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HD Gigapixel Photography

Last modified: August'11

Since digital photography has beated the analogical one, pictures have (technically) become a discrete amount of pixels, where the more pixels means the more fidelity (among other factors).

A few months ago I read a paper from Microsoft Research Team publicated on Siggraph'07 about Gigapixel Panoramas. In short, this term refers to the number of pixels of the pic: a digital compac camera nowadays has about 7 Megapixels (7.10^6 pixels), that means in a 4:3 ratio a resolution of aprox. 3055x2290. A GigaPixel pic can imply a 1000x magnitude resolution improvement, as we are talking about resolutions of aprox. 38000x28400.

We can divide the process in two parts: how to obtain them and how to display them.

To get the set of images, Microsoft people sugget a programmable, motorized head in order to do it as fast as possible so that the environment conditions don't change (such as lighting, dynamic elements, etc.), and also to avoid geomtric mistakes. I have prove that it can be replaced with patience and organization, if necessary :) After that, a powerful stitching software is needed, or good programming skills.

To display the photo, Microsoft developed its own software, called HDView. The advantage of it over others is a realtime geometrical correction, that allows to watch the entire photo correctly, without projection artifacts. Also it does a contrast correction, by working with an aproximation to HDR photos (High Dynamic Range). I'll take about it in another article.

I've used a cool and easy flash viewer called Zoomify. It has some full-featured versions, but also a free zoom and pam one, enough for our purposes.

Here is a videodemo we have made about Santiago's Cathedral facade in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. It's composed from more that 200 individual shoots (with a Canon EOS 350D and a 300mm lens), and it has a resolution of about 1,2 GPixels. You can try it by your self in the VideaLAB website.

Just googleing a little bit you can find some more examples. Nowadays, the more impressive one is the Harlem 13 GPixels Panorama. wow!

UPDATED (December'08): I've just got a nearly 5 Gigapixels image, a panoramic picture of A Coruña (Galicia, Spain), where I live :) Some intersting info: Camera Canon 50D (15 Mpx), Lens 400mm, about 380 captures!