Sunday, May 2, 2010

Seadragon - A New Way to Pixel Peep

After this talking about macro comparisons in this last post, I began thinking about taking another look at the Tokina in relation to my other favorite macros, the Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 and the Lester A. Dine 105mm f/2.8. I was curious how they might render the same situation differently. A realistic situation rather than a flat dollar or test. In searching for a good way to effectively embed some means by which you as a reader can quickly view results, I found Seadragon.

I first heard about this type of technology through a TED talk (which are awesome by the way!). If you are unfamiliar with these, they are a collection of presentations by the most brilliant and charismatic minds of our time. Anyway, some of the potential uses for this Seadragon technology are quick viewing and rendering of high volumes of image content with maximized zoom capability. The demo shows the guys viewing all the images on a hard drive at once, then quickly zooming into a specific image, all the way down to the pixels; all this was done quickly and fluidly.

The spider at the top is a quick sample geared towards drawing you in and obviously demonstrating the technology. Also, it was probably a quicker upload than a more busy scene. Did it work?

Now for the more practical application, pixel peeping. Currently I have yet to determine the exact parameters since I have just discovered it and not read much into it. Why am I already writing about it if I don't know all that much? Well, because it is exciting! So while I learn some more about it, have a look at this:

Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 "Bokina"

You can utilize the navigation tools near the lower right corner, or if on a mac laptop, you can simply put two fingers down on the track pad and smoothly cruise across the image, zoom in and out, without even "lifting a finger"!

How To Do It

The process is surpisingly simple. To do this all you need to do is:

1. Upload a high resolution image (doesn't have to be high res but there's not much need for this tool unless there is a lot of content to zoom into).

2. Have images hosted at some specific URL. I quickly created a free account with After uploading, PicturePush gives you the URL to share as well as other codes for embedding, etc. I clicked 'full' to view the image at full size before copying the URL to Seadragon's site. I didn't check if this makes a difference yet.

3. Go to and enter your URL. Click 'Create'.

4. Now you can use the embedding code given to post elsewhere!

For the comparison's sake, here are the three renderings:

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro

Lester A. Dine 105mm f/2.8 (Kiron)

I'm still working on perfecting the application and understanding all the quirks about the system, but it's a start! Anyway, I thought it a great thing to share!

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