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Microsoft Image Composite Editor: Easy to use, good results

Microsoft Image Composite Editor

Image Composite Editor is Microsoft’s over-engineered way of saying “panorama stitcher.” This software takes multiple images and stitches them together automatically, blending seams, cropping, the works. It’s extremely simple to use: just drag and drop a batch of images onto the interface and it gets to work immediately finding overlapping points, stitching the image together, correcting for distortion, and blending the results together.

To test it, I dropped two images from a simple two-frame panorama I shot a few weeks ago of Balboa Pier onto it. It worked quickly and did a fair job of compositing the images. It did have some blending trouble around the right-center portion of the photo. But overall the result was good and it was ridiculously easy. This is the easiest to use stitching software I’ve ever used.

Another nice feature is that it will export to multiple formats including JPG, TIFF, Photoshop, HD View Tileset, Deep Zoom Tileset, Windows Bitmap, PNG, and HD Photo Image. And you can export layers if the format supports it (for example, Photoshop) to help with additional post-processing.

Click here to download Microsoft Image Composite Editor (Free, Windows only).

Below are images from the pier I composited and the trouble areas:

And the winner is…

Last week we held a lens rental giveaway sponsored by You left a comment describing which lens you’d like to rent and why and chose one lucky recipient to receive a free 2-week lens rental. And that lucky photographer is…

Bryan Villarin who wrote: “I think I’d want to try a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 because I’m very much into street photography right now and my 50mm is too close for comfort. :)” Max at wrote that he also liked Bryan’s photo blog (you might too, check it out).

Congratulations, Bryan! And thanks to everyone who entered!

Hey! You got video in my DSLR!

Personally, I’m really excited about the Nikon D90, not only because it looks like a great camera and a nice upgrade to my trusty old original D70 (I must like odd numbers), but because it’s got this great high-def video feature. I’ve always liked video but I’ve always hated video cameras. I have a Panasonic DV camera around here somewhere… probably on the floor gathering dust. Too big. Transferring video from tapes. It’s a chore. But video in my DSLR? That can be recorded without the use of disposable media? At 720p? In a device I have with me everywhere already that can also record 12 megapixel stills? Heaven!

Of course, Canon announced video capability in their new Canon 5D Mark II. They’ll undoubtedly include it the next generation of their Rebel line as well. The Mark II is also a very nice camera and does 1080p. It’s just a bit pricier, though.

I can think of a bunch of fun things to do with a video camera with interchangeable lenses. I almost bought one today on impulse, the kit with the new 18-105 VR, but I had to stop and remind myself about the tax check I recently sent to the IRS and pesky details like my health insurance bill and my mortgage payment… Soon…

So what’s your take on this whole DSLR with video shenanigans? For or against? Excited or grumpy?

Get a free 2-week lens rental from

Update: BorrowLenses has chosen a winner!

I’ve been renting lenses online for a few years now (click here to read some of our lens rental service reviews). A macro here, an out-of-my-budget 2.8 there. It’s a great way to get just the lens you need when you need it without having to plunk down thousands of dollars to own it. Renting lenses has saved me money in another way too. By renting first, I’ve discovered there were a couple of lenses I thought I wanted that I didn’t really like after all.

What better way to get acquainted with online lens rentals than with a free rental? contacted me over the weekend and generously offered Photodoto readers a chance to receive a free 2-week lens rental. Here’s all you have to do:

  • Leave a comment describing which lens you would like to rent and why you want to rent it. Leave a valid email address so that we can contact you if you win (your email address will remain private and is used for no other purpose).

That’s it! (Except for a few conditions, below.) The comments will remain open until Tuesday September 23 at midnight. After that, will choose a winner and we’ll announce it here. Good luck! And a big thank you to for sponsoring this giveaway.

Conditions of entry:

  • You must be in the U.S. to enter.
  • The winner will need to place an order online with a valid credit card number to receive the rental. The card will not be charged but is required to ensure that the lens is returned. is a reputable business but if you don’t feel comfortable with this condition please don’t enter.
  • The offer excludes super telephoto lenses and camera bodies.
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