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320-gigapixel photo of London is the world's largest panoramic photo

By dpreview staff on Feb 21, 2013 at 20:01 GMT

A 320-gigapixel image taken from top of London's BT Tower has set the world record of the largest panoramic photo. It breaks the previous record set by a 281-gigapixel electron micrograph of a zebrafish embryo taken in 2012. The London image was shot by panorama specialists 360 Cities and is made up of 48,640 individual frames. To get an idea of just how large this photograph is, BT says if it was printed at 'normal resolution' the photo would measure measure 98 x 24 metres.

The photo was taken with four Canon EOS 7D cameras and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lenses plus Extender EF 2x III teleconverters. The cameras were mounted on Rodeon VR Head ST robotic panorama heads. The team took three days to shoot the individual photos and three months to process the final image.

You can look at the record-breaking panorama image over on the BT website.


Press Release:

BT TOWER BREAKS WORLD RECORD FOR PANORAMIC PHOTO

The image shows a full 360 degree view of London in incredible detail. 

An amazing image of London taken from the top of the BT Tower has set a new record for the world’s largest panoramic photo. The image shows a full 360 degree view of London in incredible detail.

The 320 gigapixel image, taken by expert photography firm 360Cities, comprises more than 48,000 individual frames which have been collated into a single panorama by a powerful workstation. It is the first time that an image of this magnitude has ever been attempted, and it took several months to create due to the scale of the endeavour. If printed at normal photographic resolution, the BT Tower panorama would be 98 meters across and 24 meters tall, almost as big as Buckingham Palace. In comparison, the last record attempt for a London panorama was 80 gigapixels, taken from Centrepoint in 2010.

The 320 gigapixel image, taken by photography firm 360Cities, comprises of 48,640 individual frames which have been collated into a single panorama.

The images were taken after the end of London 2012, the first digital Games. Londoners, tourists and those who work in the capital are now being asked to share their favourite views of the capital, as a permanent record of London’s year in the global spotlight.

As the official communications services partner for London 2012, BT played a vital role in ensuring the Games were the most connected ever, with millions of people enjoying sharing their experiences of the sporting and cultural action via social media. BT Tower played its part in the celebration, sharing news of every single medal won, live stats and scores on its giant 360 degree LED screen.

Suzi Williams, director, BT Group Marketing & Brand, said, “The BT Tower is such an iconic London landmark, and became a focus for the capital’s celebrations in 2012, what better way to capture that remarkable year than with a full panoramic photograph taken from its roof. This isn’t just a world record for the BT Tower, it’s for London and the people who live, work in or visit the capital. Take a look, and share your favourite London places and landmarks.”

If printed, the BT Tower panorama would be 98 meters across and 24 meters tall, 'almost as big as Buckingham Palace.'

Steve Hercher, director, 360Cities, said, “We were honoured to be chosen by BT to attempt this world record panorama and make our own contribution to commemorating the wonderful London 2012 Games. So many unknowns and variables had to be addressed in the planning of this unprecedented shoot, really the first of its kind. Software and hardware were pushed to the limits, and rain, wind and other potential stumbling blocks had to be dealtwith. Our photography team of Jeffrey Martin, Tom Mills and Holger Schulze did an amazing job and not a single individual frame from the more than 48,000 planned was missed.”

Rainer Fuehres, Head of Consumer Imaging Group, Canon Europe, said: “The goal of empowering people to take the next step on their personal photographic journeys drives every product we create, and this breath-taking image truly takes this philosophy to the extreme. Since its launch, the EOS 7D has caught the imagination of enthusiasts around the world so we were pleased to support such an exciting and challenging project with a camera that so many people are using to capture their own moments of inspiration.”

Also, our old friend Buzby is hiding in the gigapixel image too. Find him, and you could be one of three winners in our competition. People are selected at random, the first winner will receive an iPad, a year’s free broadband, and a trip to the top of the BT Tower to see the view in person. Second and third place win an iPad. Full terms and conditions, please see http://www.btplc.com/gigapixel/

Technical photographic information, and how the photo was taken:

  • Working over a period of three chilly days in 2012, the 360Cities team spent hours on the 29th floor outdoor platform of the BT Tower working with four cameras to record the 48,640 images comprising the panorama.
  • Four Canon EOS 7D cameras with EF 400mm f/2.8L  IS II USM lenses and Extender EF 2x III teleconverters were mounted on Clauss company Rodeon VR Head ST robotic panorama heads and positioned in four secure locations around the 29th floor platform.
  • The Clauss company robotic panorama heads are capable of 72,000 steps in a single 360 degree arc, and in this case were set to fire four frames a second.
  • Laptops monitored a live preview of the progress of the shoot, which was accomplished in the teeth of sub-freezing temperatures and occasional 50 mph winds high above London.
  • The 360Cities photography team of Jeffrey Martin, Tom Mills and Holger Schulze ensured that not a single individual frame from the more than 48,000 planned was missed.
  • The raw images were then processed over a multi-week period using Fujitsu Technology Solutions’ Celsius R920 workstation with 256GB of RAM and 16 cores at 3.1GHz, and Autopano Giga panorama stitching software from Kolor.
  • The resulting online interactive version of the photo is presented in multi-layered, tiled resolution that permits zooming in to view extreme details, and is composed of millions of individual image tiles. 

Comments

Total comments: 77
APenza
By APenza (Mar 3, 2013)

Lots of building construction going on, just count the cranes.

0 upvotes
sm176811
By sm176811 (Feb 27, 2013)

Worlds largest panoramic photo is google earth.

0 upvotes
ahawnt
By ahawnt (3 months ago)

Extremely high resolution images of our planet exist (i.e. ones that can resolve a dime (with sub-1mm ranging accuracy from~750,000 ft above the Earth's surface)). The images were captured, stored, and processed (using classified hardware and software). The (3D, color) images use spectral information gathered from telescopes (whose *focusing* mirrors are larger and 100x smoother than the Hubble) to "pain"color onto each point of a 3D LiDAR scan (these are point clouds with approx. 1 billion points per square foot). These (terabyte-sized) images are captured at 1/5,000 s intervals and motion deblurred during post-processing. They are not publicly available for obvious reasons.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Feb 26, 2013)

I already have Bing maps. Thanks for the 3 months of work, though!

0 upvotes
eaa
By eaa (Feb 25, 2013)

Yes, lots of stitch flaws, but I'm sure they will brush it up over time.
I.e. here a whole building just fades into the surrounding pavement. Also note the very "mini" black ford Ford Fiesta in the upper right corner of the crop :)

http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=-145.7905&view.vlookat=58.0096&view.fov=8.5133&imarkerath=-145.7905&imarkeratv=58.0096

1 upvote
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (Mar 1, 2013)

those producers were make the whole project to recieve some "woows!" and "likes" and "share" in Facebook,

but here, its just and ordinary panorama, even has failure :D

Its anway an amazing afford, well thought and well made project. As you wish, hopefully they will keep upgrading constantly

0 upvotes
nicolas guilbert
By nicolas guilbert (Feb 24, 2013)

3 days shooting, 3 month for stitching the images, and there is still some month work to be done to retouch the flaws. I don't really know what to say other than i would have chosen another more interesting location for that kind of shoot.

0 upvotes
Aleksandr Reznik
By Aleksandr Reznik (Feb 24, 2013)

I do gigapixels also. I don't see reasons (except participating in dull gigapixel rush:) to do it with more than 400mm + FF (Nikon D800e would be perfect). Adding more FL (especially with teleconverters) will only increase amount of blurred data and yes, it gives you more gigapixels - if you sole goal is to get those. You won't get more detail by increasing FL because air is not so clear in the modern cities and you have too shoot through kilometers of air.

All that works in this image: last ~10 zoom steps don't give you more details- you just zoom into the blur

0 upvotes
SiriusDoggy
By SiriusDoggy (Feb 24, 2013)

Oh Yes, They Are Boss!

http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=111.5710&view.vlookat=46.1996&view.fov=2.0308&imarkerath=111.5710&imarkeratv=46.1996

0 upvotes
btagalog
By btagalog (Feb 23, 2013)

it may seem that one guys saw the camera guys and posed for them...try to find him..he's wearing a white "the one show" shirt
clue: he's pretty close to the tower and a bunch of trees

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (Feb 23, 2013)

Excellent Work.

Please next time make its Nikon D800E version. We can´t see people´s nose holes in 7D much of resolution. :)

0 upvotes
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (Feb 23, 2013)

...there is a place in the foto, where the houses were zigzagging with trees, etc.

I think i find a point which shows its not a flawless pano :D

0 upvotes
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (Feb 23, 2013)

http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=-96.8630&view.vlookat=5.7598&view.fov=9.7011&imarkerath=-96.8630&imarkeratv=5.7598

2 upvotes
fberns
By fberns (Feb 24, 2013)

just wanted to post about it, but you were faster...
there had probably been a little earthquake near St. Pancras :)

1 upvote
rrr_hhh
By rrr_hhh (Feb 23, 2013)

Funny ! It brings to mind the story of the king who wanted a precise map of his kingdom.. Each time he was presented with a more detailed version of the map, he sent the geographers back to work for even more details. In the end, the finished map was covering the whole territory of the kingdom.
At 100 x 25 meters, they are heading in the same direction :-)

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
eddychan008
By eddychan008 (Feb 23, 2013)

I suppose a hazy day is a good choice. Sunny day may post huge even un-workable stitching problems ?

0 upvotes
bigfun
By bigfun (Feb 23, 2013)

Fresh eggs

someone is raising chickens ....the neighbors must be happy lol
now looking for Fresh Milk anyone ??

http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=90.1731&view.vlookat=32.5347&view.fov=0.9853&imarkerath=90.1731&imarkeratv=32.5347

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Ben O Connor
By Ben O Connor (Feb 23, 2013)

:))))
Yeah, home of last summer olympic games, where the europe´s finance capital....

A fresh touch of British countryside :D amazing catch.

0 upvotes
bobus
By bobus (Feb 23, 2013)

I hope they do it again in spring, summer and/or fall. Not winter.

1 upvote
abi170845
By abi170845 (Feb 22, 2013)

This is why I still love my 7D. Great photo but I prefer if it was shot during blue hour!

0 upvotes
rrr_hhh
By rrr_hhh (Feb 23, 2013)

With so many exposures, they won't be able to cover all the panorama : the light conditions won't last long enough !

0 upvotes
eaa
By eaa (Feb 22, 2013)

Really really impressive! I've been touring London for 2h now :)
Found two Buzbys so far... With such a gigantic stitch, I guess some flaws have to be reckoned with. What about a small earthquake for starters:

http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=-96.9681&view.vlookat=5.7381&view.fov=6.1855&imarkerath=-96.9681&imarkeratv=5.7381

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Jeff Peterman
By Jeff Peterman (Feb 22, 2013)

The should have chose a less hazy day. OK, not so easy in London, but they do happen.

0 upvotes
slr_SoFL
By slr_SoFL (Feb 22, 2013)

American Football!
http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=178.6500&view.vlookat=6.0978&view.fov=0.4210&imarkerath=178.6500&imarkeratv=6.0978

0 upvotes
SanMat
By SanMat (Feb 22, 2013)

Is this someone on their team? http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=171.9714&view.vlookat=40.6547&view.fov=0.9966&imarkerath=171.9714&imarkeratv=40.6547

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
jim stirling
By jim stirling (Feb 24, 2013)

The One Show on BBC was doing a clip of the making of and one of their guys moved about London to be seen in different location , find wally lol

0 upvotes
Mike Sandman
By Mike Sandman (Feb 22, 2013)

Fun, and impressive. The resolution is amazing. Where can I get my own 256GB 16-core computer?

0 upvotes
kelpdiver
By kelpdiver (Feb 22, 2013)

it's not too hard...but it will cost you a bit. A dell T5600 with two 8 core Xeons and 128 gigs will run you 8k USD today. Getting higher than 128/192g usually drives you into server land, however.

0 upvotes
eaa
By eaa (Feb 22, 2013)

I found Buzby! :-D
By pure serendipity, just randomly zooming in and out, scrolling about, and bang on - after just 20s looking...
Amazing pic btw! You can look at this for a really looong time!

0 upvotes
Leonard Cohade
By Leonard Cohade (Feb 22, 2013)

So boring picture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Only for Geek

0 upvotes
leno
By leno (Feb 23, 2013)

We are all geeks

0 upvotes
mandm
By mandm (Feb 23, 2013)

Leonard, did you join DPR yesterday just to say 'So boring picture!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Only for Geek'?

0 upvotes
Donglei
By Donglei (Feb 22, 2013)

The "balck hole" absorbs all the pixels of this "hard work" !

0 upvotes
Gully Foyle
By Gully Foyle (Feb 22, 2013)

...and it's hugely important because you can use this image to... errr...

0 upvotes
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (Feb 22, 2013)

i would not worry about stitching 'glitches' as they're hundreds of them all over (look at the London (Zoo?) Aviary, it's full of them)

and when one views a 'near object' where there is interesting background, one has to decide which to favor for 'focus' the near object or the far background? some stitches are 'mixed' of both. (like the metal tv antennas on tall buildings, some image shows it in focus, others show the background in focus, and the stitch is mixed/overlap/overlayered)

sdyue

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
stephp
By stephp (Feb 22, 2013)

Oups !
http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=-96.5275&view.vlookat=7.8229&view.fov=3.8361&imarkerath=-96.5275&imarkeratv=7.8229

3 upvotes
Guillaume Lalonde
By Guillaume Lalonde (Feb 22, 2013)

A small stitching glitch ?

http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=-14.0152&view.vlookat=22.8780&view.fov=1.2631&imarkerath=-14.0152&imarkeratv=22.8780

0 upvotes
Sdaniella
By Sdaniella (Feb 22, 2013)

wow, nice!

pity about the foggy/hazy horizon (no sunny blue sky day (not common in London I suppose...))

looks like ~13:30:15 UTC/GMT (1:30pm) in London on Big Ben when it's clock was captured!!! lol

sdyue

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
joel avery
By joel avery (Feb 22, 2013)

Those that have created large scale panoramas know how big an achievment this is. Kudos to the team. Imagine what imaging technology will be capable of a decade from now.

0 upvotes
ptaar
By ptaar (Feb 22, 2013)

I've always felt nervous about a big wheel with people hanging inside baked bean looking capsules from it right next to a river. I can see a catastrophic event happening in the future.

http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=90.2517&view.vlookat=2.8035&view.fov=3.6913&imarkerath=90.2517&imarkeratv=2.8035

0 upvotes
fillkay
By fillkay (Feb 22, 2013)

Whoops! seems to have been some sort of catastrophic earthquake in the region of Cartwright Gardens to the north west, behind the BMA building. Back to the computer, boys.

2 upvotes
StyleZ7
By StyleZ7 (Feb 22, 2013)

Nice resolution :)
Now you just have to spend some time looking into the windows of houses, and you'll definitely find something which owners of those houses wouldn’t like to show for the rest of the world ;)

2 upvotes
B E
By B E (Feb 22, 2013)

And after all that effort, they ruined it with super horrible HDR processing...

5 upvotes
MikeStern
By MikeStern (Feb 22, 2013)

Such a huge project with all thay effort but then made in Flash (at least my iphone5 did not show it)
Wished it was accessible by anyone with any device.
HTML5

0 upvotes
Simon97
By Simon97 (Feb 21, 2013)

I like the charm of the old brick buildings. Everything old around here is knocked down and replaced with bland modern ugly.

Oh, and I like the 400mm f/2.8 L !

0 upvotes
Gothmoth
By Gothmoth (Feb 21, 2013)

autopano.. what else...

the best tool for panos...

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Feb 21, 2013)

48,640 pictures, good way to use up your shutter in a few days.

1 upvote
JamesInCA
By JamesInCA (Feb 21, 2013)

I'm sure their fee will more than cover the cost of the cameras. And with four cameras, that's only ~12k each.

0 upvotes
LiSkynden
By LiSkynden (Feb 21, 2013)

Wow how close you can zoom with it ...

0 upvotes
Mr Gurf
By Mr Gurf (Feb 21, 2013)

I guess waiting for 3 consecutive sunny days was ruled out from the beginning... Typical London weather :)

1 upvote
Jonathan371
By Jonathan371 (Feb 21, 2013)

I find it odd that they spent all that time and energy and left a gaping hole in the center of the image.

3 upvotes
Mafoo
By Mafoo (Feb 21, 2013)

That "gaping hole" is the top of one building. Not to bad, considering the thousands of others you have to look at.

0 upvotes
Mr Gurf
By Mr Gurf (Feb 21, 2013)

What did you expect to see there? The photographers' frozen gentleman sausages?? :D

1 upvote
Jonathan371
By Jonathan371 (Feb 21, 2013)

a ridiculous amount of effort to catch a cold

2 upvotes
Mafoo
By Mafoo (Feb 21, 2013)

Not sure I want to know what's going on here:
http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=-7.9802&view.vlookat=49.1900&view.fov=0.8180&imarkerath=-7.9802&imarkeratv=49.1900

3 upvotes
Epizentrum
By Epizentrum (Feb 22, 2013)

He is sitting on his couch with a notebook on his lap, peeping into some neighbor's windows with Google Street View.

1 upvote
shademaster
By shademaster (Feb 22, 2013)

holy privacy concerns, batman.

0 upvotes
photofan1986
By photofan1986 (Feb 21, 2013)

I don't like the HDR-ish rendering.

2 upvotes
weavster
By weavster (Feb 21, 2013)

wowza - better than street view

0 upvotes
G7D
By G7D (Feb 21, 2013)

any insite into why they used 7Ds and teleconverters, why go up so high only to zoom in massively??

okay understanding the need to zoom for detail still confused how they got a wide angle at the same time multiple lenses?

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Gothmoth
By Gothmoth (Feb 21, 2013)

oh man....

6 upvotes
Scott Birch
By Scott Birch (Feb 22, 2013)

_Do_ tell us how _you_ would have done it G7D. I'd love to read your method ;)

0 upvotes
G7D
By G7D (Feb 23, 2013)

hey it's just a f*** question. This forum is becoming more and more full of unhelpful...'people' like yourself - read what i wrote again i was asking for some further information not criticising.
the level of likes is embarrassing stupidity and mob mentality.
@Gothmoth --> please explain how it achieved then ratehr than being a ****

0 upvotes
leno
By leno (Feb 23, 2013)

but you did it in such a negative fashion

0 upvotes
geckowraps
By geckowraps (Mar 5, 2013)

it is the good discussion about photography and specially about cameras. I am thinking about to purchase new camera.

0 upvotes
Imagefoundry
By Imagefoundry (Feb 21, 2013)

whoever reversed the mouse dragging direction on this panorama needs to seek medical attention. Help is out there, bud.

13 upvotes
JohnMatrix
By JohnMatrix (Feb 21, 2013)

agree, the reversed mouse dragging is very annoying.

1 upvote
JamesInCA
By JamesInCA (Feb 21, 2013)

Let's do it differently than everyone else! They're all doing it wrong!

1 upvote
Actrurus
By Actrurus (Feb 24, 2013)

It's not reversed, it's the original 'proper' QTVR way of scrolling panoramic images; Google do it the 'wrong' way on their street view ;-)

You can always use the cursor keys on your keyboard and zoom with Shift and CTRL if you prefer. Shame it's not HTML 5 though, why use Flash these days?

0 upvotes
dcdigitalphoto
By dcdigitalphoto (Feb 21, 2013)

Half a car!
http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=108.7207&view.vlookat=46.9770&view.fov=3.8609&imarkerath=108.7207&imarkeratv=46.9770

1 upvote
JamesInCA
By JamesInCA (Feb 21, 2013)

Clear evidence that the Fringe writers are not writing fiction....

1 upvote
Higuel
By Higuel (Feb 22, 2013)

And cut building! Clearly another case of quantity versus quality! Fast food style invades photography! -_-

0 upvotes
Vitruvius
By Vitruvius (Feb 21, 2013)

I found Waldo!!! hey?!, is that my wife with him?

4 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Feb 22, 2013)

That's the UK - it's his older brother Wally you need to look for.

0 upvotes
Mr Gurf
By Mr Gurf (Feb 21, 2013)

Yet as with any stitched photo, weird creatures surface... :)
http://btlondon2012.co.uk/pano.html?view.hlookat=-133.0898&view.vlookat=55.3682&view.fov=1.3229&imarkerath=-133.0898&imarkeratv=55.3682

Jokes aside, insanely astonishing job!

0 upvotes
Mike Wee
By Mike Wee (Feb 22, 2013)

Not weird. That is an eco-friendly, super-efficient, 2-wheeled car, suitable for people that only have 1 arm ... left.

0 upvotes
mike kobal
By mike kobal (Feb 21, 2013)

ahhhhhh...I can see noise ;)

congrats to the team, a truly amazing achievement.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Total comments: 77