The image sensor engineers at Samsung Electronics have accepted a lofty challenge — printing a picture that was taken with Samsung’s 200-megapixel (MP) mobile image sensor on an enormous 616 square meter-sized canvas.
Keep reading to learn how the 28-meter-wide, 22-meter-high photograph (about one and a half times the size of a basketball court) came out.
“Our desire to truly test the limits of the high-performance 200MP image sensor and its image quality is what brought this challenge about,” said Changwan Kim, project manager from the Global Marcom Team of Device Solutions Division at Samsung Electronics.
“I have always wondered just how big you could go when it comes to printing out a 200MP image,” said Minhyuk Lee, an engineer from the Sensor Solutions Team at Samsung’s System LSI Business. “As exciting as it was, the challenge was a demanding one, as this was our first time showcasing the quality of an image sensor that has yet to be adopted in smartphones.”
Taking a picture with an image sensor still under development, for a camera module that is not yet fully optimized, is a very tricky task. Nonetheless, the team decided to push themselves by working with a living, moving subject rather than going with an inanimate object.
“Choosing a cat as our subject was a difficult decision. It gave us a lot of obstacles to overcome, such as capturing such an active subject with a test board,” said Minhyuk Lee. “However, the team concluded that the subject should be something that would show off a high level of detail and that was a popular photography subject at the same time.”
The team calculated several variables while preparing to shoot in an unstable environment. They even built a custom adaptor to allow them to attach various DSLR camera lenses to a test board. “In the end, we thought it was most important to capture the scene in the same conditions that smartphone users would be in,” said Kaeul Lee of the Sensor Solutions Team. “Because of this, we went with a smartphone camera module with no other aids. The results were very satisfying.”
Since the photo was taken using a test board, the photographer first checked the screen and adjusted the composition. Then, the engineers modified the settings to optimize exposure and focus. After observing the cat’s movements, the film crew then used different methods to take a series of pictures. Photographer Hyunjoong Kim was curious to see the result since 200MP resolution is not easy to come by, even in DSLR cameras. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the raw image enlarged to 100%,” said Hyunjoong Kim. “I was truly astonished by the degree of detail. In that moment, I knew any prejudices I previously had regarding smartphone photography had been proven wrong.”
The printing process was far from easy, as obviously, a 616 square-meter image cannot be printed all at once. The picture had to be printed on twelve separate 2.3-meter-long pieces of fabric and then stitched together. The printout was then transported over on a truck and installed on the wall of a building using a crane.
“When the picture was unfurled for the big reveal, the true enormousness of it really struck me, and not just because of its actual size,” said Changwan Kim. “The moment I witnessed the 200 million pixels depicting the stunning detail of the cat’s eyes and fur, I was overwhelmed by all of the efforts that had gone into developing this final product.”
For the team, the challenge of truly visualizing the next-level capabilities of 200MP technology was a thrilling one. Going forward, Samsung will continue to expand its leadership in the high-resolution market.
“The ultimate benefit of the 200MP image sensor is to allow users to capture an image that can be zoomed in and cropped without compromising on image quality,” said Kaeul Lee and Minhyuk Lee in a final comment. “The 200MP image sensor will soon become the optimal solution for 8K video recording.”
In the future, keep an eye out for new experiences the thumbnail-sized ISOCELL mobile image sensor will deliver next by following Samsung Newsroom.