Digital Camera Home > Photo Software > QuickStitch

Quickstitch Version 2.0
Product Review: The premier panorama-stitching program, for PC and Mac?
Reviewer: Bret Mckee

(December 11, 2000 - Reader Notice: We regret to inform you that Enroute, Inc., the makers of Quickstitch, are discontinuing sale of their product on January 24, 2001, or until their current inventory runs out. More information is available in a press release located on the FirstPerson Immersive Video web site.)


Introduction
Since its introduction Quickstitch has been one of the most popular software packages for generating panoramic images.Its popularity is due mostly to its extreme ease of use. By keeping the number of user options to a bare minimum Enroute has brought the capability to make good panoramic images to the masses. It is no longer necessary to be a photo or computer guru to be able to make really good looking panoramas. Quickstitch is capable of generating horizontal panoramas from two to eight images, vertical panoramas from two to six images and two dimensional panorama from four to forty eight images. The maximum output size is limited to 6 Megapixels, which is large enough for virtually any on screen image and will allow printouts to be much larger than will fit on a single 8.5x11 sheet.
Taking Photos
There is a video tutorial included with Quickstitch 2.0 which provides the user with instructions for taking photographs suitable for making panoramas. It is quite short and provides information with is essential for making the best panoramas with Quickstitch, making it a "must watch" for new users.
If the user's camera offers some type of exposure locking, it will definitely help hide the transitions between images if it is used..
Enroute also offers a tripod head made by Velbon which is suitable for making very precisely aligned panoramas. While the special tripod head does allow for the creation of better images, the results which can be obtained without it are sufficient for most uses, especially the the photographer is careful to follow the instructions from the video.

Image selection
The layout of the main Quickstitch screen is very simple, showing a list of possible input files in the directory selected, and a grid into which images are dragged. Quickstitch will also allow files to be dragged from other applications, which allows users of image management software to drag the files directly from there to the grid. There is also a somewhat larger preview window so the user can be certain the right images are in the right place.The use can adjust the individual images by right clicking on the image, which brings up a dialog box with brightness and contrast sliders. The default grid size is 4x6, and if more images are desired it is necessary to use the "Grid Zoom" button to show more of the grid. No manual input is required (or possible) for the alignment of the images. Quickstitch decides exactly where the images align on its own, which is a great when it works (most of the time), but makes it impossible to generate a good panorama if it cannot.

 
Horizontal Images ready to stitch (click for larger version)


Options
When all the images are in the appropriate place, the user can set the stitch options.

 
 Quickstitch 2.0 Options


Keeping with the theme of "Ease of operation" there are only three options, Projection, Blending and Output Image Size.

Projection
All panoramas contain some distortion which is caused by the differing distances and angles involved. This is basically the same problem that causes Greenland and Antarctica to look huge on maps - they are trying to display the 3 dimensional round earth on as a 2 dimensional flat image. The Projection option allows the user some control over the distortion. With the Perspective projection horizontal lines remain straight and the distortion occurs to vertical objects at the edges of the image, while the Pan Head projection vertical lines remain vertical but horizontal lines are distorted. See the images below for examples of each projection type.

Blending
The Blending option controls how much Quickstitch attempts to hide the seams between pictures. Gradual is the faster of the two options, and provides a smoother transition between images. Quickstitch applies quite a bit of exposure correction to the images so that images which are not identically exposed will appear to blend well, but may result in ghosting where frames are misaligned. Sharp causes Quickstitch to spend much more time aligning the images in an attempt to get the alignment correct, and then to stitch the images together with a much smaller transition area between images. This make the area between frames much sharper but can make differences between exposure more noticeable.

Output Image Size
This is the most self-explanatory option. The following table describes all the sizes supported by Quickstitch. Note that Quickstitch will not necessarily use the resolution specified but will generate the correct number of pixels as appropriate.

 Image Size
Pixels
Representative

Resolution

 Small
 76,8000
320x240
 Medium
 480,000
 800x600
 Large
1,310,720
1280x1024
 Very Large
 3,145,728
3072x1024
 Jumbo
6,000,000
3000x2000


If you select Jumbo, Quickstitch insists upon warning you that this is a big image and could take a long time and a large amount of memory. It even rings the computers bell as part of the message, an action with the author personally believes should be reserved for reporting fires within the computer.

Stitching
Once the options are selected, the user presses the stitch button and Quickstitch generates the requested image. Depending upon the number of input images, the speed of the computer being used, the amount of memory available, the size of the input files and the selected options (especially the desired resolution of the output file) the stitching process can take from a few seconds to a very long time. When it has completed the stitching, the resultant image is display in a "Panorama viewer window".

Panorama Viewer Window
The Panorama Viewer provides the user with some image editing features to make adjustments to the generated panorama, including cropping, flipping, rotating and re-sizing the image, as well as adjusting the brightness, contrast and gamma of the image. The viewer also includes the ability to sharpen and blur the image. While these tools provide a fair amount of control, they are not a replacement for a full featured image editor if the user wishes to seriously manipulate the image. If this is the case, it is best to save the image in one of the loss-less formats (tif is probably the most standard of the available formats) and then open it in an imaging program.

Results
Here are some sample results generated using Quickstitch 2.0. All images were saved as JPG images with the quality slider set to 9. With the exception of re-sizing the small versions of the images, no editing has been done to the images - they are exactly as Quickstitch produced them.

Horizontal Panorama
Here are the two different projections for the images shown in the "Horizontal Images Ready to Stitch" image shown above. These images were taken with a Nikon E950 at 1024x768 resolution, fine compression, using exposure lock. The camera was not on a tripod but was steadied on a railing. This is the view from atop the aerial tramway in Estes Park, CO.

 


Quickstitch Viewer Window
(click for a larger version of image)

Options:
Perspective, Gradual. Large 

 


 Quickstitch Viewer Window
(click for a larger version of image)

Options:
Panhead, Gradual. Large



Vertical Panorama
These images were taken with a Nikon E950 at 1200x1600 resolution, fine compression, using exposure lock. The camera was tripod mounted using a standard (non-panoramic) pan head.

 
  Vertical Images ready to stitch (click for larger version)
   
 Completed Panorama
(click for a larger version of image)

Options: Panhead, Sharp. Large

Completed Panorama
(click for a larger version of image)

Options: Perspective, Sharp. Large



Matrix Panorama
These images were taken with a Nikon E950 at 1200x1600 resolution, fine compression, using exposure lock. The camera was tripod mounted using a standard (non-panoramic) pan head. Notice that this is 24 images!! On the author's Pentium II 450 MHZ system with 256 MB of RAM the generation of this panorama took approximately 10 minutes.

 
   Image Matrix ready to stitch (click for larger version)
 
 Completed Panorama
(click for a larger version of image)

Options: Panhead, Sharp. Large

 Completed Panorama
(click for a larger version of image)

Options: Perspective, Sharp. Large



While the edges of these matrix panorama are a quite a bit distorted and ragged, cropping away the edges would leave a quite acceptable result.

 

Conclusion
Given the ease with with Quickstitch creates panoramas, the quality of the resulting images is nothing short of spectacular. Enroute has done a great job of providing an easy to use tool which generates excellent output. It would be nice to have the ability to exercise some degree of manual control of image alignment so that the user could help Quickstitch aligning the input images if necessary, but for most images this is not an issue.

Visit Enroute's site for more information on QuickStitch.

Back to the Imaging Resource Articles Page.

Up to Imaging Resource Tips & FAQs Page

Or, Return to the Imaging Resource home page.

 

Reader Comments!
Questions, comments or controversy on this article? Click this link to see what other Imaging Resource readers have had to say about QuickStitch, or add comments of your own!