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Optical boffins create 50 GIGA pixel camera

Reports coming out of the University of Arizona say that a 75cm square cube of optical processing goodness has been assembled, with a jaw-dropping resolution of 50 gigapixels. KitGuru eyes its collection of low cost lenses and wonders if any of them will have the right screw attachment.

Memory storage devices are getting bigger all the time. Bigger and cheaper. Around here, we're been feeling quite sorry for the memory manufacturers, because it's hard to see what the majority people would do with an SD card bigger than, say, 64GB. OK, you could be (a) monumentally lazy or (b) decide to tour the world for a year without taking anything off your card – but a serious photographer that runs off 400 shots in a one day shoot (JPG and RAW), will still be able to shoot for 2 whole days with a single card.

Plus, the cards are really small, so you could always carry a spare.

So what will the memory companies need when their card capacities go from 64GB to 128GB and onward toward a 1TB SD card?

There's no way that Nikon and Canon are in a fight to deliver exponentially more pixels with each generation of camera.

For people to start needing terabytes of storage, cameras would need to leap forward with their demands. And that's what the Arizona boffins are working on (with help from the folks at Duke University).

Professor Brady knows a bunch about this technology [Groan – Ed] and he has been reported as saying, “As more efficient and compact electronics are developed, the age of hand-held gigapixel photography should follow”.

Asked if the optical component of the new camera was an issue, Professor Brady explained that 97% of the camera was actually electronic in nature – which means that shrinking it down should provide few barriers for modern fabs. Those chaps love nothing better than a metaphorical dunking in the icy waters, just to see how small things can really go.

Professor brady is no stranger to big words, as he showed when discussing this 120 degree camera that is five times better at seeing than a human with perfect eyesight.

“While novel multiscale lens designs are essential, the primary barrier to ubiquitous high-pixel imaging turns out to be lower power and more compact integrated circuits, not the optics,” he said.

Michael Gehm from the University of Arizona added, “A shared objective lens gathers light and routes it to the microcameras that surround it, just like a network computer hands out pieces to the individual work stations. Each gets a different view and works on their little piece of the problem. We arrange for some overlap, so we don’t miss anything”.

We have to say that this monster box with 98 separate image sensors does make modern DSLRs look a little weak. Wonder how long it will be before the enthusiast community across the globe is asking Jessop's store assistants, “So just how many giga pixels will I need for ordinary family shots and the occasional party?”

Past, present and future of photography. Less than 200 years separate these 3 devices.

KitGuru says: Sounds like a perfect distributed-computing-based-solution to the question facing memory manufacturers across the globe, “What the hell do we do with all this production capacity when no one wants to store bigger pictures?”

Comment below or in the KitGuru forums.

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