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UK-British national grid-coordinate system

Hello everyone,

I’m using a Phantom 4 RTK to do topographic drone surveys on construction sites.

I have a inquiry about the best way to process a survey information in Pix4D using the OSGB 1936 British National Grid.

At the moment, I use Grid InQuest II to transform the GeoTiff coordinates from ETRS89 Geodetic to OSGB36/ British National Grid (Tn15/GM15) and add the transformation of the x, y, z to Pix4D for the input coordinate system and for output I select the OSGB 1936 for x, y coordinate system and the vertical coordinate system I select the Airy 1830 ellipsoid.

Is the Pix4D transformation from WGS84 to OSGB36 the same as the Grid InQuest II (transformation software from the Ordnance Survey)?

If you have a local grid, would you still bother to make the transformation from WGS84 to OSGB36 and then adding the ground control point to bring the survey into the local grid? Or simply just use the WGS84 for input and output but selecting the vertical coordinate system as variable and adding the ground control points?

Also, would you use ground control points if your coordinate system is OSGB1936 and not a local grid? Is it going to make a difference in accuracy for level and position between a survey with GCP and a survey without? I’m looking at different ways to speed up the process of drone surveying because at times it take the same amount of time as traditional surveying done with a GPS kit.

And lastly, if you have OSGB36 input coordinate system, and output x, y OSGB36 but Z vertical coordinate system selected as variable, how is z going to be calculated? in OSGB36 or at a random value?

Thank you all!


Your current workflow is the one we have used in the past and is the one we continue to use. One point in your workflow which does differ is the selection of your vertical coordinate. If you are using a VRS network through OS-Net you will be receiving ellipsoidal heights referenced to GRS80 – the ellipsoid used with ETRS89. When using OSGM15 you are transforming from GRS80 to Ordnance Datum Newlyn (ODN heights), not to Airy 1830 ellipsoidal heights which is the ellipsoid used with British National Grid. Hence you should select arbitrary as your vertical reference.

The Pix4D transformation from WGS84 to OSGB36 does not use the OSTN15 and OSGM15 transformation models, meaning if you were to import ETRS89 ellipsoidal RTK data from the exif/xmp and select your output at OSGB36 using no ground control, your results would not be as accurate as using the OSTN15 and OSGM15 transformation models. As far as I am aware, Pix4D uses a Helmert 7 parameter model.

If you are working in a local grid it is likely there will be defined transformation parameters between ETRS89 and your local grid. I suggest that either you convert your images to this local grid, or ensure your GCPs are in the local grid and as you rightly say, use those to bring the whole survey into the local grid.

I would always recommend using ground control regardless of your coordinate system, especially if it is a local grid. Without checkpoints you will not be able to say with any confidence what your estimated project accuracies are.

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