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Ultimate digital vs film: 1gp digital vs SR71 reconnaissance cameras

 
 
brian
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      12-04-2003
I posted this on Max Lyon's stitching forums
(http://www.tawbaware.com/cgi-bin/forum/cutecast.pl), but thought it
might be of interest here as well.

As you may know, Max recently succeeded in stitching 196 images from a
D60 to form a milestone 1 gigapixel uninterpolated digital image (
http://www.tawbaware.com/maxlyons/gigapixel.htm ). Naturally, this
got me thinking about how this might compare with what is arguably the
highest resolution film "camera" in existence: the SR71
reconnaissance plane equipped with its ultra-high resolution large
format cameras.

I found this declassified CIA document online which talks about
various aspects of the SR71 reconnaissance plane, including the
cameras and optics: http://www.blackbirds.net/sr71/successortou2.html
Evidently several interesting cameras were built for this project,
including: 1) A Perkin Elmer camera capable of resolving 140 lp/mm on
6.6" film (2.2 gigapixels), and 2) A Hycon camera with a lens designed
by James Baker capable of resolving 100 lp/mm on 9.5" film (2.3
gigapixels).

It would certainly be interesting to do a side-by-side shootout
between one of these cameras and a D60/panotripodhead (talk about
David vs. Goliath!!). Just based on the numbers, it would appear that
the recon cameras still have an edge, but I'd bet that the lowly 1gp
digital image would fare quite well given that the SR71 cameras
probably just barely reach the stated resolutions.

Needless to say, ordinary large format equipment can't even begin to
compare with these examples of cold war excess!

Brian
www.caldwellphotographic.com
 
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Don Stauffer
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      12-04-2003
I was still working when the recce community was switching from film to
electronic focal planes. Things were so secret a Kodak rep I was
talking to didn't even know his company was involved in electronic recce
projects.

For tactical recon, users were willing to give up resolution in order to
get immediate results, which could be radioed back even before planes
landed.

I was amazed at resolution even of some of the first sensors, and would
sure like to see what they are getting now, but of course one of the
downs of retirement is giving up clearances and need-to-know.

brian wrote:
>
> I posted this on Max Lyon's stitching forums
> (http://www.tawbaware.com/cgi-bin/forum/cutecast.pl), but thought it
> might be of interest here as well.
>
> As you may know, Max recently succeeded in stitching 196 images from a
> D60 to form a milestone 1 gigapixel uninterpolated digital image (
> http://www.tawbaware.com/maxlyons/gigapixel.htm ). Naturally, this
> got me thinking about how this might compare with what is arguably the
> highest resolution film "camera" in existence: the SR71
> reconnaissance plane equipped with its ultra-high resolution large
> format cameras.
>
> I found this declassified CIA document online which talks about
> various aspects of the SR71 reconnaissance plane, including the
> cameras and optics: http://www.blackbirds.net/sr71/successortou2.html
> Evidently several interesting cameras were built for this project,
> including: 1) A Perkin Elmer camera capable of resolving 140 lp/mm on
> 6.6" film (2.2 gigapixels), and 2) A Hycon camera with a lens designed
> by James Baker capable of resolving 100 lp/mm on 9.5" film (2.3
> gigapixels).
>
> It would certainly be interesting to do a side-by-side shootout
> between one of these cameras and a D60/panotripodhead (talk about
> David vs. Goliath!!). Just based on the numbers, it would appear that
> the recon cameras still have an edge, but I'd bet that the lowly 1gp
> digital image would fare quite well given that the SR71 cameras
> probably just barely reach the stated resolutions.
>
> Needless to say, ordinary large format equipment can't even begin to
> compare with these examples of cold war excess!
>
> Brian
> www.caldwellphotographic.com


--
Don Stauffer in Minnesota
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
webpage- http://www.usfamily.net/web/stauffer
 
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jjs
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      12-04-2003
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>, Don Stauffer
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> I was amazed at resolution even of some of the first sensors, and would
> sure like to see what they are getting now, but of course one of the
> downs of retirement is giving up clearances and need-to-know.


What year was that? FWIW I was at Upper Heyford in the sixties. As you
probably know it was a recon base with RF101 and RB66 in house and served
the U2 as well. We had some fun toys, but nothing like what was mentioned
in the article Brian pointed to.
 
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jjs
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      12-04-2003
In article <(E-Mail Removed)> ,
(E-Mail Removed) (brian) wrote:

> [...]
> I found this declassified CIA document online which talks about
> various aspects of the SR71 reconnaissance plane, including the
> cameras and optics: http://www.blackbirds.net/sr71/successortou2.html
> Evidently several interesting cameras were built for this project,
> including: 1) A Perkin Elmer camera capable of resolving 140 lp/mm on
> 6.6" film (2.2 gigapixels), and 2) A Hycon camera with a lens designed
> by James Baker capable of resolving 100 lp/mm on 9.5" film (2.3
> gigapixels).


There is some question regarding the way they measured the resolution. Was
it aerial resolution (I think it was) and was it possibly also factored
through stereo imaging?
 
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zbzbzb
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Posts: n/a
 
      12-04-2003
>I was still working when the recce community was switching from film to
>electronic focal planes. Things were so secret a Kodak rep I was
>talking to didn't even know his company was involved in electronic recce
>projects.
>
>For tactical recon, users were willing to give up resolution in order to
>get immediate results, which could be radioed back even before planes
>landed.
>
>I was amazed at resolution even of some of the first sensors, and would
>sure like to see what they are getting now, but of course one of the
>downs of retirement is giving up clearances and need-to-know.


Sometimes it's better not knowing to much.


 
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Judson McClendon
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      12-04-2003
"brian" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> It would certainly be interesting to do a side-by-side shootout
> between one of these cameras and a D60/panotripodhead (talk about
> David vs. Goliath!!). Just based on the numbers, it would appear that
> the recon cameras still have an edge, but I'd bet that the lowly 1gp
> digital image would fare quite well given that the SR71 cameras
> probably just barely reach the stated resolutions.


Take those declassified documents with a grain of salt. The military is
sometimes not-quite-honest in releasing performance envelope stuff.
The 'declassified' max speed of the SR-71 is about 2100 MPH, but I
know military radar operators who swear they have tracked them much
faster. I saw declassified satellite images around 1960 where you could
read the logo on the side of a truck. I can only imagine what must be
available now. They admit to 'almost' being able to identify people on
the ground. NSA has an enormous budget, much more than the CIA. It
is a good guess they can do much better than they admit, no?
--
Judson McClendon (E-Mail Removed) (remove zero)
Sun Valley Systems http://sunvaley.com
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."


 
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zbzbzb
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Posts: n/a
 
      12-04-2003
>Take those declassified documents with a grain of salt. The military is
>sometimes not-quite-honest in releasing performance envelope stuff.
>The 'declassified' max speed of the SR-71 is about 2100 MPH, but I
>know military radar operators who swear they have tracked them much
>faster. I saw declassified satellite images around 1960 where you could
>read the logo on the side of a truck. I can only imagine what must be
>available now. They admit to 'almost' being able to identify people on
>the ground. NSA has an enormous budget, much more than the CIA. It
>is a good guess they can do much better than they admit, no?
>--
>Judson McClendon


Logically always the case.





 
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jjs
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      12-04-2003

"Judson McClendon" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:20031204135131.048$(E-Mail Removed)...

> Take those declassified documents with a grain of salt.


> I saw declassified satellite images around 1960 where you could
> read the logo on the side of a truck. [...]


Mind if I Laugh Out Loud? If they (whomever 'they' are) said those were
satellite images, then it was pure misinformation and served its purpose in
that regard: you were fooled, and it may have frightened the Soviets into
further spending themselves to oblivion.


 
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geo
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      12-04-2003
"Judson McClendon" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:20031204135131.048$(E-Mail Removed)...
> "brian" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> >

> Take those declassified documents with a grain of salt. The military is
> sometimes not-quite-honest in releasing performance envelope stuff.
> The 'declassified' max speed of the SR-71 is about 2100 MPH, but I
> know military radar operators who swear they have tracked them much
> faster. I saw declassified satellite images around 1960 where you could
> read the logo on the side of a truck. I can only imagine what must be
> available now. They admit to 'almost' being able to identify people on
> the ground. NSA has an enormous budget, much more than the CIA. It
> is a good guess they can do much better than they admit, no?
> --


But they can't find Osama Bin Laden, Sheik Omar, Saddam Hussein. Maybe
resolution isn't everything.

Natural Light Black and White Photography
http://mysite.verizon.net/geost/
-George-


 
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Gordon Moat
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      12-04-2003
brian wrote:

> I posted this on Max Lyon's stitching forums
> (http://www.tawbaware.com/cgi-bin/forum/cutecast.pl), but thought it
> might be of interest here as well.
>
> As you may know, Max recently succeeded in stitching 196 images from a
> D60 to form a milestone 1 gigapixel uninterpolated digital image (
> http://www.tawbaware.com/maxlyons/gigapixel.htm ). Naturally, this
> got me thinking about how this might compare with what is arguably the
> highest resolution film "camera" in existence: the SR71
> reconnaissance plane equipped with its ultra-high resolution large
> format cameras.


The first thing that comes to mind is how long it takes to photograph 196
pictures. Surely a film camera could also take 196 images in the same
time period, and those could also be stitched together.

>
>
> I found this declassified CIA document online which talks about
> various aspects of the SR71 reconnaissance plane, including the
> cameras and optics: http://www.blackbirds.net/sr71/successortou2.html
> Evidently several interesting cameras were built for this project,
> including: 1) A Perkin Elmer camera capable of resolving 140 lp/mm on
> 6.6" film (2.2 gigapixels), and 2) A Hycon camera with a lens designed
> by James Baker capable of resolving 100 lp/mm on 9.5" film (2.3
> gigapixels).


Considering that this is very old technology, imagine what came after
those.

>
>
> It would certainly be interesting to do a side-by-side shootout
> between one of these cameras and a D60/panotripodhead (talk about
> David vs. Goliath!!). Just based on the numbers, it would appear that
> the recon cameras still have an edge, but I'd bet that the lowly 1gp
> digital image would fare quite well given that the SR71 cameras
> probably just barely reach the stated resolutions.


How long would you want to be over a target? Taking one image in a
fraction of a second, or many images (196), at a much slower rate . . . .
.. I think I would go for the fastest method.

>
>
> Needless to say, ordinary large format equipment can't even begin to
> compare with these examples of cold war excess!


One shot at a time, compared to a large roll of film. By the way, Kodak
still make large rolls of film, especially for aerial photography. Some
of the old gear can be found as surplus, and could make for an
interesting camera.

>
>
> Brian
> www.caldwellphotographic.com


Here is another oddity to consider: some reconnaissance work has been
done that involves high speed film and 30 to 60 minute exposures.
Consider also that battery life of digital gear, and the support
equipment are other considerations. The working model of reports with
laptops and satellite phones, plus backup gear, extra batteries, and
charging equipment, should give some indication of the added weight an
bulk. With planes, weight is less of an issue, but for a human carrying
lots of gear, most would welcome extra ammunition, rather than other
items.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat
Alliance Graphique Studio
<http://www.allgstudio.com>

 
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