Last Updated: October 12, 2015 0 – New way to view, share and explore.

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The Gigapan web site is named based on a play with words. Deriving “pan” from panoramic, and using the word giga to describe very large, the concept behind Gigapan is to provide a hosting services platform for those people who wish to publish panoramic images on the Internet. In normal, common computing terms, a giga byte is one billion bytes of storage or memory. Most farmers would understand that a giga liter is one billion liters of water for irrigation. The concept behind Gigapan’s panoramic hosting is the giga pixel panoramas that people upload, namely digital images comprised at least one billion pixels. Because they are massive panoramas and that they have fascinating detail when you drill down to look deeper into them, all captured in the context of a single brilliant photo, Gigapan provides zoom functionality on their web site.

When most people look at a normal imagine, they use their minds to consider the smaller details. Only very occasionally would anyone choose to zoom in on a normal picture to study a particular detail about it. By with the phenomenally large panoramic images that digital cameras are capable of today, all remarkably with a crisp clarity and rich with vivid color, it is in fact very normal to want to drill down into the images the extract over whatever time it takes every bit of wonder from the image. People choose to zoom in. They want to discover the detail hidden in the greater panorama. And Gigapan has already accumulated more than fifty thousand panoramas. From all around the world, users are vesting themselves in the new art form of high quality digital panoramic photography, and Gigapan is dedicated to providing the free hosting service to support them.

Gigapan is all About a New Dimension in Photography

Now that we have Gigapan’s web hosting solution available, perfectly targeted to support the panoramic photographer’s needs, this has opened the door to more advanced camera hardware solutions best able to take panoramic photographs. With the right camera hardware, and a quality digital camera, all experienced photographers and the novice can access the low cost technology needed to create the highest resolution panoramic images possible. Easier than ever before, and with very low entry costs for the camera and hardware mounting equipment, the resultant high quality GigaPan images most people are capable of achieving has opened up a new niche for budding artists. This is because it all offers the audience viewers a new, never seen before and unique perspective on the world.

The concept is both simple and complex. It really comes down to a digital camera being mounted in a stable way such than it can pan in the exact same horizontal plane so that it can take a series of overlapping photographs. And so the camera mounting system is important. Better still is to add a precision robotic system that will pan the camera in that horizontal plane at exact stops of overlap, so that it is easier to join the images later in a more seamless manner. And Epic is one such solution for robotic camera mounting systems designed for panoramic photography. Then it comes down to the software that joins the potentially thousands of overlapping images together so that it appears only one image was taken.

We have all seen the fish eye lens photographs, and they cannot compare because of their high degree of distortion of what is being photographed; fine if you are seeking that effect. It is the nature of camera lens technology that the outer parts of an image are not the same pixel density or proportions as the center and primary point of focus. Thus in order to maintain a consistently high resolution throughout the breath of a panoramic image, it must be comprised of a large number of high resolution, over lapping images; potentially thousands of such images. And this is where the Gigapan Stich software solution comes into its own; so that at any point of the panorama, the viewer is looking at a high resolution part of one of the images that make up the whole. Gigapan Stich literally stiches the high volume of images together to appear as if they are one photograph.

In this sense Gigapan offers perhaps the first technologically sound solution for the shooting of these images, and for the viewing and exploration of them with zoom functionality later. To now have high resolution panoramic images available in a single system

Gigapan Brings Mars Rover Camera Technology to the Masses

The Gigapan project is actually a spin off from a team of people researching the technology at Carnegie Mellon University and Americas space agency, NASA. Formed in 2008, Gigapan is the result of successful research collaboration between teams of researchers at both NASA and Carnegie Mellon University. The corporate mission was simple; to bring powerful, high resolution imaging to a broad audience.

With support from Google, Gigapan provides the entire back end infrastructure necessary to store online these large giga pixel images through an easy to navigate web site interface. It means that users can for free of charge create their own account and upload their artists efforts to significant storage quotas for others to view, zoom in on and generally browse to their heart’s content.

Visitors to even just the home page will be delighted to see the perfect example of what is possible using the technology. With a panoramic view of Mount St Helens, on the left is an intuitively easy to navigate zoom and full screen toolbar. By dragging and dropping that part of the image a user wishes to interrogate further by zooming in on it, much the same way Google maps operates too, it is easy to become glued to just one image. By using your natural curiosity to seek further interesting parts of the panorama out, it becomes a captivating piece of art that simply must be enjoyed. Simple photography will never be able to deliver this artistic quality.