Samsung takes building-sized photos with its 200-megapixel smartphone camera

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Samsung’s 200-megapixel smartphone sensor has yet to make its way into a consumer device, but the company has already started promoting what it can do by printing a massive 616 square meter photo ( 2,021 square feet) taken with it.

The 200-megapixel Samsung ISOCELL HP1 was announced last September and is the first in the industry to achieve such a resolution and is based on 0.64µm pixels and a new pixel clustering technology called ChameleonCell.

Samsung later explained that the advantage of 200 megapixels is not only that photos are larger, but that details can be preserved even after being digitally zoomed or cropped.

The company claims that photos taken at maximum size have an effective resolution of 16,384 x 12,288 pixels and can be captured at speeds of up to 7.5 per second. At a compressed 50-megapixel resolution, the sensor can shoot up to 30fps and up to 120fps at 12.5-megapixels.

Even though the sensor has not yet been implemented in a consumer smartphone, Samsung decided to take on a challenge and create a photo that could be printed 28 meters wide and 22 meters high, which is about one and a half times the size of a basketball court.

“I’ve always wondered how far you can go when it comes to printing a 200-megapixel image,” says Minhyuk Lee, sensor solutions team engineer at Samsung’s System LSI Business. “As exciting as it was, the challenge was demanding, as it was the first time we demonstrated the quality of an image sensor that has yet to be adopted in smartphones.”

Since the sensor is still under development, Samsung provided it to photographer Hyunjoong Kim who was to use it while still mounted on a test board. The company says shooting with it was tricky because the mod isn’t fully optimized yet. Added to this complication is the choice to photograph a moving subject: a cat.

“Choosing a cat as a subject was a difficult decision. It gave us a lot of hurdles to overcome, like capturing such an active subject with a test board. However, the team concluded that the subject should be something that would show a high level of detail and was a popular photography subject at the same time,” says Lee.

Samsung says the film crew used different methods to take a series of photos using a full-size lens they attached to the small sensor and test board.

Once the photo was taken, it was printed onto 12 separate 2.3 meter long pieces of fabric which were then sewn together. The print was then transported on a truck and installed on the wall of a building using a crane.

Samsung 200MP Photo

Normally, billboard-sized photos aren’t much of a great way to appreciate high resolution given the intended viewing distance. That said, Samsung seems to indicate that the photo can be viewed in high fidelity, even up close.

“When the image was rolled out for the big reveal, the sheer scale really struck me, and not just because of its actual size. and the cat’s fur, I was overwhelmed with all the effort that went into developing this final product,” the episode’s project manager said in the photo.

Samsung 200MP Photo

How well that resolution translates to a smartphone chassis remains to be seen, as the available optics will be significantly smaller than those used by the photographer to capture the promotional image.


Picture credits: Samsung

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