Hugin is an open source program that can create panoramic views by stitching multiple images together.

It blends together consecutive images by creating ’control points’ (i.e. visual elements that exist in both images) and uses those to create the panoramic image.

Hugin is a GUI front end for a number of tools, notably “Panorama Tools”and “Enblend”.

You’re thinking: “fantastic, a free program that can create panoramas out of consecutive images, but does it do it automatically or through user intervention?” In fact Hugin does a fantastic job stitching images together automatically; it can use a number of external tools that automatically identify control points for each 2 consecutive images (control points tell the program that “this point in image A corresponds to this one in image B).

From within Hugin, I used a program called “Autopano” for this, which worked exceedingly well (see picture above for an example; I stitched it together myself). Here are some more notes on this program:

Hugin Example3

  • The user interface: tabbed interface that comprising a tab for each of the decisions the user will need to make. The first tab “assistant” is a wizard of sorts, which will load up the constituent images, launch automatic control point creation, and generate the preview for you. Once that happens you can go to any one of the other tabs to do any manual editing or modification.
  • The Preview screen: once you have your images loaded and your control points identified, Hugin will display the panoramic image in preview. You can control the vertical and horizontal fields of view through two sliders on the bottom and right hand side of the screen, and you can right click anywhere on the image to define a new horizon. This screen in fact has a number of useful controls which are summarized here. In the preview screen you can also experiment with the different (and rather interesting) ’Projection Types’ through a drop down menu on the bottom left. Once the preview is correct, use the “stitcher” tab in the main interface to stitch and export the image into a standard image format.

How to make a good panoramic image: creating a good panoramic image can be a fairly simple or complicated undertaking, depending on the source images you are working from (e.g. whether or not you have 25% overlap in all images, whether you used a tripod, and whether the shots were made using certain specific camera settings, etc.) The good news is that Hugin will do an excellent job wether you are a novice with little experience in creating panoramic images or if you are an expert and you need to perform complex manipulations. For a novice such as myself, for example, there were several tabs that I felt are best left alone, such as te “cameras and lenses” tab (where the focal length and lens type is determined using the EXIF information from the images). “Optimizer” is another tab where, although Hugin seemed to know what to do on its own without my intervention, I nonetheless felt a little bit in over my head as an average user, not knowing whether there were potential expert interventions that could potentially be done to get a better picture (in the end I trusted the program’s innate wisdom and simply moved on). If you need a tutorial on using Hugin there are many resources to choose from, including a number of videos; see this page for a list.

The verdict: as a software reviewer I feel that there are two things that need to be mentioned with regard to Hugin (a) it is obviously a very powerful and capable software, and (b) there is a certain simplicity in the way it is laid out that makes it very intuitive to use, even for average users. My own experiences creating panoramic images with this program were, in my view, rather successful, although some of the images had long vertical lines that betrayed the transition from one image to the other and that I thought could have probably been better handled by the software.

This is certainly the best freeware panoramic stitcher program that is available (with much more versatility and better results that the previously reviewed Autostitch). Simply a great program and highly recommended.

Version tested: 0.7 beta 4

Compatibility: WinAll, MacOSX, FreeBSD, and Linux. Note that automatic control point creation requires the download of an external tool such as Autopano, Autopano-sit, or Smartblend, available from the Hugin download page.

Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 11 megs). Also visit the program home page.