Please read the answers to our commonly asked questions. If you don't find the answer you're looking for please fill in our contact form.
1. How to find an image.
In order to find image(s) of an area of interest (AOI), locate your AOI on the map by zooming in on the map until you have sufficient coverage of the site. Any images that exist of your AOI online will be represented by a blue pin (which represents a single image) or a blue circle (which shows multiple images exist of that area). You can view these at thumbnail size by clicking on the pin/circle, or open them in full-page view by right clicking on the image and opening it in a new window or tab.
It is important to note that only a small proportion of our archive has been digitised and made available for preview on our website. Our finding aids show the locations and coverage of millions of not-yet-digitised aerial photographs; because they have not been digitised for the website, these images do not have previews available. To view Finding Aids for your AOI, click on the “See finding aids in this area” link in the Search Tools box on the map. Read our Guide to help you understand and read the Finding Aids. You will need a subscription to Zoom Images and view the Finding Aids.
Order a paid image search.
We can search our catalogue on your behalf.
We maintain a public search area to allow researchers to search for and view our catalogued imagery.
2. How do I get access to high-resolution imagery? Can I buy high-resolution images?
Online images can be bought and downloaded at 300 ppi. To do this please click on the "buy image" link below the image of interest. This will add to the image to your basket. When you want to proceed with the purchase simply visit the basket page, click "continue", and follow the instructions.
We can supply copies of any of our images at higher resolutions - please see our price-list for details.
3. I have an image, how do I get a licence to use it?
If you already have images and need a licence for them, please use our image order form.
4. I can't find an image of my area, how can I see it?
We hold over 26 million images of places around the world. Only a small proportion of these appear on our website. If your area of interest is not yet covered by our online aerial imagery you can search our catalogued finding aids yourself, with a website subscription. These finding aids allow you to locate and identify not-yet-digitised aerial photographs. All of our catalogued finding aids are available on our website. You can also request a Paid Image Search or visit our search room.
5. When will images of my area appear on the website?
Please see our digitisation programme for information on locations to be uploaded in the next 12 months.
6. How can I see larger images?
We encourage you to purchase a subscription. This gives you access to zoomable images, which means you'll be able to make every aerial image in the website enlarge to full screen, then pan around and zoom into areas covered in the image. Our second package gives you access to the finding aids for individual sorties. The finding aids are maps that show the ground coverage of the images taken on each sortie, allowing you to identify images that exist but may not yet be digitised. We will be progressively adding more finding aids in the months and years to come. Our image and finding aid digitisation programme is entirely funded by website subscriptions.
7. How can I pay for images?
When we receive your order, we send you license detailing how you may use the image. Once you have read and accepted this, you will be asked to pay for the images. We use WorldPay to manage online payments on our behalf. WorldPay ensures that your transaction is secure and your details are encrypted.
8. How do you allocate place-names to images?
All aerial images with centre-point information are named by an automatic tagging process. For places in the UK, we use the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 scale gazetteer. For places outwith the UK, we use the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency GNS gazetteer. For administrative areas and country names, we use a mixture of Ordnance Survey, Natural Earth and NUTS data (European Commission nomenclature of territorial units for statistics). Our geo-tagging process gives an approximate indication of the location covered by the image but due to various accuracy levels of the data, images tagged with the name of a particular place may not always show that place.
9. How accurate are your centre-points?
The centre-point of a Vertical image is based on the actual centre of the frame, within 20mm of the original document; ground accuracy depends on the scale of the photograph. The centre-point of an Oblique or Ground image is based on the focal viewpoint of the photograph, not its actual centre; due to the nature of the document this point is only an approximation and no statement of accuracy can be given. Where no image is available, centre-points are derived from plots and legacy datasets; no guarantee of accuracy can be given.
10. I have sent you an Order / Paid Search request / Enquiry. How soon will I hear from you?
We will send you a license and quotation for your order or search request within two working days. We will respond to enquiries for information, sent via our Contact Form, within 15 working days.
11. Why can I not view Aerofilms, Aero Pictorial and RCAHMS oblique aerial photographs of Scotland?
NCAP holds predominantly military-declassified and commercial air survey photography of places around the world. Oblique aerial photography of Scotland, collected through projects undertaken by RCAHMS/HES, is held by HES Archives. Although Aerofilms, Aero Pictorial and RCAHMS oblique aerial photographs of location in Scotland were previously disseminated via the NCAP website, it is no longer appropriate for this imagery to appear on our website. Aero Pictorial and Aerofilms images can be found at Britain from Above, while RCAHMS images can be found at Canmore.
If you have not found the answer to your question, or are in need of technical support, please use the Contact Form to get in touch with us.
Our collections at a glance
- Allied Central Interpretation Unit (ACIU)
- AIRBUS Defence & Space
- BKS Surveys
- Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS)
- German Air Force
- Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC)
- Mediterranean Allied Photo Reconnaissance Wing (MAPRW)
- National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
- Scottish Office Air Photographs Unit (and later bodies)
- Simmons Aerofilms
We offer a Paid Search service of our catalogued archives.
Commision a paid search and we will provide you with a detailed Search Report, which includes research-quality images of your Area of Interest.