The Gigapixel Camera

By on December 9, 2004

Ok, so it is basically a large-format film camera, the image only gets to gigapixel size after the film is developed and scanned, and the thing will probably never see mass production, but Clifford Ross’ R1 camera is getting plenty of attention in spite of it’s decidedly low-tech construction. And it’s worth noting that the people who are sitting up to take notice of this camera are scientists from NASA and spooks from the CIA.

The camera uses a 9 x 12 inch piece of high-definition film — ordinarily used for high-altitude reconnoissance photography — which yields a 2.6GB image file. The file has to be color corrected in Photoshop to clean up color abberations that are characteristic to the film (can you imagine how long it takes to apply a change in a file that big?)

The end result is an image that has about a thousand times more detail than a standard digital photo, which NASA engineers think may be able to help them see problems with the Shuttle’s heat shielding without the need for the astronauts to do a manual inspection. And who knows what kind of duties the CIA and military types might cook up for it.

from a Cnet article.