synthetic 4X5

This is a big photo. The field of view is 65 x 65 degrees, the resolution is 200 pixels per degree, the total number of pixels is 185 million. You can’t buy a digital camera with this much resolution. The 150 megapixel Phase One XT comes close, and it costs a whopping $57,000. A large format camera with a very good lens could capture this much detail on fine grain film. But that is also an expensive proposition, especially if you own the kind of scanner that can digitize big films at high resolution.

I made it with $2500 camera, an $800 robot panorama head, $400 worth of software, and a very fine lens that cost me all of $40 — an Asahi Super Takumar 55mm f/1.8. In the 1970’s, this lens came with some Pentax 35mm SLR packages. Being a kit lens, it got no respect — many owners probably replaced it with a 50mm f/1.1 or f/1.5 — hence the ridiculous used price. But it is the sharpest lens I own, and very nearly as clean as the Leica 50mm f/2.

The image is a stitched panorama, composed of two rows of 4 exposures. The camera was a Sony A7r, the robot a Nodal Ninja Mecha E1/E2 dual axis rig. The robot program included a generous wait before each shot for tripod vibration to damp out, shooting time was around 30 seconds.

I developed the RAW files with Adobe Lightrooom and stitched the resulting jpegs with PTGui Pro 12, using the ‘Vedutismo’ (Panini) projection at a compression setting of 0.5. This is somewhat condensed horizontally, compared to the normal rectilinear projection, and I think it gives wide field images a more natural look.

Here is another view taken earlier in the day from the other side.

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