The image above was assembled by Panorama Maker from four pictures taken
last July about 800 feet above Jenny Lake at Inspiration Point, Grand
Teton National Park. At the time, I had not planned to merge them.
However, Panorama Maker proved powerful enough to adjust for my lack
of planning; as you can see from the four pictures.
These four images were taken with a hand held Fuji S602z.
Panorama Maker allows you to easily turn a small collection of
reasonably related images into a single panorama image. It will
install in either a Windows or Mac. The interface is clean and elegant
and appears very similar to QuickTime.
Clicking "Start" allows you to select from four style options for
gathering you images. "Open" opens the Open dialog box where you
can access images. "Edit" opens an Edit Screen where you can rotate,
crop, and enhance images. "Save" allows you to save your stitched images.
"Export" lets you save panoramas as either QuickTime movies or HTML files.
And "Print" allows you to print what you have created. If you clicked "Start"
you will see that your images can be stitched into a horizontal, vertical, or
tiled panorama, or in a full 360-degree wrap-around mode for the web. In most
cases, you'll be able to turn your photos into a panorama in just a matter
of seconds. After selecting your style and clicking "Next", you will need
to "Add" your desired source images to the palate. Once the palate is
loaded, you can include the specific images by 'dragging' them from the
loaded palate and 'dropping' them into the strip below in the desired order.
Then, just click "Next" again. Automatic stitching of the included images will occur.
On my machine, the program was both quick and intuitive. It provided automatic
de-ghosting and simple color enhancing features. With just a few clicks, the
images were stitched together and in most cases, color matched as well. When
automatic alignment didn't work as well as I wanted because of
the amount of parallax error in the source images, the manual alignment refinement
was equally straightforward and simple. I just clicked on the small "Fine Tune"
tool on the right, then on the area to be adjusted. The adjustment window opened
(See Figure 5) with three (3) small pointers on each image. I adjusted the three
pointers so that they were pointing to identical respective locations in each
image, and then clicked "OK". Panorama Maker did the rest.
There was only a little "bad" to report. Probably its greatest strength is also
its biggest weakness. The interface is very streamlined and simple. As a result
there are few adjustments that can be done by the advanced user, if the source
images are not sufficiently aligned. Some minor artifacts occurred at the
intersection of the manually adjusted images, but were not noticeable for the
size prints I intended to make. Larger prints would have suffered. I created two
other panoramas using old photos just to test the flexibility of Panorama Maker.
On the first, a couple of pictures I took in 1997 at Canyonlands, I deliberately
left in the date stamp so you could see where the merge occurred.
The merge was completely automatic and nearly flawless. On the second, two pictures
of Herbert Lake in Bow Valley, Canada are merged. The reflections
came together perfectly, only after repeated manual attempts. I had trouble with
the pointers moving from where I would set them. The images for these two panoramas
originally were captured with a Cannon EOS 630, and then scanned from filmstrip
using a HP PhotoSmart s20. By the way, the new HEB on the corner of FM 1604 and
Kitty Hawk did an excellent job of printing the results.
Panorama Maker also lets you save your panoramas as QuickTime Movie (MOV) files or
HTML files. You can acquire images directly from TWAIN-compliant devices such as
digital cameras and scanners. You can also use images stored on your hard drive,
floppy disks, CD-ROMs, or other removable media. In my case, the source images
were already stored on CD. Since, Panorama Maker also contains some simple image
enhancement tools, you can use them to adjust the source image brightness and
contrast before creating a panorama. However, if the image needs any real
enhancement, you will need to do that before using Panorama Maker.
A PDF manual comes on the CD, which should prove more than adequate for most
users. Panorama Maker worked fine for me right out of the box and without looking
at the manual. I can recommend it for virtually any user for creating small
panoramic prints for fun, but would not suggest it for serious work. I do plan
to use it to create some images to load on my web page. It's simple,
straightforward and quick!
Availability. From ArcSoft $39.99. Amazon wanted $29.88 plus S&H.
(I found one on special on the net during my review for $14.99)
Vendor information: ArcSoft was founded in 1994 and based in Fremont,
California, ArcSoft uses digital imaging, software development and
Internet innovation to bring exciting desktop and Web-based technologies
to businesses and consumers worldwide. They can be contacted at
ArcSoft Inc., 46601 Fremont Blvd.,
Fremont, CA 94538, Tel: 1.510.440.9901 - Fax: 1.510.440.1270
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium-based PC or equivalent, 50 MB free hard disk space,
64 MB RAM (128 MB recommended), 16-bit color display at 800 x 600.
Reviewer System Specifications
AMD Athlon 1.6 GHz, 1.25 GB RAM, 6 GB IDE drive with Windows XP Pro,
80GB Raid Drive, 64 MB ATI Radeon 7000, DirectX 9.0b, Firewire (IEEE 1394),
USB 2.0, On-Lite DVD, On-Lite DVD-+R/RW/CD-R/RW burner, DirectX-compatible
Sound Blaster Live card, Logitech Trackball, keyboard.