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Old December 9th, 2004, 07:38 AM   #1
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Can someone explain the big deal about this?

Here's an article about a New York artist who has created a "gigapixel" camera. Basically, he's made a big film camera that uses 18" x 9" negatives. It does sound neat, but wouldn't any camera that used a large negative like that capture that much information?

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/09/ar...ign/09phot.htm

I'm sorry if this seems off topic, but he finishes in a digital format and comparisons are made to digital cameras, so I thought this might be of some interest to people in here, as resolution issues are always hot topic. Anyway, I just don't get this story at all, especially why this guy's contraption would of such interest to imaging scientists as is claimed. Don't fashion photographers already use cameras that accept enormous negatives like that? Maybe not quite that big, but the principal seems pretty well established.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 10:06 AM   #2
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As is so common, the NYT article takes a tack that mainly portrays Ross as an obsessed artist...which he no doubt is. But there's more to the story than that.

Ross' "R1" camera is, to be sure, a very unique, hybrid device far beyond anything used in commercial photography. (Most fashion photography today is done with medium format cameras. Some studio work is done with 8x10 format, but this camera is far beyond that realm.) Ross has basically started from scratch and addressed every detail of the imaging process in this camera, right down to developing a vacuum system that can hold the film flat against the back plane while imaging.

His artistic goal is to better replicate scenes with great detail. I have seen small crops of his results, such as that little red barn in the NYT image, and they're amazingly rich with detail and tonal information. In fact, they look nearly as good as a close shot you might take with a consumer digital camera. In fairness, though, you should note that he hires a small army of "assistants" to touch-up each image pixel-by-pixel.

Of course Ross' commercial goals are also embedded in the R1 project. I'm sure he sees sales of $100,000+ prints in his future (perhaps already in his "present").

You can see a bit more about Ross' project at his site.

If you're interested in a similar project see the Gigapixel Project site.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 10:19 AM   #3
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Thanks Ken. After checking out those links I'm starting to get the significance of this. I wonder if this will spark a new interest in very large format film cameras as film companies look to compete with digital, much in the way movie screens got wider with the advent of television. Who knows, maybe we'll see a renewed interest in 70mm projection. Imax already seems like its getting more attention than it ever used to. Once everyone has an HD TV, I just don't think people are going to be interested in movies projected at 2K or whatever theaters are doing it at now.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 10:42 AM   #4
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Interesting speculation, Marco. Maybe so. If nothing else these giga-pixel imaging projects certain set an unreachable milestone for native digital still photography.

It's interesting to note that the huge movie format image wars during the 1950's and early 1960's (ex: Cinerama, et.al.) were, at their cores, battles for theaters. Specifically, lens companies such as Bausch & Lomb and projector manufacturers were making big bets that they could sell large quantities of expensive specialized projection gear to theaters around the world if their format caught-on. Of course all of them fizzled, leaving us with various forms of anamorphic projection.

Sound familiar?
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