Airborne Film Photography From The Past

For more than 30 years, we have owned and operated airborne film cameras. In the past, we operated four of the legendary Zeiss RMK TOP 15 cameras in our inventory. Although aerial color infrared film was discontinued several years prior, we routinely collected aerial photos with black-and-white or color film.

The Legendary Zeiss RMK TOP 15 Film Cameras

Designed as a state-of-the-art photogrammetric camera, the Zeiss RMK TOP cameras we have represent the current state of the art for film aerial mapping cameras which produce geometrically accurate, high-resolution photos. All of our RMK TOP cameras are relatively new and have been proven on project use. Our first RMK TOP camera in our inventory was manufactured in 1998, and our fourth and latest camera was delivered to us in November of 2005. A Track Air Flight Management System is installed in each aircraft, and controls all camera position and exposure operations during the flight. The Track Air – RMK TOP system also automatically annotates each film frame with all individual site identification data. A north arrow is also automatically exposed in the data strip by the RMK TOP cameras as an orientation aid.

Our twin-engine aircraft that have RMK TOP cameras installed have a Zeiss T-AS gyro mount as the camera mounting system. This mounting system stabilizes the camera and prevents many tip and tilt issues during the photography and simplifies the crab correction operation for the photographer.

The quality of an aerial photo is largely determined by the optical quality of the camera lens, the resolution of the film emulsion, and the image motion or residual image motion, as well as the lighting and weather conditions.

The lenses of the RMK TOP offer maximum resolution and freedom from distortion. In practice, we use films that have a high resolution for maximum detail. Unfortunately, high resolution films are less sensitive to light. In the same way as unfavorable light conditions, these high-resolution films necessitate long exposure times. These longer exposure times can be achieved without a loss in quality only if the image motions resulting from the forward and angular movements of the aircraft during the open shutter time are eliminated to the greatest possible extent.

In modern aerial survey cameras, Forward Motion Compensation (FMC) devices eliminate the image motion caused by the forward motion of the aircraft. FMC can be used successfully in good weather conditions; however, the full benefit of image motion compensation becomes obvious only when the roll and pitch of the aircraft need to be compensated.