Scientists Use a Hasselblad Camera to Create a 45 Gigapixel Image of a Rembrandt Masterpiece

Scientists Use a Hasselblad Camera to Create a 45 Gigapixel Image of a Rembrandt Masterpiece

Scientists at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands have stitched together 528 photographs of one of Rembrandt’s most famous works to create an image that weighs in just shy of 45 gigapixels. You can now visit their website to zoom in far enough to see beyond even the brushstrokes.

You can click here to see the image and be prepared for a lot of zooming.

Rembrandt’s The Night Watch was painted in 1642 and was already famous for its immense size; hanging on the walls of the Dutch museum, it measures 11.91 ft × 14.34 ft (3.63 meters x 4.37 meters). The huge image file allows researchers to zoom into the painting to examine incredibly fine details, giving insights into how the aging process is having an effect.

During the restrictions in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this is incredibly useful to museum staff as it allows them to continue their research without having to visit in person. It also gives the public a chance to gain a fresh appreciation of this Rembrandt masterpiece.

Google Arts and Culture also hosts a high resolution version, though it doesn’t match up to this new composite captured using the 100-megapixel, medium format HasselbladH6D-400c, a camera that costs just under $50,000. Professor Rob Erdmann, senior scientist at the Rijksmuseum, noted on Twitter that the new version has “more than 25 times more data” and is more closely color-managed.

The Google version on the left, compared with the Rijksmuseum version on the right.

To follow the work of Operation Night Watch, the team dedicated to analyzing the painting, click here.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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To think that, in 1715, when De Nachtwacht was moved from Kloveniersdoelen to its new location at de Amsterdam Stadsarchief, it was trimmed on all sides to make it fit!


Really the best way yet to appreciate this masterwork (besides a trip to Amsterdam)

Yet the 45 gigapixels means nothing, when your view is LIMITED TO YOUR MONITOR'S PIXEL RATIO, so you're wrong...


Wow! I could zoom and scroll around that fro hours. Amazing how much detail he painted in the shadows. He was not only a master of the brush, but a master reading and recording light.

since ALL vision is a matter of 'reading and recording light', your comment seems a bit trite

Staring an account just to leave a few negative comments seems a bit troll to me.

Yup. No avatar, fake name, pointlessly confrontational. Classic troll.

Too bad nobody has a 45 gigapixel screen, because the dpi is limited to the individual viewers' computer or smartphone screen... kinda like playing '3 Dimensional Music' on an old AM radio with one speaker.

Honestly?... The 'slider' comparison image makes the 'Google image' seem much clearer and brighter. Also, the two component images that are used in the 'sliding comparison' aren't even lined up correctly, and they are at different zoom levels. The 45 gigapixel component is dark and murky and unimpressive.