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What is an Orthophoto? An orthophoto is a single or series of aerial photographic images in which displacements caused by scale, terrain relief and camera orientation have been removed. Orthophotos have the high visual information content and familiarity of a photograph but contains the geometric qualities of a map and can be used in a multitude of GIS and mapping applications. Orthophotos can be presented as hard-copy or as digital image data. The hard-copy is presented as a photograph and can have contours, grid information or other map details overlaid and can be inserted into a format. Digital orthophotography can be used for interpretation, measurement, quality assurance, or combined with vector map data as a backup to a GIS or CAD model. Currently, orthophotos are generated in a digital environment, the digital image being rectified to an orthographic projection by processing of each individual pixel through photogrammetric computations derived from photo identified ground control points, era calibration and a digital elevation or terrain model. These functions are normally performed on a digital photogrammetric cam CONTENTS workstation. What is required to produce a digital orthophoto? In order to generate a digital orthophoto from aerial photography acquired by an analogue camera, it is first necessary to translate the aerial imagery into a digital format. This is achieved by scanning the original film negatives or film diapositives with a geometrically and radiometrically precise digital scanner. Some photogrammetric scanners have the facility to scan roll film, this leads to significant improvements in scan times for large projects with block photography where 500ft rolls of film may have been used. Once scanned, each image pixel will have a radiometric value and an XY coordinate set unique to that image. Colour film is scanned to record the red, green and blue bands. Consequently, an image file from a colour photograph will be three times larger than a black and white one. It is important to assess whether the scans were generated on a photogrammetric or “desktop” scanner. A photogrammetric quality scanner will provide far superior levels of geometric accuracy and resolution, radiometric performance and colour functionality. The use of a photogrammetric scanner will result in improved image and geometric quality, particularly when considering large scale, highresolution orthophotography. The scanned images are subject to photogrammetric orientation to remove distortions associated with the aerial camera, and scale and relief displacement of the ground control points. Calibrated camera information is used to remove radial lens distortions and affine film shrinkage. The relative and absolute orientation process removes parallax between two adjacent, overlapping photographs and then mathematically scales and levels the stereo-model to the ground control points. At this stage it is necessary to supply a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) or Digital Terrain Model (DTM) to orthorectify every pixel for changes in relief. This is required because an array of pixels that is positioned at the top of a hill will have a different scale to an array of pixels further away from the camera in a valley. A DEM is normally associated with a regular grid of elevation data, whilst a DTM is collected using a more extensive layout where the regular elevation grid is supplemented by terrain breaklines that more accurately define significant changes in terrain data that relates to elevated features such as bridges and overpasses that require particular attention. The orthorectification process is usually undertaken in a digital photogrammetric workstation.


It is therefore essential that the following information is known: > Scale of source aerial photography > Camera calibration data > What medium was scanned (negatives. The linear feature could be distorted badly and may even result in a step between images. a TSA member company would be pleased to advise on this subject. If a 50cm feature needs to be identified. particularly those with a non-photogrammetric background to distinguish between accuracy and resolution. brightness and contrast so that a continuous tone. The smaller files are more easily managed and viewed rapidly. 2 . The final orthophoto is often cut into manageable tiles that may correspond to National Map Agency map sheets or to an existing vector map layout. then the ground resolution should be no greater than 25cm.000 scale photography. contact prints) > Information regarding the scanner used and the resolution of the scanned image > Ground control information > Orientation and rectification solution > The source and quality of the DEM/DTM used to rectify the imagery If in doubt. it is highly likely that the grid would fail to identify sufficient changes in relief to accurately correct the height displacement caused by changes in relief. A product that is quoted as “25cm orthophoto” may refer to either the pixel resolution of the image or the absolute spatial position to the ground coordinate system. seamless orthophoto is produced. The higher resolution images are still available for more detailed analysis and interpretation. This would result in inaccuracies of scale and would be most noticeable if adjacent mages contained a linear feature such as railway that ran along an embankment. diaposotives.0 A typical orthophoto project will often consist of blocks of aerial photographs that have been rectified and mosaiced together. Mosaicing involves balancing the radiometric values concerning colour. If a 50m regular grid elevation model was used to rectify a 10cm resolution image of an urban area from 1:3. The quality of the DEM/DTM used to orthorectify the imagery is an important factor in the resultant accuracy and aesthetic quality of the orthophoto. This has an advantage for the user in that the smaller lower resolution images can be used for review or coarse interpretation. Photogrammetrists generalise that the ground resolution should be half the size of the object to be resolved. It is unlikely that a 25cm size feature could be recognised from an image of the same resolution. Accuracy versus Resolution It is essential for the users of orthophotography. The imagery is sometimes delivered in a data pyramid.DIGITAL ORTHOPHOTOGRAPHY V1. An image that is scanned at a ground resolution of 25cm may have a significantly lower accuracy if poor quality planimetric control was used to scale the product or if a low accuracy DEM was used to correct for relief. where lower resolution images of the base file are delivered together.

0 Metric/Imperial Scan Resolutions Microns (0.4m Size of Uncompressed Data Files for Different Ortho Dimensions based on Different Ground Resolutions Colour Ground Resolution 0.000 1:25.04m 0.5.28m 0.21m 0.7m 1.25m 0.1m 0.000Mb 7500Mb 4800Mb 1200Mb 300Mb 3 .75Mb 1km x 1km 1200Mb 300Mb 75Mb 48Mb 12Mb 3Mb 2km x 1km 2400Mb 600Mb 150Mb 96Mb 24Mb 6Mb 5km x 5km 30.12m 1.000 1:50.2m 0.000 7 Micron 0.07m 0.000 1:40.000 1:10.018m 0.05m 0.035m 0.18m 0.05m 0.1m 28 Micron 0.5m 0.35m 0.75Mb 12Mb 3Mb 0.DIGITAL ORTHOPHOTOGRAPHY V1.07m 0.500 1.28m 0.4m 14 Micron 0.000Mb 30.000Mb 7500Mb 1875Mb 1200Mb 300Mb 75Mb 10km x 10km 120.11m 0.14m 0.7m 21 Micron 0.84m 1.07m 0.001mm) 7 14 21 28 DPI (dots per inch) 3629 1814 1210 907 Size of Uncompressed Data File of a Single 230cm x 230cm Format Aerial Photograph at Different Scan Resolutions 7 Micron 3199Mb 1066Mb 14 Micron 800Mb 267Mb 21 Micron 355Mb 118Mb 28 Micron 200Mb 67Mb Colour B/W Ground Resolution of Aerial Photography at Different Scan Resolutions Photo Scale 1:2.14m 0.5m 1m 500 x 500m 300Mb 75Mb 18.56m 0.

5m 1m 500 x 500m 100Mb 25Mb 6.25Mb 4Mb 1Mb 0.2m 0.0 Black & White Ground Resolution 0.1m 0.05m 0.DIGITAL ORTHOPHOTOGRAPHY V1.000Mb 2500Mb 1600Mb 400Mb 100Mb 4 .000Mb 10.25Mb 1km x 1km 400Mb 100Mb 25Mb 16Mb 4Mb 1Mb 2km x 1km 800Mb 200Mb 50Mb 32Mb 8Mb 2Mb 5km x 5km 10.25m 0.000Mb 2500Mb 625Mb 400Mb 100Mb 25Mb 10km x 10km 40.