Roundshot D3 produces 470 Megapixel 360 degree Panoramic images
By Mike Hanlon
October 10, 2006
October 11, 2006 Swiss company Seitz Phototechnik is pushing the boundaries of digital photography with its new D3 scan technology, making it possible to create a digital 360° panorama in only two seconds and with very high image quality. The new rotating Roundshot D3 digital camera with its D3 digital back is equipped with a high-speed scanning sensor developed specifically for photography. The D3 scan back reads at 300 MB per second, more than 100x faster than existing scan backs. This results in a very broad ISO/ASA range (equivalent) of 500 to 10,000, which makes this camera the perfect instrument for virtually all light situations. Combined with the vertical resolution of 7,500 pixels, an 80mm medium format lens creates, for example, a total image resolution of 470 million pixels – uncompressed, each such image would be 2.7GB. Or you can go even further by shifting the scan back by a total of 50mm and achieve a vertical resolution of 13,500 pixels (110mm) using distortion-free stitching. Combining the resolution, speed and sensitivity, it is possible, for the first time, to create lively digital images that are a pleasure for the eye of the professional. No limits for high definition photography! Medium or large format lenses from Schneider, Rodenstock, Hasselblad and Pentax 67 can be used with the new camera and in keeping with the bigger-is-better theme, the colour screen is the biggest known to photography at 640x480 pixels and allows perfect preview, editing, zooming and image control.
Seitz worked with DALSA on the design, prototyping and production of the sensor to tailor its capabilities to the exact needs of the photographer: very high speed, increased sensitivity and very high image quality. The new camera system is fully mobile and easy to operate thanks to a handheld device with a graphical touch-screen. For data transfer and communication the latest computer technologies are used. Medium or large format lenses from Schneider, Rodenstock, Hasselblad, Pentax 67 or other brands can be used interchangeably with the new camera. The Seitz D3 sensor cassette can also be fitted to other cameras, such as the new Seitz 6x17 Digital panorama camera, which makes the investment in the Seitz D3 technology truly rewarding.
The new Seitz D3 sensor technology is a true technological breakthrough not only in speed and resolution but also in its impressive image quality. As the Roundshot scanning camera uses only the middle section of the lens, it allows maximum edge-to-edge sharpness without vignetting. The image has a 48-bit colour depth and a high dynamic range. When shooting directly into the sun, the sensor’s anti-blooming feature reduces glare and allows a clean passage between highlights and lowlights. The image is further enhanced by advanced optimisation algorithms developed by Seitz for ultimate image quality. Of course the photographer can also work directly on the raw image and apply personalised raw conversion settings.
The Digital 3 scan back sensor was designed and developed exclusively for Seitz by DALSA. In this multi-year project specialists around the world have brought together the best capabilities in digital technology, computer science, image optimisation and knowledge of photography applications to build a camera system that goes beyond the imaginable.
The Roundshot D3 is simply a pleasure to work with. Operating the camera is easy: a touch screen can be attached to the camera body or removed for wireless control with all camera functions displayed via simple graphical icons. The 640x480 pixel colour screen is the biggest camera screen today and allows perfect preview, editing, zooming and image control.
A 360 degree digital panorama (uncompressed) taken with a 80mm lens represents about 2.7 GB. To process and store such large amounts of data Seitz created a state-of-the-art computer system. Data is transferred by gigabit ethernet from the sensor to the storage device. The portable storage device is itself a computer with most advanced characteristics in processing, disk space and memory features. Additionally, the camera and handheld control unit takes advantage of the latest IP network technology, making it possible to connect the camera to a network and control it remotely.
Seitz designed the Roundshot D3 camera to meet the expectations of those photographers who like to take their equipment on exploratory adventures. All components are fully modular - the portable storage device and the handheld device can be adapted to your specific needs. The camera can also be used in the studio, running the software from a computer (Mac, PC, Linux) via ethernet connection.
For best image results Seitz recommend using the advanced medium format Schneider lenses on an interchangeable lens mount. Of course all other medium format lens brands can be attached to the Roundshot D3 camera as well, for example: Rodenstock, Hasselblad, Pentax 67. All lens types and brands can be interchanged without any restrictions, provided that the aperture can be set directly on the lens.
Just like a traditional digital back the Seitz D3 scan back cassette can be removed from the Roundshot D3 camera body and fitted to other cameras, e.g., the new Seitz 6x17 panorama camera and, in the future, to other large or medium format cameras. The possibility of using the scan back in a variety of different cameras makes the system truly versatile - to the benefit of the photographer.
With increasing image resolution the engineering precision of the camera hardware becomes very important. All Seitz cameras are made from solid blocks of aluminium as used in space technology and produced with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. Machining tolerances are at the decisive 1/100 mm. Uncompromising precision and perfectly adjusted lenses are our guarantee for excellent results. Every Roundshot D3 camera is hand-made in Switzerland and is unique.
Presented at photokina 2006 for the first time, the new camera system will be available as of January 2007. The price for the Roundshot D3 panorama camera with its Seitz D3 scan back (mobile version) is EUR 29,800 and for the studio version EUR 28,800. The Seitz D3 scan back can also be bought separately and costs EUR 22,900 Euro.