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Pano / RAW Conversion Software #19245
12/17/08 07:53 PM
12/17/08 07:53 PM
Joined: Oct 2007
Sacramento, CA, USA
gengiant Offline OP
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gengiant  Offline OP
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Hi all,

I've been playing around with HDR blending (blending 2 or more of the same image at different exposures via RAW conversion) with some success. Of course, new DSLR's (newer than my D200) capture a higher dynamic range to begin with, but in absence of that... Anyway, I wonder if there's any software out there you are aware of that would allow me to stitch together panoramas in RAW format BEFORE converting to other formats? I am basically looking to create a single RAW source file.

Thanks!

Re: Pano / RAW Conversion Software [Re: gengiant] #19246
12/18/08 02:15 PM
12/18/08 02:15 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Donner Summit, CA
glamson Offline
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Quote:

Hi all,

I've been playing around with HDR blending (blending 2 or more of the same image at different exposures via RAW conversion) with some success. Of course, new DSLR's (newer than my D200) capture a higher dynamic range to begin with, but in absence of that... Anyway, I wonder if there's any software out there you are aware of that would allow me to stitch together panoramas in RAW format BEFORE converting to other formats? I am basically looking to create a single RAW source file.

Thanks!




Holger,

There are a few panorama software programs out there that will use Nikon raw files to stitch together a panorama. However, to my knowledge there is no software that will save that stitched pano back to a Nikon NEF formatted file. This would be a pretty good reverse engineering trick considering how structured the NEF format is and the fact that Nikon keeps a pretty tight rein on use of their proprietary raw format.

You can however save the stitched pano to a tif file and edit in any of the usual suspect raster editing programs. Personally, I use Panomaker4 Pro by Arcsoft for my panos. It will stitch D200-300 NEF files and does a pretty good job of blending trasitions for perspective and lighting. It also has a manual adjust for those really hard stitching situations. I have found however that instead of using the raw files I sometimes get better results by using NX2 to process the NEFs into tif files and then stitching. The trick is to process each NEF file exactly the same (except for some local changes with control points) to get a well blended tif file.

You can see some of my pano work at

http://www.lamsonweb.com/Galleries/Panomania/

Hope this helps,

Geo

Re: Pano / RAW Conversion Software [Re: glamson] #19247
12/19/08 02:20 PM
12/19/08 02:20 PM
Joined: Oct 2007
Sacramento, CA, USA
gengiant Offline OP
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gengiant  Offline OP
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Sacramento, CA, USA



Holger,

There are a few panorama software programs out there that will use Nikon raw files to stitch together a panorama. However, to my knowledge there is no software that will save that stitched pano back to a Nikon NEF formatted file. This would be a pretty good reverse engineering trick considering how structured the NEF format is and the fact that Nikon keeps a pretty tight rein on use of their proprietary raw format.

[...snip...]

Geo




Thanks George! Unfortunately, I am not sure I follow what you are saying. If these software applications you speak of stitch together RAW files (NEF or other), do they then require transforming said data to another format such as TIFF in order to save the pano? Why would such a file stitched together from NEF RAW files have to be reverse-engineered to be saved in the same format it started out as?

The "problem" I am having is that PS3 requires one to make lighting adjustments to any RAW file before one can "do" anything with the file. For singular images, that is not a problem. However, when stitching together a number of images for a pano, I doubt that one could repeat the stitching process a second time and come up with the EXACT same pano - especially when manually aligning images to fit. See, my intent would be to then blend these 2 resulting panos for better HDR - something that requires absolutely identical images in respect to layout. Maybe someone could suggest a workable 'work-around'?

Re: Pano / RAW Conversion Software [Re: gengiant] #19248
12/20/08 12:49 PM
12/20/08 12:49 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Donner Summit, CA
glamson Offline
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Quote:



Thanks George! Unfortunately, I am not sure I follow what you are saying. If these software applications you speak of stitch together RAW files (NEF or other), do they then require transforming said data to another format such as TIFF in order to save the pano? Why would such a file stitched together from NEF RAW files have to be reverse-engineered to be saved in the same format it started out as?





Let me expand my explanation a little to help clarify. Because the NEF format is prorietary, all non-Nikon software can read the NEF file only using the information Nikon supplies publically about the format and whatever information each software maker has figured out about the format from "reverse engineering" the format. The programs read only partial information that is sufficient to form a raster image within the program that they then can use to "stitch" to other converted images. The new "stitched" image constructed by the program is no longer in the NEF format and when the image is stored by the program it cannot be stored as a NEF because because non-Nikon software can't recreate the NEF format due to it being proprietary. They can only output to one of the public formats like tif or jpeg. Even if they could reverse engineer the format there would probably be legal problems with Nikon. That is one of the reasons why non-Nikon software saves all of its changes to an image in a separate side-car file. It is also why Adobe raw converter has had trouble with converting NEF files and one of the advantages that Nikon touts for its Capture NX converter.

Quote:

The "problem" I am having is that PS3 requires one to make lighting adjustments to any RAW file before one can "do" anything with the file. For singular images, that is not a problem. However, when stitching together a number of images for a pano, I doubt that one could repeat the stitching process a second time and come up with the EXACT same pano - especially when manually aligning images to fit. See, my intent would be to then blend these 2 resulting panos for better HDR - something that requires absolutely identical images in respect to layout. Maybe someone could suggest a workable 'work-around'?




Unlike CS3 a good dedicated pano stitching program analyzes each image and actually changes the exposure and perspective of the images (actually alters pixels) to blend the images at the transitions. That means that within limits, differences in exposure between panels are compensated for. The nice thing about this is that you get reproducible panos from the same starting images.

I'm still not sure I entirely understand how you are trying to accomplish the HDR. Do you mean you want to shoot the same pano set at multiple exposures, stitch each set together and then load them all in for HDR? If this is what you're attempting, I think you are probably right that each set used by a dedicated pano program would probably form a slightly different stitched image that would cause problems in the HDR step. CS3 would probably work since the stitching is done pretty much manually and if done really carefully might work.

Hope this was clearer and might help.

Geo

Re: Pano / RAW Conversion Software [Re: glamson] #19249
12/20/08 08:23 PM
12/20/08 08:23 PM
Joined: May 2008
Virginia, USA
Jim Poor Offline
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Jim Poor  Offline
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Virginia, USA
What if you processed each panel as HDR and then stitched instead of the other way around?

Re: Pano / RAW Conversion Software [Re: Jim Poor] #19250
12/22/08 12:01 PM
12/22/08 12:01 PM
Joined: Oct 2007
Sacramento, CA, USA
gengiant Offline OP
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gengiant  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2007
Sacramento, CA, USA
Hi George,

Your explanation as to how non-Nikon pano software stitches images together was very helpful. At least now I understand why such software cannot "re-assemble" the pano in the original NEF format. As to shooting the pano to create a "faux" HDR effect, I am actually maximizing the large amount of data captured in RAW to then convert the same image at 2 (or more) different exposure levels before then blending them back together. With a simple brush I can then "expose" only those parts of the sandwiched image for which the RAW image was processed to the correct exposure (say sky vs. foreground, for example). I've tried this blending with TIFF format files on a large pano I created, but only with limited success. I believe that the headroom inherent to RAW data results in a better, ie. more dynamic color range in the blended image - at least the TIFF composite looks flatter to me on my monitor.

Jim,
What you suggest is what I do for singular images. But this blending only works well when the multiple images align perfectly - just like the "layers" in PS. The automated stitching process in CS3 does not necessarily create an absolute alignment match over multiple panels for successive images processed independently. In the absence of a stitching software that leaves the RAW format intact, I've tried the process you've suggest without much success.

Thanks to both of you for your replies!

Re: Pano / RAW Conversion Software [Re: gengiant] #19251
01/01/09 12:54 AM
01/01/09 12:54 AM
Joined: Jan 2007
Kansas
S
spartacusii Offline
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spartacusii  Offline
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Kansas
you might look at a program called photomatix - if i recall correctly, it has the ability to handle panos internally while creating the HDR image from RAW images. but i might be mistaken on that point, as i haven't played with panos in that program. but i do seem to recall reading something along those lines. check it out.

jp


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