Aerial Photography Scale Samples

Different scales of aerial photography will show differing amounts of detail. The following examples show samples of aerial photography to various scales with both digital and film scales.

Aerial Photography Digital Scale Resolution Samples

The following examples illustrate the kind of information that the viewer can expect to resolve with different digital scales of aerial photography. Digital aerial photography resolution is generally expressed as the amount of area covered by one pixel. For example imagery with a one foot pixel resolution will cover one foot of ground in each pixel. One foot pixel imagery is suitable for enlargements to a scale of 1"=100' on prints. The following samples show the on screen resolution of various digital aerial photography scales.

aerial photography resolution with 3           aerial photography resolution with 6

aerial photography resolution with 1' pixel sample           aerial photography resolution with 2' pixel sample

aerial photography resolution with 1 meter pixel sample

Aerial Photography Film Resolution Samples

The following examples illustrate the kind of information that the viewer can expect to resolve with different film scales of aerial photography. The scales are expressed in absolute terms. More information about film scales in aerial photography and the different ways of expressing them is available at high resolution aerial photography.

1:6,000 Aerial Photography Film Scale with Color Aerial Film Stock

An aerial photography film scale of 1:6,000 will not be available for most sites. However, when it is available the amount of information that can be obtained from this imagery is extensive, particularly if flown in stereo. The early morning light on this imagery provides additional opportunities for photo interpretation because of the detailed shadows.

aerial photography 1:6000 color film scale sample

1:24,000 Aerial Photography Film Scale with 1960's Aerial Film Stock

Common film scales for earlier aerial photography are 1:24,000 (or the slighly better 1:20,000). One issue to keep in mind when considering whether a scale will be suitable is that some older film stock may have somewhat less resolving power.

aerial photography 1:24000 film scale sample with 1964 film stock

1:40,000 Aerial Photography Film Scale

Generally, we do not recommend a film scale broader than 1:40,000 for most historical aerial photography applications. Although the resolution of this scale is not ideal, it still can be useful for ascertaining certain information and there is extensive coverage at this resolution for many years.

aerial photography 1:40000 film scale sample



In some instances, where coverage is not available from traditional aerial photography sources, satellite imagery can provide the data required for some applications. Satellite imagery dates back to the 1960s. Early satellite imagery has a very broad resolution scale, but imagery acquired in the last 5 years has a resolution that equals or even surpasses some aircraft acquired aerial photography.

If you have specific questions concerning resolution not covered on this page, please contact Aerial Archives directly.