- 2023 Update
Photogrammetry is the science and technology of obtaining accurate data of real-world objects in their natural environments. It is also a technique used for 3D scanning of objects when the scanning equipment is unavailable or when the object is extremely large. Photogrammetry has been around for a long time, but the introduction of 3D printing technology has increased its use and demand. Now, the use of photogrammetry software is on the rise and a range of options are available for users for all skill levels.
The only tools required are a good camera for photographing the object under consideration and photogrammetry software to convert the photographs into a CAD file that can be 3D printed.
To help readers get started with photogrammetry, we’ve compiled a list of the top eight photogrammetry software with a mix of free and paid solutions.
Free Photogrammetry Software
Meshroom is an open source and a free photogrammetry software photogrammetry software from AliceVision, a photogrammetric computer vision framework. The software has a simple workflow that allows for the automatic generation of 3D models and textures from uploaded images. It employs a node-based workflow, allowing each node to be individually tweaked to achieve the desired result. Meshroom is also an excellent photogrammetry programme for small objects.
A NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPU is required to fully utilise Meshroom. The binaries were created with CUDA-11 and are compatible with compute capabilities greater than 3.5. Only “Draught Meshing” can be used for 3D reconstruction without a supported NVIDIA GPU.
Users of Autodesk Maya can install a plugin to directly use Meshroom within the 3D modelling software.
It is important to note that Meshroom does not have an official MacOS release yet and there is no indication that it is under development.
- Ideal user: Beginners
- Good For: Learning and beginner projects
The software serves the internal needs if IGN while also getting better with the aim to bring cutting-edge 3D image processing algorithms to a wider audience, whether universities, public institutions, or businesses. It is due to this effort that the software is used by both experienced and academic users.
Morever, being open-source, helps MicMac attract skilled volunteers to contribute or change the source code to meet their needs.
This software is designed specifically for environmental protection, cultural heritage imaging and preservation, and forestry projects. MicMac can handle everything from close-up to aerial footage.
- Ideal user: Experienced and academic users
- Good For: Cultural heritage and preservation projects
3DF Zephyr Free
3DF Zephyr Free is a free version of the original 3DF Zephyr photogrammetry software developed and sold by 3DFlow. The free version is made available with students, beginners, and individuals’ personal use in mind. With this software, you can experiment with creating 3D models out of your photos and learn all about photogrammetry.
You can use a variety of features to get good results even though it is a free version with its own set of restrictions. The programme is simple to use, effective, and produces accurate results.
The use of a maximum of 50 photos per project is the only restriction in the Free edition. For smaller projects, this might be more than enough, but for bigger ones, you might want to invest in the paid version.
You have a few options if you decide that you like the free version and want to upgrade to the full version. You have two options for purchasing the full version: either a one-year Lite version licence, which gives you more capabilities than the free version, or a monthly subscription or an annual subscription plan.
- Ideal user: Beginners and experienced individuals
- Good For: Simple student and beginner projects
Paid Photogrammetry Software
Metashape is a proprietary paid photogrammetry software from Agisoft. It has a range of features and users can access these based on their software license. Some of its features include photogrammetric triangulation, measurements for distances, point clouds to distinguish between different objects, panoramic stitching, volumes and areas to reconstruct the actual dimensions, cloud processing, and 3D model generation & textures.
There are several ways to purchase the software, including a trial version that is available for 30 days before you have to pay for the full version. It’s interesting that the software has only 12-months of email-based technical support and has no time restrictions. Users can purchase the software with a floating licence (which can be activated on multiple machines) or a node-locked licence, which is only active on one machine.
Agisoft provides educational licences to educational institutions in order to support education in the field of photogrammetry.
Agisoft Metashape is available in two versions: Standard and professional for respective needs and requirements but even the standard version is laced with multiple tools to work with. The software is widely used as it delivers good quality captures at faster processing time. It has It can be easily called as a complete solution for capturing both close-range and aerial photogrammetry.
- Ideal user: Beginners and professionals
- Good For: Close-range and aerial photogrammetry
Autodesk ReCap Pro
ReCap Pro is a paid photogrammetry programme developed by American multinational software company Autodesk. The software aids designers and engineers in capturing detailed, high-quality models of actual assets. A designer can produce precise 3D models from photographs using this software.
The software can process laser scans and photographs to generate accurate intelligent models that can be used in a variety of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) applications. It can also generate geo-located textured meshes, point clouds, and ortho-photos of existing conditions using data captured by a drone or UAV. It is suitable for both close-range and aerial photogrammetry.
Autodesk ReCap is praised for its advanced editing capabilities, fly features for UAV/drone photos, and superior analytical and teamwork tools.
Users can test out Recap Pro for 30 days without charge, and if they like it, they can upgrade to one of Autodesk’s many monthly or annual plans.
- Ideal user: Professionals
- Good For: Close-range, large structure and aerial photogrammetry
ContextCapture is a paid photogrammetry software developed by Bentley Systems subsidiary Acute3D. The software’s goal is to eliminate the need for human intervention when creating a 3D model from photographs. ContextCapture is so accurate that it simplifies 3D model reconstruction over 3D scanning. In most cases, no post-processing is required for 3D models. The ContextCapture Editor in this software allows users to edit 3D meshes, generate cross-sections, and extract ground and break-lines.
This software can generate 3D models of entire cityscapes and is known for its accuracy and reliability. It basically enables you to automatically generate multi-resolution 3D models at any scale and precision.
- Ideal user: Experienced and professionals
- Good For: Cityscapes and large infrastructure projects
Pix4Dmapper is a niche and one of the most popular paid software for drone-based mapping. Because of its advanced digital reconstruction technology, this professional software solution efficiently converts photographs into 2D maps and 3D models.
Pix4Dmapper boasts comprehensive analytical tools with numerous applications in a variety of fields such as agriculture, crop zoning, precise maps, surveying, and so on. It provides a full end-to-end solution package and is suitable for both close-range and aerial photogrammetry.
- Ideal user: Professionals
- Good For: Creating 3D Models from drone-based mapping, agriculture, surveying and real estate
Reality Capture is a paid photogrammetry solution developed by Capturing Reality that is user friendly, easy to use, and has a plethora of useful features. According to the company, the software is ten times faster than existing photogrammetry software. It provides high-quality captures, the ability to calculate mesh and textures, and the ability to work with multiple file formats.
The 3D model can be created using both photographs and laser scans. This allows the software to be used for both close-range and aerial projects. It’s safe to call it a full-fledged software solution.
- Ideal user: Experts and Professionals
- Good For: 3D Visualisations, Close-range and aerial photogrammetry
3Dsurvey is a photogrammetry software solution used for land surveying by professionals. The various tools enables users to digitally recreate any environment using any input, data, or imagery, including aerial, terrestrial, mobile photos, laser scanners, LIDAR, sonar, and more.
Whether it’s a brownfield site, a new building, a quarry, a mine, or a natural disaster, this all-in-one photogrammetry tool provides users with everything they need to know about a site. This information is presented to users in the form of digital maps, 3D models, and interactive measurements that can be easily explored.
3Dsurvey is a complete digital surveying suite that includes a state-of-the-art photogrammetry processing engine and two free apps to handle all of your data collection, processing, and sharing needs in one place.
3Dsurvey is designed to help you scale success without any specialised training and is easily accessible to everyone, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro.
This software is only available in a paid version, with users having the option of purchasing a perpetual licence or subscribing to it.
- Ideal user: Professionals
- Good For: Land survey for all types of sites
3D models created using photogrammetry are similar to models created using 3D scanning. The only difference is in the input. These 3D models can also be 3D printed and studied.
Both, modelling from scratch or using existing product images to create a 3D model, have their own set of distinct advantages and limitations and what you choose will change from case to case basis. We hope that this article has informed you of the top eight photogrammetry software options available.
This list is a great place to start for both beginners and professionals. There is still a lot of similar software available, and you can look into it if you want to try out more options.
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