Panotools / Autopano

By on June 29, 2004

View North From Sears TowerWhen Deane and I were in Chicago this weekend, I bought a disposable camera, just so I wouldn’t keep commenting that I should have brought a camera with me.

Just before we left, I’d read about PTAssembler, which is one of several frontends for the open-source panotools suite of command-line programs. Even cooler, there’s a tool called autopano, which will scan a directory, analyze the images in it, decide which ones are panoramas, and get them ready for assembly with panotools. I took a few shots from the Sears Tower to try it out.

The images I took should not have made a decent panorama. Here’s why:

  • I had no tripod, I handheld every shot.
  • There were lots of people, so I had to move a little between shots.
  • The windows on the Sears Tower are filthy (come on, people, Windex and a rope!)
  • The pictures were taken with a lame little Kodak FunSaver and there was a lot of lens distortion.

Given all that, panotools did a pretty nice job, considering (click on the image above for a larger view). On the down side, there’s a fair bit of work involved in assembling the images, but on the up side, you have a lot of control over the result.

Panotools and Autopano are free, and there seem to be three front-ends available: PTGui (Looks nice, but $60), PTAssembler (Gets the job done, $39), and Hugin (Free Linux app that looks similar to PTAssembler). I’m looking forward to trying this out on a better set of source images in the future.



  1. I see the 37 sig folks posted this pic over on SvN ( Great conference, guys, and a heck a good excuse to go to Chicago! =)

  2. Great shot. It looks fake, like an airbrushed “artists rendering”. I’m not saying it IS fake, just looks it. Cool.

    (Aside: Anyone else remember the hilarious skit on SNL in the last 70’s, with an “artists rendering” of a courtroom and it was stick figures! Epic.)

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