In view of the current interest in high-altitude and space photographic systems for photogrammetric mapping, the United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) undertook a comprehensive research project designed to explore the practical aspects of applying the latest image quality evaluation techniques to the analysis of such systems. The project had two direct objectives: (1) to evaluate the imaging characteristics of current U.S.G.S. photogrammetric camera systems; and (2) to develop methodologies for predicting the imaging capabilities of photogrammetric camera systems, comparing conventional systems with new or different types of systems, and analyzing the image quality of photographs. Image quality was judged in terms of a number of evaluation factors including response functions, resolving power, and the detectability and measurability of small detail.
The limiting capabilities of the U.S.G.S. 6-inch and 12-inch focal length camera systems were established by analyzing laboratory and aerial photographs in terms of these evaluation factors. In the process, the contributing effects of relevant parameters such as lens aberrations, lens aperture, shutter function, image motion, film type, and target contrast procedures for analyzing image quality and predicting and comparing performance capabilities.