Google adds high-res photo zoom to Google+

People now can immerse themselves in high-resolution photos posted on Google+ instead of seeing a blurry version when zoomed in all the way.

The photo-zoom feature in Google+ now lets you dive all the way into a high-resolution image. Here, the gray image in the upper left represents a full photo of Windsor castle, with a bright rectangle spotlighting the zoomed-in portion.
The photo-zoom feature in Google+ now lets you dive all the way into a high-resolution image. Here, the gray image in the upper left represents a full photo of Windsor castle, with a bright rectangle spotlighting the zoomed-in portion. (Click to enlarge.) Stephen Shankland/CNET

Two days ago, I griped that the new photo zoom feature in Google+ didn't work with high-resolution images. But today, it does.

"The blurriness issue you mention has already been fixed," said Dave Cohen, a photographer and Google+ team leader, in response to my experiments posting images ranging from 22 to 80 megapixels.

If you want to take advantage of the full-immersion view that's now available, I uploaded a batch of high-resolution photos from a trip to New Mexico and some even higher-resolution 60- and 80-megapixel shots taken with medium-format Phase One cameras of San Francisco and England.

Google's engineering turnaround here is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, they haven't found a way to magically speed up the download of multigigabyte high-res photos. When I asked Cohen about this (the JPEG XR photo format can show just a portion of a much larger image, for example), he only said, "Stay tuned."

It also can be slow panning around the high-resolution photo in a browser. And the feature doesn't work in full-screen view. But these are nitpicks. I know some photographers only want their photos viewed as an entire work and frown on pixel peeping, but I like to dive in. Even in galleries, I'm prone to walk up close to big prints, squint, and imagine I'm there. Google+ is now a better way to do that.

Getting high-resolution photos into Google+ takes a little work, because Google ordinarily downsamples photos when on upload so the maximum height or width is 2,048 pixels.

You can get around that by enabling automatic Google+ upload on an Android phone or by uploading photos with Google's Picasa photo management software, making sure you check the "original size" option. Note, though, that photos exceeding the 2,048-pixel dimension will count against your Google storage quota.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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