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.


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.