The Highest-Resolution Photograph in the World

From "Masterpiece Home Theater," by Virginia Heffernan, New York Times Sunday Magazine (12/02/07):

"'Water Lilies' is the second-most-popular cellphone wallpaper sold by water_liliesBoston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which opened a new digital-images shop in September. This service is only the latest future-shock innovation at the museum, a civilized institution that has nonetheless adopted what one tech reporter scarily described as a policy of “aggressive digital-capture.” Having taken high-resolution photos of 350,000 works in its collection, and having magnanimously made almost all of them all searchable on its Web site, the M.F.A. now has one of the biggest image databases of any art museum in the world...

"Really, though, the high-res 'Water Lilies' has nothing on the stratospheric-res 'Last Supper,' which you can see free at the Web site HaltaDefinizione.com. That’s right: da Vinci’s glorious mural — which time has rendered as delicate as a watercolor, and which you can’t see for even 15 minutes live in Milan unless you have a reservation and have been professionally decontaminated — is now the subject of what is said to be the highest-resolution photograph in the world.

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"Under the direction of the curator Alberto Artioli, an Italian tech firm called Hal9000 took nine hours earlier this year to shoot the mural, using a robot-controlled Nikon D2X digital camera that popped a wincing but harmless flash on 1,677 distinct pieces of the mural. Shot at 12 million pixels each, these pieces were digitally stitched together like a computerized quilt, radically increasing the resolution. The result blows the mind: an image that can be scrutinized as closely as if you had your nose to the mural, in perfect daylight, with 20/10 vision, wearing contact lenses made of microscopes."