The photographic camera - developed from three dozen cameras rolled into one - can render high-resolution images of a patient's skin to help doctors spot melanoma and save lives.
"The camera is designed to find lesions potentially indicating skin cancers on patients at an earlier stage than current skin examination techniques," said study co-author Daniel Marks from Duke University in North Carolina.
Normally a dermatologist examines either a small region of the skin at high resolution or a large region at low resolution, but a "gigapixel image does not require a compromise between the two", he added.
The gigapixel camera essentially combines 34 microcameras into one.
With a structure similar to a telescope and its eyepieces, the camera combines a precise but simple objective lens that produces an imperfect image with known irregularities.
The 34 microcameras are arranged in a "dome" to correct these aberrations and form a continuous image of the scene.
The exposure time and focus for each microcamera can be adjusted independently and a computer can do a preliminary examination of the images to determine if any areas require future attention by the specialists.
The research is scheduled to be presented at the Optical Society's (OSA) 98th annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona, Oct 19-23.