Photogrammetry is a highly exciting technique that can be used to create attractive and beautiful 3D models. However, to do this particularly well, you need a high-quality and powerful photogrammetry program. In the following, we have listed the best photogrammetry tools for you and tell you everything about the advantages and disadvantages as well as the possible costs.
The most important facts in brief:
- Photogrammetry is applied as a method to create 3D models from simple photographs
- The program uses 2D and 3D data from photos and converts overlapping images of objects and co. into 3D models
- Photogrammetry was already developed in the middle of the 19th century as a method of non-contact image measurement
- With the help of various photogrammetry programs you can make the process much easier for yourself
- You can use both paid solutions and free open source applications.
- We show you the best photogrammetry tools 2023 with all strengths and weaknesses at a glance
The best photogrammetry 3D scanning tools
You can discover heaps of photogrammetry programs on the market. However, not all of them are equally attractive and powerful. We have therefore listed the best tools for you below.
|1||Autodesk ReCap Pro||Point cloud and mesh for team BIM processes, flexible pricing, aerial photogrammetry and close range photogrammetry available||Detection of possible errors in the printing process, versatile application possibilities, Pro version with additional programs such as ReCap Photo||High price||From 54€ / month or FlexModel with tokens||Click|
|2||Agisoft Metashape||Editing of 4D models possible, Free trial version available||Extensive post-processing possible, high flexibility in sensor selection, cloud-based work possible||High cost for Pro version||Standard Edition: $179, Professional Edition $3,499||Click|
|3||MicMac||Open source program||Processing of large and small objects possible, tutorials available to get started, free to use||Limited range of functions for 3D printing fans||free||Click|
|4||Pix4D||Extensive product bundle, mapping via drones possible||Processing of multiple scan files at the same time possible, volume measurement of any objects,||Optimized for industrial operation||From 116€ / month||Click|
|5||3DF Zephyr||High usability, usable with drones and sensors of different types||Export to many file formats possible, well suited for beginners, free version available||Limit of 50 photos in the Free version||Basic version: free of charge, Lite version: from 199€||Click|
|6||AliceVision Meshroom||High usability||High level of customization, free to use, compatible with Autodesk Maya||not compatible with MacOS||Free of charge||Click|
|7||PhotoModeler||Free trial version available||Various methods for creating the 3D models, export to various formats possible||Not available in German language||Standard: $995, Premium: $2,995||Click|
|8||Regard 3D||Free open source software||Extensive tool palette, tutorials available for beginners, user-friendly design, compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux||No German language version||Free of charge||Click|
|9||RealityCapture||Permanent design mode for scans||Compatible with a wide range of file formats Textured 3D meshes from images and laser scans||Compatible with Windows only||Permanent license: $3,750, Flex model from $10||Click|
|10||Drone Deploy||Complete solution from flight to the creation of the 3D model||Simple control, flexible design of 3D models possible, extensive measuring and working tools, additional features possible via app download||Only compatible with DJI drones||Individual: $329/month, Advanced: $599/month||Click|
|11||WebODM||Pay per Map possible||Creation of textured 3D models, elevation models and more, flexible pricing models available||Only conditionally suitable for beginners, limited field of application in home 3D printing||Pay per Map, Pro version: $29/month, Business version: $99/month||Click|
1st place: Autodesk ReCap Pro
ReCap Pro from the manufacturer Autodesk is one of the most popular photogrammetry programs on the market. This is used by numerous companies and government agencies, in some cases for breathtaking projects. You can use ReCap Pro for 3D printing to create detailed objects of real models. Depending on your own needs, you can also integrate various design tools. If you opt for the Pro version, you can also use other products such as ReCap Photo or ReCap Mobile. You can also choose between the Flex variant with tokens for the respective use and the permanent subscription. You can buy 100 tokens for 316€, where one token is used for one working day with ReCap Pro. You can use the subscription from 54€ per month.
- Manufacturer: Autodesk
- Advantages: Detection of possible errors in the printing process, versatile use, Pro version with additional programs such as ReCap Photo.
- Disadvantages: High price
- Price/pricing models: Subscription: 54€/month, 441€/year, 1,321€/3 years or Flex: 100 tokens for 316€.
2nd place: Agisoft Metashape
Agisoft Metashape is still known to some 3D fans as Agisoft Photoscan. The program supports both close-ups and aerial shots, making it a welcome support in many fields. You can customize your objects almost to the last detail using a point cloud. In addition, helpful features such as the automatic classification of point clouds are available to you. Another advantage: the high flexibility in sensor selection. Moreover, you can even process 4D models with this software. For most 3D fans, the standard edition should be perfectly sufficient. The Professional Edition is mainly used in industry.
- Manufacturer: Agisoft
- Advantages: Extensive post-processing possible, high flexibility in sensor selection, cloud-based work possible.
- Disadvantages: High cost for Pro version
- Price/Price Models: Standard Edition: $179, Professional Edition $3,499
3rd place: MicMac
MicMac was developed by the French National Geographic Institute and is offered as an open source program. So you don't have to purchase a license to use it. Compared to some paid programs, however, the range of functions is a bit limited. Nevertheless, you can process small objects as well as large surfaces with MicMac. As a beginner, you will find your way around here in no time, not least thanks to the numerous tutorials and help. You should be able to create orthographic images and 3D models even if you are a novice.
- Manufacturer: French National Geographic Institute
- Advantages: Processing of large and small objects possible, tutorials available to help you get started, free to use
- Disadvantages: Limited feature set for 3D printing enthusiasts
- Price/pricing models: free of charge (open source)
Rank 4: Pix4D
Pix4D offers you a comprehensive product portfolio to implement all steps from the creation of objects to the final preparation for printing. The special feature: You can use a mobile app and take aerial photos by drone. It is also possible to process multiple scan files at the same time, and you can measure the volume of any object. You can also use the different products of Pix4D individually. Pix4Dmapper, for example, processes your images and allows you to edit them individually with the help of analysis and tooling tools. Pix4D is optimized above all for industrial operation. This is another reason why you have to calculate with noticeable costs for the use here.
- Manufacturer: Pix4D
- Advantages: Processing of multiple scan files at the same time possible, volume measurement of any object.
- Disadvantages: Optimized for industrial operation
- Price/pricing models: From 116€/month
Rank 5: 3DF Zephyr
3DF Zephyr is a software from the company 3DFlow and is distributed as a professional photogrammetry application. You can access numerous file storage formats here, plus the program handles both aerial shots and close-ups. The operation of 3DF Zephyr is enormously simple, even as a beginner you can get started here well and easily. Pleasantly, you can use a free version. However, the limit for photos here is limited to 50 photographs. If you want more, you can go for the Lite version, which starts at 199€. Here, the limit of 500 photos is somewhat higher. If you want to work completely without limitations, you can purchase the full version for around 4,200€.
- Manufacturer: 3DFlow
- Advantages: Export to many file formats possible, good for beginners, free version available.
- Disadvantages: 50 photo limit in the free version
- Price/pricing models: Basic version: free of charge, Lite version: from 199€.
Rank 6: AliceVision Meshroom
Another free solution is the photogrammetry program Mehsroom. This is a software from the manufacturer AliceVision. You create 3D models here by simply creating different images of your object and uploading them to the software. The object is then created on the basis of a wireframe model. The various nodes within the application are particularly helpful. You can use these for a much faster way of working and customize them as you wish. Meshroom is also compatible with many other programs, such as Autodesk's Maya. But: You can't use this software with a macOS device. However, Windows and Linux are supported.
- Manufacturer: AliceVision
- Advantages: High level of customization, Free to use, Compatible with Autodesk Maya.
- Disadvantages: not compatible with macOS
- Price/pricing models: free of charge
Rank 7: PhotoModeler
PhotoModeler is distributed as a commercial photogrammetry application by the company PhotoModeler Technologies. The user interface is very nicely designed and should not cause you any problems, even if you are a beginner. This is at least true if you are fluent in English. Unfortunately, a German version of the tool is not available. Nevertheless, you can work with PhotoModeler enormously effectively and choose different methods to create 3D objects. Moreover, various analytical tools are at your disposal, and the application is compatible with a wide range of file formats. The standard version of the application already provides you with an enormous range of functions and should be completely sufficient for home use. If you also want to edit aerial photos from drones, you have to purchase the premium version.
- Manufacturer: PhotoModeler Technologies
- Advantages: Different methods of creating the 3D models, export to different formats possible.
- Disadvantages: Not available in German language
- Price/Price Models: Standard: $995, Premium: $2,995
Rank 8: Regard 3D
A completely free software you can find in the program Regard 3D. This is an open source application, but it is not available in German. If this doesn't bother you, Regard 3D offers you almost everything you need to create high-quality 3D objects. You can use an extensive range of tools for “fine tuning” or making rough adjustments. In addition, the usability of the application is high and the presentation is reduced to the minimum in each case. Furthermore, the software is compatible with Windows as well as Mac and Linux. Another advantage, especially for newcomers: You are supported with various tutorials that make it much easier for you to get started.
- Manufacturer: Open Source
- Advantages: Extensive tool palette, tutorials available for beginners, user-friendly design, compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.
- Disadvantages: no German language version
- Price/pricing models: free of charge (open source)
Rank 9: RealityCapture
You can find a high-quality and powerful photogrammetry application with RealityCapture from the company Capturing Reality. You can create enormously precise 3D models from various templates here. Moreover, the application is compatible with many file formats and allows you, for example, to create textured 3D meshes from images or laser scans. One possible drawback: the software is only compatible with Windows and cannot be used for Mac or Linux. But: As a Windows user, you benefit from an automatic adaptation to the respective hardware, for example through dedicated graphics. You can also choose between a permanent license and the Flex model. With the latter, you only pay for the actual use of the software.
- Manufacturer: Capturing Reality
- Advantages: Compatible with a wide range of file formats, Textured 3D meshes from images and laser scans.
- Disadvantages: Only compatible with Windows
- Price/pricing models: Perpetual license: $3,750, Flex model starting at $10
Rank 10: Drone Deploy
Drone Deploy already reveals in its name what it is all about. Drones are used to take aerial photos, which you can then use to create 3D models. For this purpose, the application works with two different programs at once. On the one hand, you have an app for controlling the drone and regulating the flight path. With the other app, you can create different models based on the shots. If you want to expand the range of functions, you can also download additional apps via DroneDeploy. Versatile measuring and working tools are already available from the ground up. In addition, the developer has managed to keep the controls very simple despite having a lot of features. However, you can only use the app with DJI drones. In addition, the license is not quite cheap at at least $329 per month for the Individual variant.
- Manufacturer: DroneDeploy
- Advantages: Easy control, flexible design of 3D models possible, extensive measuring and working tools, Additional features possible via app download.
- Disadvantages: Only compatible with DJI drones
- Price/Pricing Models: Individual: $329/month, Advanced: $599/month
Rank 11: WebODM
WebODM is a photogrammetry software offered by OpenDroneMag and UAV4GEO. With the software you can create textured 3D models, but also generate elevation models and the like. The home field of application is probably a bit limited, since most users use the program in the industrial field. Nevertheless, you can take a look at the offer as a private user without any risk. The Pro version is available starting at $29 per month. You can also opt for a Flex solution, where you only pay for the cards you create. The business version of WebODM is available for $99 per month.
- Producer: OpenDroneMap and UAV4GEO
- Advantages: Creation of textured 3D models, elevation models and more, flexible pricing models available.
- Disadvantages: only partly suitable for beginners, limited field of application in home 3D printing
- Price/pricing models: Pay per Map, Pro version: $29/month, Business version: $99/month
What is photogrammetry?
Photogrammetry or photogrammetry is a method of 3D scanning, whereby no direct scanning is performed. You create a 3D model from photos, which is calculated using different non-contact measurement methods. It is thus possible to determine the position or shape of an object only from the photograph.
In general, a distinction is made between different types of photogrammetry. Close-range photogrammetry is used primarily for smaller 3D objects, while aerial photogrammetry images large areas.
What hardware do I need for scanning with photogrammetry?
Photogrammetry is a method that can be easily implemented. You can rely on professional hardware and appropriate cameras. However, any digital camera or the digital camera of your smartphone are also sufficient. In order to be able to print your model afterwards, a 3D printer is also required, of course.
With photogrammetry, you can quickly and easily create, edit, and optimize accurate 3D objects for your print. Meanwhile, you can choose from a variety of powerful programs for this purpose. It does not always have to be a high-end solution with high costs, especially for private use. Often, the basic variants are sufficient, some of which are even provided to you as free open source applications. A close comparison of the programs will help you find the best solution for you.
Frequently Asked Questions: Photogrammetry Tools
Feel free to send me the questions and I'll include them when I get a chance, as long as they are relevant to everyone.