Hugin Tips and Tricks

Posted by Gary Ramey on April 20th, 2011

Hugin is free software that can be used to stitch together panoramic shots. Hugin was even able to stitch together standard panoramas that Photoshop CS5 failed to stitch together properly. It can even be used to stitch together 360×180 degree panoramas. Standard panoramas are much easier to shoot and stitch together. Hugin does an admirable job of automatically stitching together several rows of images covering a field of view of about 180 degrees. Things get sticky when you expand your field of view beyond 180 degrees. Before using Hugin, I read quite a few tutorials and no one mentioned how much work it would be to add and edit points to the images for 360×180 panoramas. Don’t get me wrong. The program works extremely well but expect to spend hours adding, editing, and deleting control points in the photographs if you are trying to stitch together a 360×180 degree panorama. Here are a few tips that I have learned along the way:

  • Start shooting from the bottom row up.
  • Make sure you have enough overlap between images. You need a minimum of 25% but 30% is better. For example, I used my kit lens at 18mm to shoot 12 photos per row for a 360 degree panorama. Each shot was spaced 30 degrees apart and the rows were 30 degrees apart. Finally one shot was taken straight up and another shot straight down.
  • To make it easier to retouch the straight down shot, take a second down shot at 180 degrees from the first down shot. Merge and retouch the down shots to get rid of the tripod before stitching.
  • Depending on how wide the tripod legs are spread out, you may also need to retouch out the tripod legs on the first row of photos before you stitch the panorama together.
  • Use a panoramic head so that you won’t have any parallax errors between shots.
  • Hugin will let you know which images are having problems. Fix those first by adding, editing, or deleting control points.
  • Examine all the shots and compare the control points created automatically by Hugin. You will almost certainly need to adjust some of these control points or delete them and create your own. I found that Hugin was completely confused by the degree markings on my panoramic head. Most of the automatic control points were useless and needed to be deleted.
  • Avoid being under overhangs or  shooting subjects with large areas of undifferentiated space. For instance, closeup walls and ceilings or cloudless skies will be almost impossible to stitch together. Hugin won’t be able to find shared control points and neither will you. You may have to delete some shots.
  • Turn on auto-rotation in your camera. Hugin had problems with pictures that were rotated using my computer instead of being automatically saved as rotated.

I hope these tips help. Feel free to comment on this post and put examples of your panoramas in the comment.

Follow this link to find out more about panoramas and Hugin.


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