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Favorite Cities > Shanghai Skyline - Stitched From 12,000 Pictures - 上海风景线 - 由12000张图片拼成 by Alfred Zhao

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
Alfred Zhao Alfred  Zhao
Explore score
272.31 Gigapixels
Date added
Dec 17, 2010
Date taken
May 25, 2010

EPIC Pro + Canon 7D + Canon 2X...


Shanghai, one of the most populous cities in the world, has never been pictured in such enormous detail. Let the world experience this fast growing city and understand China is always my dream. Through my telephoto lens, I wish you, the viewer, can blend into the daily life in Shanghai and enjoy your virtual visit.

Before being introduced to Gigapan, I used manual panorama head (Manfrotto 303SPH) and fisheye lens to take spherical panorama and build virtual tours for my clients. In late 2009, I learned about the Dresden 26 Gigapixel image (www.dresden-26-gigapixels.com/dresden26GP Will open in a new tab or window) created by the world renowned German photographer, Holger Schulze. It was then the world largest image. This compelling image absolutely fascinated me. Until today, I still think the Dresden image is one of the most important milestones in man’s pursuing of the world largest photograph. A few months later, a new world record was released; it further intrigued me, I decided to give it a try myself.

In March 2010, the first batch of Gigapan EPIC Pro was still on pre-order. Without any hesitation, I boldly placed a pre-order and received this precisely engineered yet inexpensive device in early April. Other necessary equipments were also ordered, by mid-April, all the hardware was ready.

To build the world largest image is not a trivial project; there are many challenges and barriers. To name a few, the density of the camera’s image sensor must be high; the optics must have long focal length yet still light enough to be maneuvered by a robotic panorama head; large amount of images must be transferred directly onto a laptop; the devices must be powered for extended hours; the photo location must have large amount of details to avoid empty pixels such as sky, water surface; the weather must be calm so that the camera is less likely to vibrate due to wind; the light condition must be consistent throughout shooting… I know this is an extremely difficult undertaking, but it is worth the effort.

My first attempt was on April 22nd, 2010, the day was partly sunny. I planned to take an image set of 9,000 pictures, but had to stop because of the change of weather condition. I ended up with a set of only 1,500 images. Spring in Shanghai is often cloudy or rainy; I have to wait for the perfect weather. The second time window appeared on April 29th, 2010. That day, I was able to complete a set of 9,000 images; however, I spent too much time to setup the equipment and didn’t start shooting until 10:30am. When I was done with the image set, it was almost dark. The image set suffered significant lighting change and only the first 6,000+ images could be used. Back in April 2010, once stitched, even 6,000 images should set a world record; however, I saw the possibility of acquiring even larger image set. Finally, the third time window appeared on May 25th, 2010. Learned from the previous experience, I started very early and got everything ready by 8:00am. The shooting started at 8:30am, with an average of 2.4 seconds per image, I took 12,000 images and finished shooting before dusk. Bingo, now I have the raw data.

Acquiring the images was just the first step towards the goal, to stitch it, post-process it and display it were a long way to go. Since this was a side project, I didn’t have much time to work on it. As months went by, I watched people setting new world records almost every month throughout 2010. This year is gigapixel image year. I never imagined such fierce competition. Finally, my image was completely stitched on Sept 20th, 2010. The raw stitch was a 1.24 TB image file. I wrote several tools for post-processing and finally generated the result image of 1,089,248,410,452 bytes (1.09 TB). The 1/1000 thumbnail of the un-cropped raw stitch is also on Gigapan at www.gigapan.org/gigapans/61595/ .

Post-processing and uploading took me another three months, now it is finally open to public. This is not the end of my panorama journey, it is a new start, challenging the limit is an infinite process. New records will appear in the future, it is only a matter of time.


Image dimension: 887276 (w) x 306908 (h)
Date taken: May 25, 2010
Shooting time: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Date stitched: Sept 20, 2010
Date open to public: Dec 20, 2010
Raw image size: 1.24 TB
Raw cropped image size: 1.09 TB
Total pixels: 272.31 G
Horizontal viewing angle: 175 degree
Vertical viewing angle: 65 degree (+5 degree to -60 degree)
Total shots: 12,000 (150 columns and 80 rows)
Lens: Canon 400mm F5.6 and 2X tele-converter
Camera: Canon 7D (18M pixels per image)
Estimated overlap: 28% (set to 25%)
Average time per image: 2.4s
Estimated optical pixels: 112G pixels
Projection: spherical
Related images
This is the man cave (office) where I stitched this image. www.gigapan.org/gigapans/68015/
My other Gigapan images ordered by size

www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66287/ (Artist Point – Yellow Stone National Park – 110G pixels)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/59267/ (Park Avenue – Arches National Park – 77G pixels)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/57941/ (My Backyard – Round Lake, IL – 43G pixels)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/58980/ (Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint – Arches National Park – 15G pixels)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/59095/ (Balanced Rock – Arches National Park – 9G pixels)
My favorite images taken in China

www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66837/ (Guilin)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66909/ (Guilin)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/67296/ (Lujiazui’s night – Shanghai)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66841/ (Liu Garden – Suzhou)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66834/ (Zhuo Zheng Garden – Suzhou)

Due to the enormous size of this panorama image, uploading onto Gigapan is also a non-trivial task. I received great help from the Gigapan team, especially Paul Heckbert, Vanessa Constanti, and Randy Sargent.

Gigapixel photography is expensive and time consuming, without the un-conditioned support from my family, this wouldn’t be possible.
More Information

For more details about the creation of this image as well as my panorama related research, please visit www.shanghai-272-gigapixels.com Will open in a new tab or window/ . In addition, I will post the updates on twitter twitter.com/alf168 Will open in a new tab or window , for those who are interested in my panorama journey; you are welcome to follow me.

The creation of this panorama is intended to explore the limit of photo equipment, computer hardware, network resource and various other contributing factors that limit the size of a panorama image. This is by no means a perfect image; there are many aspects to be improved.



上海是全世界人口最多的城市之一,之前没有任何一张照片以如此多的细节来描绘这个城市。这是一张关于上海的“清明上河图”。我拍摄此图的目的是让世界来感受这个快速发展的城市,让世界来更多地了解中国。通过我的超长焦镜头,我希望您作为一个访客,能够融入到上海的都市生活中,来体验一个普通上海人的一天。 我作为一名久居海外的华人,仅以此图献给我的故乡-上海。

在接触Gigapan之前,我使用Manfrotto 303SPH手动云台和鱼眼镜头来拍摄球形全景并且为我的客户制作虚拟旅游图。2009年末,一个偶然的机会,当我在浏览网站时,我看到了由德国著名摄影师Holger Schulze拍摄的26G像素的德莱斯顿(Dresden)全景 (www.dresden-26-gigapixels.com/dresden26GP)。 Will open in a new tab or window 当时这是世界上最大的图片。这幅震撼人心的图片让我很久不能平静下来。直到现在,尽管很多摄影师已经突破了26G像素的图片,我仍然认为这是具有里程碑意义的重要图片之一。 几个月后,又有新的世界纪录问世。 自此,我决定,我要为中国也做一幅这样的图片,希望能为中国人争一口气,在国际竞争中占一席之地。

2010年3月, Gigapan EPIC Pro云台还没有正式上市,在没有看到和试用过这个设备的时候,我毫不犹豫地预定了一台。四月上旬,第一批EPIC Pro上市了,我得到了其中的一台。这是一部非常精密的摄影设备,我爱不释手。在四月中旬我回上海出差之前,全部设备都准备就绪了。

想要创造新的世界纪录并不是一件容易的事情,有很多的限制因素。这包括,相机必须有最高的像素密度;所使用的镜头必须是在云台承载范围内焦距最长的;图片必须直接存储到计算机上;拍摄现场必须有办法为设备长时间供电;拍摄场景必须有丰富的画面,要避免大量天空或水面的空白像素;天气必须平静,这样才不会有风带来的震动;光线条件必须在整个拍摄过程中保持稳定… 尽管有很多的困难,我觉得这是值得去挑战的事情。


可以说,拍摄还只是万里长征的第一步,拼接、后期处理、和显示还有很多困难。由于是一个附属项目,我的时间投入很有限,所以进展很慢。而与此同时,2010年,超大图 的世界纪录在不断地被打破,几乎每个月都有新的记录诞生,我只好望洋兴叹。好在我的图片还足够多,但是时不待我。我完全没有想象到竞争会如此激烈。9月20日,图片终于拼完了。未经后处理的图片是一个1.24 TB的文件。我写了一些工具软件进行后期处理,最终图片为1.09 TB。未经后处理的图片的 1/1000缩略图的网址是http://www.gigapan.org/gigapans/61595/ 。



图片尺寸: 887276 (w) x 306908 (h)
拍摄日期: 2010年5月25日
拍摄时间: 上午8:30 – 下午4:30
拼接完成日期: 2010年9月20日
正式发布日期: 2010年12月20日
未经后处理的图片文件尺寸: 1.24 TB
剪裁后的图片文件尺寸: 1.09 TB
总像素量: 272.31 G
水平拍摄角度: 175度
垂直拍摄角度: 65度 (+5 度到 -60度)
全部图片数: 12000张 (150 列, 80行)
镜头: 佳能400mm F5.6超长焦镜头和 2X长焦增倍镜
相机: 佳能 7D (18M 像素)
重叠量: 28% (设置为25%)
每幅图片平均拍摄时间: 2.4秒
光学像素量: 112G像素
投影方式: 球形
这是我拼图时所使用的办公室的图片: www.gigapan.org/gigapans/68015/

www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66287/ (美国黄石国家公园 – 110G 像素)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/59267/ (Park Avenue – Arches National Park – 77G像素)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/57941/ (我的后院 – Round Lake, IL – 43G 像素)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/58980/ (Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint – Arches National Park – 15G 像素)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/59095/ (Balanced Rock – Arches National Park – 9G 像素)

www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66837/ (中国桂林- 两江四湖)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66909/ (中国桂林-世外桃源)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/67296/ (上海外滩远眺陆家嘴)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66841/ (苏州留园)
www.gigapan.org/gigapans/66834/ (苏州拙政园)

由于图片尺寸极大,上传至Gigapan网站并非易事,感谢 Gigapan团队给予的巨大帮助,尤其是Paul Heckbert, Vanessa Constanti, 和 Randy Sargent。


更多关于制作这幅图片的信息和我在全景摄影方面的研究成果,我会逐渐在我的网站上发布 ( www.shanghai-272-gigapixels.com Will open in a new tab or window/ ) 。 我会把更新信息发布在twitter上( twitter.com/alf168 Will open in a new tab or window ) , 欢迎加入我的twitter群。


Gigapan Comments (84)

Toggle Minimize gigapan_comment
  1. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 25, 2010, 08:35PM )


  2. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 25, 2010, 08:32PM )

    I went to a party tonight and one of my friends suggested a fun project, Can anyone find out how many AC units are in this picture and what's the distribution across all brands. I will post this on other forums and see if this is going to be interesting or not. Will also translate this into Chinese and see if someone will respond.

  3. Chris Zhang

    Chris Zhang (December 25, 2010, 06:20PM )

    Great Job! Alfred. I visited Shanghai about two months ago and I was really impressed by how Shanghai has been changed in last 20 years. Your project provides a very unique view of what a visitor will never be able to see by him or her self. Thanks.

  4. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 24, 2010, 09:18PM )

    An interesting calculation to share with the community. The theoretical upper limit for 7D 800mm lens and full sphere panorama is 682G pixels. No chance to get into tera pixel range. Even with newer higher density sensor being introduced, the lens probably won't have the resolving power. Besides the number, there is not much additional value. Probably the community really should put an end to the arm race. Instead, concentrate on improving the image quality or getting into more interesting photo subjects.

  5. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 24, 2010, 08:18PM )

    Here is the discussion on PTGUI google group -------------------------------------------------- -------------- The real pixel count of a pano can be computed directly from the angular size of the pano and the angular size of one pixel, without any guesswork about overlaps or projections. Here is an example. ----- Your pano covers 175 x 65 degrees and was taken with an 800mm lens on an EOS 7D. Canon's specs give the width of the sensor on the 7D as 22.3mm, and the horizontal pixel count as 5184, so the width of one pixel is 22.3 / 5184 mm. With your 800mm lens, that covers an angle of arcsin ( 800 / pixel width ) which comes out to 0.000311 degrees.----- There are 562,232 pixels in 175 degrees, and 208829 pixels in 65 degrees; product 117,410,395,104 pixels - 117.4 Gpixels. ----- Regards, Tom (note: Tom Sharpless) ----- On Dec 23, 8:14 pm, Sacha wrote: > Fascinating mess in the resolution argument. I've thought about it for > awhile. I think perhaps it should be based on total images subtracting > overlap and using the mtf of the lens. Final pixel size is irrelevant > for obvious or numerous reasons. > > Unsure about generating super size 360s buy I think a giga is wildly > used for a reason. a good area for joost to adress. > > On Dec 23, 5:44 pm, "Alfred" wrote: > > > > > > > > > Hi, there, > > > First of all, happy holidays to every one! I wish all of you the > > best in the coming 2011. > > > I recently released a large panorama on Gigapan > > athttp://www.gigapan.org/gigapans/6 6626/. This panorama received > > many serious debate about the true pixel count. Since I used > > Autopano, my argument was, when there is no standard way to calculate the total pixel count, we should not manipulate the software output, rather, everyone use the same baseline. > > Then everyone should also provide theoretical estimation of the > > optical pixel count. In this case, 112G pixels. > > > The questions here are: > > > 1. Is there a way to stitch super size panorama in PTGUI? Can > > we emit raw files so that it is not subjected to image format limit? > > > 2. Is there a way to import Autopano config file and process in PTGUI? > > > 3. Can PTGUI accurately report the optical pixel count for > > super size panorama? > > > Thanks! > > > Cheers, > > > Alfred

  6. Giga Works

    Giga Works (December 24, 2010, 07:57PM )

    Merry Christmas folks and Peace to the Giga, sorry Terra-pixel community!

  7. Terror Pixels

    Terror Pixels (December 24, 2010, 01:57PM )

    If any gigapixel panorama listed using the same method of calculation you have use then yes they should all be changed. It's plain incorrect. I am not meaning to single you out, you just happen to the be the first one that I have seen. - Tom. No one is attacking Alfreds panorama as far as content goes. It's a really brilliant panorama, great looking and something I'd be proud to hang on my wall - it's a great shot! I (and others) are just taking him to task over the incorrect megapixel count. Apparently others are reporting incorrectly also, and we should be demanding they change their method of calculation also. If he weren't proclaiming any record I would have no problem - but to proclaim a record incorrectly is not right.

  8. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 24, 2010, 01:43PM )

    The Sevilla image's URL is listed in my comparison at farm6.static.flickr.com/5168/52843 44733_51a7a5430d_b.jpg Will open in
a new tab or window . I learned about it less than a week ago. I do not know their exact launch date, it was this month too. That's a great image, also they somehow is using a completely unfamiliar robotic head. Very cool.

  9. (December 24, 2010, 12:52PM )

    Yes I didn't know that the Sugarloaf image used the same method for calculation, I did not see the specs of what they shot with on their entry. Do you know? If so we clearly should invite them to change their entry as well. Which group was the Sevilla team?

  10. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 24, 2010, 12:36PM )

    Also, we should invite Sevilla team to create another entry on that page. There will be a dilemma though, where shall they put the entry, in front or after Sugar Loaf entry?

  11. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 24, 2010, 12:26PM )

    The optical resolution is listed on the entry now. The image size in terms of pixels is accurate. Unless you post the same demand on RioHK's Sugar Loaf image as well. I feel no obligation to make any additional changes. I also should not make revision to their entry. Please do not use any double standards. Thank you! In addition, RioHK is a research team and should know better about being truthful about their report. Cheers, Happy Holidays!

  12. (December 24, 2010, 11:51AM )

    Alfred, given this dispute over the actual resolution, I think you should change the edit that you made in Wikipedia listing your image as the world's highest resolution image en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_phot ographs_in_the_world#Digital_photograph Will open in
a new tab or windowThis is a resource that many people depend on from academics to reporters. I think it is clear that the entry should not be listed as a 272 gigapixel image.

  13. Tom Nelson

    Tom Nelson (December 23, 2010, 08:27PM )

    Let's review what we know so far: Alfred has produced an interesting and highly-explorable panorama of enormous size. He has been forthright in explaining his method and how he arrived at his pixel count. He is using Autopano Pro, same as other very large gigapans, and is not using it any differently than other photographers. He has been willing to post an apples-to-apples comparison to other large panos. In contrast, most of his criticism has come from a person with no gigapans and no snapshots. Alfred, I'd advise you to ignore trolls and bask in the glow of your accomplishment. Tom

  14. gigafan8

    gigafan8 (December 23, 2010, 07:30PM )

    Hi Alfred, This is a true accomplishment. This is certainly a new world record both by image pixel count and optical count by a solo person. You should be proud of yourself. You must be a scientist. I admire your logical response and deep understanding of this field. One suggestion, take it easy on some people's comments. We are here to share knowledge and our passion.

  15. joyray

    joyray (December 23, 2010, 06:49PM )


  16. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 23, 2010, 11:09AM )

    To Gerald regarding the resolution calculation, based on the data you provided. 130m vs 750m. The area magnification is 33 times. 800mm lens vs 400mm lens only affect the field of view, it does not change magnification. The snapshot I took on Dubai is 400 times larger than the snapshot I took on Shanghai. Based on this, assuming at the same distance, the snapshot on yours is 12 times larger. The only statement I had on my early post was "the Shanghai image has at least the same resolution if not higher". I like the way you gathered data, this is truly the same spirit we share. BTW, Dubai image is a great one, otherwise, I won't even try to compare the quality in terms of resolution. Also, we were doing the same thing almost the same time of the year (April to May), what a co-incidence. I guess this has something to do with the relatively low cost, yet high quality Gigapan robotic panorama head.

  17. Alfred  Zhao

    Alfred Zhao (December 23, 2010, 10:44AM )

    terrorpixel, I found your comment really strange. The comparison ( farm6.static.flickr.com/5168/52843 44733_51a7a5430d_b.jpg Will open in
a new tab or window ) about the largest three panorama is only stating the fact collected from public information. What's the flaw? If you provide me an email address, I will send you the Excel spreadsheet with the calculation logic and you can try by your own. The only thing you may dispute about is the percentage overlap in the Sugar Loaf picture. Here is how it is derived. They reported horizontal view of 221.5 degree. Divide by 211 columns, it is 1.050 degree per image. The horizontal field of view for a 400mm 2X (800mm) lens is 1.611 degree. Divide 1.050 / 1.611, it is 65%, therefore the overlap is 35%. 0.65 x 0.65 x 18M = 7.6M, this is the amount of pixels an individual image contribute to the panorama. 7.6 * 12238 = 93G. This means, Sugar Loaf is also emit at 100% in Autopano. That is what other people did also. The only difference is I reported the theoretical calculation while the other group didn't. I as an individual work on this enormous project, I certainly should defend myself for my hard work. FYI, based on my knowledge, since 2008, only two person were able to do similar things solo, one is Gerald and the other is me. Despite other disagreement, this is something I definitely should acknowledge Gerald.

  18. Raymond Goldfield

    Raymond Goldfield (December 23, 2010, 10:05AM )

    Since I posted a small comment on this forum, I've seen enough nonsense getting into my mailbox. Why you guys kept attacking someone who truly did some extraordinary work.

  19. Terror Pixels

    Terror Pixels (December 23, 2010, 09:49AM )

    Wow you really are desperate to try to prove your flawed method of calculating pixels and claiming a record. You are putting way too much emphasis on this 'record' why? Is it worth lying about? It's clear that you will not change your mind about reporting accurate pixels. Instead you seem bent on just pointing out flaws in other panoramas - this is a shameful display for a photographer of your caliber.

  20. Gerald Donovan

    Gerald Donovan (December 23, 2010, 05:23AM )

    Hi Alfred - Further to your earlier comparison of the two signs, I'm home now and have access to Google Earth. Was a bit difficult working it all out since your placement of your panormama in Google Earth isn't totally accurate, but looking around, I managed to discover where you took it from. The exact co-ordinates of where you took your pictures from are as follows: Latitude: 31 degrees 12 minutes 14.83 seconds North Longitude: 121 degrees 26 minutes 68.62 seconds East (this is roughly 590 metres at a heading of 305 degrees from where your panorama is currently placed in Google Earth) Now that we know where you took your image from, we can use Google Earth to work out how far away the building is that you snapshotted for your "scientific comparison", and compare to the Dubai example you used. Distance from your camera position to the sign you created a snapshot of in the Shanghai gigapan: 130 metres. (not sure if there's been a glitch, but it would appear that the snapshot you took no longer exists. For reference, it was a sign on an air conditioning unit on the building on the very left hand side of your panorama with the domed roof, 5 floors below the snapshot called "office" created of a chap sitting at his desk, by user gbtbpb). Distance from my camera position to the sign you created a snapshot of in the Dubai gigapan: 750 metres. (again, it would appear that there is some kind of glitch with the snapshots on Gigapan, because this one no longer exists either! For reference, it was on a building called Churchill Tower in Business Bay in Dubai.) We're not quite talking about two things of "about the same distance", are we. Time to move on, I think? Kind regards, Gerald.

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