If you’re familiar with the TIFF image format, you know of the 4GB file size limit.  While that’s a rather large file size to begin with and really gives many photographers and digital imaging specialists unlimited capabilities, for some it is limited.

To start we’ll define TIFF as an uncompressed image file format.  A medical imaging specialist company called Aperio wasn’t satisfied with the TIFF image format that limited them to a 4GB file size, so they created their own format called a BigTIFF.

This BigTIFF file format has resulted in the first ever Terapixel image (1 trillion-pixels).  To put this in perspective for you, this link will direct you to an image of the Sydney Skyline.  It’s 720 megapixels, and when you zoom in, the detail is amazing.  After you’ve tried this out and zoomed all the way in, just imagine the detail that a 1 trillion-pixel image would have. When you start zooming in, it may look blurry, but give it time to clear itself up.

Other images to check out:

Aperio is using it to digitalize images of bone marrow and cancer tissue, and the size is unbelievable.  According to CNET, the images actual file size as a compressed BigTIFF is 143 GB.  My hard drive is 180 GB which means that one photo would take up nearly my whole hard drive!


They also have to use a high-power oil immersion ScanScope slide-scanning system so that the trillion-pixel image is useful. The 1 trillion-pixel image above is composed of 225 slides.

While Terapixel cameras aren’t going to be making it to the retail shelf any time soon, it’s amazing to think about how far they’ve come with this technology, and the technology that imaging specialists have available to them.