Microsoft Image Composite Editor


Have you ever wanted to take a panoramic photo, one of those sweeping views of everything you see? Unless you have a fancy wide-angle lens you might think that it couldn’t be done. But, in fact, even a basic camera in a phone can be used to create a panoramic view of your surroundings. One way is with Microsoft’s free Windows photo stitching software called Image Composite Editor (ICE).

Some years ago, the Microsoft Research Computational Photography Group released free software that could be used to combine multiple overlapping images into a single panoramic view. I am no photographer myself but I saw what others could do with the software and the results were quite remarkable. Recently, Microsoft updated the software to version 2.03. It is now easier to use and comes in both 32- and 64-bit versions. The description and download links are here. There is also a video clip demonstrating the use of the app. The download is about 8 MB. The program is said to work in Vista SP2 and up.

The program can take a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location and seamlessly combine them into a high-resolution panorama. ICE can also create a panorama from a panning video, including stop-motion action overlaid on the background. Panoramas can be saved in a wide variety of image formats, including JPEG, TIFF, and Photoshop’s PSD/PSB, as well as several multiresolution tiled formats.

Many recent phones and tablets have a photo stitching capability built in but this software has features worth considering.

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I've used MS ICE for years and been very pleased with it. The old version would allow a ragged multi-row and multi-column pano (photos with unequal number or columns in each row) but I haven't been able to do that in the new version.

I would also recommend trying autostich. The free version only works on jpg files. But performance is impressive.

Mike D

I've been using ICE for quite a while and i like it a lot - i wasn't aware there was an update.