We all know what a 4K image looks like. With its resolution of 3840 x 2160, it works out to be an 8.3-megapixel image. Double the number of pixels horizontally, and you get 8K resolution at 7680 x 4320, which is about 33.2 MP. Do it again, and you get 16K resolution at 15360 x 8640, or roughly 133 MP. Sounds incredible, but have you ever wondered what a 32K image would look like at a whopping 531 megapixels? Well, now is your chance!
While conducting my November Death Valley Workshop last year, I decided to use the new Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S mounted on the Z7 to do a multi-row panorama at sunrise. Knowing that the Z 85mm f/1.8 S reaches its peak performance at f/4, I captured a sequence of images at this aperture in several rows, as quickly as possible using the standard panorama technique. Since everything was at infinity, I did not have to worry about parallax errors.
The result of the stitch in Lightroom was an image with an insane amount of detail at close to 500 MP resolution. Sadly, it was not enough to make a real 32K image at that resolution, because I did not have enough vertical pixels for a proper 16:9 aspect ratio. At 30720 x 17280, or 531 MP, a 32K is no joke!
After I cropped the image to 16:9, I ended up with roughly a 300 MP image. At this point, the only way to get to 32K was to use an upsampling algorithm that can increase the image dimensions. I opened up the stitched panorama in Photoshop, and used the “Preserve Details 2.0” resampling method to get to 30720 x 17280.
The result was a massive 4 GB TIFF file that I now had to export as a JPEG image to be able to share with our audience. The first image worked out at around 200 MB, but it was still too big and impractical. I set JPEG compression to a lower value, then tried again, and this time I got an image just shy of 100 MB. Here it is:
The above image is a sample preview. In order to get the image at 32K resolution, you will need to download it to your computer using the link below, then view it with an image viewing app. MacOS users can utilize the Preview app, although it will take some time for Preview to fully render it (make sure you wait for a little after opening).
Click here to download the above image in 32K resolution.
I do realize that I could have gotten a 32K image out of my equipment without needing to upscale it in software, had I used a longer lens and more rows of images. However, that was the equipment I had in my hands, so I had to work with it. Also, something like the Fuji GFX 100 would have worked much better for the job.
Still, the point of all this was to show what type of detail we can expect from a 32K image. Imagine a 32K-capable camera that can capture such detail with a single shot in the future. That would be insane, although I am not sure such a camera would ever be practical…
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!