Keith is online now
Join Date: May 2006
One thousand (yes 1,000) megapixel digicam!!!!
Engineers in the United States have built a prototype gigapixel camera the size of a bedside cabinet that can capture an image in a single snapshot with 1000 times more detail than today's devices.
It is not the world's first gigapixel camera, but it is the smallest and fastest and opens up prospects for improving airport security, military surveillance and even online sports coverage, its developers say.
A pixel is a small light point in a digital image, concentrations of which together form a picture.
Today's cameras capture images measured in megapixels - a million pixels - normally between eight and 40 for an average consumer device. A thousand megapixels make a gigapixel, which is thus comprised of a billion pixels.
Most of today's gigapixel images are made by digitally merging several megapixel pictures.
"Our camera records a one gigapixel image in less than a 10th of a second," says project member David Brady of Duke University. His team's report appear today in the journal Nature.
Gigapixel imaging captures details that are invisible to the human eye and can later be examined by zooming in without losing clarity.
No lightweight camera
Dubbed AWARE-2, the device is housed in a box of 75 x 50 x 50 centimetre - most of which comprises electronic processing and communication equipment.
The optical system consists of a six-centimetre ball-shaped lens surrounded by an array of 98 micro-cameras each with a 14-megapixel sensor.
Brady says the optical system on its own weighs about 10 kilograms, but with the case about 45 kilograms.
"The electronic system shrinks by a factor of four in the next generation, however."
In use today are highly specialised gigapixel astronomical telescopes and airborne surveillance systems, which are comparatively large and have a narrow field of view, says Brady of Duke University in North Carolina.
There are also some film-based gigapixel cameras.
"Our technology is most interesting as the first demonstration of high pixel count and wide field of view imaging at finite focal ranges," says Brady.
The cost of such a camera today would be similar to that of a high-resolution digital movie camera, he says - about $100,000 to $250,000.
But as the electronics improve, the price should become affordable for professional and serious amateur photographers within about five years, followed soon thereafter by hand-held gigapixel cameras entering into widespread use.
Brady says the technology could be used, for example, to stream sporting events over the Internet - enabling viewers to zoom in and watch the game from whatever perspective and resolution they choose.
Similarly, cameras mounted in game parks or at scenic lookouts would allow online tourists to examine a scene in much more detail than if they were actually there.
"Ubiquitous gigapixel cameras may transform the central challenge of photography from the question of where to point the camera to that of how to mine the data," according to the report.
I'm ordering mine next week! Does Gordy do a neck strap I wonder ... and where can I get a half case?
... currently all images from the DP2M