The Largest Panorama in the World?

After a few weeks of hard work, we can finally present what we think is the world’s largest spherical panorama.

This image was shot on October 3, 2009. It is made from hundreds of individual photographs and stitched together into a single seamless panoramic image.

We have put the entire image, in full resolution, online for everyone to see. It’s possible to zoom in to an incredible level of detail.

prague 18 gigapixels - zoomed out

We are so excited to show you this huge panorama that we’re putting our skin in the game:

You can win $1000 if you can find all the clues in our Treasure hunt!

prague 18 gigapixels - zoomed in

Here is a short screencast of the panorama in action showing an example of how far you can zoom in.

Win the Treasure Hunt!

Just to show you how much fun there is exploring this enormous image, we thought it would be fun to make a treasure hunt. Well, we didn’t exactly hide anything ourselves — we’ve found a few things in the photo that we’d like everyone else to try and find. In this holiday season we are in the giving mood… So, we’ll give $1000 to the first person who can find all the clues. We’ll announce them in a few days. You can learn more about the contest here.

About this panorama

Here is the Press Release.

If you want to learn the technical details, read more here.

Here are some answers to questions you probably have about this image (if your question isn’t answered, leave a comment!).

How big would this panorama be if printed?

At that same level of detail as normal printed photos, this photo could be printed 16 meters long and 8 meters tall (53 x 26.5 feet). But remember, this is a SPHERICAL image – it is also possible to show a printed version of this image in a cylindrical or cubic shape. You could stand the same print in a circle, and it would be 5 meters (15 feet) across. If you printed it in a cubic shape, it would be 4 meters (12 feet) on each side!

Will this photo be printed?

Yes, this photo will be printed and displayed in Prague in early 2010.

How did you make this gigapixel photo anyway?

It was made using a digital SLR and a 200mm lens. The camera was fixed on a robotic device which turned the camera in precise increments, covering the entire sphere. These photos were then joined together on a computer. You can read about the whole process in great detail over here.

Is this the largest photo in the World?

It is the largest photo of its kind currently in existence (as of 12/2009). We don’t know about any spherical panoramic photo that is larger than this. The previous record for a gigapixel-sized image (not a spherical panorama) was 13 gigapixels.

How big is it, really?

Here’s one rough comparison: if you stood where this photo was taken and you hold out your hand, focusing on your little fingernail, This image would show your little fingernail’s amount of detail on the size of a piece of letter-size paper. You can zoom in and see stones and cigarette butts on the ground, you can read the numbers and signs on houses. (Yes, you can see inside some windows.)

This isn’t the biggest photo in the world. I don’t believe you.

We believe this is the largest spherical panoramic photo currently in existence. There are other types of image that have been made by humans which are bigger – aerial/satellite images or mosaics made by telescopes or microscopes. This photo is a “photograph” of the land, made from the land (not from an airplane).

Are there privacy issues with this photo?

This questions seems somehow obligatory – so here is my answer: At the same moment this panorama was made, there are probably a hundred, maybe a thousand, other people wandering the streets of Prague, all shooting photos themselves – photos of people, of houses, of everything. It’s a beautiful city, after all. . . making images of the world around you is a natural human instinct – all the way back to cave paintings. Prague probably has more than its share of people pointing their camera at anything and everything.

What is most interesting is why the question of privacy comes up: what this image does is remind people of the fact that in a city, even when you think no one is watching, someone might be. That’s what cities are. The real issue is not images like this but rather the permanently mounted cameras on more and more street corners of the world’s cities – administered by unknown people, the data stored in an unknown place. Those are the cameras and “photographers” that are worth worrying about.

So… if you are concerned about privacy, please, go fight the security cameras, then come back and enjoy this beautiful photo. 🙂

Can you see people?

You can see people living their lives, all in different parts of the city. Only a few people are actually recognizable, maybe you’ll need to find one of them in the Treasure Hunt?

Did you capture this entire image all at the same instant?

No, this image was made by a single camera, taking one photo at a time, moving very slowly millimeter by millimeter. It took a few hours to shoot the whole thing! So, you might see one part of the city, and then look in the opposite direction to an image that was made a few minutes or hours later.

If this is not the absolute largest image ever made by humans, what is?

Aerial maps, such as the ones used in Google Earth, could be considered a “single image” – the size of the entire planet, in satellite and aerial images, all fit together, is orders of magnitude larger than this image. There are also images made of distant galaxies, which might be much larger than this one. And, microscopic images, of cellular or smaller stuff, can be created in larger sizes. But all of these things (aerial, telescopic, microscopic) are quite different from images of land, made from the land.

Is this a 3d image?

No, it’s a spherical image, which means you can look around in every direction. 3d images are different – you need special glasses to see that stuff (there are also images that are both Spherical AND 3d – we have some on 360 Cities if you’re interested – got your red/blue glasses handy?)

Do you have a Guinness World Record for this image?

The process for applying for a Guinness world record, from what I could see in my 30 minutes’ investigation of the process, is expensive and without any guarantee that your request will be even considered. The idea of having a certificate for holding a guinness world record certainly has a great deal of boyhood appeal – why not use that money for some fun instead?

How long will this record be held by this image?

Probably not long. There are lots of talented photographers out there, and someone else will come and break the record. Whoever does break the record, we’ll be sure to mention them here.

If you have more questions, please leave a comment here and we’ll answer them in a later blog post.

Happy hunting. We look forward to picking the winner.

20 thoughts on “The Largest Panorama in the World?

  1. wow, i cannot imagine the amount of work… tedious huh?? how about doing one for every major and capical cities of the world?!? make them your trademark!! sell them as postcards!! and… well, we’d better let the team rest for a while now… ;p a job well done i must add!! cheers…


  2. This panorama is very cool. You could spend hours looking at this thing and only really see a fraction of it. I know PTGui sometimes tells me I need as much as 25 GB of free hard drive space to stitch much smaller projects than this. How much temporary space did you need to stitch this thing?


  3. Amazing shot! 18 gigapixels is just amazing!I think The 1618 defenestration was at Prague Castle. In the panorama, aim for between 9 and 10 o’clock on the indicator in the upper left. Zoom in and not far below the horizon you’ll see Prague Castle. Follow the left edge of the cathedral there down and you’ll see this ivy-covered wall where the defenestration occurred.Very impressive!


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