How-To Geek

Photosynth Creates Effortless Panoramic Photos

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Creating and stitching together panoramic photos can be really tricky business. Photosynth makes the process so simple you don’t even need a tripod (or even a steady hand).

Photosynth stands a part from most other panoramic tools thanks to a super simple interface and a set of algorithms that seamlessly match up your photos even if you didn’t put the camera on a smooth panning tripod head. Photosynth does all the hard work of lining up, layering, and smoothing your images to create as big or as little of a panoramic as you want (some users create a basic 180 degree bank but you can do a complete 360 panorama if you have enough photos).

Photosynth is available as a Windows-based application or as an iOS application for on-the-go panorama creation. Hit up the link below to explore panoramas created by existing users and to grab a copy of the software. If you’re interested in using the iOS version, check out the MakeUseOf via link for an in depth look at it.

Photosynth [via MakeUseOf]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/2/11

Comments (6)

  1. ADWheeler Photography

    I road tested Photosynth way back when it first came out… it was quick but did not do a good job at stitching. Now there is all the buzz about it in the iOS community so I went back to take a second look. Much to my surprise it still does a horrible job at stitching.. I was really hoping that it would have been sorted out by now. Photoshop CS5 Photomerge still does a better job and if you need a 360 done with a viewer I would suggest Photoshop + gigapan.. Photosynth has a long way to go..and it has been a long time since there have been improvements so I wouldn’t hold your breath on this one.


  2. Paul Parkinson

    I’m with ADWHeeler above. Very poor stitching, no way to save an image for printing. I’ll stick with PS and carry on saving for Autopano…

  3. Nate Lawrence

    First off, there is quite a lot of misunderstanding of what ‘Photosynth’ is and is not and this is partially Microsoft’s fault for releasing multiple products under the same brand name.

    The Photosynth website hosts two types of photographic constructs at present (possibly more types in the future): photosynths and panoramas.

    Photosynths are not panoramas and are not meant to be. People, such as ADWheeler, who thought that Photosynth was meant to do panorama stitching thought that it did poorly at stitching panoramas and they were right. Photosynth (the Windows app) isn’t a panorama stitcher. It doesn’t merge photos at all. Instead, it arranges the photos in 3D space and reconstructs a sparse model of the subject of your photography. To get the full advantage of photosynths, you should shoot for 3D reconstruction. (See and for tips.) Shooting a photosynth like you would shoot a panorama will not make a good pano or a good synth.

    Likewise, panoramas are not photosynths and cannot do what photosynths can (namely cope with a camera’s changing camera position). There are currently three ways to upload old-fashioned panoramas to the Photosynth website:
    1) Microsoft Research ICE ( )
    2) Photoshop for Windows plugin ( )
    3) The Photosynth mobile panorama apps ( )

    The ‘Photosynth’ mobile panorama app for iOS creates panoramas. It does not (yet) create or view synths.
    (To view synths on an iOS device, download the free unofficial iSynth app. ).

    As with any panorama app, the more that your camera’s lens changes position in the air as you turn, the worse your stitching will turn out. Likewise, the more you keep your lens at the same spot in the air as you turn around, the cleaner your panorama will stitch. For more tips see and (“bloopers” section).

    In the bigger picture, panoramas will become just another type of image that you transition between inside of Photosynth (or rather, Read/Write World ). Panoramic stitching is much less computationally intensive than doing the 3D reconstruction required for synths, so creating panoramas on mobile devices is much more feasible. That is how this panorama app came to be released for mobile platforms under the brand name of Photosynth.

    The biggest difference between Photosynth’s mobile panorama app and other mobile panorama apps is that Photosynth’s mobile pano app performs live tracking of your camera’s viewfinder against the shots which you have already taken in your pano. This live tracking will play a much larger part in Bing’s mobile apps, going forward, allowing you to track your mobile devices’ cameras against Bing Streetside imagery as well as whatever other imagery has been uploaded to Bing Maps or linked in Read/Write World – be that panoramas, photosynths, photos from the web, spin movies, 3D models, etc. That will allow your mobile device to understand exactly where it is in relation to the world, far more accurately than a simple GPS signal.

  4. Gerald Pata

    Great article for someone clueless like me to create content with my digital camera. I really like the integration with Bing Maps where you can see content globally.
    Thanks for the information!

  5. Prayag

    This article is misleading and that’s causing more people to be confused and try Photosynth to make Panorama.

    The tool you need to try is Microsoft Image Composite Editor, that’s the one which makes Panoramas.

    Photosynth maps different images of same space/environment and stiches them in 3d spatial manner to create a 3d rendering of an environment. It’s quite different from panorama stitching.

  6. Nate Lawrence

    I should also mention that the Photosynth mobile panorama app saves all of your stitched panos to your iOS device’s default camera roll for printing or emailing. Another way to get this flattened version is to share your panorama to Facebook, where you can simply download the .jpg using a web browser.

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