– an eclectic blog

Image Composite Editor (ICE)

June 12th, 2012 by kimly

For all the bitching I do about Microsoft products, and I’ve done a lot, I have to admit their Image Composite Editor (ICE) for stitching together panoramas is the about the best piece of free image manipulation software available. I have tried other freebies. I have downloaded trial versions of expensive software. They are all off my machine.

Drag and drop a series of photos into the ICE window and let it run. Is it 100% perfect all of the time? No – but when I’ve seen less than spectacular results it’s been my issue – typically changes in distance.

Both of the panoramas below were created using ICE and 3 images. The bottom picture is of Great Falls, Virginia – I aligned the shots fairly well and ICE did the rest. But in the top panorama (taken in Connecticut) I miss judged the distance between each shot as seen in the blue circle with the uneven horizon. The other issue, highlighted in red, is just the challenge of shooting moving vistas. The water washing up on shore changed drastically in the second shot and ICE was not able to correct for it. Clouds can also be a challenge on windy days.

To see how much better ICE is than hand stitching I ran a series of shots I took, hand stitched and posted back in 2008. The first two are my attempts; the third is ICE. There really is no comparison. The amount of time it would have taken me to blend in the sky… well, that’s the reason I didn’t do it initially.

Link to Microsoft ICE

Posted in Photos, Review

2 Responses

  1. Liza Zajac Whitehead


    I agree, the ICE stiching is fabulous. But is there a reason the third shot (which used ICE) looks less colorful and slighty over-sharp? Do they all come from the same source shots?


  2. kimly

    The less colorful aspect I think comes from where it was cropped across the bottom. The ICE pic looses some of the more colorful trees in the immediate foreground. As for the sharpness, did the photo load all the way? As the page was rendering my first thought was “damn, didn’t notice that before” but then the photos finished. My eyes aren’t picking up it up.

    But any differences that are present are due to the algorithms ICE uses to automatically blend in the individual pics into a whole. The specifics of what the algorithms are, I don’t know.

    And yes – I took all the shots within seconds of each other. These are the originals with the time stamps below.

    Pic 1: Saturday, ‎October ‎04, ‎2008, ‏‎10:01:50 AM
    Pic 2: Saturday, ‎October ‎04, ‎2008, ‏‎10:02:02 AM
    Pic 3: ‎Saturday, ‎October ‎04, ‎2008, ‏‎10:02:16 AM
    Pic 4: ‎Saturday, ‎October ‎04, ‎2008, ‏‎10:02:42 AM
    Pic 5: ‎‎Saturday, ‎October ‎04, ‎2008, ‏‎10:02:52 AM

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