Photography group 360Cities seems determined to capture every major city in the world in as much detail as possible. Shortly after putting together a 360-degree panorama of London and breaking the record for world's largest photo in the process, the group's founder Jeffrey Martin set his sights on Tokyo for his next project. This latest panorama may not trump his old record, but at 180 gigapixels, it's still the second largest photo ever taken.
Back in September of 2012, Martin spent two days on the roof of the Tokyo Tower's lower observation deck to shoot the 10,000 individual images that would eventually form the completed panorama. Each photo was shot with a Canon 7D digital SLR fitted with a Canon 400-mm f5.6 L lens. The camera was mounted to a Clauss Rodeon VR Head ST robotic panorama rig, moved to three spots around the tower, and programmed to automatically capture the entire vantage point.
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Fujitsu Technology Solutions sponsored the project and provided the Celsius R920 workstation that pieced together the final panorama into an image that viewers can explore by panning and zooming in on the scenery. Even with 192 GB of RAM and a 12-core processor, the computer needed 12 weeks to process the image, plus some extra time to convert it into an interactive panorama for online viewing.
It may fall well short of breaking the record for the world's largest photo, which clocked in at a mammoth 320 gigapixels, but this is still the largest photo of Tokyo ever made. The full image measures 600,000 x 300,000 pixels, which would produce a photo stretching 100 m (328 ft) wide and 50 m (164 ft) tall if it were printed at a normal photographic resolution. From the camera's viewpoint of 20 stories high, it's possible to spot specific structures and landmarks up to 30 km (18 miles) away, including the city's tallest building, the Tokyo Skytree.
The level of detail seen in the panorama is remarkable. Zooming into some areas, you can easily make out an individual person's face, read license plates, and even peek inside some shop windows. There are a few stray glitches here and there (lighting that shifts unnaturally, buildings merged with plants, duplicated people and cars, etc.), but they don't detract from the stunning snapshot of the city laid out before you.
If you want to explore the city of Tokyo for yourself, head over to 360Cities website to view the full 360-degree panorama in your browser.
Source: 360Cities - Tokyo TowerView gallery - 26 images