Custom Aerial Image Acquisition

Pre-order aerial imagery for the Spring 2016 flying season

We own a fleet of Cessna aircraft equipped with high resolution cameras ready to capture aerial imagery across North America and the Caribbean, plus image processing and related mapping services.


High quality, up to date aerial imagery is essential for any large scale project. From airborne image acquisition to fully orthorectified high resolution images and related mapping deliverable in a variety of formats, First Base Solutions can carry out these unique professional services anywhere in North America or the Caribbean. Have First Base Solutions fly your area with our extremely high resolution camera systems.

What is it?

We’ve always been the jet setters of the mapping industry. Custom airborne image acquisition is one of First Base Solutions’ hallmark services. Based near Buttonville Airport, FBS owns and operates seven Cessna aircraft equipped with high resolution cameras ready to capture aerial imagery on demand according to the specifications of your project. We can deliver the raw photo directly, or perform related image processing services such as producing orthophoto, mosaics, and digitizing custom vector map features.

The most common image enhancement service we provide is orthorectification. An orthophoto is a uniform-scale image with a top down perspective, making it possible to measure directly on it like other maps. The orthorectification process removes the effects of tilt and relief from the raw photo, which allows the end product to be used in CAD and GIS mapping systems. The individual photos are seamlessly joined together into an overall orthophoto, regenerated and enhanced in terms of colour and contrast before delivery.

From there, we can map any visible ground feature - built or natural - from the orthophoto and deliver a vector file to accompany your imagery. Because orthophoto are comprised of many separate photos taken a short distance apart, it’s also possible to view the imagery in stereo and produce 3D models of the terrain for your area.

What’s it for?

An orthophoto is often used as a base layer in CAD or GIS software that other map information (vector) can be layered on top off. The photo combined with overlaid vectors gives the user the ability to measure distance and direction with the positional accuracy of a map, plus the context and detailed visual information inherent in a photograph. The level of detail in these extremely high resolution photo gives project managers improved awareness of the conditions around a site and allows for well-informed strategic decisions based on up to date and reliable information.

Any feature that can be seen in the photo can be traced off the image and saved as a CAD drawing or in other geospatial vector data formats. Delineated building footprints, road and water pathways, even points of interest such as individual trees can be added to your company’s mapping inventory based on our photo. Where vector mapping doesn’t already exist, the orthophoto can be an invaluable tool to map out the features on the ground without the expensive undertaking of a field survey. Where vector mapping exists but is out of date, the orthophoto can be used to update older mapping and identify changes in the landscape.

Lastly, the raw photo we capture can be used to produce 3D digital elevation models (DEM). We use the stereo properties of the overlapping sections of photos taken a few seconds apart to measure the elevation, slope, and aspect of the terrain, and height of ground features as requested. The spot height information can be used to produce elevation contour lines at up to ½ m intervals, whereas Ontario Base Mapping produced by the Ministry of Natural Resources is made available at 5m intervals at best. These models can be overlaid on the finished photo just the same as other vector mapping to identify drainage patterns, perform volumetric calculations and acoustic modeling.

Who’s it for?

Governments, utilities, and any business with extensive infrastructure or remote facilities that need to be tracked, monitored, and maintained will enjoy the benefits of working with digital high resolution aerial imagery. Whereas most archived imagery is made available in square tiles, with custom acquisition, it’s possible to fly sections in strips, focusing on corridors along roads, rivers, or utility easements, for example. Imagery can be captured exactly where it's needed without having to pay for unwanted coverage.

Detailed engineering work such as site plan development frequently makes use of custom image acquisition. Not only is custom imagery specific to your site, more up to date to than anything available off the shelf, and capable of being captured at resolutions up to 3 cm per pixel, First Base Solutions will fly in early Spring or late Fall, ensuring that ground features are not obscured by foliage, as is often the case with free imagery found online.

First Base Solutions has an extensive historical orthophoto collection (2000-present) covering more than 250,000 square km of images across Southern Ontario and major cities across Canada, available for download on demand through our MapWarehouse e-commerce site. Where newer or higher resolution imagery is required, our image acquisition services including aircraft, camera system, flight crew and maintenance technicians can be dispatched to locations across North America, Central America and the Caribbean. A custom service package can be arranged just for you. Simply call for a quote.

Features and benefits?

Traditionally, aerial imagery was captured on film. Our digital imagery can now be captured with radiometric clarity up to 3 cm per pixel in areas where the landscape permits low speed and low altitude flights, and can be delivered in far less time than with film technology. The complications experienced with aerial film cameras of the past such as reduced resolution capabilities, compensating for forward motion of the aircraft, analog anomalies like lint, scratches, or graininess, restrictive weather and lighting conditions, processing time, and of course, cost, are no longer significant obstacles to capturing good quality airborne imagery quickly.

Satellite image acquisition offers comparatively low-resolution imagery, can be hampered by cloud cover and pollution haze, and can be expensive to reposition for specific projects within a narrow time frame, all weather permitting, of course. By the time the spacecraft is in position, weather conditions may have changed at the site. Aircraft based image acquisition can be captured on much shorter notice than with satellite acquisition where ideal weather conditions are fleeting.


Custom aerial image acquisition is more accessible to small and medium sized business than you might think. Costs generally run in the range of thousands of dollars, not millions, and quotes, of course, are free, so there’s nothing to lose by making an inquiry. Each project is unique, but there a few factors that we consider when preparing a quote.

The size of the site and therefore the amount of coverage required will partly determine the costs, and also the turnaround time to complete the image processing for delivery. Our traveling distance to your site from our home base airport in Markham, Ontario is a factor as well. The amount of detail and the photo resolution required for your project will be a consideration because this affects the flying speed and altitude needed to meet the particular specifications. Lastly, the time of year can affect our availability. Most imagery is preferred “leaf-off” meaning a busy flying season during a small window of opportunity in early Spring after the snow has melted but before the leaf buds have opened so that ground features are as clear as possible. Timing a flight for a specific time frame may affect the cost as well.

Why First Base Solutions?

First Base Solutions has the whole package. There’s a few options out there for custom aerial image acquisition and related services, but we have a more complete set of resources at our fingertips and a more complete set of services to offer than any other comparable company in our area.

  • Aircraft? Check!
  • High resolution camera system? Check!
  • Orthorectification services? Check!
  • Mapping services? Check!
  • Digital elevation modeling? Check!
  • Surveying services available? Check!

First Base Solutions offers all the geospatial imagery, data, and services you require conveniently in one place. Our aircraft-based image acquisition offers much greater flexibility, image resolution, and positional accuracy than satellite based image acquisition, plus we have the well trained, experienced photogrammetrists to extract surface elevations and ground features of interest to your specific project.

How to Order?

Each year, First Base Solutions adds to our extensive library of aerial imagery and related mapping dating from 2000 to present. The archived maps are divided into 500m x500m tiles and made available for download in a variety of formats including MrSID, ECW and JPEG through our MapWarehouse e-commerce site.

To order new, project specific imagery, simply call or email us with a few details about the coverage area and resolution you have in mind, and what you plan to use the imagery for. We can make recommendations and prepare a quote for our services for you to review, sign, and return.

Alternatively, we frequently bid on jobs through the Request for Proposals process. Forward a copy of your RFP to us and we will gladly reply with a detailed plan describing how we can fulfill your requirements.


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