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Seitz's 160 Megapixel Digital Camera 207

An anonymous reader writes "Digital cameras had been lagging behind Moores law for a while, but Seitz has taken a massive step forward with their announcement of a 160 Megapixel digital camera! At almost 20" long, with a price tag of around $36,000, and with on-board gigabit ethernet to copy off the image it's not exactly going to take on the consumer market, but how long before we see this resolution in a mobile phone?
Even with todays current range of digital cameras massive images are possible — such as the amazing 720 Megapixel image of Sydney Harbour"
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Seitz's 160 Megapixel Digital Camera

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  • FT submission (Score:5, Insightful)

    by giorgiofr ( 887762 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:38AM (#16185065)
    From the submission: but how long before we see this resolution in a mobile phone?

    Enough with stupid tag questions already! Would submitters and editors please stop with this insanity - we don't need to be *led* into a discussion, we're good enough already.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    megapixels without good non-fixed lens == pissing away bits.

    Makes for great marketing though. Let them megahur^H^H^Hpixels fly! See, the megahurtz race didn't come back to bite the industry too hard, so no reason to learn.

    • by DrDitto ( 962751 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:51AM (#16185277)
      Diffraction ultimately limits the useful megapixels in digital photography. You cannot replace film/sensor area, and the economics of building large sensors will make them extremely expensive in the forseeable future.

      I use a 4x5" large-format film camera. With 20 in^2 of film area and a flatbed scanner capable of 2400dpi, I get 115 megapixels. A drum scan at 4000dpi gives me 320 megapixels if I wanted. And because the sensor is huge, diffraction doesn't hurt me unless I stop down my lens to f45 or f64.

      Now many say you can get this quality through stitching dozens of digital captures together....if that is your sort of thing.
      • by SnowDog74 ( 745848 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:54AM (#16186261)
        Negative Refractive Index []... specifically read the last paragraphs about superlenses and breaking the diffraction limit.

        We're not talking science fiction. The concept has been tested in practical application and yielded orders of clarity beyond the diffraction limits of the wavelengths of light being captured.

      • by x0 ( 32926 )
        Scanning... too much work. Try one of these: []

        Yes, not the least expensive device, and it requires infrastructure, but for $10K you get 36mp @ 48-bit, 12-stops of DR.

        • by DrDitto ( 962751 )
          Why would I want to take a $10,000 digital sensor on a hike through mountains. My field camera is made out of teak wood and can handle the environment perils that would doom a BetterLight. I've seen the BetterLight products in person....very nice for studio applications, but no way for field work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OverlordQ ( 264228 )
      Where'd the camera phone come from? Did you even RTFA? I dont know about you but this doesn't look like a camera phone to me []
      • I dont know about you but this doesn't look like a camera phone to me

        I don't looks like it could be a new N-Gage. I mean, in that picture, it kinda does look like he's Sidetalkin []
    • I'm curious to know exactly how the megahertz race "came back to bite the industry".

      It was just a necessary stage in the development of the CPU. Now that avenue has been exhausted, they've moved on to multi-cores. How have they been bitten? What should they have learnt?

      What is it about the lens on this camera that makes you think it isnt good enough to back up the CCD? oh wait i just read your subject - you think they've made a $36,000 camera phone! hahahahahaha

      • by vadim_t ( 324782 )
        I'm far from an expert in the area, but my understanding (from things I've heard, etc) is that improvement of MHz was done at the cost of efficiency in other areas. So eventually they bumped into a wall, and ended up with a chip that gets really hot and sucks lots of power.

        Another problem is that lots of that research was about clock speed specifically, so they've got lots of techniques and data lying around focused on it that can't be taken further. Also it seems that engineers made their careers based on
  • Not even 1Gp. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Ahem. Gigapxl Project [].
  • by neuro.slug ( 628600 ) <> on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:41AM (#16185139)
    The sysadmins that host the 720 megapixel image of Sydney are probably not going to be sending you thank-you cards, I'm guessing.
  • by failure-man ( 870605 ) <> on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:42AM (#16185147)
    That's it. Link a 720 megapixel image, on the front page of Slashdot, from an Aussie server, just as North America is getting into the office and commencing "working." ;)
  • Maybe they need to replace the camera on Hubble Space Telescope with one of these cameras? Seems like only the government can afford one of these things, and can blame the manufacturer if the technician drops the camera when taking it out of the box.
  • by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:46AM (#16185209) Homepage
    to say: wow. I think my jaw just dropped.
  • by denisbergeron ( 197036 ) <> on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:46AM (#16185213)
    It's a lens with a scanner !
    Fast scanner, big resolution scanner!
    But a lens with a scanner !
    • It's a lens with a scanner !
      Fast scanner, big resolution scanner!
      But a lens with a scanner !
      So an old-fashioned TV camera isn't a camera either? Because that too is a lens with a scanner.
    • by dmatos ( 232892 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:58AM (#16185393)
      denisbergeron is correct. If you look at the specs, it says the sensor is a "TDI" sensor. This sensor scans across the focal plane of the camera. It is 7500 pixels tall, with 2500 each R, G and B pixels. The full pixel colour is interpolated for each pixel.

      I think it's neat that they use the same "digital back" module on a 360 degree panoramic camera. The camera rotates at a constant rate, and the sensor can then capture the 360 degree image.

      The only thing to watch out for with the 160MPix camera is the rolling shutter. One side of the image will be captured almost immediately, but the other side will be captured 1 second later (at max speed, max resolution). With moving subjects, this can lead to lots of strange image artefacts - squishing or stretching, multiple images, etc. Their website has a couple of images where this effect has been used artistically, but a tripod would be absolutely required to take a decent image of a still subject.
      • It's not even new (Score:3, Informative)

        by grahamsz ( 150076 )
        These guys: []

        Have been making high resolution scanning backs for large format cameras for years now.
  • 160MP in a pinhole camera. That'll be sure to produce some great results...
    • by Fred_A ( 10934 )
      Ah, but you could always say that it's art :

      Random onlooker : WTF is that blurry mess ?
      You : Art.
      Random onlooker : Ah. Nice.
      • Not just any blurry art, but super high-resolution blurry art!
        • by Firehed ( 942385 )
          Sounds about as useful as the hard drive space going to the lecture I'm recording now so I can type this comment instead of actually pay attention.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:48AM (#16185235) Journal
    What is the big point in churning up the pixel count, if the dynamic range is the same old 1.0e03? Human retina has a dynamic range 1.0e06, three orders of magnitude better. And it has about 2.7 million rod cells and cone cells. One can create amazing speakers with absolutely perfect sound fidelity at 150 KHz, but human ear cant hear it. There could be some applications not involving human hearing/cdplayers/boom boxes. But at that point it is not really a "speaker". Same way at 160e06 pixels or 720e06 pixels it is not a "digital camera". It is some exotic machine with really pathetic dynamic range and huge number of pixels.
    • Well if you would of read TFA:

      Dynamic range 1 : 2,600 (11 f-stops)
    • If you would like to improve the dynamic range, I would suggest applying oversampling post-shooting. You want 10^6 levels? Great. Let's approximate that as 2^20. Now, take the existing 2^8. Every doubling of pixels you combine into (averaging them) one adds one bit to each colour plane. Take the 160Mpx and decimate it to 39kpx, and you will have your dynamic range

      Perhaps being more realistic with this unrealistic hardware, you could decimate the picture down to about 4Mpx, giving you a dynamic rang

      • Really? You mean it is possible to take an 8MP image and squeeze it down to 2MP and get 4 times better dynamic range? How? Let us take a saturated pixel in the CCD. And its saturated neighbour. One might have been twice over the saturation threshold and the other four times over. They both register saturation thresholds. By combining these two pixels, how can we get more detail in the washed out portions of the image?

        So you throttle down your aperture to make sure the highest intensity recorded is just t

    • by sidb ( 530400 )
      Most of your eye's resolution is in the center, but you tend to look around to see an entire scene. An image displayed large enough that you can't take it all in at a glance needs more resolution than your eye can see when it's only in one spot.
    • Did you look at the surf shot [] on the homepage? Either that picture is fake, or the camera has insane dynamic range. A normal camera could never capture both the clouds and the foreground and correctly expose both. I think it must be a composite shot. (I'm also skeptical that they could get so many surfers so close together, with two in the air at the same time, but that's another matter...)
  • I find it interesting that Linux is mentionned as a control platform from the start. I doubt that many professional photographers actually use it since the tools aren't quite up to par with the commercial stuff for a number of uses (no "but Gimp can do it too whining please"). Were there that many requests for Linux support ? Or are the makers just Unix hackers ?

    Even the portable control device is apparently by default a Sharp Zaurus.
    • I find it interesting that Linux is mentionned as a control platform from the start. I doubt that many professional photographers actually use it since the tools aren't quite up to par with the commercial stuff for a number of uses (no "but Gimp can do it too whining please").

      You know, I'm tired of seeing people who say stuff like this. For the vast majority of uses, Linux + GIMP + gThumb and/or Picasa is just fine for professional photographers. Yes, there are a few things that GIMP doesn't do or doesn't

  • 20" long eh? That's almost big enough to *SANTIZED BY FCC* in one shot!

  • Lets do some back of the envelope math here, shall we? While it will depend heavily on how well the scene compresses, my digital camera averages about 400kb for a 2 megapixel shot at "pretty decent for mailing home quality" JPG. So that Aussie harbor is probably weighing in at above 300 MBs, and its a static file. This sounds like a job for bittorrent, not for "Hey, I've got a bright idea, lets Slashdot their webpage as the morning rush comes in".
  • by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:51AM (#16185283) Homepage
    The reason people use DSLRs is because even at todays 6-8 Megapixels the lens is the weak element.
    Add all the pixels you want, without a bigger and better lens it doesn't matter.

    Sure we can improve on the dynamic range and noise of the sensor, but the megapixel days are over.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Quality glass is important, but you left out some other important aspects:
      The sensor size, bigger is better but also more expensive
      The heat dissipation of the sensor, so you don't get insane noise/deformation on long poses (astrophotography for example)

      I'm still shooting film (Leica SL and Rollei SL66) most of the time, as until very recently it was hard to beat those cameras with decently priced DSLRs. On paper, 10Mpx DSLR isn't as good as professionally drum-scanned 6x6 negatives. However the gap isn't as
    • by jilles ( 20976 )
      The problem with lens technology is that there don't seem to be that much major breakthroughs anymore. Sensor technology on the other hand continues to improve rapidly. So, the main point of a next gen SLR will be the sensor, not the lens. You are probably right that increases in the number of pixels will not be the most relevant sensor improvements though. Being able to shoot with ISO 3200 or even more sensitive values without much noise will be features to look forward to. Right now pushing most cameras b
    • That isn't true. The main reason people use DSLR's is for the larger, more sensitive sensors. P&S cameras will often have lenses *better* than DSLR's - for instance, Panasonic's FZ50, or Canon's S2, have lenses that yield demonstratably better results than any kit lens, or ultrazoom, and with superior f-stop coverage. Entry-level DSLR's will still manage to wipe the floor with these cameras, simply because the noise is so high.

      The digital camera's lens could be the most expensive, impractical lens o

    • by SEMW ( 967629 )
      RTFA -- it takes Schneider and Rodenstock large format lenses []
  • he's in the second tall building from the left, 12th floor, 6th window. he's the one screwing his secretary.
  • by mr_stinky_britches ( 926212 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:57AM (#16185367) Homepage Journal
    I highly recommend giving Dans "Enough already with the megapixels []" article a read. He explains the situation more clearly than I ever could.
    • by kisrael ( 134664 )
      Ain't that the truth! 6 megapixel compact cameras have pixels that are really noisy in all but the brightest light levels, and I'm not even that much of an image quality wonk.
    • My dream is to have a fisheye-lens and a wicked amount of detail. That way I can take a picture without knowing exactly what I'm photographing. When I get home I can find many interesting high resolution photos of stuff I didn't even see when I was there.

      That would open up for a completely different kind of photography. Put this in a mobile phone, and take one of those boring pictures of your friend looking very uninteresting on the bus, but now in the same picture you may find an interesting scene happenin
      • To follow this to its conclusion, if this was a 256bit floating-point HDR with that magic post focus things someone presented at siggraph a while ago, you would capture an image and do as you like with it after.
  • The article is quite skimpy on the technology. By the size of the camera I am guessing all they have done is to split the image optically into some 16 or 20 pieces and are using some 18 or 21 CCD image sensors to capture the image. They read these chips in parallel and load it into an internal buffer. The dynamic range if each CCD sensor is exactly same as what you could get in 5 Megapixel camera.
    • by phasm42 ( 588479 )
      It acts like a scanner. At 1/20000s exposure, scanning takes 1 second. I would guess it scales, so that at 1/60s exposure, it may take roughly 5.5 minutes.
  • Anyone notice that the data storage device itself is a mac mini in a bag?
  • With other technological advances there are reasons for the extra speed, larger storage capacity, etc. Photography however suffers from other limitations that make anything above 8-16Mpixels virtually useless.

    At best computer monitors have a resolution of 1600x1200, so without significantly zooming out, you can never display the entire picture on the screen. Printing is the only area where more Mpixels are needed, but even there, at 8.5x11 8-16 Mpixel images are crisp enough. There ARE areas where extremely
    • I hate to bring this up (I really feel that this "joke" has outlived it's usefulness but...):

      No one will ever need more that 640k.

      I'm sure many people "in the know" agreed with Mr. Gates when he said this. As much as we like to beat poor Bill up over this statement the truth is that I'm sure people are nodding their heads in agreement with you but, unless you have some serious insight into this issue, I can't say I agree with the whole "there is no use for it" crowd. I'd guess if you'd have that much insi
      • by Surt ( 22457 )
        Of course bill doesn't mind being beat up over it, as it's an urban legend. []

        " *
        o Often attributed to Gates in 1981. Gates has repeatedly denied ever saying this:

        I've said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time... I keep bumping
    • by dmatos ( 232892 )
      Yes, the areas where more than 8MPix are not consumer level. However, at 30,000 euros, this camera is also _not_ consumer level. The people that are buying these cameras are the same people that will be making enormous billboards and posters. There is a market for these cameras, it's just not the general public.
    • At best computer monitors have a resolution of 1600x1200, so without significantly zooming out, you can never display the entire picture on the screen. Printing is the only area where more Mpixels are needed, but even there, at 8.5x11 8-16 Mpixel images are crisp enough.

      8.5x11 is hardly the largest size print people might want to make, though.

      There ARE areas where extremely high resolutions are needed, but they're definitely not consumer level.

      Sure, but one could argue that they only are not at the

    • by DrDitto ( 962751 )
      A high-quality print is at least 300dpi. To make an 11x14" print at 300dpi requires 11*300*14*300 == 13.86 megapixels. Otherwise you are relying on interpolation to create pixels out of nothing-- works great for some things (portraits), but not so great for others (landscapes).
    • "At best computer monitors have a resolution of 1600x1200"...

      Ahh you forget my 23" Apple Cinema HD display adds some pixels on the vertical for total of 1920x1200
      And if it weren't for the fact that I require multiple monitors, I would have gone for a 30" HD Cinema Display
      which displays 2560x1600 pixels. A bit better than your quoted best resolution...
      But you're probably on a Windows or Linux box and don't consider the offerings for Mac much. But we are here :)

    • by SEMW ( 967629 )
      I entirely agree that in a point&shoot more than 3-5MP is virtually useless, ditto more than 8-16 in an SLR, but the target market for this camera isn't point&shoot photographers, or even SLR photographers. Or even medium format photographers. It's aimed at large format photographers, as evidenced by it's use of Schneider and Rodenstock large format lenses. And trust me, if you're a large format photographer with a good large format lens, more than 8-16MP (or 35mm of film area) is not "virtually
  • The camera is fairly specialized - it's a panoramic camera for commercial photographers. 160MP makes sense if you're going to do very large mural size prints. Think, giant travel scenery or product posters at trade shows or other commercial venues.
  • by queenb**ch ( 446380 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:07AM (#16185527) Homepage Journal

    I think that I will *not* be taking pictures of my coworkers with this. I don't want to see anyone I know in that kind of detail. My most of my co-workers look like this [] anyway. Why would I want a closer-in shot to see the pores, etc.

    2 cents,


  • [..]but how long before we see this resolution in a mobile phone?

    I do realize that the future will bring us things that we simply cannot understand the use of today, such as computers exceeding today's super computers. But I doubt that just because the tech is going to be there, that we will see 160 MP consumer cams. Eventually, people will stop hearing megapixel and instead listen to other intuitive features. Maybe built-in software with 3D depth readability and such?

    Scanners are about the same. Back
  • "Even with todays current range of digital cameras massive images are possible -- such as the amazing 720 Megapixel image of Sydney Harbour"

    To be fair ~ That image was made with 169 images from a Canon EOS 10D [] that has 6.3 Megapixels and then the multiple images were stitched together [] using AutPan Pro [].
  • Nice but... (Score:4, Funny)

    by jonr ( 1130 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:11AM (#16185585) Homepage Journal
    Was the Goatse man inspiration for this design?
    I would love to own one, though.
  • "how long before we see this resolution in a mobile phone?"

  • Granted it is difficult to get great pictures using a small fixed lens (ie cameraphones), and additionally just increasing pixel count doesn't directly increase image quailty, so I would think that part of the reason that we are holding at roughly VGA resolution cameraphones has something to do with storage requirements. *Most* camera phones are now the standard/base model phones. They don't spend the extra money on hardware for external storage, and also most of their users don't want to spend the additi
  • Insert comment here about how this technology could be used to render highly detailed and accurate images of the undraped human form.
  • It doesn't matter if you have a bijillion megapixels in your cell phone camera. Tiny crappy lense = crappy pictures.
  • Thank guys. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Devar ( 312672 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:50AM (#16186209) Homepage Journal
    You just slashdotted my country.
  • I read an article a few years back rating film resolution. They used "Pro" 35mm cameras with the best available lenses at the time, a good tripod, and test-pattern images. The best films rated in at a bit over 100 line-pairs per millimeter. That's 100 black lines with 100 equally-sized white lines between them, or 200 dots per millimeter. When you digitize, you play it safe and double that number to 400 dots/mm.

    400 dots/mm on 24mm X 36mm film is 9600x14400 dots, or 138.24 megapixels.

    When we can squeeze
  • I guess if you're printing the photos billboard-sized, and stand 3 feet away to view them, you need this resolution. Otherwise it just eats up disk space. I'm a pro with 8 megapixel Canon 1D2N and 20D's, and with a top-end lens, 13x19 inch prints look fantastic. Heck, a billboard from my camera would look OK - if your viewing distance is a couple hundred feet.
  • Hmm. What a dilemma. I care about the environment, but should I risk using rechargeable batteries in this thing?
  • . . . making a digital camera that doesn't have a smear or blur issue during low light situations. Or one that will allow the user to take more pictures in quicker succession. I can get about 2 a second, which is okay, but lets advance some of the other features before we make more megapixels. What will that do for me anyways unless I want to make a Citizen Kane sized print of myself.
  • When I want to do a proper landscape, I put my DSLR in the bag and pull out the $200 Graflex Crown Graphic from 1947. The 4x5 transparency film will be scanned at 2400 dpi on my $300 Epson 4990 flatbed scanner to give me just about 100 megapixels... Largely enough to get my 2GB desktop computer to it's knees when opened in photoshop :-)

    Now, thats a deal.. Scanning medium and large format transparency gives fantastic images when scanned; you can the advantages of film (tones, size, and free 70 years backup o
  • Maybe we can use the 160 megapixel camera to take pictures of the servers hosting the Sidney image exploding, just like the Cox laptop.
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @12:42PM (#16186883)
    how long before we see this resolution in a mobile phone?

    Never. The basic limit of resolution you can get is set by the Rayleigh criterion:

    sin theta = 1.22 * wavelength / lens diameter

    where theta is the angular diameter of the smallest detail that can be resolved.

    Using a 5*10^-7 m (green light, more or less in the middle of the visible spectrum) and a 0.01 m diameter lens (which is generous for a mobile phone), this gives us a 3.5*10^-3 degree angle as the minimum amount of viewfield that can be covered by one pixel. Thus, a picture with a 20 degree viewfield* would be, at most, 5700 pixels in each dimension, or 32.5 megapixels.

    *Of course, a viewfield could be wider, but getting a wider-angle picture without distortion raises a whole other batch of problems if you have to do it in such a small package.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The basic limit of resolution you can get is set by the Rayleigh criterion:

      There's nothing 'basic' about this completely empirical law. What we see with a camera is, roughly, a convolution of a 'perfect' image with the Airy disc. If you convolve an image that consists solely of two points then when the angular separation of the points is less than roughly the angle set by Rayleigh's criterion you end up with a function with a single central peak rather than two distinct peaks. So naively you end up with

  • The tag says that there will never be a 160 megapixel camera phone but I say "never say never". I mean look how dumb Bill Gates looks now with his "You'll never need more memory then this" quote.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.