You have to see this 195 billion pixel image shot from Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower

Dec 22, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

You have to see this 195 billion pixel image shot from Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower

Dec 22, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Massive multi-gigapixel images are starting to become a little more common now, with today’s computing power being what it is. But they still rarely fail to impress. Especially when they cover vast distances and include a lot of detail to zoom in on. This massive 195-Gigapixel image comes from Shanghai, shot from the top of Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower.

The huge image was created by Jingkun Technology, otherwise known as Bigpixel Studio. The image were shot during 2015, and the whole thing took two months of processing power to create. They say on their website (Google translated)…

In the early days of the creation, the BigPixel team decided to make new challenges. Break the previous tens of billions of pixels and challenge 100 billion pixels. The difficulty is very large. The previous stitching technology can’t be applied to hundreds of billions of picture stitching. More pairs of images and larger data processing, as well as network deployment and loading are new challenges. In the face of challenges, we are full of fighting spirit, one by one, in the 230 meters of the Oriental Pearl, two months of data processing, successfully created the world’s third largest map, Asia’s largest map. It also marks us as the world’s top creative video production team.

There are reports out there that this is a 24.9-gigapixel image, or that it was shot with a “24.9 billion pixel camera”. You’d think a website with the word “science” in the name would get their facts right. Oh well. Neither of these things is true. The 24.9-gigapixel image to which they are referring is this image of Shanghai. And as these zoomed in screen grabs show, it’s clearly stitched (if the company’s statement that it was a stitch wasn’t enough for you).

So, there are a few glitches in the matrix, but there always will be with stitched scenes like this on such a massive scale. The camera can’t point towards everything at once. It takes a shot, moves, takes a shot, moves, rinse and repeat. This takes time, and during that time, people can move. This is why the same person can appear in multiple images, and why we get “ghosts”, as two shots line up the environment and the stitching software blends them together.

The detail, though, is incredible. To be able to clearly read a vehicle’s license plate hundreds, if not thousands, of metres away is pretty amazing. There’s no word on exactly what camera & lens was used to create these images, but you can bet it isn’t a kit zoom. Looking at one particular section that has some slight misalignment issues, the individual frame size appears to be about this big.

I’d love to do a project like this one day, but I don’t have the tools or the computing power available to do anything like this in a reasonable amount of time. For now, I think I’ll just have to settle for seeing what others like Bigpixel Studio are creating.

Explore the image for yourself here. Can you spot anything interesting?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “You have to see this 195 billion pixel image shot from Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower”

  1. Paul Iştoan Avatar
    Paul Iştoan

    Enhance!

    1. Tim Shields Avatar
      Tim Shields

      haha! Love this comment.

      This image is perhaps the only time the “enhance” command can be used correctly in a movie.

  2. Ignasi Jacob Avatar
    Ignasi Jacob

    Wich smartphone was used?

    1. Stewart Norton Avatar
      Stewart Norton

      Nokia 3310 ?

    2. Ignasi Jacob Avatar
      Ignasi Jacob
  3. Adrian Gordon Avatar
    Adrian Gordon

    It was 24.9billion before.