Late last summer I bought my parents an inexpensive Canon pocket camera. The photos are great. It even does 720p movies which are stunning in available light. It auto loads everything into iPhoto.
The only thing it’s missing is a really wide angle lens. Right away my mother complained that she couldn’t fit everyone into the picture and outdoor scenes would get cut off at the edges. What to do?
You Can’t Please Everyone All The Time
Tell me about it. The camera is a marvel. Colors are rich and vibrant, even in low light. The flash is even and smooth and doesn’t leave huge shadows. The movies are to die for. Basic operation is two buttons, two settings.
Movies and photos are easily downloaded to their Mac.
What’s not to like? Well, for starters, the lens in the camera isn’t wide angle enough to make a mother happy. And when mom’s not happy, I’m not happy.
But I didn’t have a solution other than getting my parents yet another camera with a wider lens, but the price tag and complexity seemed out of reach.
My solution? Panorama scene stitching app for the Mac called DoubleTake.
Stitch Those Scenes Together, Mom
Scene stitching software sounds great. Take a left side shot of something wide. Then take a right side shot. Then stitch them together. Easy, right? But can mom do it?
The short answer is, “Probably not.” It’ll depend on your mom.
DoubleTake is straightforward, though. Drag and drop all the photo scenes into DoubleTake (unfortunately, there’s no media viewer—it’s drag and drop, or drag and drop the DoubleTake’s Dock icon).
The app opens the images, scans the edges and makes a guesstimate of how the images should be merged. This method is fraught with error potential. Fortunately, DoubleTake makes it easy to align two images into a single, wider image.
It’s not as easy as it looks but it does work—with the right image, taken at the right angle.
DoubleTake provides alignment tools so the combined photo doesn’t show an ugly seam down the middle. That’s crucial, of course, and the tools account for differing angles, top and bottom of an image.
The end result is an ugly, disjointed but nearly seamless and very wide angle photo which needs one more step. Cropping. Since the top and bottom are unlikely to be even between two images, the combined image must be cropped.
Click on the image below for a larger, pop up view.
DoubleTake is pretty slick considering the nominal price tag. But this is not your mother’s photo stitching app.
Only If Mom Likes Tools
If your mom is in to terminology like cropping, fisheye lens, focal length and geometric tools, she’ll like DoubleTake.
Surprisingly, these tools can be hand and somewhat easy to use, so if your mom is a digital diva, she might enjoy the challenge. The Fisheye tool distorts an image to bend it in line with the seam. Focal Length tool also provides distortion to move an image to match the side of another image.
Geometry tools provide additional functions to improve images.
Images can be adjusted individually to line up with other images—rotating at differing angles. Even color can be adjusted to match different images. A photos perspective can be changed, too.
From here on it gets complicated, which means mom may have to like whatever comes out of her camera. DoubleTake takes some getting used to—especially if the two photos to be stitched were taken with different light, or different angles.
The final product can be saved as a QuickTime VR movie which can handle 360 degree seams so the back side of a scene can be displayed. Try explaining that to your mom.
Overall, DoubleTake is decent, but stitching together multiple images to create a seamless panoramic view takes some work.