The Largest Photograph Ever.

December 22, 2005

Interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about how the Museum of Contemporary Art is fighting to reclaim a photograph from a bankrupt company’s possessions, before it gets auctioned off. It is apparently the fourth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history — that of the commodities and futures brokerage Refco Inc.

The photograph, Avenue of the Americas, is by Andreas Gursky, and is a monumental 7ft by 11 ft. It shows an entire office block on the Avenue of the Americas in NYC (previously known as 6th Avenue) at night.

Well, lets see you try to hang THAT in your living room!

So, that brings up a question: how big was the largest single film-based photograph ever taken?

Sure, sure, the largest digital photograph is widely reported to be of the city of Delft, Netherlands, and consists of 2.5 giga-pixels. If printed, the image would be 22 ft by 9 ft. But, that doesn’t really c

ount, IMHO, because it was sewn together from 600 smaller photos. There’s also the QUEST, the world’s largest digital camera . . .but I’m talking about a FILM camera. And there was a 900ft image draped around a British department store. However, I’m not convinced that the image is really a photograph as such.

So, assuming that the world’s largest photograph must have been made with the world’s largest camera, I guess the question is really: what’s the world’s largest camera?

LARGE format

George Lawrence is known to have operated a glass-plate camera that was moved around on a railroad car, and required 15 men to operate and produced images that there 4.5ft by 8ft! He also took a famous photograph of San Francisco — with a camera hanging from a train of KITES! Now, THAT’S some technique – and a darned big camera too!

Compared to that, Polaroid’s Moby C, which can take life-sized pictures of people, is a nit — though the Polaroid film is probably a lot easier to process than a giant wet plate!

So, the question remains: what are the world’s largest film cameras, and photographs? Can anyone answer that question for me?

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Here are some interesting tidbits I picked up whilst perusing the photography press:

 From the Dec 15th issue of Electronic Design:

 While one camera-phone image was printed on average per month in 2004, one image is being printed every three months in 2005.

The entry megapixel level of new camera purchases has increased, with about half of all digital cameras sold now in the 5-Mpixel range and higher.

Women are buying most digital cameras. Women purchased 53% of all digital cameras sold from May to July this year. Women are more than tech savvy. They also demand reliable and intuitive products.

Another survey by estimates that 77% of mobile handsets will be camera phones by 2010.

Sales of digital cameras increased 25% from January through July this year compared to the same period in 2004. Also, sales of 35-mm cameras declined 32.9% in the same period this year.