Record-breaking 320-gigapixel panorama shows London in all its glory
February 27, 2013
Last month, we saw a panorama of Dubai taken from atop the world's tallest building. It was gorgeous, but at 2.5 gigapixels in size, not exactly the largest panorama. No, that title now belongs to a recent 360-degree panoramic photo of London that consists of over 48,000 individual shots and boats an incredible 320 gigapixels resolution.
To create the gargantuan panorama using its communications tower as a center point, British Telecommunications (BT) contracted photography firm, 360Cities – which is also responsible for the interactive self-portrait panorama of NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover. Photographers Jeffrey Martin, Tom Mills, and Holger Schulze spent three days on the 29th floor of the BT Tower to capture the photos, occasionally enduring strong winds and sub-freezing temperatures.
Four camera setups were positioned around the outside platform, each one consisting of a Canon EOS 7D camera outfitted with EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lenses and Extender EF 2x III teleconverters. The cameras were then attached to Clauss Rodeon VR Head ST robotic panorama mounts and set to shoot four frames a second as they covered a 360-degree arc.
The photos comprising the final image were taken soon after the 2012 Olympic Games last year, but it took a computer three months to stitch them together, not to mention some extra time to turn the result into an interactive website so people can zoom and pan to their heart's content. In total, the staggering 320-gigapixel sized image is comprised of 48,640 individual shots, which have been connected and layered almost seamlessly to give the impression of a single, zoom-able picture. According to the photography team, if the image were printed at a normal photographic resolution, it would be 98 meters (321.5 feet) wide and 24 meters (79 feet) tall.
The amount of detail in the panorama is impressive to say the least, with some buildings still visible up to 20 miles (32 km) away. Even at great distances, you can still clearly see the faces of individual people and pinpoint famous landmarks like Big Ben and the Tower Bridge.
If you want to check out the full 360-degree image for yourself, BT has an interactive version on its website.