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I just have to say that this Silverlight viewer sucks. I REALLY MISS the one from way back that I could install as a plugin. It rocked. It showed way more of the pictures in view and it was actually usable. This new one is unusable, and I feel like I'm fighting with it to do anything. When I drag to the left, it won't let me, even thought there are pictures there. I have to click the picture on the far left or right, then it decides to load the rest. Lame. The point clouds don't even look 3D. There used to be little orange cones that showed in 3d where the picture was taking from and extended out to the picture, as though it was computing the focal length. I'm sorry, but this SilverLight viewer is just a complete disappointment compared to the original. What the hell happened?
Many Photosynth users are, like you, unhappy with the speed/performance of the current Silverlight viewer. It boils down to Silverlight 4 (and earlier versions) not having support for GPU accelerated graphics. Silverlight 5 will have such support but it does not release until fall of 2011.
The Silverlight viewer was important so that more people could view Photosynths in more browsers + with Macs + could do so potentially without needing to install Silverlight just for Photosynth, as they may have installed it for Netflix, the Olympics, or some other site.
The Photosynth team does acknowledge that the Silverlight viewer is not as fast as the Direct3D viewer for the time being, and so as a concession makes the Direct3D viewer available for every synth via a link on the lower left corner of the page, but take note that unlike the Silverlight viewer which works in all five major browsers on Windows, and the top four on Mac, D3D needs Firefox 3 or IE.
Here is an example of the URL for the Silverlight and Direct3D viewers for a synth of mine:
While I freely agree with you that the Direct3D viewer is superior for viewing point clouds (because it draws all the points while moving the camera and has a faster refresh rate), when you say that the point clouds don't look 3D in the Silverlight viewer, I think you are exaggerating.
It's true that the Silverlight viewer only displays a subset of the points while you move the point cloud, but it always draws all of them back on the screen when you come to rest. Try the synth I just linked to in the Silverlight viewer and click and drag the arrows handle (like you use the halo in D3D) to rotate the point cloud. It's difficult to deny that those points are part of a 3D coordinate system when you watch how they move.
As to the camera frusta not being displayed, that has been the case ever since you could upload your own synths on 2008 August 20 in the Direct3D viewer. The camera frusta being visible was only a feature of the Community Tech Preview version of the Photosynth viewer and was removed at the launch of the public Photosynth service.
There is an free unofficial Photosynth viewer for iPhone called iSynth which will draw all the camera frusta for you if you select Orbit Mode from the menu, although it will draw them in white, rather than orange. I hope that's not too disconcerting for you. ;)
The Silverlight viewer has something *similar*, actually. If you load up my synth above and press the [T] key, you'll view the synth in Overhead View (one of several features exclusive to the Silverlight viewer). While in Overhead View, as you hover your cursor over the point cloud, you will be shown frusta of whichever camera is linked to the most points that you are currently highlighting. It's true; this doesn't show you all the frusta at once, but it's about as close as you're going to get for the time being.
If you don't like being trapped in Overhead View while looking at camera frusta, I've got a little trick although I must warn you that it's unsupported and might just crash the viewer, requiring you to refresh the page. Here's what you do:
1: Enter Overhead View via [T] key
2: Use [~] key to toggle to 2D View
3: Use [~] key again to toggle back to 3D
4: You can now hover over the point cloud from down among the points and see the frusta from ground level.
One other recent option for viewing the camera positions that has been available since 2011 January 26 is the Photosynth Viewer included in Henri Astre's PhotoSynthToolkit as of version 5. You can download it here: http://www.visual-experiments.com/demos/photosynthtoolkit/
I will say that as the size of the synth increases, the memory requirements for Henri's viewer goes up considerably even if you're just using thumbnails of all the photos (I really can't recommend it for viewing really large synths), but it will draw all the camera frusta for you.