Gigapixel technology is a relatively new market due to the ever increasing technology combined with the decreesing costs of digital storage.   I try to find information and subjects that are of interest and thought provoking.

Monday
Feb072011

A background on GigaPixel technology

The advent of digital technology has caused a revolution in the way we think of photography. Before this revolution, most of us thought of photography in terms of images captured on film that subsequently would be transformed into prints by way of photographic enlargement. However, rapid proliferation of digital cameras, scanners and printers has changed this perception. Even the prevailing jargon has changed. Where previously an image was described in terms of granularity and acutance, it now more often is defined by pixel count and dpi. Meanwhile, those of us who have spent much of our lives in the pursuit of film-based photography keep asking ourselves whether such photography can survive; and, if it does, what role will it play? When we debated this question in late 2000, it seemed reasonable to assume that digital cameras with resolutions in the 10-megapixel regime would become commonplace within a few years. This would put them in head-to-head competition with 35-mm film-based technology; perhaps even displacing that technology entirely within a decade or so. On the other hand, it seemed unlikely that digital cameras with resolutions much in excess of 10 megapixels would appear in the near term. Especially unlikely would be the emergence of digital cameras with resolutions approaching 100 megapixels. As a consequence, we felt it likely that film-based large-format photography would for the time being remain unchallenged. With this in mind, we have concentrated recent endeavors upon the application of ultra-high-resolution techniques to the field of large-format photography.

In defining the term "ultra-high-resolution," we have analyzed each factor that bears upon the image forming process; especially taking into account the effects of atmospheric blurring, lens aberrations and film granularity. When it became apparent that the sought-for resolution could not be preserved via conventional photographic enlargement, the scope of our analysis was widened to include film scanners and digital printers. We concluded that, consistent with the largest practicable roll film format (9"x18"), we could expect to achieve a resolution equivalent to 1000 megapixels. Hence, came the name Gigapxl&trade. With recent developments, this figure approaches 4000 megapixels, but the name remains unchanged.

Subject to the limitations of human vision, a minimum of 8 square inches of print area is needed to convey the information contained in a 1-megapixel image. When scaled to 1000 megapixels, the minimum print area becomes 50 square feet. For prints made from our 9"x18" format, this equates to a print which has a height of 5 feet and a width of 10 feet. Likewise, a 4000-megapixel print has dimensions of 10 feet by 20 feet. Meanwhile, close-up sharpness matches that of a 4"x6" print from a 3-megapixel digital camera. The information content of a Gigapxl™ print can be compared to that available in a real-world scene which is viewed through a pair of binoculars. In the case of 1000-megapixel images, one would require 6X binoculars; twice this power at 4000 megapixels.

The first Gigapxl™ cameras were completed and ready for test in February 2001; the first color landscapes being produced a month later. Early images had a pixel count of 260 megapixels (20-micron scan resolution) and were printed on photographic paper. Within a year, however, the count had increased to 670 megapixels (12.5-micron scan resolution). At which level, although substantially higher resolution was being achieved on film, the pixel count temporarily became constrained by issues related to scanner resolution and the file size limits of Adobe Photoshop. Meanwhile, with second-generation cameras (combining superior lenses and a variety of focal lengths) nearing completion, we switched from photographic printing to pigment ink printing. Working closely with Adobe, issues related to Photoshop file size have slowly but surely been resolved. Meantime, collaboration with Leica Geosystems (manufacturer of the DSW500 digital scanner) is about to yield scans with a resolution of 6 microns. At which time, numerous existing negatives will be redigitized at 2,900 megapixels. By year end (2004), we expect to push scan resolution to the 5-4 micron range; the corresponding pixel counts being 4,180 megapixels and 6,530 megapixels, respectively.

Extensive viewer response to Gigapxl imagery was first obtained in 2003. In March of that year, a 21-foot panorama of San Francisco was exhibited at The Albuquerque Museum. Four months later, a similar image was exhibited at the Palace of Fine Arts/Exploratorium in San Francisco. Aside from general expressions of awe, feedback mainly has centered around the extent to which ultra-high-resolution adds a humanizing touch to subject material which otherwise tends to be dominated by its monumental scale. Especially it has been noted that the ability to capture the minutiae of everyday life provides a level of interest not found in conventional cityscapes.

While technical issues which relate to scanning and digital processing continue to be addressed, current efforts are focused upon the expansion of an image portfolio. At this point, we have stockpiled some 500 images; a fair proportion of which already have been scanned at the 10-micron level. Subject material for the most part typifies the American landscape. To date, photographic forays have been made to all Provinces and States, with the exception of Hawaii. Notable urban subjects include cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Calgary, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Seattle, and Denver. Work in the National and State Parks/Monuments extends to Yosemite, Point Lobos, Mount Tamalpais, Mono Lake, Monument Valley, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, White Sands, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Devil's Tower, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands of South Dakota, Denali, Jasper, and Banff.

In terms of the future, we have been much encouraged by the diversity of applications which continue to emerge. One of particular appeal relates to the documentation of cultural and archaeological sites which cannot be preserved and which inevitably will deteriorate with the passage of time. Many thousands of these sites are present around the world. Prime examples include entire cities such as Rome, Italy. In this instance, limestone structures which have stood for thousands of years have become the victims of acid rain. Stonemason's chisel marks, until recently clear to see, have all but vanished. Only through a massive program of ultra-high-resolution documentary photography can such details be preserved for enjoyment and study by future generations.

See more from the author at Smashing Tips

Saturday
Jan222011

Honorable mention

Although this site is dedicated to Gigapixels technology, there is always room for honorable mention. These panaramas and images show areas where Gigapixel technology can go in the future. In some cases Gigapixel technology is going in these directions now.

I believe the ocean is one of the areas where Gigapixel technology will thrive in the future. The world underwater is still relatively untapped and GigaPixel technology offers us a method to view underwater life like never before. It gives a whole new meaning to submersive images and video.   MORE >

 

A pill bug of the family Armadillidiidae is seen in a microscopic GigaPan. The 160 megapixel panorama was taken in July 2009, and is composed of 200 scanning electron microscope images stitched together . MORE>

 

  

Deep in the mountainside near the Ariege river in France, ghostly images of long ago still dance across the rock walls of tunnels, overhangs, and vast caverns. Explore this digital panorama, constructed from more than 100 individual photographs, and discover the images put there 13-14,000 years ago by the people now known as Magdalenian. MORE>

Friday
Jan212011

Gigapixel Surveillance Group on LinkedIn tops 300 Members

My Linked in group "Gigapixel Surveillance" just went over 300 members. The site is only a few months old yet it keeps growing at a very rapid rate. I believe as Gigapixel technology becomes more prevelent we will see the discussions bloom on the subject of surveillance. Gigapixel technology opens many new doors (More like windows) in the surveillance market.  MORE>

Friday
Jan212011

Google and Carnegie Mellon University collaborate to explore GigaPixel imaging 

Carnegie Mellon University said Wednesday it is collaborating with Internet search engine giant Google to let people explore, in great detail, places around the world -- such as a Guatemalan open air market, a castle in Dublin or even exhibits at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh -- without leaving home.

"We all know that imagery is compelling," said Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor in the school of computer science's Robotics Institute. "Imagery is something that we can really use to learn about the world in a fundamental way. But it also crosses boundaries."

Using a robotic device and free software, developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and NASA scientists, people with standard hand-held digital cameras can create panoramas with enough detail that they can be mined for data or just enjoyed for their clarity. The images are built into the newest version of Google Earth, a mapping program that lets people view Earth through satellite imagery and aerial photographs.

The principle behind the technology is the same as that used by vacationers who snap several pictures of sweeping views, each time slightly moving the camera. The resulting photos are pieced together to create a panorama.

Called GigaPans -- for gigapixel (billions of pixels) panoramas -- the images consist of hundreds of pictures taken by a digital camera on its highest zoom setting and "stitched" together. The result is a detailed image that can be displayed on a computer and zoomed in on -- or explored -- to find otherwise hidden details, such as the writing on signs or patterns on butterfly wings.

The key to GigaPan comes from a $300 camera system developed for Carnegie Mellon by Charmed Labs in Austin, Texas. The camera system is basically a small robot that holds a digital camera and over several minutes moves it methodically, automatically taking the pictures needed to make a GigaPan.

Carnegie Mellon software pieces the images together. Because they are so detailed, GigaPans take up a lot of room on a computer's memory, so the university will provide server space to store them. The images will be made public for anyone to explore.

"Our goal is to get this out to as many people as we can," said Randy Sargent, senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon West in Moffett Field, Calif.

Uses for GigaPans are endless, Nourbakhsh said. Ecologists could take GigaPans of the environment and use the level of detail they provide to identify plants and animals. Engineers could take GigaPans of construction sites and examine them to be sure buildings are being assembled properly. The Pennsylvania Board of Tourism is using GigaPans to let people virtually explore Civil War sites.

Read more: CMU, Google collaborate on robotic camera - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review MORE >