Zoomable 45-Gigapixel Panorama of Dubai Sets Record as World’s Largest Digital Photo

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Remember when 5 megapixels was hi-res? Today photographer Gerald Donovan takes resolution to astounding new heights, announcing the composition of a 45-gigapixel panoramic landscape of Dubai that, if printed, would be the size of nearly 1,200 billboards.

The shot was captured over more than three hours using a Canon 7D mounted to a robotic GigaPan camera mount that uses imaging technology similar to that found on NASA’s Mars rovers. The sweeping shot is actually 4,250 individual shots cobbled together seamlessly with Autopano stitching software.

Said Donovan: “This was intended as a technical test. It was about exploring the limits of the hardware and software out there.”

Which raises the question: Did we find the limit? The last record-holding digital panorama came in at 26 gigapixels, so the Dubai image is a significant advance. Given the fact that the image is composite, it’s really not a matter of camera hardware; the robotic mount and the camera could, theoretically, snap more than 4,250 individual shots of a landscape. So it’s really a matter of software and the processing power needed to stitch together the larger images. Which means that if the tools to make a larger digital pic don’t exist yet, they certainly will at some point.

And what good is a record if it’s never broken? In the meantime, check out an interactive version of the image on GigaPan’s site. If you think the image above looks like any other panorama, zoom in. And zoom in some more. If this is the closest you ever get to Dubai, it’s still really, really close.