GigaPan Robot Makes Taking Better Panoramic Photos Easy - and Inexpensive


Some brands of digital cameras and most digital photo editors include software to create panoramic photos, but the results are often less than compelling. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have now created a better way to shoot panoramic photos: get a robot to control the camera.

The New York Times reports that the GigaPan device can be used with almost any standard digital camera and creates very detailed panoramas that are often more than 1GP (one billion pixels) in size. By overlapping hundreds to thousands of individual frames, extremely detailed pictures (visible at the GigaPan website ) can be created. Before taking a single frame, GigaPan also calculates how many shots to take and how to control the camera. An Adobe Flash-based control enables you to pan and zoom in and out of the picture to see every detail.

GigaPan differs from existing panoramic photo products (see a representative sample from B&H Photo Video here ) in several ways:

Image quality - by combining hundreds to thousands of images, GigaPan creates images with unsurpassed image quality, even with point-and-shoot cameras. By contrast, digital cameras with panoramic add-ons combine just a few images, or in the case of film cameras with panoramic lenses, image quality is limited to the resolution of the lens and film stock.

Cost - most cameras and add-on devices designed for panoramic photography cost thousands of dollars. GigaPan, which will be released as a commercial product later this year, is expected to sell for under $500.

Compatibility - GigaPan will work with virtually any digital camera. All you'll need is a tripod, your camera, a large capacity flash memory card, and GigaPan to create jaw-droppingly beautiful and detailed panoramic photos.

One possible disadvantage to GigaPan for hard-driving stop, shoot, go vacation travelers is this: GigaPan can take more than an hour to create its panoramic marvels. This one (Hawaii's Hanauma Bay ) took nearly two hours to create (and weighs in at over 5.5GP!).

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