UAV Orthophoto and 3D Digital Terrain Model (DTM)

UAV Orthophoto and 3D Digital Terrain Model (DTM)

This is a sample Orthophoto that is a mosaic of a group of images captured using the UAV and techniques described here: UAV Mapping Camera Setup

I have to thank Mark Willis at Palentier for doing the post processing for me. Now I know that the imagery I am capturing with my current set up is usable (without using a camera gimbal) so now I need to figure out a method of post processing that will allow me to achieve similar results to what Mark is doing. I am very impressed overall with the progress that the Archaeology field has made in the geo-visualization realm.

I’m sure there will be a lot of inquiries into this video and I will be limited in my ability to answer the questions but I’ll do my best. That being said, I am now determined to develop a zero cost or very low cost workflow for post processing imagery captured by a small UAV for use in spatial analytics and visualization.

I will be continuing discussions on this and other UAV and geospatial technology.

Please let me know if you have any questions and/or contributions.



  1. GeoHawaii

    Hi guys,

    I just stumbled onto this site, looks really promising! I am just building my first UAV based on the Skywalker airframe out here in Hawaii. I haven’t found any UAV enthusiasts out here so I’ve been reaching out online.

    Anyway, have any of you tried Dronemapper or Pix4D? I’m curious how the results will compare to software such as Agisoft (which I use at work). I also have access to SocetSet which is a professional photogrammetry software, but I’m curious what kind of results will come from it, so far I’ve heard that Structure from Motion (SfM) works much better with UAV’s right now than traditional photogrammetry software.

  2. subarooturbo

    I am glad to see this 3D Digital Terrain Model worked out ok. I have seen your other you tube videos on your hole set up. Your camera is not set up in any type of camera gimbal I am on expert but the notes I have seen say that keeping the camera very flat in the x and y axes is very important. Flying in low wind is ok but having bad turbulence and gusty wind can throw off photo data for processing. Having the plane pitch left right up and down can be unhelpful while taking 3D Digital Terrain photos. Here is a website you may enjoy please let me know how what you think.
    From Alex Wheeler

    • geobduffy

      you are absolutely correct in that having a gimbal that keeps the camera facing down at all times will result in many more use\able photos from a mission in addition to making post processing much easier. However, Mark has proven here, at least for my needs, that a gimbal is not necessary for good results if you have good post processing capabilities. This flight was in 12-16MPH wind, mostly around 15MPH with some gusting and the results are still usable. I will eventually test a roll gimbal I am working on as well.
      Thanks for your comment!

      • jdlester73

        Guys. Many of if not most of the commercial UAV for photogrammetry do not use gimbals for camera stabilization. I have been researching the use of UAV’s for a couple of months now and it seems that some modern software such as Agisoft or Photomodeler Scanner can stitch photos together pretty well taken from different angles. While a completely vertical picture would work best, the altitudes these things are taking images from isn’t that high so the angles produced from the aircraft pitching and rolling are not as exaggerated as if it were taken from altitudes used for conventional photogrammetry.

        • subarooturbo

          You are correct most commercial low cost UAV do not use a camera gimbal but I have noticed some are using a gimbal and they are the more expensive units. For someone not looking to take professional Mapping photos and starting out with on gimbal is just fine. I had a quick look around at camera gimbals and the DIY brushless camera gimbals are getting quite good and easy to make. A DIY camera gimbal may be an enjoyable project to perfect.

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