We recently noticed that if you look at a given place in both Google Earth and Google Maps’ ‘Earth’ view, they look a bit different, with distant objects looking closer in Google Maps than in Google Earth. The main reason for this is that Google Earth by default has a different Field of View from Google Maps.
Last year we showed you how to change the field of view in Google Earth using a tour KML. After some experimentation we reckon that Google Earth by default uses a horizontal field of view (HFOV) of about 60° and Google Maps uses a HFOV of about 35° for its ‘Earth’ view.
So to match up a given location you need to download this KML file, which adjusts Google Earth’s HFOV to 35 degrees. In addition, you may want to try turning on ‘Photorealistic Atmosphere’ in Google Earth’s settings to get the colours to match up a bit better.
Praia Grande, Brazil, with Google Earth’s default settings. Note how the marked building and hill in the distance look further away than in the Google Maps screen shot below.
Praia Grande, Brazil, in Google Maps’ ‘Earth’ view.
Praia Grande, Brazil, in Google Earth with an HFOV of 35° and ‘Photorealistic Atmosphere’.
About Timothy Whitehead
Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
Adam Simmons says
Interesting info about the FOVs thanks for posting. It helps explain the differences between the two viewers but I wonder if terrain exaggeration also plays a role to some extent. I’m not sure what Google Earth is using these days for Terrain data, SRTM ect, but I always found the accuracy matters for perspective and varies depending on where you are looking at in the world. Some of the terrain in populated areas is mitigated by Lidar imaging but overall you still see some huge differences in how the terrain is skewed and more so if you are looking at an angle as in the article. I’m curious on how the Google Maps viewer interprets Terrain.
this kml method does not work