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2006-07-31

RealViz Stitcher 5.5 Unlimited vs PTGui Review

With the advances in stitching algorithm's and panoramic head construction over the last few years the market for stitching panoramas has moved from one of manually placing control points to automatic alignment. With this expectations of the new release of Stitcher 5.5 Unlimited from RealViz are high, not least as for the first time Stitcher allows the use of fisheye images.

Competition in the panorama market is fierce with a number of competing products, of which the main contender is PTGui. PTGui, currently on version 5.8.4 retails at a price point of 65 Euro or roughly $80, Stitcher Unlimited on the other hand is $580 or 499 Euro.

We note that the automatic stitch function is only one aspect of both Stitcher and PTGui but from our point of view, and to compare the output of all the images in this blog, we are interested in 'out of the box, point and click' functionality. To compare the two packages we loaded in a set of images of St Peters Church in Soho, London which were captured with a Precision 360 panoramic head and a Nikon D70 10.5mm lens.




Both Stitcher and PTGui recognise the cameras EXIF data so there is no need to enter any lens parameters, as should be the case for a point and click automatic stitch setup.



The Stitcher interface is clean and intuitive; it is simply a case of loading the images in, accepting the EXIF data and selecting 'AutoStitch'. PTGui is similarly straight forward although the interface is not quite as intuitive. We don’t intend to go into depth on the in's and out's of the packages but concentrate on the automatic output which is the important aspect in our current work flow.

This is sadly where Stitcher Unlimited 5.5 falls down. The company must realise that it is going to be compared directly against the likes of PTGui, to such an extent that posts on their forum mentioning the package are now banned. If this is the case you would of thought that RealViz would of made sure that Stitcher works 'out of the box', and in our tests this was simply not the reality of the situation.



Pictured above is a selection of errors in the output from Stitcher. The images speak for themselves and resulted in a panorama which was unusable, PTGui on the other hand, stitched the images with no notable errors that could be detected. Render times are also of note with Stitcher creating the panoramic scene in 6.47 minutes compared to PTGui's 3 minutes and 50 seconds.

We are aware that reviews on the web are subjective and often opens oneself up to criticism. However, in our view, Stitcher should be able to compete with the much lower priced PTGui on the autostitch functionality. To find that it doesn’t is disappointing to say the least and you have to ask yourself what is RealViz doing releasing a package that it knows does not hold up to comparison with the competition which is less than a quarter of the price.

We like RealViz, they create some innovative software but Stitcher Unlimited 5.5 falls short and we can’t understand why.


2 comments:

  1. Hello,

    do you have the original pictures for download, like in the older Stitcher versus PTGui test?

    I just compared PTGui 5.8.4 (trial)and Stitcher Express 2 (trial) and I got different results than you.

    When I loaded your pictures from the old Test, Stitcher Express 2 (trial) produced a more accurate panorama than PTGui. I would like to do the same with your actual pictures.

    Best wishes, Rod

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  2. Anonymous11:54 AM

    I used to work with PTMac 4.1 since spring last Year, with good results.

    But now I had a very hard job, I did a panorama of a small kitchen (6x5 Metres) which is tiled all over (hopefully the right word, I´m not english (German: Kachel)). So you will see »every« smallest mistake.

    PTMac was not able to create a good Panorama, even with manual-points an fiddling around with all the variables in PTMac. After 2 Days I give up and tried Stitcher 5.5ProDemo. Stitcher was not able to find complete controlpoints by itself (remember mostly all the same looking white tiles on the wall), but it found some points for the first 2 Pictures (this is to autoadjust), now I was able to create manual controlpoints on the rest of the pictures (together 6 pictures and about 5 controllpoints per pair)). It took me about 5 Minutes to give Stitcher all the needed controlpoints. After this I adjusted the camera (which you just do when you read the manual, but it is needed!!! ) in Stitcher and than Stitcher rendered a perfect Panorama for me in 80 Seconds (PTMac about 200 Seconds).

    After that I found in the internet a link to the allnew PTGui for Mac and installed the Demo 6.03.

    After one Day fiddling around the Render-Results were absolutely the same like with PTMac, but PTGui was faster in Rendering(60 Seconds).

    Now I tried Stitcher Express 2.0 Demo.
    It created the same very good renderquality like 5.5Pro »BUT« it needed »660« Seconds (11 Minutes) to render it!
    Maybe this is a problem or it is one of the »cheap-making« of Realviz, maybe as a better thing in 5.5 for the Proprice of Euro 300.- and the Euro 100.- for Express.


    Conclusion:

    PTMac and PTGui were not able to create a usefull Panorama out of my 6 pictures even with alot of Handwork in both Programms. Also both Programms are very »deep and misty« (you can change alot by just changing some deeper Preferences) but even with this deeper adjustings the Render-Results were only usable with alot of very good Photoshop-Mask-and-Stencil-Work.

    Stitcher 5.5Pro and Stitcher Express 2.0 give the same very fast workflow and phantastic results, but the Expressversion is by the factor 8 Slower than the 5.5Pro-Version. I also tested Stitcher 5.1, it is identical to 5.5Pro in Render-Quality, Workflow and Render-Speed.

    I have the feeling that a comparison between PTMac/PTGui and Stitcher is a bit like compare Gimp to Photoshop.
    Stitcher use another math-system in creating Panoramas than the PTs (Helmut Dersch), so maybe both sytems has it´s advantages and disadvantages. I´m a big fan of the Panotools-Lenscorrect as PS-Plugin)
    Stitcher is in the Workflow much, much faster and accurate than the PTs, and in case of this Kitchen-Job – PTMac and PTGui were not able to create even near the results as Stitcher did.

    BTW: I had always a very good Support by Kekus (PTMac) and till this last job I was very satisfiet with PTMac, maybe you never get a job like this Tile-Kitchen so than PTMac and PTGui will be fine for live.

    Now all the facts:

    Powermac G5 1.8 Mac OSX 10.3.9
    The Render-Results were always about 6000 Pixels in every Programm. Single-Row
    Nikon D200, Sigma 10-20mm (@10mm), 6 JPGs Portraitformat.
    Selfmade Nodalpointadapter (it´s accurate)

    Cheers
    Aki

    20.02.2007

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