Back in 2002 I bought my first fancy digital camera. I researched it for months. It was the Minolta Dimage 7. What I like about it now is that it has a lousy Infra-red filter, so I can talk IR photos pretty easily. At the time it was one of the first affordable 5 megapixel cameras out there.
But it was a little crazy. It didn’t use normal color space to record its images. It used a proprietary color space with a more interesting gamut than standard RGB. You had to use the accompanying Minolta software to convert all the pictures into sRGB so they’d display properly. Otherwise they seemed pretty desaturated and colorless. One bad by-product of the software was that it tended to over-sharpen the pictures as well. But what could you do about that?
This guy named Max Lyons decided to write a program to translate just the RGB without having to change the sharpness. Of course, you could adjust that as well. He called it ColorFix. I think that I paid $17 for the chance fix my pix.
Max was interested in merging several 5 gigapixel images together to make a really big picture with lots of detail. In 2003 he created what I think is the first gigapixel image. It was made of up 196 photos of 6 megapixes each. It’s 2GB. The amount of detail is amazing.
He didn’t originally write the program that stitched all these images together. That was Helmut Dersch’s Panorama Tools. But Max did write a front-end to Panorama Tools to make it easier to use. It’s called PTAssembler, and costs like $45. I believe that the current version isn’t actually based on Panorama Tools, but I could well be wrong.
It’s a lot of fun. Taking a row of panorama pictures by hand is just a little tricky. Then getting them all to fit together into something coherent and smooth is a little tricky too. It’s very satisfying when a panorama comes out right.
Once I get some photos up here, you’ll be able to see some of my attempts.
Check out Max’s website. He’s got other neat programs there too. Oh, and some pictures.