There are a few hot topics in digital photography, and panorama is one of them.
Whilst it is possible to create panoramas with Photoshop, there are dedicated panorama programs that might be of interest. In general, they produce better results and are cheaper than you might think!
Autostitch is a prime example. Developed by a team at the University of British Columbia, this easy to use Windows application will produce very acceptable results from a group of images.
We like: FREE!, ease of use. Great for beginners. The iPhone app!
We don’t like: not having an iPhone
Hugin is another free stitching program, the results are very good, but it does have a large number of features and settings that may be daunting for new users.
We like: FREE!
We don’t like: not as intuitive or easy, but improving
Arcsoft Panorama Maker is another interesting program that is aimed at ease of use. Also available with the Hama rotator as a very competitive bundle. The cost of the new version puts it into the same territory as other more capable products.
We like: cost with bundle (older versionof the software though)
We don’t like: not enough experience to comment on this program
Autopana Pro is perhaps the best software available at a reasonable cost (€99 plus local VAT). It is powerful and provides a huge amount of control over the panorama you create, whilst retaining some very useful ‘ease of use’ features. Of all the tools we have tested, it is the one that consistently produces the best looking panoramas. It is particularly good at blending skies and creating the full 360° panoramas for immersive tours.
We like: easy to create stunning panoramas, quality of the images, ability to use RAW images and fisheye lenses, web ready flash output of the new version.
We don’t like: nothing really.
The example below was taken handheld with a compact camera out of a stationary train window and stitched with Autopano Pro. Not bad!