Panoramic Scanner Camera

[Photodesaster] put together a panoramic digital camera using a scanner and some miscellaneous parts. You may remember seeing something like this about six months ago and originally about five years back. The parts used here work together nicely. The sensor board from the scanner is mounted to a metal plate along with a 50mm lens. The plate is mounted to a hard drive platter that is turned via belts connected to the original scanner motor. This way, when you tell the computer to scan an image, the lens is rotated to capture the panorama. The use of an 18V tool battery is a nice portability hack for the scanner circuitry.

Judging from this 71MP image he has achieved some remarkable results.

[Thanks Stefan]

13 thoughts on “Panoramic Scanner Camera

  1. “Seems like I need to build some kind of a tripod for the scanner camera. I wonder when someone calls the cops because of my suspicious activities.”

    No, seriously. You should probably get on that ASAP. On the other hand, it’s always nice when your neighbors fear/respect you.

  2. Hi there!

    You are not the first one to ask for the full resolution images. I uploaded a file to an image hoster which does not seem to be restriced too much.

    This is the 71 Megapixel panorama which is also on Flickr:

    Trying to upload the 220 megapixel image I get an “internal server error”, the server probably runs out of RAM trying to downscale the picture.
    I would even have another 280 Megapixel image available.
    Any ideas where I can upload JPG images up to 30MB file size and 300MP image size and where the server does not resize or recompress the image?

  3. I wonder what a scan of a street would look like. There are a couple of rainbows on the horizon( single story house, right of high tension tower) that might be moving objects. I will see if my server lets me upload huge images, if so, you might be able to load them there.

  4. You are right, some cars drove by and caused the colorful spots.

    I am trying to get the stuff uploaded to gigapan now. I am using Linux only, but I just read that their uploader runs in the Windows emulator. If that works, people with less than several Gigabytes of RAM can explore the pictures, too.
    But this may take some time…

    Thanks for the offer with your server. Be careful because this might result in lots of traffic, too. The Flickr image got more than 3000 hits in a few hours.

  5. I uploaded three pictures now to GigaPan.

    This is the 71 Megapixel panorama which is also on Flickr:

    This is the 220 Megapixel indoor test:

    And finally a full resolution picture (280 Megapixel) which I didn’t upload to Flickr. I managed to screw up color balance, gamma, brightness, just everything while scanning, so it looks very bad. Nevertheless it does show what kind of sharpness might be possible with this pile of junk, given the right conditions. The picture has lots of small details, some look really sharp, some are distorted due to movements of the tree branches.

    When I started to build this thing it was clear that the resulting images could be that huge, but the question is if the optical and mechanical properties are good enough to justify this high resolution.

    Is there still the need for sharing the original jpg-Files? I have only a kinda bitchy DSL connection with low upload bandwidth and a modem which likes to crash and disconnect regularly. That’s not the best basis to set up a torrent, I guess. Apart from that I haven’t really used Bittorrent so far.

    If there is interest for the source of the bigger images I can upload them as zip-file to some popup-advertising-hell of filehoster and then you can torrent that as much as you want :-)

  6. THAT is a hack.

    Seriously beautiful work you’ve done. If I were rich, I’d pay to fly you and this device all over the world, to take amazing huge panoramic pictures of anything I like for my desktop.

    Sadly, I”m neither rich nor have a widescreen wide enough to display that picture natively. But still, beautiful work. Take more pics!

  7. @drew
    I would like to take lots of pictures with this device, but it’s extremely unpractical.
    I need the right weather: no rain, no wind, no clouds which could vary the brightness during the 20 minutes a full resolution picture takes.
    I have to find a place with low chance of people, animals or whatever running, riding or driving through the image. Even a sleeping animal would look distorted because of small body movements.
    Nothing in the picture should reflect the sunlight because the sensor does not like that at all.
    There is nothing like autofocus or even auto white balance. To get perfect colors I would need to start taking pictures of a gray card and fine-tune the controls before taking the final picture.
    I have to get the large “camera”, a laptop and other stuff to the point of interest in the middle of nowhere. I usually put it in a bicycle trailer.
    It’s winter now and I freeze my butt off outside and it’s always too dark.
    And, unfortunately, I don’t have Monument Valley next door ;-)

    This is why haven’t taken more pictures so far. If you want to build your own scanner camera, do it in summer :-)

  8. Very nice, I see a bit of banding in the sky and remember this is one of the big problems to overcome with a homebrew scanning back. This one is much cleaner than the others I have seen, exciting when you consider the cost of a BetterLight back!

    FWIW though, I still don’t see as much detail as I would expect out of large format film, or even a medium format panoramic camera. I wonder if this is because of the lens, or alignment, or scan resolution, but there is significantly less detail than a quality scan of well shot 6×17 film would show at the same image size. This is going by the gigabit version. Still exciting and good work.

  9. @Thebes
    The banding annoys me, too. I don’t perform a per-pixel white calibration as a normal scanner does, but I have a few ideas how to reduce the effect by post-processing.
    There are two darker bands visible in nearly all images, I think that I damaged the sensor during my first experiments by rotating the lens towards the sun without IR filter.

    There are lots of reasons for loss of details. Apart from the things you mentioned, there is the less-than-perfect IR-cut filter, vibrations in the mechanics (partially excited by the stepper motor), the three color components for each pixel being captured sequentially (different lens position and time) and the sensor’s active area being less than 40mm high.
    I could not find a datasheet for my sensor, but other 1200 DPI sensors have odd and even pixels for one color in different lines. This could also be a problem.

    Can you post a link to a quality scanned full resolution picture taken by a 6×9 of 6×17 camera for comparison?

    I was already happy to see dark pixels next to bright pixels at full resolution. I didn’t really expect this.

    And always keep in mind: this is just for fun, it didn’t cost me anything and is IMHO no serious alternative to a large format camera or a panorama rig creating stitched pictures.

    Nevertheless it’s tempting to get hold of an old 3200 DPI scanner, some medium format lens and to try it again in the Gigapixel range…

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