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    Rights statement: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Progress in Physical Geography, 41 (3), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Progress in Physical Geography page: http://journals.sagepub.com/ppg on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/

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Cameras and settings for aerial surveys in the geosciences: Optimising image data

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Progress in Physical Geography
Issue number3
Volume41
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)325-344
Publication statusPublished
Early online date3/05/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Aerial image capture has become very common within the geosciences due to the increasing affordability of low-payload (<20 kg) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for consumer markets. Their application to surveying has subsequently led to many studies being undertaken using UAV imagery and derived products as primary data sources. However, image quality and the principles of image capture are seldom given rigorous discussion. In this contribution we firstly revisit the underpinning concepts behind image capture, from which the requirements for acquiring sharp, well-exposed and suitable image data are derived. Secondly, the platform, camera, lens and imaging settings relevant to image quality planning are discussed, with worked examples to guide users through the process of considering the factors required for capturing high-quality imagery for geoscience investigations. Given a target feature size and ground sample distance based on mission objectives, the flight height and velocity should be calculated to ensure motion blur is kept to a minimum. We recommend using a camera with as large a sensor as is permissible for the aerial platform being used (to maximise sensor sensitivity), effective focal lengths of 24–35 mm (to minimise errors due to lens distortion) and optimising ISO (to ensure the shutter speed is fast enough to minimise motion blur). Finally, we give recommendations for the reporting of results by researchers in order to help improve the confidence in, and reusability of, surveys through providing open access imagery where possible, presenting example images and excerpts and detailing appropriate metadata to rigorously describe the image capture process.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Progress in Physical Geography, 41 (3), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Progress in Physical Geography page: http://journals.sagepub.com/ppg on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/