I'm looking for some application to view some large TIFF images and large mosaics consist of tiff images.

At the moment I have VLIV for viewing large tiff files. And tools based on HD view: HD View Utilities and Image Composite Editor.

Any suggestions from GIS world?

  • gimp. while not actually designed for viewing images, also works well – barrycarter Apr 20 at 15:29

Any of the common GIS systems can handle large rasters (TIFF, JPEG, BMP etc etc). You can choose from paid-for solutions like ArcGIS or free ones like QGIS (SAGA and GRASS are available as stand-alone solutions but are also bundled with QGIS).

The GIS packages are pretty good at creating pyramids (down-sampled preview versions) which help with zooming and faster rendering on-screen when zoomed out. In QGIS, you can tell it to build Pyramids using Raster->Miscellaneous->Build overviews. Which might be a good idea for very large Tiffs before opening them.

Of course you haven't defined what you mean by 'large' but I am assuming you mean > 1GB. If you have really huge TIFFs then you may want to consider tiling the image and then creating a Virtual Raster Catalog (which allows the GIS to treat the tiles as one giant raster image but only needing to load the bits you can see at any one time - thus saving memory and allowing your to pan and zoom truely massive images). There are plenty of tools around to do that but one option is the excellent (and free) GDAL utilities (see gdal2tiles.py - this isn't a view, it just makes the tiles).

You will need to tell most GIS systems about your mosaics if they already exist. In QGIS, go to Raster->Miscellaneous->Build virtual raster (catalog).

Finally, as much will depend on the graphics capability of your computer as the software. A decent graphics card and plenty of RAM are a must if you want to view large images. The lower the capacity of your machine, the earlier you will need to consider tiling your image.

I've concentrated on QGIS because you will get a lot of support on this site and it is free. Other GIS packages are available and will also work well.

  • 1
    A multi-gigabyte sized image can well be stored as a one single file if image format allows it. For geospatial images I recommend BigTIFF as an open and well supported format. All geospatial images should be internally tiled and have overviews (pyramids). About tiling and compressing tiff: gdal.org/frmt_gtiff.html and about creating overviews gdal.org/gdaladdo.html. – user30184 Oct 21 '14 at 12:40
  • @user30184 and what about viewer for gdal and BigTiff? – mrgloom Oct 21 '14 at 13:22
  • QGIS is fine, it is using GDAL for rasters. OpenEV viewer may work as well but I am not sure if I have ever tried it with BigTIFF. It can be installed with OSGeo4W trac.osgeo.org/osgeo4w but if I remember right there was some trick with launching the viewer. – user30184 Oct 21 '14 at 13:30

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