Software release: Smaller image files and OpenEXR support
We have been working in a number of areas to improve the LizardQ Stitcher and Viewer and would like to inform you about what is new:
- LizardQ Stitcher and Viewer 3.0 is here
- Smaller HDR files (OpenEXR support, lossy or lossless compression)
- Better results in difficult lighting conditions
- Stitcher can insert your logo
- Viewer has a screenshot feature
- Bug fixes
Compressed OpenEXR and Load on Demand Viewer
The major new feature set is based around the the ability to save highly compressed OpenEXR images and display them in the viewer. The Stitcher always had the option to save cube map OpenEXR images with a fixed size and a lossless compression. Those files were larger than the standard Radiance files (*.hdr) and could not be opened with the LizardQ Viewer. They were targeted at 3rd party software.
The new Stitcher can now use OpenEXR also for the equirectangular (2:1) projection and more importantly can use the lossy but very effective DWA compression. In terms of quality and compression ratio, this new option is roughly equivalent to JPEG: e.g. a 100 Megapixel equirectangular spherical can now be saved as a 27 MB OpenEXR instead of a 275 MB Radiance (*.hdr) file.
The other major related improvement is the support to open the tiled and mip-mapped cube map OpenEXR format in the Viewer. Those images are internally split up into small image tiles of different resolutions and allow the Viewer to only load the parts of the image that are currently visible on screen. That comes with two substantial improvements: 1) The images open and display instantaneously, no matter which resolution they have. 2) The Viewer can display even 500 Megapixel panoramas with a very limited amount of graphics memory, i.e. the Viewer works on cheaper/older hardware now.
For those applications where a lossy (JPEG-like) compression is not acceptable, OpenEXR files can also be saved using lossless PIZ compression, which still gives a considerable file size reduction of about 40% compared to the Radiance (*.hdr) file format.
This combination of new possibilities (highly compressed files + load on demand viewing) leads us to suggest the usage of the new 'HDR (OpenEXR for LizardQ Viewer)' output option in the Stitcher settings for all customers using the LizardQ mainly for generating panoramas that are supposed to be viewed by our Viewer later on. For those who need the equirectangular output to be used in 3rd-party software, we recommend to switch to the lossless OpenEXR format to benefit from the size reduction.
Improved Exposure Variation Compensation
The second major improvement is related to the now deprecated "Disable exposure variation compensation" option. The Stitcher always had a built in feature to adjust the relative brightness of the individual shots within one panorama to compensate for global brightness changes that might have occurred during the total capture time. E.g. a sky with moving, patchy clouds that temporarily cover the sun can lead to visible brightness jumps within a panorama if uncorrected. In certain situations, e.g. during sun set with lots of small artificial lights in the scene, this automatism could fail. That is why we had the option to disable this feature. We now improved it to the point that we can remove this extra option and simply always apply the automatic brightness adjustments.
Other improvements worth mentioning
- You can save a screenshot directly from within the LizardQ Viewer. Press the right mouse button to display the context menu and select 'Save screenshot'.
- The LizardQ Stitcher can now automatically fill the nadir ('tripod hole') with a custom image like e.g. a logo. See the settings dialog.
- A bug in the Stitcher that could cause blurry patches in 500MP panoramas was fixed.
- The detection of incomplete panoramas during the import process will no longer pause the processing.
- We switched from OpenGL 2.1 to OpenGL 3.3 internally, which fixed an issue with some macOS setups.
- We also implemented an experimental support for performing stereoscopic photogrametry measurements directly inside the LizardQ Viewer. This is equivalent of what you could do with 3rd party software like VCM or R2S before. If you are interested in this, please let us know.
Still running version 1.0?
Check your Help/About menu. Still 1.0.x? Please do the upgrade, it's worth your time. For those who missed the 2.0 release and are still working with 1.0 software: with this 3.0 update, you'll also benefit from the processing speed improvements we had introduced with the 2.0 version.
If you have any issues with the new Stitcher or Viewer or have any other feedback, please let us know. Get your free LizardQ Viewer with OpenEXR support here!