Basic, necessary camera traits for KAP

I'm sorry I haven't found the answers on my own searching. What are the basic characteristics that a KAP camera MUST have, if the images are to be useful for mapping?

Examples (I don't know if these are true) --
+ Able to set focus on "infinity"
+ Intervalometer/timed shutter release OR remote shutter release capability
+ GPS built in
+ Optical quality at least _________ [I don't even know how this is measured]
+ Resolution at least ___________
+ Can over-ride automatic shutter settings


What do you think?
Thank you.


  • edited October 2016
    Some links to begin:

    The problem is a simple one to state: the camera must record as much detail as possible with the subject at a great distance.

    Above all else image RESOLUTION is the most important property of the camera. There is some confusion over what this means but in simple terms resolution is a measure of how much detail and how much distortion is captured in the image. If we look at best practice in air survey the camera has 5 important characteristics:
    big 'negative' or sensor area
    long focal length: as focal length increases, image distortion decreases.
    rectilinear lens,
    small aperture,
    high shutter speed
    Wide angle lenses have greater image distortion characteristics than rectilinear ones, this is a problem because the area covered by each shot from at kite limited to 60AGL is quite small and wide angle views are popular with kappers: the hideous distortion in GoPro images is a price considered worth paying for the wide view and lightweight properties of such a camera but they are the exact opposite of what is required for mapping.

    A classic air survey camera has a long focal length and a large negative area.

    As a general principle the bigger the 'negative' the more light is captured so sensor size is most important. For kite lifting weight is a consideration, in choosing a camera I drew up this table last year:


    The cameras are ranked in weight to sensor size order. We are fortunate to live at a time of tremendous development in camera technology so new cameras with improved resolution appear almost daily so any recommendation I make will be out of date, but as far as I can tell the Sony RX1 remains the lightest 'full frame' sensor camera available.

  • The Ricoh GR is also has a full frame sensor and at 245g is lighter than the Sony RX1.
    The table says it has a fixed 28mm lens. It is a fixed lens but this can be changed to 35mm and 47mm which acts like a two step zoom. I don't know how that's done though.

    Fly High

  • edited October 2016

    The Ricoh GR , fine camera that it is, only has an 'APSC' size sensor: 23.7x15.7mm. 'Full frame' is considered to be 35x 23mm.

    see here for explanation:

    It is possible to fit a converter over the lens but you cannot remove the lens array to replace it with another of different focal length see here for detalis


  • I stand corrected. I understood that it was full frame but obviously not. I'm still very pleased with the photos it takes.

    Fly High

  • @Blakebill91 - Thank you so much for your wonderful explication. You have helped me a great deal. Pleasant days to you.
  • @coreg no problem, mapping by KAP is my favourite kind of work.

    @sue the Ricoh GR11 is an exceptional KAP tool, it ranks as the lightest APSC sensor camera I can find and afford. I'm very pleased with the results I get with it too. I also fly the Leica X1 and Canon Eos M which have a similar sized sensor but the speed of AE on the Ricoh puts them to shame. The Eos M is really good value and has hackable firmware as well as a de-mountable lens which can be handy. The X1 seems to handle colour better than any of them.

    The Sony RX1 is in a class of its own, it proved unpopular with pro 'togs who went for the heavier Alpha series which has a swappable lens. Early model RX1s are going for less than a grand on eBay now. I'm pleased to see it's still in production as the RX1R mk 11 which has a 42Mpx output.

  • edited February 2018
    I just read a small portion of the Wikipedia page that @Blakebill91 linked in his post. That article mentions E.D. Archibald doing the first KAP in 1882.

    Has SOMETHING 'come to light' recently to verify this, or is A. Batut still considered the first, starting in 1888?

    {Thanks in advance....}

    EDIT: The reference on this Wiki page for the Archibald stat is this:

    5. ^ Archibald, Douglas (1897). "The Story of the Earth's Atmosphere". p. 174. Retrieved 2011-04-16.

    The NEXT reference listed on the webpage is our very own Mr. Benton:

    6. ^ Benton, Cris (June 25, 2010). "The First Kite Photographs". Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  • edited February 2018
    There has been new evidence that the photo in Archibald's book dates from 1895.

    The remarkable story of it's capture came to light:

  • I guess a good way to find the appropriate camera can be to check flickr KAP and search specially for camera types. Than you can choose which one you like the best. Smooth winds for you
  • edited February 2018
    Hello Komikite, some Canon compact cameras using CHDK can do the job .
    They can be light :145gr and able to fly by low winds .
    You can use Canon S100 ; My favorite one is the Canon ixus 255hs . It is a 12 Mpixels . It has a good lense .
    You can find one for 100 €

    If you use the video ouput , you can connect a very light video transmitter working in 2.4 Ghz or 5.8Ghz frequencies if needed.
    For very low wind the Gopro camera can help (70gr ) :
    Wolfgang Bieck from Germany is using a very light system ( working on 2.4Ghz ). It is the Wobie .
    It is a Picavet System :<b>WoBie&amp;#39s-KAP&amp;#39n&amp;#39Hook</b>/product_info.html

    It is very cheap and you can use a Gopro or a 4K camera by building the kit.
  • edited February 2018
    Interesting discussion.

    About history, the kite aerial photography shown in Archibald's book the Story of the Earth Atmosphere was taken by Baden Powell, in 1895 as mentioned on links above. Archibald never published any aerial picture. He tested anenometers on kite line in 1882.
    More on Batut and on kap invention historical facts. Also this is the list of the first 10 years known aerial photographs from kite .

    About cameras, nowadays same picture quality can be achieved from any sensors of any sizes having the same pixel amount. For wide angle lenses the more pixels is the better as more details are expected than for tele lens pictures. So 24 Mpx is better than 16 Mpx. However in general a successful 16Mpx picture is providing excellent results.
    Since 2015 my kap practice is a µ4/3 Olympus E-PM2 camera 16 Mpx and interchangeable lens. Shutter release is a simple remote electric contact and there is video output in the same plug. It weights 360g with the Olympus EZ 14-42 mm lens (28-84 mm equivalent) and 345 g with the Panasonic 12-32 mm (24-64 mm equivalent).
  • Dear José,
    Thanks for the advice. I think my post was misunderstand-able. I wanted to give a usable idea for Cogreg (but did not check the date he/she posted).
    I personally like Olympus cameras. No CHDK option, no built in intervalometer -but a helpful group of nice people in the I don't really need more.
    Pls. check out my fb. site: Kite aerial Hungary or - I think you already found me on Flickr (István Komjáthy)
    Smooth winds for you
  • edited February 2018
    THANKS to @Blakebill91 and @Christian for the Archibald info!!!

    {EDIT: My apologies if I seemed to "derail" the topic of this thread. I was just so stunned to read that the Archibald thing might actually be true that I had to ask about it.}
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