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2007-05-01

How to Stitch a Panorama with the Nokia N95


Taking panoramas used to be an art form that took a lot of knowledge, a lot of heavy hardware and the semi-manual placement of control points in complicated software. To some extent this still stands true but with the advent of 5 mega pixel cameras on phones such as the Nokia N95 it is now possible to get good results with free software and a bit of patience.

Below is an example panorama captured using the Nokia N95, displayed using Image Cutter and Google Maps:



Click and drag to pan/scroll wheel or double click to zoom in and out of the image. You can also view the above image full screen.

To take your own Nokia N95 panoramas simply work your way through these easy to follow steps:

Capturing

1) Set up your N95 to capture images at the highest resolution - 5 mega pixels.

2) Choose 'Landscape' under Scene Mode for the images, this ensures a constant focus throughout the capture process.

3) Stand in your location with the camera roughly at arms length and take your first image.

4) The secret to a good panorama is trying to firstly make sure the nodal point (lens) is kept central for each of the images and secondly that there is a 20% overlap with each shot. As such the aim is to make the camera the point of rotation and move round taking your second image so it overlaps the first one - as our first four images below illustrate:

5) Carry on working your way around the scene until you are back where you started, you should take approximately 14 images for a complete circle.

6) To increase the field of view of your panorama - ie to include more of the ground or the sky/close by buildings - simply tilt the N95 upwards or downloads accordingly and go around again. Pictured below is a section of our second round of images to fit in the buildings roof.


That's it, the image capturing process should take approximately 5 minutes.

Stitching

We have used the freely available 'Auto Stitch' software to merge the panorama, simply because higher end solutions such as Real Viz's Stitcher hung at 99% on each of our test runs. Stitcher, when it works, will provide a better blend of colours but Auto Stitch is free, quick and simple.

1) Download Auto Stitch and install it on your machine.

2) Run Auto Stitch and choose File/Open - then select all of your images. This will run a quick low resolution test stitch to ensure the images align. Once you are happy that the panorama has worked go to Edit/Options and set scale to 100%. Reopen your images and sit back and wait, a typical stitch will take approximately an hour on a recent spec pc.

You should now have a completed panorama taken using your N95 - our test scene resulted in a 40Mb Jpeg at 18100x3766.

You can also use the N95 GPS functionality to link the image to Google Maps/Flickr - see our N95 Geo Image Tagging Tutorial.

Let us know if you create any of your own panoramas....

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Why would you hold the camera at arms length when you're trying to rotate it around the nodal point?

    You should tuck the camera under your chin, so that as you turn around in the same spot, the camera doesn't swing around (which causes parallax issues).

    ReplyDelete
  2. If its held at arms length it seems easier to make the camera the rotation point.

    If its under your chin you cant see the image.. at least that what our samples have shown.

    The arms length method seems to work to be honest..

    Andy

    ReplyDelete
  3. Andy Baddeley7:15 AM

    Hi Andy,

    I've got an N95 and will publish my own pano later today. But here's a good tip I got from Sebastien of REALVIZ:

    Hold the camera (N95 or normal compact) with one finger under the lens, use this as your point of rotation, i.e. turn the camera as if your finger is a tripod.

    Works a treat.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've been using photomerge in Photoshop Elements do do panoramas. The hardest part is the blending of the different photos, especially as the exposure changes on a sunny day as you rotate. That Autostitch program looks like it might be the business.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous1:52 AM

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    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous11:37 PM

    i just wanted to say that this is amazing... its 11:30 pm and i have just done an amazing pano view of my entire living room.. took less than 15mins start to finish. i used my n95 and the outcome is totally mind blowing. i have tried other ways to do pano views all of which took ages and didn't blend properly.. 10 out of 10 from me..
    neilb987. west yorks uk

    ReplyDelete