Panorama Prowess: Lightroom vs ON1 vs Capture One
Do all of the photo editors create panoramas that are roughly equal? This article explores how well some popular editors make panoramas, or at least how they try to make them.
A sample panorama made from 5 vertical shots
I did a little comparison between Lightroom, Capture One 2023, and ON1 2023. I wanted to figure out if I have a preferred editor for making panoramas, among my most-used photo editors.
For starters, I gave each editor the same set of 5 photographs that have plenty of overlap between them, so it shouldn’t be too challenging to stitch them together.
ON1 Photo RAW 2023
First up to bat is the ON1 editor.
Pick the shots to combine from the ‘Browse’ tab
To make panoramas in ON1, just click the “Create Panorama…” after selecting the shots in the “Browse” tab.
Create Panorama dialog with “Auto”
By default, ON1 will offer the “Auto” option to automatically select how to create the panorama. Unfortunately, this selection is a big failure; the last shot in the set of 5 shots was omitted.
ON1 “Collage” option
Selecting the “Collage” option, the results are even worse! This time, it skipped the last shot and couldn’t even align the left side properly.
ON1 “Spherical” panorama success?
ON1: A glitch in the stitch
At first glance, the ON1 “Spherical” mode seemed to do the trick. Upon closer inspection, I found a mistake in the stitching that I indicate above. I’m out of options with ON1 panorama stitching, so it has failed. Three strikes.
Capture One 23
Next up is Capture One 23.
Capture One 23: Combine the shots in the “Library” tab
As shown above, select the photos in the “Library” tab, then select “Image | Stitch to Panorama…”
Capture One “Cylindrical” option
Capture One “Spherical” option
Capture One “Perspective” option
Capture One “Panini” option
Capture One cropped and light-adjusted panorama
All of the Capture One options succeeded, but I need to mention that this program is slow in stitching the finished panorama, unless you have a pretty fast computer. In the shot above, I did a little editing to touch up the picture to taste after generating the panorama. You might notice that it’s actually a double rainbow.
Finally, let’s see what Lightroom can do.
Lightroom: Photo merge panorama from the “Library” tab
Lightroom “Cylindrical” option
Lightroom “Spherical” option
Lightroom “Perspective” option
Lightroom cropped and light-adjusted panorama
Similar to Capture One, Lightroom made no mistakes in any of the projection options for the panoramas. I didn't try to exactly match the light in my Capture One version of the panorama; this version is very close to what my eyes saw.
Since ON1 is out of the running, I decided to see if Lightroom and Capture One could handle multiple-row panoramas. Both programs failed when I tried the “perspective” projection method, but both programs succeeded when trying either “spherical” or “cylindrical” projection.
It’s easy to have several shots lost in the final stitch, if your goal is to end up with a rectangular photo. You have to be careful to go well beyond what you think might be okay for the stitched area.
I’d recommend using a tripod for any multi-row panorama efforts. It’s too difficult to control the shot overlaps in both the horizontal and vertical directions when hand-holding the camera. Against my own recommendations, I hand-held all of the panorama shots in this article...
Lightroom multi-row, using “spherical” projection
Capture One, “spherical” projection
Note how the un-cropped result has the tree tops well inside the stitched panorama, so you think all is well…
Capture One, “spherical” projection cropped to a rectangle
Dang it, the tree tops got lost after all. Should’ve brought a tripod along. There's a school of thought that you should just leave your panoramas un-cropped and get away from rectangular format; I just can't go there yet.
I noticed that Lightroom created the panos a bit faster than did Capture One. ON1 was the fastest editor of the three I tried, but it doesn’t count when the panoramas have defects.
Capture One had the most projection options; it kind of depends upon the subject matter which projection method looks best for a shot.
I can’t say that either Lightroom or Capture One wins; they are both very competent at making panoramas. For multi-row panos, I have historically had slightly better success using Lightroom.
It’s a good thing that I didn’t buy ON1 for its panorama capabilities (I got it mainly for the sky-swapping feature). ON1 2023 struck out for this particular task.