Stitch Phone Photos With Microsoft Research’s ICE (freeware)

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Some phones have built-in software to help take a set of panoramic photos and, sometimes, the ability to actually stitch the photos on the phone itself. There are over a dozen iPhone apps that help take and stitch panoramic photos. But, what if you either (1) prefer to work with the photos on your desktop or (2) your phone doesn’t have many (or any) photo stitching apps for it? In my case, both are true. A quick check in the Android Market using the terms “panarama”, “panoramic”, and “stitch” results in just one panorama photo stitching app. And, it is a “lite” version limited to stitching two photos with no “pro” version available. There are a number of free panorama stiching apps including ones that come with some digital cameras. However, if you use Microsoft Windows, here’s a great freeware solution from Microsoft Research…

Microsoft Research Image Composite Editor (ICE)

You can see the field of view of a photo taken using a Nexus One in the photo above. It has a reasonble wide angle capability for a phone camera. But, it is not wide enough for the scene I wanted to capture. So, I took eight photos in two passes. Four photos were taken left to right at eye level. Then, I tilted the Nexus One slightly up and took another four photos right to left.

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You can see Microsoft’s ICE user interface in the screenshot above. It has a large number of options. However, I simply left everything in default mode. Getting the photos into ICE was simply a matter of dragging and dropping the eight photos onto the app.

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I was surprised that ICE was able to stitch my photos automatically without the need to tell it I had take it in two passes with both horizontal and vertical changes. I’m very impressed by ICE’s stitched panoramic output. I think you will be too. You can see its feature set in the list below:

– State-of-the-art stitching algorithms automaticaly place source images and determine panorama type
– Advanced orientation adjustment view allows planar, cylindrical, and spherical projections
– Support for different types of camera motion
– Excellent exposure blending using Microsoft Research fast Poisson algorithm
– Automatic cropping to maximum image area
– No image size limitation – stitch gigapixel panoramas
– Native support for 64-bit operating systems such as 64-bit Vista
– Output in a wide variety of image formats:
— HD View
— Silverlight Deep Zoom
–TIFF, JPEG, PNG, and more