Issues Using DNGs exported from Lightroom with the RICOH Stitcher plugin

I have been looking through this forum for a while trying to see if there has been an answer to this specific issue, but I haven’t yet found anything that has been answered. I realize that one answer to this problem is the use of PTGui, but testing has revealed that PTGui is not as effective as the RICOH Stitcher Lightroom Plugin (RSLRP), so for all intents and purposes: assume PTGui is not the answer to this, as it is sub-par and produces unacceptable results enough that it is problematic.

First, RSLRP is functioning for me with DNG images taken directly from the camera itself. It seems to work fine for single images, but there is an issue. Bright and/or dark exposures (as needed for HDR) will often not stitch the same way as the rest of the exposures. I am guessing this is due to the majority of the image being 255/255/255 or 0/0/0/, thus not giving RSLRP much to work with. This creates alignment issues when trying to stitch the images as an HDR after using the stitcher plugin, rendering it seemingly useless for HDR images.

Seemingly the next solution is to create an HDR image using bracketed, but unstitched shots from the Theta Z1 camera, and then creating a DNG of the HDR to run through RSLRP. This does not work, at least not with Lightroom’s DNG export settings. It seems like Stitcher is very sensitive to the type of DNG being used. I have used the same naming convention, and the same image size, to the pixel. I ran an analysis on exif data of the DNGs and found a ton of divergence between what comes out of the RICOH Theta Z1 camera and what Adobe uses as it’s generic DNG type. I suspect this is where the problem is. This is not too surprising, but there are so many factors, I am at a loss for to where to start. I am wondering what the plugin is looking for to make sure that the DNG is “valid”, and if there is either an update coming to broaden the scope of what RSLRP will accept, or if there is a way to modify the exif data in generic adobe DNG files so that they will run with RSLRP.

Part of me is hoping there is a way around this issue, but due to how much different the RICOH DNG and AdobeDNG exif are, I am not particularly hopeful. Posting here to see if anyone has run into a similar issue, and if there is a potential solution that I have missed despite my best efforts. I can post the DNG exif data for both if it would help people understand, but it is a LOT of information to look over. I also made a comparison chart for what specifically is different, but at a certain point the data between the exif files was so different that it seemed a bit irrelevant to continue making it.

Well, as for me, my simple humble workflow:
-RS stitch(no adjustments)
-If HDR- I combine (Using Affinity 16/32 bit mode, or combine in SNS HDR-(my fav), if i have to HDR PS-but not likely since ‘SNS HDR’ in my opinion far superior…

(Same process i use when dslr 360’s or 26 images from drone, though the drone is sans multi hdr pass’s for 360 aerial pano)

Anyway- I have the most success from PTGui for stitching and Ricoh works well for me as well and I’ll favor it if I need to adjust for 'adjusting distance setting in less than 13" range… PTGui also deals well with combining HDR

I’ve tried to keep this simple and hope it helps.

I am curious if you have been able to get your custom HDR DNG files to run through the Stitcher plugin after they are merged or not? I am assuming not. This is the main issue I am trying to figure out. I have been looking at exif data and have attempted copying RICOH Theta DNG exif onto custom DNGs with no success so far. The plugin seems tuned to only work with Ricoh raw images for some reason, and I haven’t yet been able to pinpoint what the plugin is looking for, in exif or otherwise, to make stitcher see it as a valid file. But if you (or anyone) have been able to run custom HDR files through the plugin, I would certainly like to know how you did it. This is a very specific problem, and probably a somewhat atypical workflow, but it’s the one I am trying to make work, if at all possible.