Best panorama stitching software I have found and now use is Microsoft Research’s ICE (Image Composite Editor). It’s extremely simple to use, has good quality results, and has all the options I need. It’s free, but it’s only available for Windows.
Microsoft Research’s ICE (Image Composite Editor)
I have had 2 cameras that each came with Arcsoft’s PanoramaMaker, I think version 3 and 4. I remember having to set the stitch points often in PanoramaMaker 3 but 4 was a little simpler. However, I compared the resulting stitched images made with both and found that the newer version made somewhat worse quality images! What do I mean by worse quality? I looked closely at the resulting images and one gave more fuzzed and less sharp results than the other. That was unacceptable so it left me wanting to find something better. They are up to version 6 now but I haven’t tried it.
I searched for an open source alternative. I found Hugin http://hugin.sourceforge.net/ and briefly tried that. It worked well and it has a lot of options but left a lot to be desired for the usability I was looking for.
Ever since I came across Microsoft’s ICE and tried it, I have been completely happy with it. Throw the photos in (just drag them in, nice), wait a few seconds, and you have a panorama. Don’t worry about the correct order, it finds it. Then you can do auto-crop, scale, and export as you like. It’s just a few buttons. And the resulting image quality is good from my testing.
Microsoft ICE panorama stitcher
Many cameras and smartphones now have automatic panorama stitching. I don’t have a camera like that so I’m not sure how those compare, and my phone has that ability but I have no illusions about the photo quality compared to my real camera. So if you’re in the same boat as me, you should give ICE a try.