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70 Billion Pixel Photo A Marvel To Interact With - World's Largest Panorama: Budapest From János Hill Observation Tower
70 Billion Pixels Budapest is an amazing photo exhibit online that will show you the future of digital photography. Look at the panoramic photo and then click one of the small tabs below to do a zoom and see the detail they captured. Here's some background on how they did it:
The World Record starts with a high definition camera and and a telephoto lens with an extremely narrow field of view. Sony’s A900 25MP camera seemed an obvious choice, and Sony was pleasantly eager to provide us one. Fitted with a 400mm Minolta lens and 1,4X teleconverter, it provided a 2,4 degree horizontal FOW per frame. Our estimate was that a 60 gigapixel image (with the necessary overlaps) would require 5040 individual photographs — 24 rows with 210 frames in each, taken with a 360 degree horizontal and a 60 degree vertical FOV. Counting with 4 seconds per frame (during which the robotic head re-adjusts for the next shot), it was quite clear that the task would take a minimum of 6 hours to complete.
6 hours is an awfully lot of time in an outdoor environment. Weather changes. So is the angle and intensity of illumination. We had to come up with something to do it faster. As luck had it, our friend Emrich had already made a ’beefed up’ panoramic head with stronger servos to handle two top-mounted cameras. We recalculated the net weight of equipment, matched it against the nominal capacity of servos—it was risky, but Emrich kept his cool and convinced us to give it a go.
Then we needed another camera and another lens — both of those were provided by the generous Sony. So far so good: 360world was all set to go for the World Record.
World Record panoramas are invariably made in clear weather, preferably on days following the passing of a cold front with low humidity, maximum visibility and no anticyclonic clouds to play tricks with sunshine. With all the necessary equipment ready, all we needed was a perfect day like that—a surprisingly infrequent commodity. Spring was a mess of near-constant raining and flooding — ranks upon ranks of imperfect days well into May, when Emrich arrived from Germany to provide the necessary assistance in positioning the twin-camera setup.
We started early at the Tower on Day One. Weather was perfect: low humidity, no clouds in sight. Accordingly elevated, we finished setting up the hardware by 9PM and started the long exposition process without further ado.
We progressed by rows instead of columns — the latter would result in an obvious illumination difference between the first and the last columns, making it all but impossible to join them in seamless, 360 degree panorama.
Two hours into the initial exposition, misfortune struck in the form of a thunderstorm. Soon it was raining cats and dogs, canceling any hope of progress on Day One.
And so it went on the next day… and the day after that. 20,000 test pictures later, on Day Four, we finally got it right—that is, secured 40 Gigabytes of raw images from which to compile the largest panorama ever made: the view of Budapest from the Observation Tower of János Hill.
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