Aerial photographic equipmentthe digital age!

By: Keith Mcgregor
(It must be remembered however that satellite imagery rarely competes with Oblique Aerial Photographywhere and angle is required) For many years aerial photographers liketheir land-based colleagues have relied on film and it has only been inthe last few years that the digital equipment has been able to rivalfilm. This is still not true for large prints where medium format filmcameras provide the benchmark in perfect conditions such as display Construction Photography.

The main advantages digital has over film: -

  • Greater flexibility – allows photography in poorer condition whichwould not normally be possible, e.g. Photography in low light - ISO’sup to and above 1600.
  • Immediate data recall and review while on location.
  • No changing film.
  • High capacity memory cards allow hundreds of images on one card(depending on image size) - especially important where a large numberof images are to be taken in a short space of time, such as Event Aerial Photography.
  • Image stabilization on lenses.
  • Immediate image transfer from the office to clients.
  • Easier archiving of electronic data with instant recall.
  • Easier manipulation of images for both archiving in Aerial Photographic Libraries and e-mailing.
  • Disadvantages of digital over film: -

  • Limitation in size of printable image depending on size of sensor.Most semi-pro DSLR’s do not have full frame sensorsPsychology Articles, therefore smallerthan 35mm. Professional DSLR cameras do have full frame sensors butthese are roughly the equivalent of a 35mm film camera and no larger.
  • Meduim format digital cameras are not usually appropriate for usein Aircraft due to the restriction on ISO settings and the very highcost.
  • Possible to loose data inadvertently.
  • Camera battery power is paramount.
  • Need for constant hardware and software upgrades.
  • For many aerial photographers the move to digital equipment has notonly provided greater flexibility but has also reduced processing costsas many clients will not require prints but only the digital files on adisc. Although there will be a large initial outlay for the equipmentthe savings over time on the lab processing fees should outweigh these.

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