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What is the value and cost of image resolution?

Image resolution determines the usefulness of imagery. There is a balance between optimal functionality and cost in retrieval, processing, and storage.

Image resolution refers to the quality of a digital image. Higher resolutions equate to more detailed images. A pixel is a unit of a digital image, and an image’s resolution depends upon the size of each pixel. Smaller pixel sizes mean that you can fit more pixels into one image, and the number of pixels directly correlates to the amount of information within the full image. More pixels means higher resolution and more detail. TerrAvion pilots fly at 7,500 feet, producing images with a ground sample distance (GSD) of less than 10 cm in 2020. The GSD is the distance between two consecutive pixel centers measured on the ground. A GSD of 10 cm equates to a pixel size of the same value.

Higher resolution images offer more detail and more information, but it comes at a cost. As image resolutions increase, so does the size of the file, as well as the cost to store that data.



This is a high-resolution photo of a pumpkin. The photo allows you to see the shape and size of the pumpkin. You can also see the color and structure variations, even down to things like the small blemish at the top. While this level of detail is great, the resources required to store and capture this image is also great.

Below is a visual explanation of how image resolution correlates to file size.






Below, the image of the pumpkin on the left is 150x the resolution of the image on the right.



This increase in resolution would be 22,000x the data which means 22,000 times the processing, storage and delivery costs–while only providing a 150x increase in resolution.

For aerial imagery services, finding a balance between resolution and cost is key, and at TerrAvion, we feel that we have done that better than anyone in the industry. We offer a very high resolution per pixel imagery, with frequent deliveries, at a low cost unmatched by any of our competitors. For details about our current image resolution, check out our product information page.

To learn more about how TerrAvion's imagery has improved our the years, see: What is the resolution of TerrAvion imagery over the years.