I have an area, example 4000m x 4000m. So, 4x4km. The origin can be placed anywhere, maybe in center, maybe on the top-left, nevermind.

Now, I want to fill this area with some stuff from OSM. I read a lot about UTM, zones, etc. UTM quadrant is divided into 6x10 100km squares, this squares are divided into 10x10 10x10km squares, this squares are divided to 10x10 1x1km squares and so on.

Getting back to my 4kmx4km square. How do I convert coordinates to place objects in my square and the position responds to reality?

To make it harder, let's say that I want to put on the square objects from squares from different UTM quadrants from different zones, for example: most southern-east 1x1 from 34V, most southern-west from 35V, most northern-west from 35U and most northern-east from 35U.

Additional question: Is it possible to create one continuous maps (builded from smaller pieces), which covers the region composed of several UTM zones (for example, from 29W to 34S).

How to translate UTM coordinates properly?

EDIT Ok, I implement Albers, Lambert and Equidistant projections for some tests. Input args: a = 6378206.4 m, e = 0.00676866, e2 = 0.0822719 Standard parallels: 55.0, 49.0 Origin: 52.205746, 22.514281

And results:

Albers : x = -489.71509; y = -2291.5

Lambert : x = -489.15250; y = -1653.5

Equidistant: x = -489.71533; y = -2289.5

I checked the algorithms and are ok, the results agree with the sample data. What is the reason that the result of the Lambert projection stands out from the rest? Does this mean that Lambert is better to applied to larger areas than the other two?

  • If you are asking for GIS software to do this, please indicate that. If you want actual formulas, please see my comment at gis.stackexchange.com/questions/133534/….
    – whuber
    Feb 7, 2015 at 18:18
  • Can't edit previois comment. I'm not too familiar with GIS software, I prefer libs, formulas and other C/C++ stuff, but any help is useful :) Feb 7, 2015 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


In GIS world, you have only UTM north and UTM south zones. The U,V,W and so on called subzones have no impact on coordinates. The zones are 6 degrees wide, about 700km. In most cases, you do not need more than 2 zones to deal with.

It is possible to aggregate data across zones, if you transform them to a middle zone. But transverse mercator faces distortion the more you are away from the central meridian. For large East-West extents, a conical projection would be better.

Converting coordinates is easy with GDAL cs2cs, or use GIS systems like QGIS, which use OSM data without the need to reproject them manually.

  • I check the conical projections and I think this is it what im looking for. Is there any type that you would recommend? ( Lambert equal-area conic, Bonne, amulet, Werner Stab-Werner, Albers equal-area conic ) Feb 7, 2015 at 19:34
  • Lambert and Albers are commonly used.
    – AndreJ
    Feb 7, 2015 at 20:42
  • I made some research and And I think that the best solution was to one of these three projection: Lambert conformal, Albers equal area. Equidistant conic. As a beginner, it's hard for me to find greater differences between them. Could somebody may brighten my mind? :) Feb 7, 2015 at 20:47
  • 1
    Take a look at this phantastic web site: progonos.com/furuti/MapProj/Dither/TOC/cartTOC.html
    – markusN
    Feb 8, 2015 at 0:25
  • The "correct" link: Cartographical Map Projections
    – Martin F
    Feb 8, 2015 at 6:59

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