A quick comparison of HD View v. Google Earth 4.2 Photo Viewing

When the Google Earth team announced Gigapixel and panoramic support last week I was eager to try it out.  So, this weekend I spent some time exploring the new Gigapxl Photos layer.  As I’ve mentioned before, Graham Flint from the Gigapxl project was one of our inspirations to begin creating very large immersive images, so it was great to finally be able to explore his imagery.  It was also cool to hear that Michael Jones, Google Earth CTO, took some of the pictures.  That certainly increases his street cred.

After playing around with the provided Gigapxl content I wanted to try it out on some of my own content.  I followed the lead of the Digital Urban blog and used Gigapan to upload a panorama.  I hadn’t visited the Gigapan site in a few weeks and it looks like they’ve recently done a big update.  I really like their new panorama upload and sharing service.  And the snapshot feature on their site is very nicely implemented – alas they had the virtualphoto tag concept already implemented before I blogged about it last week.  I’ll definitely be in line to buy the Gigapan hardware when it comes out later this year.  I’m looking forward to creating some great HD View content with it.

I uploaded a large 360 degree panorama of Mt. Rainier to the Gigapan site and used their tool to geocode its position.  This generated a kml file which I could then open with Google Earth.  I also created an HD View page for the same panorama.  Below is a table summarizing what I consider to be some key features in a panoramic image viewer, and how HD View and Google Earth stack up.


Google Earth 4.2 Photo Viewing

HD View




Integrated in a world browsing application



Use it on your own web site



Handles arbitrarily large images



Supports panoramic images



Uses GPU acceleration



Dynamically change projection depending on zoom level



Dynamic tone adjustment



Uses HD Photo (JPEG XR) for up to 50% faster download times



Has a blog dedicated to immersive images



But I’m clearly biased, so I won’t do a full review.  Rather I’ll provide three links that you can try for exploring my Mt. Rainier image.  Let me know what you think.

(1) Gigapan Flash Viewer, (2) from Gigapan page select View in Google Earth 4.2, (3) HD View


*: I exchanged a few emails with Gigapan and was able to get the kml functioning somewhat.  But, I’m seeing the same issues with Google Earth as the Digital Urban blog and subsequent commenters did.  I’d be happy to post additional fixes to this kml file if someone can provide further improvements.

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One Response to A quick comparison of HD View v. Google Earth 4.2 Photo Viewing

  1. Vasudev says:

    I have installed HDview beta2 plugin, but whenever I try to open,  say the above given link Mt. Rainier image , I am getting Error like this:HD View Error: Could not create scene from file http://research.microsoft.com/ivm/hdview/wa/MtRainier/l_{l}/c_{c}/tile_{r}.wdp.hr=0x800401f0I am using Windows XP SP2 and IE7. What could be the reason for this error. Is my system not according to requirement for HD view? Is the graphics capability of my system insufficient?

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