A look at the Live Maps high-res cameras [Updated]

Didn’t get the digital camera you wanted for Christmas? Then maybe you should consider buying yourself one of these, an UltraCamX Large Format Digital Aerial Camera. Producing images with a 216 megapixel resolution, these cameras are used to take the high-resolution imagery used within VirtualEarth/Live Maps. A word of warning though, Microsoft’s press release in Nov 2007 shows that only 3 UltraCamX systems have been purchased in North America since they went on sale in May 2006. Better start saving for next Christmas then. Updated: The VE for Government team blog says that more have been sold in the US (how many not specified), and gives a worldwide sales to date figure of 41.

UltraCamX data sheet

Of course you’ll also need to buy a “low cost” data unit as well to keep the images taken, which with storage of 1.7TB will apparently be enough for approximately 4700 images. With a camera like this, its easy to see why the monthly Virtual Earth imagery additions consist of TB’s of data. December saw 36TB added, including 44 new cities that feature UltraCamX imagery. Unfortunately most of the new additions are within the USA, however Tokyo was lucky enough to be part of the update. The images are so good that at full zoom you can even see the lines dividing the running tracks at the athletics stadium – check it out.