The distorting effect of atmospheric optical channel (AOC) on the quality of image formed with an opto–electronic observational system (OEOS) as well as some controllable engineering parameters are considered in the paper. The data on AOC and corresponding adjustable OEOS parameters as well as patterns of optical radiation interaction with atmospheric aerosol are generalized and systematized. Adaptive OEOS and iconic process are defined. Expediency is shown of joint adaptive control over power (spectral) and spatial–frequency characteristics of OEOS. A method of changing the spectral range of OEOS operation with the help of an interference wedge–shaped filter and an algorithm for identification adaptation of OEOS adjusted to standard surface fields are proposed.