Big developments in aerial photography technology

Big developments in aerial photography technology

During my 45 or so years carrying out aerial photography the biggest technical advance by far has come in the last couple of years. About a decade ago the concept of digital photography began to make itself felt in professional photography circles but, in my opinion, the technology had not advanced far enough to challenge the quality produced by the medium format film cameras which I continued to use for shots which required the highest level of detail. For many years a trusty duo of Pentax 67 cameras were my standard tools.

Then Nikon produced two new cameras – and simultaneously a new range of lenses – which were a quantum leap forward so far as I was concerned. First there was the D4, which has a comparatively small pixel count, but which possesses unbelievable speed – both in terms of low light capability and in frames per second – and then the D800E which has a huge pixel count and produces images of the very highest resolution. In motoring terms you could call the D4 a high performance sports car while the D800 is a luxury limousine – they complement each other according to the circumstances and requirements. The new lenses which I eluded too are a range of very high speed f1.4 lenses ranging from 24mm to 85mm which permit photography in very low light levels.

With this equipment I can now produce a style of aerial photography which was previously unachievable. And that is to fly parallel to a railway line or road and take photographs at 1/8000 th of a second at frequent regular intervals to show work being carried out in pin-sharp detail Also there used to be standard joke in the office about a client who would ring up to enquire about aerial photography at night – with the Nikon D4 this is perfectly feasible over normally lit townscapes.