GSM 4000 added to UltraMount gyrostabilized mounts for UltraCam sensors

UltraMount_GSM4000.444The Microsoft UltraCam Team is pleased to share with you that in partnership with Somag AG Jena we are now offering the UltraMount GSM 4000 gyro-stabilized mount.

Compatible with all UltraCam sensor models, the GSM 4000 builds on the legacy of the GSM 3000 mount used by aerial data acquisition companies worldwide to manage sensor movement during data capture missions but naturally features a number of enhancements that includes:

  • Increased payload: 120kg. UltraCam systems weigh in at between 55kg and 85kg depending on the model and lens configuration.
  • Reduced weight: 29kg. Adds less weight to the overall payload.
  • A simplified control panel makes mount operation more intuitive and easy-to-use.
  • Includes SOMAG tablet and app for parameter setup and management.
  • Downward compatible to GSM 3000.
  • Angles
    • Pitch: 8.8 deg.
    • Roll: 7.0 deg.
    • Drift: 25.0 deg.

Flying season is almost upon us and many of you may be considering updating or increasing your sensor capabilities. Be sure to consider your current mount situation and needs when you talk to your UltaCam rep so that we can plan accordingly!

For more details on this impressive new mount, see the SOMAG GSM 4000 web page.

– Jerry Skaw, Microsoft UltraCam Team

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Microsoft UltraMap Software Now Available Through Subscription

UM graphicIn yet another move to demonstrate our commitment to the changing landscape of the aerial data acquisition and mapping market, the Microsoft UltraCam team recently announced that our UltraMap photogrammetric workflow software can now be licensed via a subscription basis.

This is obviously great news for UltraCam operators but is also a great development for mapping organizations that don’t own and operate camera systems but that nonetheless work with UltraCam data. The new subscription model allows licensing of those UltraMap modules that they need to generate and export high-density point clouds, digital surface models, and orthophotos (both DSM and DTM based) from data collected with UltraCam systems. Subscribers can take advantage of the latest version of the UltraMap software for a monthly fee, using only what the modules they need for the time they need it.

Full press release below. Contact the sales rep for your region should you have any questions.

– Jerry Skaw, Microsoft UltraCam Team

 

UltraMap Workflow Software Available by Subscription

Graz, Austria — November 20, 2014 — Microsoft’s UltraCam business unit and subsidiary is offering a new subscription plan for the UltraMap workflow software system, in addition to the existing purchase option. UltraMap consists of a suite of modules that provide highly automated processing capabilities to rapidly generate quality UltraCam aerial data products.

To meet the needs of customers who could benefit from using specific UltraMap modules for limited periods of time, Microsoft is now offering subscriptions from 3 months to 60 months in duration. Average monthly costs decrease as the length of the subscription increases, and upgrades are automatically included during the contract period. The subscription plan differs from the purchase option in that there are no one-time upfront costs and no annual maintenance fees to obtain upgrades.

Within the UltraMap suite, the Essentials module is required to convert the raw UltraCam data into radiometrically-corrected and color-balanced image files to be used in further downstream processing and is available for purchase only. The advanced modules available on a purchase or subscription basis include Aerial Triangulation (AT), DenseMatcher and Ortho Pipeline. The AT module uses a least-squares bundle adjustment on overlapping aerial images to generate a precise exterior orientation for an entire image block. DenseMatcher creates high-density point clouds, digital surface models and digital terrain models from level-2 images, and OrthoPipeline generates the final ortho mosaic from all available inputs. A subscription allows the customer to access the modules they need, when they need them.

“The subscription plan is an example of how Microsoft is restructuring our product line to better align with our customers’ requirements,” said Alexander Wiechert, Microsoft Business Director. “The UltraMap subscription is a cost-effective solution that makes the latest software modules available to everyone.”

Please contact your sales representative for pricing.

About UltraMap

The UltraMap workflow software includes the following features:

  • High-density 3D point cloud generation, with a point density of several hundred points per square meter, derived from an UltraCam photo mission
  • Highly accurate and detailed digital surface model (DSM) generation
  • Filtering of a DSM into a digital terrain model (DTM)
  • Generation of DSMOrtho (orthomosaic based on an automatically generated DSM) and DTMOrtho (traditional ortho mosaic) images

About Microsoft’s UltraCam Business Unit

With its operations based in Graz, Austria, and sales and support teams in North America and Asia, Microsoft’s UltraCam business unit brings more than two decades of photogrammetry expertise to Microsoft’s Bing Maps business unit. The division is responsible for the highly successful line of UltraCam digital aerial mapping systems that today include the UltraCam Hawk, UltraCam Falcon, and UltraCam Eagle digital photogrammetric sensors, and the UltraCam Osprey nadir/oblique photogrammetric digital aerial sensor. Also offered is the UltraNav Flight Management and Direct Georeferencing system, designed to maximize the efficiency of UltraCam aerial mapping. Rounding out the UltraCam offerings is the fully integrated UltraMap workflow software system.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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One-Stop Shopping for Pre-Owned UltraCam Digital Aerial Sensor Systems

IMG_1515_small_cutThe Microsoft UltraCam team announced last week that we are now listing pre-owned UltraCam systems for sale on our UltraCam web site. This is great news for organizations that are looking for a cost-effective means of breaking into the digital acquisition market as well as existing UltraCam customers who need to bolster their digital arsenal because it means they can come directly to the manufacturer for a refurbished system that is certified and backed by the UltraCam team.

This new program has some fantastic benefits for the buyer of a pre-owned system as it ensures that they get real value while avoiding the risk of buying a used system from the open market.  The pre-owned UltraCam cameras offered by Microsoft come with one year full manufacturer warranty. They have been fully tested and calibrated and so are delivered with a fresh calibration report. Any necessary hardware updates have also been made. Missing components such as UltraMap photogrammetric workflow software, or UltraMount can be added to the package if needed for a complete data acquisition system. And the cameras can be put under hardware maintenance immediately without any further service or calibration. Installation and training will be received directly from our world-class UltraCam Support team to get you up to speed as fast as possible.

This is also good news for UltraCam customers who have upgraded to newer systems and are now looking to resell their older UltraCam systems because they can work with the UltraCam team to resell those systems through this new program and in turn offer potential buyers all the advantages mentioned above.

In addition to pre-owned system, the “Cameras For Sale” page of our web site will also include brand new older generation UltraCam Systems. (The current third-generation UltraCam line includes the UltraCam Hawk, UltraCam Falcon, UltraCam Eagle and UltraCam Osprey Prime).

For more information, take a look at the full announcement below.

-Jerry Skaw, Microsoft UltraCam Team

 

One-Stop Shopping for Pre-Owned UltraCam Cameras

 Graz, Austria — November 18, 2014 — Microsoft’s UltraCam business unit and subsidiary has created a new online marketplace that lists refurbished, pre-owned UltraCam cameras for sale. For customers looking for a low-cost entry point to the award-winning line of digital aerial camera systems, or those adding to an existing pool of digital resources, this is the place for one-stop shopping.

To ensure that UltraCam cameras being sold on the secondary market meet Microsoft’s operating qualifications, Microsoft is acting as a broker for pre-owned cameras. As part of its responsibilities, Microsoft refurbishes, calibrates and certifies every camera, and includes a one-year warranty. Brokered cameras are also eligible for maintenance contracts. Besides the benefit of acquiring a quality, fully-functioning, manufacturer-certified digital camera to enhance their aerial acquisition services, buyers have the opportunity to save money on combined hardware and UltraMap software purchased through Microsoft.

In addition to pre-owned cameras offered by the current owners and trade-ins received by Microsoft, there are also brand new 2nd generation cameras available, such as the UltraCamXp and UltraCamLp, which are no longer manufactured but are fully supported under maintenance contracts.

“Microsoft believes that by providing a centralized marketplace for manufacturer-certified pre-owned UltraCam cameras, we lower the risk for buyers,” said Alexander Wiechert, Microsoft Business Director. “We hope to ensure that every UltraCam experience is a good one.”

Please refer to Cameras for Sale on the Microsoft website for a listing of available equipment.

About Microsoft’s UltraCam Business Unit

With its operations based in Graz, Austria, and sales and support teams in North America and Asia, Microsoft’s UltraCam business unit brings more than two decades of photogrammetry expertise to Microsoft’s Bing Maps business unit. The division is responsible for the highly successful line of UltraCam digital aerial mapping systems that today include the UltraCam Hawk, UltraCam Falcon, and UltraCam Eagle digital photogrammetric sensors, and the UltraCam Osprey nadir/oblique photogrammetric digital aerial sensor. Also offered is the UltraNav Flight Management and Direct Georeferencing system, designed to maximize the efficiency of UltraCam aerial mapping. Rounding out the UltraCam offerings is the fully integrated UltraMap workflow software system.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

 

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UltraCam Web Seminar: Do You Speak Digital?

digitalFor aerial acquisition companies that still operate exclusively with film sensors, the digital arena can seem like a different world with its own language. Many film flyers approach discussions about migrating from their film systems to digital systems with concerns over differences in base-to-height ratio, focal lengths and concepts such as scale versus ground sample distance.

Join the UltraCam team’s chief scientist Dr. Michael Gruber in this 45-minute webinar that discusses the aspects of aerial data acquisition to be considered when replacing more traditional analog approaches with those based on newer digital technologies. The discussion covers data collection as well as post-processing, and focuses on Microsoft UltraCam hardware and software systems. Come armed with your questions for the Q&A that will follow the presentation. Better yet, send your questions to ensure they are addressed during the presentation: ultracam@microsoft.com.

Visit the UltraCam Events page of the UltraCam web site for registration details.

-Jerry Skaw, Microsoft UltraCam Team

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Beyond Base-to-Height Ratio: Considerations for Evaluating Digital Sensors

When talking to data acquisition companies that are just now looking to transition from film to digital sensors, the topic of base-to-height ratio sometimes still  comes up. This is often because some sensor manufacturers overemphasize b/h ratio to hide shortcomings of other factors in their camera design. While b/h ratio is not unimportant, it is not the only determining factor with respect to vertical height accuracy and has lost its significance in digital photogrammetry. There are other factors in the digital camera world that have an even greater impact:

  • The overall geometric modeling of a digital camera is important. It contains the high-quality geometry calibration and the stability of the camera. B/h achieves nothing if the camera is not calibrated and geometrically stable.
  • The PAN channel radiometric dynamic range is also an important consideration. The more that details are visibly clear and sharp in the PAN channel, the better and more accurate the matching results will be. If the PAN channel has a low dynamic range, it lacks detail and you cannot measure precisely what is not clearly and sharply visible in the image. All UltraCam systems feature adynamic range of 7,600 grey values!

    dynamic range image

    A high dynamic range allows us to get more detail out of areas that are traditionally featureless.

  • A fast frame interval almost completely eliminates disadvantages of a lower b/h ratio. In today’s digital era, you can go to a huge forward overlap (80%, 90%) without additional costs (film, development, scanning, handling), allowing multi-ray matching and the use of more than two images for measurement. This drives vertical accuracy and adds robustness.
  • A PAN channel for the matching. Some cameras achieve matching using an RGB Bayer pattern sensor only. Bayer pattern simply means that the interpolation between individual red, green and blue pixels is already done on the CCD and leads to lower vertical (and horizontal) accuracy in photogrammetric measurements. All UltraCam systems feature a panchromatic channel!
  • Have completely parallax-free images. Parallax introduces geometric error into each image which depends on flight height and the variation of the height in each image. To get parallax-free images you need an accurate camera model which allows fitting the camera geometry into the co-planarity condition. Modern digital photogrammetry solves this through software.  This approach is well-known as software-leveraged hardware.

When evaluating digital sensors, be sure to evaluate the camera with these considerations in mind. At the end of the day you want a system that surpasses, not matches, the film sensor you are replacing.

– Jerry Skaw, Microsoft UltraCam Team

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GEOCART Purchases UltraCam Falcon in Germany

Geocart logoOperating since 1966, GEOCART GmbH knows about data capture and  photogrammetry.  Add to this their experience with operating UltraCam large format camera systems, and it’s a nice endorsement for the UltraCam Falcon that the German company recently added one to their arsenal of data acquisition tools that also includes the UltraCam Eagle.

What I love about the UltraCam Falcon is the configuration options that are available to customers when purchasing. The choice of footprints and lens focal lengths allows buyers to acquire a system that is tailor-made for their projects. The smart people at GEOCART apparently share this appreciation for this particular UltraCam model.

Congratulations to everyone at GEOCART GmbH from the entire UltraCam team!

(Full press release below.)

-Jerry Skaw, Microsoft UltraCam Team

GEOCART Purchases UltraCam Falcon in Germany

Graz, Austria — July 31, 2014 — GEOCART GmbH has contracted with Microsoft’s UltraCam business unit and subsidiary to purchase an UltraCam Falcon, one of the well-known third-generation UltraCam digital aerial camera systems being adopted worldwide.

The UltraCam Falcon offers a versatile platform for aerial mapping projects. The system is available with two different focal lengths–a standard 100mm focal length or a wide-angle 70mm focal length–and two different footprint sizes (14,430 pixels across or 17,310 pixels across the flight strip).

GEOCART selected the 100mm lens and the 14,430 pixel footprint configuration, which offers the flexibility to utilize the Falcon in conjunction with its UltraCam Eagle, also equipped with a 100mm lens, for large projects, or to fly the Falcon alone at low-level altitudes to obtain high-resolution images. The Falcon’s frame rate of up to one second captures images up to 2cm ground resolution.

“The UltraCam Falcon complements our large-format UltraCam Eagle camera,” said Dr. Thore Kiski, owner of GEOCART. “Together the Falcon and Eagle give us the opportunity to cover a wide range of applications requiring everything from high image resolution at low flying altitude to quick coverage of huge areas at high altitude with a very large footprint.”

GEOCART began operating UltraCam systems in 2007 with its purchase of an UltraCamX. Since that time, it has purchased and flown the UltraCam Eagle with 80mm, 100mm and 210mm lenses, as well as completed projects with the UltraCam Osprey. “We look forward to enhancing our operations with the capabilities of the Falcon,” said Kiski.

“GEOCART continues to be receptive to adopting the latest UltraCam technology to achieve increased efficiency and better quality products and services,” said Alexander Wiechert, Microsoft Business Director. “The UltraCam Falcon is a highly useful addition to GEOCART’s data acquisition resources.”

About the UltraCam Falcon
The UltraCam Falcon features include:

  • PAN, color and NIR data captured in one pass
  • Ground Sample Distance (GSD) up to 2cm
  • Choice between two image footprint sizes (14,430 * 9,420 pixels or 17,310 * 11,310 pixels across the flight strip)
  • Choice between two lens focal lengths (the standard 100mm Pan or wide-angle 70mm Pan)
  • Integrated unit that contains all components in the sensor head
  • Solid-state image storage system that holds approximately 7,500 images (with 14,430 pixel footprint) and 5,200 images (with 17,310 pixel footprint)
  • Compatible with UltraNav flight management and direct georeferencing system from Applanix

About Microsoft’s UltraCam Business Unit
With its operations based in Graz, Austria, and sales and support teams in North America and Asia, Microsoft’s UltraCam business unit brings more than two decades of photogrammetry expertise to Microsoft’s Bing Maps business unit. The division is responsible for the highly successful line of UltraCam digital aerial mapping systems that today include the UltraCam Hawk, UltraCam Falcon, and UltraCam Eagle digital photogrammetric sensors, and the UltraCam Osprey nadir/oblique photogrammetric digital aerial sensor. Also offered is the UltraNav Flight Management and Direct Georeferencing system, designed to maximize the efficiency of UltraCam aerial mapping. Rounding out the UltraCam offerings is the fully integrated UltraMap workflow software system, with features that include high-density 3D point cloud creation, highly accurate and detailed digital surface model (DSM) generation, and ortho mosaicing capabilities based on an automatically generated DSM or traditional DSM.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

About GEOCART GmbH
Since its origin in 1966, GEOCART GmbH has built a reputation as a leading German supplier of photogrammetric products and services with highly experienced employees utilizing the most modern technology available in the fields of surveying, photogrammetry and remote sensing. GEOCART conducts aerial photo flights using a Cessna 402 and turbine engine Piper Cheyenne IIXL, specially equipped with UltraCamX, UltraCam Eagle, and UltraCam Falcon digital camera systems. The firm mainly operates in Europe with additional international focus in areas such as Iraq. For more information about the company, go to www.geocart.de or contact Dr. Thore Kiske at (+49) 02366/1095-0 or kiske@geocart.de.

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Microsoft UltraCam Case Study: Leading Edge Geomatics

LEGO LOGOI am attending the MAPPS Summer meeting this week in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Not a bad place to be in July: it is beautiful in this part of the country and we have had perfect flying weather. Meanwhile, we have mostly been holed up in the hotel meeting rooms networking and discussing the business of mapping. A question that I have been asked–and that I am often asked when working with prospective new UltraCam operators–is what does installation and training look like. To this, I tell prospects that when their new UltraCam is delivered it is followed by someone from our Implementation and Support team who will install the system, train the operator on its use and then on the use of our UltraMap software, and that the whole experience is a matter of about a business week.  I am then typically asked about the ease of use of the UltraCam systems. “How long does it take to get up and flying and to be proficient.”  To this, I speak to Leading Edge Geomatics of New Brunswick, Canada.

Bruce and Bill Kidman approached me right about this time in the summer of 2012 interested in an UltraCam. Given their typical projects, we very quickly identified the 92 megapixel UltraCamLp as the best fit for them from our product portfolio. Leading Edge tested the camera that fall. We installed the camera in their aircraft on a Monday and Leading Edge was up and flying on Tuesday. By Friday they had calibrated, created operational checklists, trained a new camera operator, and had flown 5 projects which, as I recall, amounted to about 1,500 images. Certified UltraCam operators!

We recently published a case study on Leading Edge that I think you will find good reading. Take a look.

-Jerry Skaw, Microsoft UltraCam Team

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