Do you think shooting panorama images is hard? What if I told you that putting the photos together is even more challenging? You will be glad. Right? Sure, a variety of competent photo-stitching software is available that will help you with the task, but each one works in its way, with its unique algorithms.
It means that some workflows are faster, easier, or deliver better results than others.
Photo stitching is the process where you combine several images. The overlapping fields of view are combined to make a full landscape image. There is no need for expensive wide-angle lenses.
You can take a series of photos and align them together. You just need a tripod and ensure that there are no shifts in color or brightness in the set of images you have taken.
Now, while the array of programs that help with stitching together images is much smaller than regular image editors, there are a bunch of excellent programs that excel at the task. Many of them are free, some open source and a few are commercial — there’s something for everyone here, at all levels.
Image Composite Editor
Solid technology, easy to use, great results
Lacks advanced features, not updated in a while
First time users
Simple automatic operation, minimal UI
Lacks manual control, only a few image editing options
Solid results, fast, beginner-friendly UI
Moderately high learning curve
Experienced users, professionals
Fast, impressive results, multiple panorama types supported
Slightly expensive for home users
Advanced creators, hobbyists
Professional results, neat UI, support for plugins
Somewhat wonky control point editor
Straightforward stitching, powerful editing capabilities
Lacks advanced dedicated options
Range of options, easy to be up and running, very affordable
Manual control could be better
Professionals, experienced photographers
Excellent set of features, tons of automatic options
Expensive, can be overwhelming
Some good options, familiar user interface
Abandonware, no longer sold or updated
Panorama Perfect Lite
Lightweight, good for basic editing
No longer updated, clunky UI
Let’s take a look at the ten best photo-stitching software for Windows 10.
1. Image Composite Editor
Microsoft tries a lot of things, particularly the Microsoft Research arm of the company. This unit is known for a whole bunch of cutting edge and innovative technologies. This program is their attempt at seamlessly stitching together images for you.
And what an attempt it is!
Although a few years old now, this nifty piece of software still works well. Gigapixel images are no trouble for Image Composite Editor — or ICE if you will. And neither is the ability to create panoramas from videos.
You can even pan your camera to take a video from left to right, and use this program to create a picture from the stills extracted from that video clip.
The best thing about ICE is it is sophisticated enough to handle demanding tasks. At the same time, the overall usage is straightforward and very fast. It practically has a mind of its own — which is to say that the technology behind it is fantastic.
You still get options to crop the image any way you want, and if you like the results, ICE can export it in a range of formats like JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, even a layered PSD file. Very useful, very streamlined, and very polished. Give this a try before anything else!
AutoStitch is a free photo-stitching program where you can input multiple photos of a scene and blend them to automatically create a panoramic photo for you — without much fuss, and certainly no mess.
As you may have guessed, beginners like AutoStitch.
It’s a great option for those that are starting out. That’s because it does not provide all that many options, and handles most things on its own — merging the images, adjusting the color and contrast, rotation and whatnot. AutoStitch will do it all without much input from the user.
The UI is clean, functional, and minimal. In fact, the software couldn’t be simpler to use. You just launch it, select the photos and watch the magic happen. The amount of time it takes to process the photos depends upon the number of images you choose.
That said, the downside to all this simplicity is that you have to crop the photos manually if they are of different sizes. Which means opening them in another photo editor and adjusting things.
There are some editing options in AutoStitch, though, like output format, blending methods, matching options, as well as auto-crop.
A demo version is available on the website with fewer options than the paid versions, which are commercial products that offer features like Cylindrical and Planar projections, as well as support for multiple panoramas.
Nevertheless, this is a pretty neat program if you want to stitch together photographs in the most efficient way possible, without much input from your side.
Photographers have used the open source and multi-platform Hugin for years, and it’s easy to see why. It works best when creating panoramic images that deal with high-resolution shots, prioritizing customizability and advanced features ahead of simplicity and ease of use. Which makes it the tool of choice for professionals.
Hugin can stitch together photos quickly to create smooth and stunning results. And it does this thanks to the same open source library that some commercial programs use.
It can easily identify the shape of the lens, and quickly adapt to the particular distortion profile of your camera, ensuring that the final image you create is as seamless as it can be.
The program has a tabbed interface that starts with a wizard-like assistant and progresses from there, ensuring you are not overwhelmed by its options and processes — of which there are several. That said, you will still need to have an adequate level of photography knowledge to make the most of it.
But if you can find your way around control points and edit the parameters, you are guaranteed some spectacular results.
Moving onto commercial software, we have PTGui, a program that is designed to stitch together multiple rows of images into a panoramic photo. Contrary to its name, the graphical user interface of this application is nothing fancy, just a collection of neatly-arranged icons and toolbars.
But it does help with familiarity and should make it easy for everyone to get up and to run.
Proceedings get much more interesting on the features side of things. PTGui can create those flat partial panoramas as easily as 360° cylindrical panoramas, or even round ones that go 360° x 180° in scope. In short, the program is at ease with whatever you throw at it.
The best thing about PTGui is that it while accomplishes most of the tasks automatically, it still provides manual control over every single parameter. It allows you to fine tune your image however you see fit and get the final result you desire.
Features like a panorama viewer, bundled web publishing tools, and a batch builder feature that scans image folders to build pictures automatically, complete the deal.
The free version of this program is limited in that it adds a watermark to your creation, but if you like what PTGui does, two different editions are up for grabs.
The folks over at Kolor promise the ultimate immersion, and they deliver. You get dedicated apps for creating everything from panoramas to virtual tours and 360° videos, and these neatly-designed programs handle the process of stitching together images and video streams with aplomb.
Autopano lets you combine multiple images with partial overlap into a large panoramic photo. You get started by just specifying the folders containing the pictures that house the series of photos that you want to combine, and the program will automatically combine them into panoramas quickly and effortlessly.
Several handy features are built-in, including color-correction, full HDR stitching, support for some 400 hundred file formats, batch rendering, a manual edit of control points, as well as plugins. You can even export your panoramas into Flash format as virtual tours.
Despite its advanced feature set, the interface of Autopano is clean and comfortable to use and lets anyone stitch together their first panorama in as little as two steps.
Speaking of two, Kolor Autopano is available in a couple of different variants, namely Pro and Giga, the latter of which offers additional options like a masking tool and pre-stitching plugins.
Things do get a little expensive with Autopano Giga, but if you are serious about panoramic photography, then it’s well worth the dive.
6. Affinity Photo
It’s amazing what you can find in regular image editing programs these days if you look real hard. For example, the stitching algorithm that is part of Affinity Photo is one of the most advanced ones around, making it an excellent and very affordable choice for some quick jobs.
You get accurate image alignment and perspective correction as automatic options, while at the same time the program allows full control over each image and boundary to tune up your composition to perfection.
And the remarkable part is that you get all this, along with some compelling image and photo editing capabilities that this program brings to the table. It’s right up there with the best of the bunch in those aspects.
Back to its stitching abilities, though, which is perfect for novices. The stitching process is adept at creating both vertical and horizontal panoramas, and the baked in editing tools help you with cropping, rotating, and straightening skewed pictures.
Affinity Photo supports all the popular file formats, and the ease of use is second to none.
Combine all this, and you end up with what is a competent panorama creator, part of a highly skilled package, available at a very affordable price. Beginners, home users, and those that want to create necessary pictures can’t ask for more.
PhotoStitcher lays it all out in the name. This lightweight panoramic stitching software packs a punch, as far as features go. Allowing for an easy and quick combination of overlapping images to produce the perfect panoramas with little effort.
Unlike some other programs on the list, this one is focused solely on creating panoramas from photos.
Ideally, you want to run images that have anywhere between 30% to 50% overlap with adjacent photographs. It will give you the best results, allowing you to create impressive panoramic photos in one click.
PhotoStitcher does pack in an automatic image completion feature that adds missing pixels around the edges and boundaries of your selected photos. It allows you to work with any arrangement of photos, without worrying too much about these details, or manually going through each image.
Regarding choices, you have all the bases covered — PhotoStitcher handles planar, cylindrical, stereographic, orthographic, Mercator, and spherical projections. Native support for 64-bit ensures speedy operations throughout, and the UI is straightforward and to the point.
A trial version is available for you to witness its magic first hand, while the app itself has been priced correctly, making this one of your best options if you seek ease of use and peace of mind.
Another dedicated software designed to simplify the creation of panoramic images, Panoweaver is at ease with four of the most popular types — globe, dome, cubic, and ring. And with support for RAW and HDR image stitching, along with GPU acceleration, you have one of the most feature-rich apps around.
Its power does not come cheap, mind you.
But an impressive set of features makes it an exciting addition to the list of image-stitching software.
Two versions of the program are available, dubbed Standard and Professional. The more expensive one is offering an expanded feature set, with more powerful features like masking, batch stitching, and publishing, as well as converting a globe panorama to cubic.
Sadly, while the standard version is within the range of most enthusiasts at $149, but the professional variant is something that only power users would gravitate towards with its sky-high price of $399.
You can practically get a new camera at this price!
Like other similar programs, Panoweaver offers both automatic and manual photo stitching capabilities, with automatic ideal for application when there are enough matching points between adjacent pictures. Its user interface is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.
Panoweaver brings along a ton of handy features in a complete and comprehensive package, but overall this is software is best for commercial users or those that create a lot of panoramic images regularly.
9. Panorama Maker
Arcsoft is a known name in software. And although their Panorama Maker is no longer updated or supported, the program is still capable enough for most basic image stitching tasks. If you can get your hands on it, you can turn your overlapping photos into impressive panoramas within seconds.
Five automatic stitching modes are available: 360, Auto, Horizontal, Tile, and Vertical.
Panorama Maker comes with built-in tools that scan the images you select and align them accordingly to create a panoramic image quickly. While some manual editing capabilities help you refine the results as many times as you need to land that perfect composition.
You can even go back to the previous step and insert or delete images as required, in the 3-step process, which brings us to the elephant in the room.
It has been three years since Arcsoft released the newest flavor of this program. Version 6 is what’s out there in the wild, and it last saw an update towards the end of 2013. Acquiring it is the real hard part.
If you can find a used copy, or even a new one online, or at retailers, it may be worth a dab. Versions are also readily available at third-party download websites.
But there are better and newer programs available that have surpassed what Panorama Maker used to offer. Which makes recommending this program tough, even though it is a straightforward and practical solution for stitching your images together into dazzling panoramas.
10. Panorama Perfect Lite
Another program that is no longer available from the developer, but one that you can grab from one of the many third-party download websites. Panorama Perfect Lite is the freeware version of a commercial product, with not all that many limitations.
In fact, the only evidence one is the size of the panorama picture that it produces.
Something that should not be a constraint for most users.
What you do get with Panorama Perfect is the handy ability to match up photos that you capture with a tripod. Nodes in the blending area of each picture aid in coordination of the various structures in the image, like trees and buildings. The program is smart enough to do a good job eliminating distortions when joining the photos together.
It certainly is a more complex process than what some other programs offer, but it allows you to stitch without the bending and distortion you sometimes get with free programs like AutoStitch. A worthwhile program, though sadly, not one that sees updates any longer.