Time Saving Tuesday

I’ve always felt like there hasn’t been a perfect tool out there for the average person who wants to shoot panoramic shots, and doesn’t want to spend ages assembling them on their machine. One of the last tools that we covered on the site was Hugin, but you could spend hours tweaking settings trying to get things just right. It just wasn’t something the most people would want to fiddle with.

Over in our forum Tony pointed out an amazing tool that Microsoft provides for free called the Image Composite Editor (ICE). Sure Microsoft has already incorporated panoramic creation capabilities in Windows Live Photo Gallery, but having this standalone app gives you a few more features.

I guess the real question is how well does it work, and how much effort will you have to put into stitching your photos together. I tried the program on several different panoramic shots that I’ve taken over the years, and it turned out some of the best results. Ironically enough it’s also one of the easiest programs I’ve ever used for this type of task.

When you first get Microsoft ICE up and running you should see something like this:

microsoft ice select files.jpg
(Click to Enlarge)

All you have to do is drag and drop the photos you want stitched together into the gray area. The program will then go to work trying to figure out the best way to assemble them, and once it’s done you’ll see a preview of the result:

microsoft ice.jpg
(Click to Enlarge)

That’s really all there is to it. There are different types of stitches that can be done including rotating motion or planar motion, and the image can be cropped to your liking by adjusting the box that appears around the panoramic shot. The best part, however, might be the variety of formats you can save the panoramic in:

  • JPEG
  • TIFF
  • Photoshop
  • HD View Tileset
  • Deep Zoom Tileset
  • BMP
  • PNG
  • HD Photo Image

Now you don’t have much of an excuse as to why you still have some photos laying around that you haven’t stitched together!

Get Image Composite Editor for Windows