around with a compact camera in their pocket in the hope of coming across a new possible panorama opportunity

I have adopted a technique very similar to yours by the sound of it - basically an iterative trial and error approach focusing down on to hopefully smaller and smaller problem areas

I don't get the distortion you mention at the edges but the other problems all sound familiar

I do 2 extra things not on your list

(1) I use the "high" setting on CP detection and increase the number of control points to about 100 per image

(2) More controversially, where I get blending and stitching errors that won't go away in 2.5 then I try using 2.0.9. Although it takes a lot longer to render and you need 2GB+ RAM for large panoramas (over 16 of 7 Megapixel images) the results seem to justify it. In particular the Smartblend options of Minimal Pyramid and Transition Smoothing seem to give much better control on blending sky tones than the Multiband levels in 2.5

I attach examples of 2.0.9 and 2.5 blending where the sky tones are tricky and the exposures not uniform (common problem with compact digital and mobile phone photos)

best
Martin




Last edited by marzipano on Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by klausesser » Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:46 pm

rjllane wrote:I note from posts under other topics that there are are group of users out there (such as marzipano) that derive pleasure and satisfaction from assembling panoramas from photographs taken with compact or phone cameras. Autopano Pro and Autopano Giga are not just for the professionals and those with top-of-the-range cameras, lenses, tripods, motor drives, etc. I admire the technical excellence and results achieved by these high-end users, but achieve my own joy from doing the best that I can with the camera that goes everywhere with me.

I mean you´re misinterpreting: it´s nonsense to divide things into "professional" and "hobbyist". I´m not speaking as a professional - i´m speaking as a pano-maker who has learned a bit of the basics.
And the basics of any application is in the maths and in the photography. So it´s natural and logical that basics must be regarded to get suitable results. That´s independent from working professionally or as amateurs. Differences are related to photography - not to sticthing a pano and building a tour, because that´s technical and everybody can do it.
So "technical excellence" is only ONE of the goals.

The basics tell us that a NPP adapter is essential - independent from being professional or not. An NPP adapter is THE basic instrument when we start to deal with panorama-photography - no doubt and no way around this fact.
An appropriate lens is the second factor, and the camera is the last in the chain of important features. You don´t need a hightech camera - but you need a good lens and you definitely need a NPP adapter . . however it´s built. You can do a NPP adapter yourself by using a piece of metal or even wood . . as long as you manage to match the NPP all is acceptable.

THAT is the very basic. Shooting a pano in the right way saves lots of time and efforts in postprocessing. That´s not hard to understand and it´s not hard to do.

The complexity of panorama making is often underestimated - applications which get better and better seems to show us that the very basics are less essential because of the application´s skills to deal even with badly taken shots. THAT might work well - but more likely it takes you into troubles . . . about which we are reading here constantly.
Lots of questions in this forum wouldn´t rise if users would take it "by the books" - deal with pano-shooting in the correct way.

The difference between those who show "technical excellence" and those who don´t is alone in regarding the very basics. Everybody can do a pano with "technical excellence" - regarding these very basics . . :cool:

Only then you can derive "pleasure and satisfaction" from what you´re doing. Yoe definitely don´t need "top-of-the range cameras, lenses, tripods, motor drives etc". But at least you need a NPP adapter.

best, Klaus
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by bzh360 » Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:05 pm

Hello.

klausesser wrote:The difference between those who show "technical excellence" and those who don´t is alone in regarding the very basics. Everybody can do a pano with "technical excellence" - regarding these very basics . . :cool:

200% with Klaus.
The target is to make photography that makes sense, gives satisfaction and eyes pleasure.
Panoramical or not, photography request to follow basics that, even with a phone camera, rules the final result. Technology helps but do not make the photographer that will/must learn daily ang keep review is state of mind to the best. Reason why I'm also very doubtfull with commercial products as the "sony panorama maker".
Last point: stiching is the very first step. Any "excellent" result will also respond to composition basics and tunning that will give less hard time to clouds that are busy climbing in the sky. ;)

Kenavo


Last edited by bzh360 on Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by marzipano » Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:43 pm

Yes - thank you bzh360

I am also capable of switching to a cylindrical view from the default planar on my examples - and without the aid of a ruler

I am trying to show blending differences here not display my work for a competition !

best
Martin

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by rjllane » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:20 am

Hello All. I am glad to see lots of comments added to this topic in the last day or so. As a relative novice to this pursuit, your advice and wisdom is greatly appreciated.

How much of a novice? Well, I had to look up "NPP"! I'm not sure how practical it would be to construct and carry around a device for rotating the phone or compact camera about the appropriate axis. But as a start, I would add step zero to my workflow ...

0) Remember to rotate about the axis of the camera when taking the sequence of photographs, rather than rotating about the (more convenient) axis of the photographer!

Implicitly, I have steered away from panoramas with foreground objects, where I imagine the issue of rotating about the axis containing the NPP is most critical?

Thanks for your specific additions/variations, marzipano. Whilst I remember, I will also add step 4.1 to my workflow ...

4.1) Before worrying about stitch errors, I adjust the overall geometry of the panorama by manually altering the (i) Vanishing Point, (ii) Verticals/Horizontals, and (iii) Roll as required to produce the desired overall perspective and angle in the panorama. Then look for stitch issues.

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by andybryant » Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:05 am

rjllane wrote:How much of a novice? Well, I had to look up "NPP"! I'm not sure how practical it would be to construct and carry around a device for rotating the phone or compact camera about the appropriate axis. But as a start, I would add step zero to my workflow ...

0) Remember to rotate about the axis of the camera when taking the sequence of photographs, rather than rotating about the (more convenient) axis of the photographer!

I recorded a couple of video for a tutorial I put together for a pano-tutorial I created for my local photo club recently.

Take a look at the first 2 videos in the playlist for hand-held technique (big-toe) + the string/rubber-band technique (PhiloPod). You could modify the latter to work with a smart-phone camera.

The actual tutorial is a prezi-presentation below the post.

http://andy.bryant.name/blog/2011/3/13/panoramic-photography-an-intro.html

Andy.

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by hankkarl » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:59 pm

Another technique is to use a monopod (or a stick, etc), hold the camera on top of it at what you think the NPP is, and try and keep the monopod straight.

My cellphone is about 1/4" or 3/8" of an inch thick, so finding about where the NPP is is not a problem.

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by AlexandreJ » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:43 pm

marzipano wrote:(2) More controversially, where I get blending and stitching errors that won't go away in 2.5 then I try using 2.0.9. Although it takes a lot longer to render and you need 2GB+ RAM for large panoramas (over 16 of 7 Megapixel images) the results seem to justify it. In particular the Smartblend options of Minimal Pyramid and Transition Smoothing seem to give much better control on blending sky tones than the Multiband levels in 2.5

I attach examples of 2.0.9 and 2.5 blending where the sky tones are tricky and the exposures not uniform (common problem with compact digital and mobile phone photos)

This is not comparable because you used in 2.5 exposure fusion which is not something that exist in v2.0.9. If you want to compare smartblend ( 2.0.9 ) with the new engine, you should use anti-ghost preset with multiband level set at -2 which is comparable to the one of smartblend.

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by marzipano » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:59 am

I re-did that test using 2.0.9 and 2.5/2.5.1 at the settings you mentioned (multiband level -2 and remove ghosting set on in 2.5/2.5.1) and the results are below

I still reckon 2.0.9 blending is better but it's not very easy to see in these samples (if you click on each one to magnify it becomes easier to see as a faint seam is detectable down the overlap join in 2.5)

All other settings are defaults in every case (before anyone else edits the samples - that includes the fact that they are all still set on planar not cylindrical)

I have also included the horrible sight of the original (post default stitching but pre blending so you can see what the software had to deal with !)

best
Martin










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