During the Obama Presidential Inauguration last Tuesday photographer David Bergman attached a robotic arm called the Gigapan Imager onto a railing and snapped 220 images with his Canon G10 to create this amazingly detailed image.
A regular camera fits into the Gigapan Imager. The photographer marks the corners of the panorama and Gigapan calculates how many pictures the camera needs to snap. The robotic device captures hundreds or thousands of photos, and Gigapan software integrates the image afterward. Bergman says that it took his Macbook Pro six and a half hours to finalize the nearly 2 gigabyte image--the highest resolution panorama of the inauguration.
The Gigapan Imager was developed as part of a larger project between Carnegie Mellon University, Google, NASA and National Geographic to create high quality images for maps and disaster relief efforts.
hat tip: MIT Technology Review