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360 Camera Techniques

EXCLUSIVE: How to stitch Panono images offline yourself and how to fix Panono stitching errors

stitching Panono offline and fixing stitching errors
stitching Panono offline and fixing stitching errors

Panono is the highest resolution all-in-one 360 camera with 36 lenses and 108 megapixel resolution. Its only drawback is that the stitching is often not perfect and is tedious to correct.  In this post, I will discuss how you can stitch Panono photos yourself, or fix Panono stitching errors.
Panono is my favorite 360 camera for photography.  Its images are very detailed, and the dynamic range is unequaled among 360 cameras.  Its colors look natural and images look fantastic with only minor editing.  Here is a sample:

THE CATCH
However, until now I could not recommend the Panono without qualifications because the stitching is usually not perfect, especially when there are subjects close to its minimum distance of around 1.5 meters.  When there are stitching errors, they are often glaring, and ruin an otherwise excellent shot.  Worse still, they are not easy to correct in post.

 

When you have often unpredictable errors like this, it’s hard to rely on it for professional shooting situations such as weddings where there are no do-overs.

Another issue is that the Panono images are stitched via the cloud.  Among other things, this requires an internet connection, which might not be available if you’re traveling.

THE SOLUTION
Panono users have tried using programs such as PTGui to stitch Panono images but I have not yet found any actual tutorial for doing it.  Fortunately, I found a stitching program that works and can stitch Panono photos offline.  It can also be used to help fix stitching errors.

The software is called PanoramaStudio 3 Pro and once you enter the right settings, it’s reasonably simple to fix the stitching.

Here’s a video tutorial.

Here are the steps:
1. Download the UPF file from the Panono.
2. Using Panono’s UPF converter, convert the UPF file into individual photos.
3. Stitch the individual photos using Panoramic Studio 3 Pro,
– Create a multi-row panorama
– Import the images.
– Under the parameters, specify a focal length of 32mm +/- 30%
– Under camera type, select “Digital camera”
– Under lens type, select “Regular (low distortion).”
– Under advanced options, select “Very High” for quality.
– Click on Align.
4.  The software will give you a rough preview of the aligned images.  Fix the horizon if necessary and fine-tune the alignment by pressing the edit button then adjust the horizon or image alignment as needed.  For image alignment, you would drag parts of the photo that are misaligned and move them to the right position.
5.  When you’re satisfied with the rough preview of the alignment, click on Render.  The image will be rendered at a much higher quality than the preview.

Note that this will only stitch the photo.  It cannot adjust the exposure or contrast, which is part of the stitching process with Panono’s [free] cloud service.  It also seems to be limited to 72mp. I’m not sure if that’s because of the files, or a limit with the program itself.

To fix stitching errors in files stitched by Panono, I use layer masks.  In Photoshop, I paste the offline-stitched photo as a new layer in the Panono photo and align them as well as I can.  I then apply a layer mask to the offline-stitched photo.  I use “hide all” for the layer mask then use a white paint brush to paint in only the portions I need.

With this stitching option, the Panono becomes an even more attractive camera for 360 photos.  You can buy the Panono from B&H Photo with free shipping and free accessories, or directly from Panono (shipping costs, import fees and applicable taxes may apply).  PanoramaStudio 3 Pro is available here, and for a limited time, you can get a 20% discount by using the code QFX4-SZ4H.  Note: only the Pro version can stitch multi-row panoramas.

If you’d like to try stitching a Panono file, you can download this UPF file.  For comparison, here is the photo stitched by Panono’s cloud service:

If Panono seems to be out of your budget, stay tuned for another alternative, which I will post tomorrow!

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Mic Ty

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