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Best photogrammetry software in 2021: Which one should you choose?

When it comes to photogrammetry software, there’s quite a choice out there. For instance, some 3D mapping software offers a free version, allowing you to use the software first for some time before you purchase. Overall, this software is ideal for beginners who want to learn about photogrammetry. In comparison, other software will charge you to download and use them. These are more advanced software and are suitable for professional settings. 

Types of photogrammetry software

There are two main methods of photogrammetry; terrestrial and aerial method photogrammetric.

The terrestrial method involves taking photos with a camera on tripods set on the ground.

Aerial photogrammetric is fixing a camera to the bottom of an aerial vehicle allowing images to be collected.

Whereas aerial photogrammetric is for topographic products like terrain models and maps, the terrestrial method is for non-topographic images like 3D models and drawings.

You can use each method individually or jointly depending on the needs of the task.

There are many applications available, and each day more and more new ones regularly appear on the market. We’ve selected the popular ones and those that offer unique performance, for this review.

1- Pix4Dmapper Pro

Pix4Dmapper Pro

Pix4Dmapper Pro is the leading professional drone mapping software for short-range and aerial photogrammetric. This software accurately captures models and 3D maps. 

Who this product is for

  • Aerial surveyors
  • Constructing engineers
  • Researchers
  • Military
  • Miners

Key features

  • Digitize – It transforms your images into digital maps and spatial models.
  • Captures – You can use any camera to capture RGB, multispectral or thermal images.
  • Control – It allows you to assess and improve the quality of your project.
  • It offers simple operation with a simple step-by-step guide.
  • It proves a simple and tidy working environment.
  • It can measure distances and calculates the area and volume of the desired areas.
  • Generates guides to display topographic map status.
  • It has a precise surface mapping for use in a GIS system.
  • It supports 360-degree images and video processing.
  • It can work on Windows only.

Pro

  • It is easy to learn, with a low entry threshold.
  • It can process images automatically without user interference.
  • The cloud services perform the processing of images.
  • It provides quality learning materials, technical support, an active community and an extensive knowledge base.
  • It allows manual editing of processing results by users.
  • It gives you full control of your projects.
  • It also has a user-friendly interface and supports a wide range of cameras. 

Cons

  • Editing option of processing results is quite limited.
  • It has a limited terrain generation.

2- Agisoft Metashape

Agisoft Metashape

Agisoft Metashape is a standalone software that generates 3D spatial data and offers photogrammetric processing of digital images. The application has flexible tools; it’s easy to use and provides unlimited possibilities to the advanced user.

Who this product is for

  • Researchers
  • Mining
  • Transporters
  • Topography
  • Agriculture and forestry

Key features

  • It offers a 30 days free trial.
  • It can differentiate between different objects such as trees and buildings that allow filtering.
  • It offers you the ability to customize python scripts to maintain processing workflow.
  • By utilizing a multitude of export formats, it can transmit it’s product into external instruments easily.
  • Automation of processing
  • Offers support and quality documentation
  • It allows for stable operation.  
  • Works on Windows, Linux and MacOS

Pro

  • It allows classification and dense point cloud editing.
  • It offers flexible and non-linear processing.
  • Works with any camera
  • Simple interface and basics are straightforward to learn.
  • Works perfectly with non-geo objects
  • It supports a large number of formats.
  • It supports distributed processing.
  • It can edit the 3D models.

Cons

  • It has no pre-existing scenarios.
  • It doesn’t support automatic scene splitting.
  • Advanced functionality is hard to master

3- Autodesk Recap

Autodesk Recap

Autodesk is Autodesk software that allows the creation of accurate 3D models with reality capture. It also provides access to a broad array of tools and gives you an ability to clean undesired areas and let you work on the essential site.

Who this product is for

  • Mechanical and manufacturing industries

Key features

  • It includes high-quality analytics tools, UAV/drone fly features, cooperation tools and advanced editing.
  • It handles laser scans and aligns them into 3D model generations.
  • You can automatically register images.
  • You can also choose images manually to improve on the overall results.
  • It allows exploration of a video output even before the project is complete. 
  • It offers users 5G of cloud space and an unlimited number of projects.
  • It has a mobile app for iOS.
  • Integration with Autodesk ecosystem
  • It has a free trial.

Pro

  • Simple to use
  • It is web-based so that it can work on any platform or hardware.
  • It has a simple, straightforward, and minimalistic interface.
  • You can fully process up to 50 images on the free version.
  • It allows separate processing modes for free photosets.
  • Produces good qualities of orthophotos and models

Cons

  • It does not allow you to manage textures. 
  • No model post-processing function.

4- 3DF Zephyr

3DF Zephyr

3DF Zephyr is a standalone application that automatically reconstructs 3D images from photos. The application runs only on windows.

Who this product is for

  • Surveyors
  • Engineers
  • 3D Modelers
  • Government and research institutions

Key features

  • It offers a 14 days free trial version.
  • It’s completely automatic.
  • Easy camera calibration management
  • It has a masking capability.
  • It offers multiple layers support.
  • Multiple texturing and UDIM
  • Features editing tools
  • It allows reconstruction with presets
  • It provides full 360-degrees camera support.
  • It supports all types of cameras.

Pro

  • Export of results in multiple formats
  • Each stage of the process has a default setting function.
  • Intuitive interface – every menu item features separate buttons.
  • Excellent results of processing at the stages of construction

Cons

  • It takes a lot of time to process data.
  • Saved projects take up considerable space.

5- Correlator 3D

Correlator 3D

Correlator 3D is high-end mapping software that allows the processing of larger mapping projects and producing high-quality results from satellite imagery, aircraft, and drones. It processes a large number of datasets at high accuracies.

Who this product is for

  • Miners

Key features

  • Fast processing on multiple-core CPUs and GPUs
  • It can process unlimited numbers of images.
  • Provides survey-grade accuracy with details
  • It offers a powerful user interface.
  • It provides a universal workflow by supporting all sensors.
  • It features a flexible modular architecture such as DTM extraction, aerial triangulation, DSM & point cloud generation etc.
  • It comes with a detailed manual guide.
  • It offers a free trial.

Pro

  • It can process a large amount of data.
  • Complete automatic process.
  • It has a simple interface, divided into processing stages.
  • It has a fast processing speed.
  • It allows for processing an unlimited amount of data.
  • You can manually intervene at any stage after data calculation and edit the results.
  • It supports all types of cameras.

Cons

  • The application is prone to crashes.
  • The zoom does not work correctly.

Read also: 21 Cool Things To 3D Print

How To Choose The Right Photogrammetry Software

The reality is, there are a lot of suitable photogrammetry software applications available, and many of them are free to use. But choosing new software, especially if you are a beginner, is no small feat. Many factors need to be considered before you settle on the software you’ll invest your hard-earned money.

So, what do you consider before making the right choice on what software to buy?

Here are some steps to guide you on what software to buy.

1- Cost versus value

Pricing is the most crucial factor in any buying process, but it is not the only factor you consider. It is essential to compare the price of the software and the value it offers you. Purchasing expensive software may translate to a loss in the long-range if you can’t utilize some of its features.

2- Purpose

Before settling on a particular software to purchase, you should analyze the features and functions you need. It would be helpful if you took the time to check out the essential elements you need in that software. For example, if you need to process a high level or a large area, you should go for software supporting aerial photogrammetry, unlike someone whose work involves a smaller space.

3- Scalability

As a starter, you may be having a plan to expand in the future. It is imperative to settle on software that will support your growth. Before buying any photogrammetry software, you should ensure it allows flexibility and guarantee you a scope of development. It is crucial to do research before purchasing it.

4- User-friendly

Before buying software, it is always best to try its free trial version to have a look and how it feels. As a beginner, get an application that has a user-friendly interface and easy to use. Who wants to purchase complicated software that you will waste half of your time referring to the manual instead of using it for its intended purpose?

5- Easy integration

It would help if you considered how well the software integrates with your current applications and systems. You may already have applications you would like to use with the photogrammetric software you want to buy.  Make sure it’s flexible enough for integration with the already existing applications you may have.

Check also: The 5 Best 3D Printers for Miniatures 2021

Conclusion

As we face the future, digital photogrammetry is poised to converge with computing powerfully. It’s becoming part and parcel of our daily lives. From the miners, military, engineers, and many other professional worlds, they all rely on this software to carry out their daily activities.

Since there is too much photogrammetry software to meet everyone’s needs, it all comes down to individual needs. Each software is designed differently and may be suitable for specific functions. You can also combine several of them if your work cuts across different functions that aren’t available on one software.

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