back to article This 320-gigapixel snap of London is size of Buckingham Palace

In a final squeeze of Olympics juice from London's triumphant summer of sport last year, British Telecom has released a world record-breaking panoramic photo of the city taken from the top of the BT Tower. A 360 panorama of London taken from the BT Tower Click to view the map The 320 gigapixel snap is made up of 48,640 …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    What's that in square fettuccine? And who owns the patent on the file format?

    Just askin' ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I click

      I click I tried I failed.

      Fatal Error Message, it's just tooooooooooooo big to be of any use.

    2. Alan Firminger

      Re: What's that in square fettuccine? And who owns the patent on the file format?

      320 GB - No, like google skyview it just gives you what you need.

      I don't comprehend why it drags in the wrong direction.


      1. Steve Evans

        Re: What's that in square fettuccine? And who owns the patent on the file format?

        *Phew* I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks the controls are reversed.

        Pretty impressive, even more so given they used those plastic Canon cameras ;-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What's that in square fettuccine? And who owns the patent on the file format?

          Plastic? Canon 7D's have magnesium bodies.

      2. Sorry, "Sorry that handle is already taken" is already taken.
        Big Brother

        Re: What's that in square fettuccine? And who owns the patent on the file format?

        It isn't dragging, it's panning.

        You move the mouse in the direction in which you want the "camera" to pan, hence the arrow that appears.

        If you were dragging it you'd get the grabbing hand cursor, I'd have thought.

        Big Brother because I've not yet found anyone doing anything untoward in any of the windows......... But I'm going to keep looking. :-D

      3. ISYS
        Thumb Up

        Re: What's that in square fettuccine? And who owns the patent on the file format?

        At last! I have always thought it was me being the odd one out. I too think the intuitive way to drag these images should be the reverse of what seems to be the norm - there are certainly enough comments to suggest we are in the majority.

        Anyway - What a great photo!

  2. Pen-y-gors

    'Click to view the map'

    Do you really expect me to click to download a 320GB jpeg over my puny broadband?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: 'Click to view the map'

      Same thoughts here, but I clicked anyway. it takes you to a BT site and a fully panable and zoomable application that I think is pretty damned good.

      I wonder, though, what the local residents will think when they see that views through their bedroom and bathroom windows are being presented to the world's Peeping Toms?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Click to view the map'

        "I wonder, though, what the local residents will think when they see that views through their bedroom and bathroom windows are being presented to the world's Peeping Toms?"

        That last click of the zoom is a surprisingly BIG jump in magnification. You can easily identify the pot plants on the window ledge inside a room.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Click to view the map'

      Where did this 320GB figure come from? It's a 320Gp image so ~1TB of raw image data (320G * 8b * 3c). I'd be surprised if that image didn't compress down to ~10% for a JPEG and ~5% is plausible... so that'd be a 50-100GB JPEG file.

    3. jai

      Re: 'Click to view the map'

      Do you really expect me to click to download a 320GB jpeg over my puny broadband?

      Do you really expect that they'd be able to afford the bandwidth costs of sending out the whole image file to everyone that clicks?

      It's like google maps, it only loads the bit you need to see at one time. each time you pan or zoom it loads the next bit of view for you.

      1. Pen-y-gors

        Re: 'Click to view the map'

        Silly me, I thought of putting the 'Joke Alert' icon on the original post. Maybe we need a 'slightly sarcastic comment just in case people are a bit sleepy' icon

  3. jamie 5

    No HTML5 compatible images found.


    1. illiad

      Jamie 5, is this too simple for you????

      just go to this address!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Jamie 5, is this too simple for you????

        > ERROR:

        > Adobe Flashplayer 10 or higher needed

        Funny, because I've got HTML5+ECMAScript which in many respects is higher than "Flashplayer 10", whatever that is…

  4. James Green

    They need to call Mr Google.....

    .....and ask nicely to borrow the car reg/face pixelation software, though god knows how long it would take to trawl through 320 giga-pixels.

    1. M Gale

      Re: how long it would take to trawl through 320 giga-pixels.

      Probably about five minutes given a decent machine and competent software?

  5. S4qFBxkFFg

    Well, that was quick.

    You cannot access the following Web address:

    The site you requested is blocked under the following categories: Malicious Sites

    You can:

    Temporarily override filtering on this computer if you have an override name and password. (Note that your administrator may be notified that you've bypassed filtering.)

    Use your browser's Back button or enter a different Web address to continue.

    1. illiad

      Re: Well, that was quick.

      Nope, that what happens when ALL of the reg's readership attacks the website at once!!!

      the one thing that is reliable these days, is 'we underestimated the demand'.... LOLOLOL

      1. illiad

        Re: Well, that was quick.

        and I think your blocker is so tight its cutting it the browsers circulation!!!, or its just a clever message to pretend it is 'working' ...

    2. Trainee grumpy old ****
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Well, that was quick.

      and for a bonus point - was that BT's web-blocker / firewall message?

  6. Fuzz


    Why the fuck is this done in flash? There are plenty of decent ways of doing this kind of thing in html5 and there are better technologies that don't have that jarring effect when it switches resolutions as you zoom in.

    Why in all these panos is 50% of the image sky? 160 Gigapixels of grey clouds; great.

    The zoomed out images are horribly sharpened, makes it look like someone has drawn round the outlines of the buildings in marker pen. When you zoom all the way in and the image switches to the full resolution original it suddenly looks much better (although never in the same place as you were actually zooming to)

    The image pans left when you drag the mouse left, sounds sensible when you write it down but this is the wrong way round. When you drag your mouse left the image should move left (pan right)

    It's such a shame when all that time and effort put into constructing the thing and the viewing of the image is flawed. Perhaps they should speak to Gigapixel or Microsoft who both have technologies for doing this kind of thing that don't suck.

    1. illiad

      Re: Flash!!!!

      ROFLMOA ROFLMAO .... Are one of the LAZY devs that wont stop moaning about flash, BUT wont bother to make a decent easy to use replacement for it using 'html5' ??? or just one of those idiots that thinks it is just so easy????

      If you have done ANY research, you will know 'html5' is only a very small part of the solution ... look at how they do without flash on the iphone.. it is more 'streaming video' using a remote flash server, all provided by youtube, adobe, etc... until you find a website that does not use it... this is why there is STILL plenty of help for jelly bean users to get flash loaded... :)

    2. Senior Ugli

      Re: Flash!!!!

      not feeling the half HDR baked effect. Once your zoomed in 90% of the way it drops back to normal standard looking photo style

  7. Robin


    You can almost make out car tax discs.

    I feel like I'm in one of those films where they say things like "zoom 1000x" and "enhance".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huge invasion of privacy !

    Hope you weren't up to anything you shouldn't have been doing !

    1. no_RS

      Re: Huge invasion of privacy !

      Funnily enough you can read number plates, didn't Google get a good bashing for doing the same thing with their streetview application???

  9. Ralph B

    Come on London!

    Well, there's about 10 million Londoners,and about 100 million windows in this picture, so how long before a Reg commentard spots someone mooning to the BT camera? About 10 minutes? Don't disappoint me now!

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: Come on London!

      It's actually a rather large "Where's Wally?" puzzle - he's in there somewhere, but I'll let someone else point him out

      1. JetSetJim

        Re: Come on London!

        Hmm - perhaps I should've clicked on it first - there's 3 Busby's hidden in there, according to the blurb...

        1. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: Come on London!

          try over by Buck Palace for the busbys...

        2. Mister_C

          3 Busbies

          more of a "spot the birdy" than "watch the birdy" photo then.

          Tux? This is not the bird you're looking for

          1. Zot

            One Buzby is...

            When facing directly north, one is between the bottom left corner and the circular clump of trees.


            Enter the competition by giving away your email address, and you'll get free spam your life!! Yay...

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Come on London!

        Isn't there a guy who tried to be in the photo twice? Once on the roof of St Pauls... the other somewhere in Bloomsbury.

  10. Anonymous Coward 101

    "For that how-many-Olympic-sized-pools daft measurement moment, if the pic was printed out (on your gigantic printer) it would be 98m (320ft) across and 24m (79ft) tall, so nearly a "Buckingham Palace" then."

    That wouldn't stop some of the aging knuckleheads I work with attempting to print it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "if the pic was printed out"

    If the pic was out it would be so and so big. At what DPI? 72?, 200?, 300?, 600?, 1200? 2400? 4800?

    It does make a difference.

    The fact is I can print a photo the size of the palace with my phone. Granted, I'd be getting something ridiculously low (below 1dpi I guess), but then if I stood far enough away, It would still look 'sharp'. I wouldn't be able to move in closer to look at details though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "if the pic was printed out"

      My thoughts exactly.

      Of course you can get a print out of any size, depending on the DPI chosen.

      The article should mention what resolution has been used in the calculation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "if the pic was printed out"

        Presumably the printout figure was based on standard 300dpi

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: "if the pic was printed out"

          300dpi? Is that with your 'letter quality' 24-pin dot-matrix printer?

  12. weebs

    Hmm, I wonder how many good candid camera moments are in this panorama

  13. Liam Thom

    Shame the sun didn't come out

    Or is London always covered in cloud?

    Good effort otherwise.

    1. Silverburn
      Thumb Up

      Re: Shame the sun didn't come out

      This was shot last year, where the rainfall was measures in kilometers per month, and sunlight measured in minutes per season.

    2. Androgynous Crackwhore

      Re: Shame the sun didn't come out

      My initial thought was "couldn't they have waited for a sunny day" too... but thinking about it... the sun moving across the sky several times during the 4000-and-odd exposures would have created a stitching nightmare. Methinks the uniform lighting was requisite.

      Could have brightened the finished montage up a bit afterwards though...

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Shame the sun didn't come out London always covered in cloud?

      Of course not. The sun came out in 1997, it was on a Tuesday IIRC.

  14. ukgnome
    Thumb Up

    Saw this on the ONE show last night

    Truly an awesome image - can you spot the same guy twice?

    He's wearing a one show T shirt and waving at the top of St Paul's

    Can you spot where he is again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Saw this on the ONE show last night

      Sort of "Where's the Wally"?

      I agree it is awesome, despite the way the mouse works.

      I've spotted a disembodied car bonnet (probably just coming back from the future) and a flat roof that seems to have collected 20-30 footballs over the yeras.

      Must stop now, more constructive things to do.

      1. Wize

        Re: Saw this on the ONE show last night

        "I've spotted a disembodied car bonnet (probably just coming back from the future) ..."

        This guy?

        No blurred out number plates here.

        1. Goldmember
          Thumb Up

          Re: Saw this on the ONE show last night

          And here is the smallest car in the world:

          Great pic though.

          1. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: Saw this on the ONE show last night

            It is a bit bigger than Jeremy Clarkson's P45 - (the car, not the HMRC form you get when leaving employment).

    2. Will

      Re: Saw this on the ONE show last night

      I've found the guy (by a fluke) :

  15. McVirtual

    First fail found

    Liking this House/ Tree/ Road fail...

    ps - found two Busby's so far ;)

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: First fail found

      First thing I spotted. What the heck?

  16. Tim Parker

    Ngghhhhhh - reversed mouse.

    (Nice picture though)

  17. El Presidente

    Next time

    Can they do it when there's no London particular ?

  18. mrmond

    No face blurring ?

    So unlike Google, BT don't worry about number plates and faces.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: No face blurring ?

      Why should they have to?

  19. fixit_f

    Crap weather

    I've seen a couple of these panoramas of London now, for example there's another one from the top of the shard. Why do they always seem to pick crappy overcast weather conditions when they take them? Is there a reason for it - for example that it takes ages to take the photo, and varying amounts of cloud and smog look less stitched together than different levels of sunniness?

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: Crap weather

      Possibly. In bright sunshine you tend to either end up overexposing the parts in sunlight or underexposing the parts in shadow. I imagine it would make it more difficult to stitch adjacent photos together too.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Crap weather

        I was more saddened by how hazy it is. I wonder what that will look like in 50 years... pin-sharp when we all go electric, maybe?

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Crap weather

      It is easier to take photos in overcast conditions. If the sun is shining, you can only really take photos with the sun behind you.

  20. 5hady

    Isn't it amazing how green London appears?

    Also for all you Essex boys out there: - #BTTowerView

    The notch in the tree line is the M11 passing east of Epping and Coopersale and crowning the hill before dropping down towards Harlow. Zoom out to get a better idea of where it is in relation to other landmarks.

  21. 5hady


    Whoaa! They may want to get a builder in to look at that: - #BTTowerView

  22. Noel Morgan

    Stealth Taxi?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stealth Taxi?

      No, just disabled

  23. fero

    I found all three buzby's. They are not difficult, look for obvious areas where you can make out people standing. Shame the competition only recognizes your first find.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      * BUSBIES

      Apostrophes are not used to form plurals.

      Surrender your keyboard now for apostrophe key removal.

  24. ravenviz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Building site

    London seems to be a bit of a building site! Can only be good though. Amazing how crowded St. Paul's cathedral looks, considering it would have dominated the skyline in Wren's day.

    The image was quite slow on my machine so only got to look at 'downtown'.

    Still, a good effort though!

  25. Andrew Moore
    Thumb Up

    Kitten Kong!!!

    Thanks for the front page image. Now if you could just embed a video into this article, of Michael Aspel being crushed by a giant paw...

  26. illiad

    BT needs to learn from the shard site... :)

    - because it actually **labels** the landmarks...

  27. Dogsauce

    Shame about the counter-intuitive scrolling! Eurgh.

  28. Miek

    Thanks BT, I had completely forgotten just how ugly London is!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There be dragons

    Looks like this image has been aligned incorrectly ... if you slide upwards you can see it's 'vertically' out of sync!

    1. Zot
      Thumb Up

      Re: There be dragons

      Disembodied legs, with amazed onlooker with pink shoulder bag! ; )


  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RA02UEN is parked on a single yellow line, by the mouth of a junction!

    1. Androgynous Crackwhore

      White van?

  31. The Serpent

    I think I saw Julian Assange having a shit

  32. Tim Parker

    One for the rubgy fans...

    Typical forward in the line-out, facing the wrong way - but that's not the worst of it. Just to the left of that, coming back onside is another of their forwards looking somewhat the worse for wear, presumably from an off-the-ball incident (someone might get cited for that).

    Still worse above them - city boys, or maybe even colonials, misunderstanding that 'protective gear' in rugby normally just means a small piece of squidgy plastic in your mouth. Shame on them :)

  33. NorthernCoder
    Black Helicopters

    Something for the conspiracy theorists..?

    Why is there a blur with straight edges on that building? Surely a cover-up! (It is obviously not a raindrop near a stitching ;-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Something for the conspiracy theorists..?

      I dunno. According to Wikipedia the upper 10 floors are the London home of the international design and engineering firm WS Atkins PLC.

      It's strange as you can't see anything due to the mirrored windows anyway. Also, if you zoom in closer, it isn't blurred anymore.

      1. Trainee grumpy old ****

        Re: Something for the conspiracy theorists..?

        If you zoom in real close you suddenly jump "through" the building?

  34. Pete4000uk

    Don't like the navigation but I have found a bathtub on a roof of a house in only 5 minutes

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why am I reminded of the 1960s

    avant-garde film "Blow-up" ?

  36. Parax


    just what is going on Here... Not so clever computer...

    1. ukgnome

      Re: ermm...

      Looks like a fringe event - best encase it in amber.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: ermm...

        Oh, never mind, it's Camden. It's always like that...

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT: please note, the plural of Buzby isn't Buzby's.

  38. VictoriaStamps


    What an excellent way to waste ten minutes :-) And maybe a little bit more.

  39. Natalie Gritpants


    Lots of broken spokes on the London Eye! I'm not going on that till they fix it.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Primrose Hill, London Bridge and immediately below the tower to the south

  41. TheStranger

    Download Possible ?

    Guys has anyone figured out if we can download this ? Would be nice to look at it in all its glory daily without relying on that site.

  42. Barrie Shepherd

    What has happened just to the south of Kings Cross St Pancras? - a load of houses look as though the ground has folded up around them taking the foundations with them.

  43. ukgnome

    Worlds smallest car?

    Tiny car or just damaged?

  44. M Anton
    Thumb Up

    These sorts of images take a phenomenal amount of work

    I shoot 360's panos for fun and even basic 8 shot spherical panos can take a lot of effort to look good.

    I've only done a few 100Mp panos tests and these have taken some decent effort to set up. Bright sunlight is a contrast nightmare so cloudy days give much more consistent exposures and don't even go there with accounting for subject movement and depth of view/field.

    Yes it's a shame there are obvious stitching artefacts but that is a serious amount of images and data to crunch. I wouldn't be surprised if this was a solid week's worth of stitching time.

    This pano of the 2013 Superbowl 'only' had 220 images -

    On a connected note, have a look at this article on shooting ultra hi res artwork - . The £1K camera body would have been the cheapest bit of that platform.

  45. Doug 14

    Not taken during the Olympics ....

    If they wanted to squeeze the juce right down to the pips then why did they not take the pic during the Olympics - as any one of the poor sods who trudge across London Bridge every day could tell you there was an 'Olympic Rings' display ( then the paralympcs squiggle ) suspended from the cross brace of Tower Bridge for the duration and it aint' there !

    Clearly a conspiracy has been exposed , but what is the secret agenda ? Enquiring minds have to know.

  46. Richard Scratcher

    Naked chick strutting about on rooftop garden!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Naked chick strutting about on rooftop garden!

      I like that! It's "The Good Life" for 2013. Ratty wooden window frames and chickens, and next-door has immaculate designer gubbins.

  47. The Serpent

    This is what Sauron must feel like most of the time.

    Prize for the first find of a Google-mobile!

  48. This post has been deleted by its author

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's full frontal nudity ...

    ... if you pan leftfor 3 seconds, forward for 3 seconds, you'll see a McDonalds, pan left a few buildings and you'll see a topless girl sunbathing on a roof.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Re: There's full frontal nudity ...

      At this time of year on an overcast day? You just made that up, didn't you.

  50. King Jack

    Wrecked houses

    Set the compass to NE and pan upwards with a zoom level just before it changes resolution. You will find a group of houses tipped over like an earthquake happened. No Buzbys there.

  51. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

    Whats with some of the sections of the image being on the piss, did the camera flop over or something

  52. Domino

    Time to get a new fridge?

  53. Simulacra75

    Not convinced

    It's claimed these photos were taken "just after the olympics" I spotted an advert for a magazine outside a newsagents that indicated it was the November-December issue of said mag. Just saying.....

  54. caponeuk

    Recorded this... during lunch at the BT tower a few years back. Amazing photograph and city.

  55. Andrew999

    More technical detail

    The image was taken on four cameras and then processed on a Fujitsu CELSIUS R920 workstation with 256GB RAM and 16 cores running at 3.1GHz. Full technical details here

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