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image stitching

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Image stitching is the combination of images with overlapping sections to create a single panoramic or high-resolution image. Image stitching software may be purpose-designed, part of a photo editing suite or included in camera features.

Image stitching enables the combination of multiple shots to create a larger picture that is beyond the normal aspect ratio and resolution (super resolution) of the camera’s individual shots. The technology enables positioning for dramatically wide shots without duplicated objects or distortion.

The most familiar use of image stitching is in the creation of panoramic photographs, often used for landscapes. Wide-angle and super-resolution images created by image stitching are used in artistic photography, medical imaging, high-resolution photo mosaics, satellite photography and more.

For best results, image stitching requires that shots have quite precise overlaps and identical exposure settings. Algorithms are required for compositing surface creation, pixel alignment, image alignment and distinctive feature recognition to aid as reference points to software for alignment accuracy.

Image stitching is somewhat analogous to the way the human brain performs the task of assimilating the two monocular fields of vision (FOV) from each eye into a single, wider FOV with about 114 degrees of depth perception. The brain’s natural image stitching enables humans’ enhanced stereoscopic, binocular vision, surrounded by a further 220 degrees of monocular peripheral vision.

This was last updated in May 2017

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