Frequently asked question

How do I optimize flight settings for best results in Site Scan Flight for ArcGIS?

Last Published: August 16, 2021


Flight Settings

Navigate to Flight Settings on the upper-right of the Site Scan Flight Home page. From here, adjust:

  • Overlap
  • Sidelap
  • The Continue Without Link option.

Some considerations about how to to optimize these settings are as follows:

These settings are applied by default to any new flight created.
Flight settings

Camera settings

Accessible from the Site Scan Flight Home page, in the upper-right corner. This is only available when connected to the drone.


ISO is the level of sensitivity of the camera to available light. The brighter the lighting conditions, the lower the ISO can be set.

Ideally, use the lowest ISO possible for the given conditions, as this reduces grain size in the photos. However, selecting an ISO too low for the conditions leads to blurry images and poor results.
  • 100 ISO = Very bright day, no clouds, mid-day
  • 200 ISO = Bright day, morning, later in the afternoon
  • 400 ISO (Default) = good all-around setting. Overcast mid-day, or clear skies but early morning/late afternoon
  • 800 ISO = low light conditions, early morning, evening
This setting is applied to all future jobs, including Refly Mission.

Format Camera

Erases the camera’s Micro SD card. Esri recommends formatting the camera regularly.

Flight Settings and Advanced Settings

Changing Flight Settings and Advanced Settings only affects that specific Job. These changes are saved for use in the case of a Refly Mission.


Select the flight altitude which directly controls output resolution, for example, ground sampling distance (GSD), and the flight time needed to map a given area.

Sony R10C200 feet0.5 in./pixel
 400 feet1 in./pixel
DJI Phantom 4 Pro200 feet0.71 in./pixel
 400 feet1.42 in./pixel
DJI M200 w/X4S200 feet0.71 in./pixel
 400 feet1.42 in./pixel

Increasing altitude is a great way to reduce flight time and the number of photos of the mission. Bear in mind that for most applications, even at a 400-feet altitude, resolution is more than sufficient.

See the image below for an example of flight parameters at a 160-feet altitude.

Flight parameters at 160 ft altitude

See below for an example of flight parameters at a 300-feet altitude.

Flight parameters at 300 ft altitude

Gimbal angle

Gimbal angle controls the angle at which the camera is pointed during flight.

  • 0 degrees = camera pointed straight down (nadir)

The gimbal angle is typically changed only during a Crosshatch Survey. It can also be adjusted for Area Survey in specific cases.

For Crosshatch Surveys, a setting between 35 degrees and 40 degrees delivers the best results, in most cases. The horizon must not be visible in the photos, or processing results may be poor. Avoid setting an angle greater than 45 degrees.


Overlap controls the frequency at which photos are taken during a straight path. If the overlap is too high, the vehicle lowers the speed of the mission and increases the number of photos, flight time, and the batteries required.

See below for an example of flight parameters with a 50 percent overlap.

Flight parameters with 50% overlap

See below for an example of flight parameters with an 80 percent overlap.

Flight parameters at 80% overlap


Sidelap controls the distance between flight path strips. The higher the sidelap, the closer the strips are against each other. This increases the number of photos, flight time and the batteries required.

See below for an example of flight parameters with a 50 percent sidelap.

Flight paramters at 50% sidelap

See below for an example of flight parameters with an 80 percent overlap.

Flight parameters at 80% overlap

Area Survey
Area Survey has the optimal overlap and sidelap configuration preset for all possible altitudes. In most cases, these must not be adjusted.

Crosshatch Survey is the only mode in which to really consider modifying Overlap and Sidelap. Consider the altitude of the flight and the camera angle.

Return Altitude

When the drone returns home because of a low battery, lost link, or when commanded by the pilot on the Flight Planning app or on the controller, the drone climbs to 33 feet (10 meters) above its current altitude before flying back to the takeoff point.

Using Return Altitude, it is possible to increase the altitude at which the drone returns during the events mentioned above. The drone does not descend if it is above the Return Altitude.

This setting does not apply after standard mission completion. In this case, the drone returns at the job's Flight Altitude.

Only in Perimeter Scan is there a similar setting called Safe Travel Altitude. It applies to both the outbound leg after takeoff and the inbound leg before landing. See: FAQ: What are the considerations when flying a Perimeter Scan with Site Scan for ArcGIS Flight Planning?

With the Safe Travel Altitude setting, the drone descends to the set altitude before returning to the takeoff point.

The Continue without link option

This option is disabled by default. If the controller loses connection to the drone for any reason, the drone aborts the mission and returns home immediately.

When the Continue without link option is enabled, the drone continues flying autonomously, completes its mission, and returns home, even if it loses connection to the controller. Note that all other safety systems are still active, for example, Low Battery and Return Home.

Restore Advanced Settings resets the settings to the ones set in General Settings.

Article ID:000023176

  • Site Scan Flight for ArcGIS iPadOS

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