300-Megapixel Photographs Shot With Single Presses of the Shutter


Remember that 50-gigapixel camera being developed by Duke University scientists? Since we reported on the project last year, researchers have created a spin-off company called Aqueti for bringing the technology “into the world for everyone to experience.” The camera they’ve developed will soon be making public tours, and we’re starting to get a peek at what it’s capable of.

Team member (and PetaPixel reader) Scott McCain tells us that they used their prototype Aware2 camera this past weekend to take a picture during Edenton, North Carolina’s 300-year anniversary celebration. With a single exposure, they captured this 300-megapixel photograph of North Carolina’s governor:

The photo is embedded as an interactive, zoomable image, so feel free to dive into it to enjoy the camera’s crazy resolution. (You’ll notice that the team also embedded a couple of other shots they snapped over the course of the day.)

Unlike traditional gigapixel cameras, which use panning robotic camera heads to capture hundreds or thousands of photos, the Aware2 camera captures all of its images in a single snap. This makes it possible to capture gigapixel photographs of single moments containing movement — scenes that are difficult (or impossible) to capture using traditional gigapixel technologies.

Here are a couple more uber-high-res photos captured using the Aware2 prototype:

The secret behind the Aware2 is that it uses 160 individual microcameras that each have a 14-megapixel sensor. Thus, each snap captures 2.24 gigapixels of raw photographs. These images are then stitched together into a smaller ~1 gigapixel photo measuring 55,000×18,000 pixels. (The prototype photos seen above are smaller than this.)

These gigapixel photos have a panoramic field of view that’s similar to the human eye, yet you can zoom into them with the power of a large telephoto lens. The team is still working on improving the exposure and focus abilities of the camera, but claim that the current quality is roughly comparable to consumer DSLRs.

A 100% crop from the Aware2 camera (left) and a 100% crop from a Nikon D60 (right)

A 100% crop from the Aware2 camera (left) and a 100% crop from a Nikon D60 (right)

Here’s a prototype camera that the team recently showed off at a local farmers market. A new iteration of the camera this summer will be 1/3 of the size of this one:


Aqueti is planning to take the camera on a tour of North Carolina this summer and is currently raising funds through Kickstarter to make it happen. Next year the company is planning to drive the costs down to make the camera available to a wider audience.

The price point of the camera right now is quite high — McCain compares it to a TV broadcast camera — so it’ll likely be something that’s rented out for special purposes and events rather than something you’ll be able to keep on your shelf.

You can find out more about the camera and the campaign over on the Aqueti website.

  • tomer

    when can i get this into my phone?

  • Chris

    I want to wear it round my neck and capture my life with a shot a minute.

  • hello

    Sorry but I much prefer the Gigapxl camera, even if it doesn’t seem to be around anymore…

    Something’s up with the exposure between the different sensors on this camera: they have different white balances or something, and the detail close in is not what I would call desirable – I’ve never been a fan of the unsharp look to most camera phone sensors.

    In addition, the sensors aren’t laid out in a pattern that allows for easy cropping with minimal losses, not to mention there are significant stitching errors (how is that even possible with a single non-moving lens?)

    I applaud the attempt, and do think that the type of quality from eg. the Gigapxl camera could be reached again with digital assuming several alterations are made, but as yet it’s not there.

  • visualbassist

    anyone heard of large format?

  • Richard Horsfield

    If it takes the image with a single press of the shutter, how come there are clear discrepancies in the water top right? It looks like a bad attempt at cloning – the wake from the Sheriff’s boat overtakes him?

  • yojimbo

    They need to let a real photographer make some decent images with these type of cameras – not the usual poorly composed distant shot of some scene in terrible light. But maybe most people are satisfied with the novelty of being able to zoom in on the nose hairs of a gnat 200′ away.

  • Sam Agnew

    My Crown Graphic is smaller and better looking. Also my pictures don’t come out with weird coloured blotches all over them.