World’s tallest tripod: This record-breaking Nikon-equipped tower shoots Tokyo from every angle


posted Friday, May 31, 2013 at 10:46 PM EST

How tall would you guess the world's loftiest tripod to be? If you guessed a little over a thousand feet, you're certainly in the ballpark -- read on to see if you hit the nail on the head! (And if not, better luck next time.)

A little over a year ago, a record-breaking new tower dubbed the Tokyo Skytree was officially opened in the Japanese capital, and it plays host to an array of twelve Nikon digital SLRs that shoot the city from above. At a mindblowing 2,080 feet (634m), Tokyo Skytree is currently the second-tallest manmade structure in the world behind only Dubai's amazing Burj Khalifa skyscraper. Not only that, Skytree is the tallest tower ever made, and the tallest structure in Japan. And although it's largely a tower, at its base Skytree forms a tripod structure.

Even if you don't speak Japanese, this promotional video gives you a great idea of the spectacular view captured by a dozen Nikon digital SLRs from high upon the recently-opened Tokyo Skytree tower.

The array of Nikon SLRs -- a dozen Nikon D3s bodies, each mounted with an AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D lens -- aren't all the way at the top of the tower, however. They encircle Skytree's Tembo deck, which is at the 1,150 feet (350m) level, and they record the ever-changing metropolis at regular intervals, 24/7/365. 

The setup, jointly created by Nikon and architectural / building management company Nomura, can shoot images at intervals from 30 seconds and up. Typically, it shoots one round of images every ten minutes in the daytime, and one every hour at night. (Even at the standard rate, that's somewhere in the region of 3-400,000 images per year, between all four cameras.

This setup captures high-res photography from high above Tokyo night or day, rain or shine.

All these images are stored in servers on-site, and can be stitched together and used to create time-lapse movies showing changes in the city over time. Cleverly, they can also be used to give an idea of the fine-weather views outside the building on days where the weather isn't so great, giving visitors who may have traveled some significant distance a good substitute for what they came to see. The stitched panoramas can also be viewed online, and paying subscribers can download high-res 70 megapixel panos in near-real time.

Intrigued by the setup and the impressive structure on which it's housed? Nikon has published a four-page interview describing both in detail, and it makes for rather interesting reading. Hop on over to to take a look! And if you want to get an idea of the epic scale of Skytree, scroll down. (And down. And down some more.)

(via Nikon Rumors)

The spectacular Tokyo Skytree is the second-tallest manmade structure on earth, and the tallest tower anywhere. Image courtesy of Tokyo Skytree.