Photogrammetry Testing 9: 3DF Zephyr Free

Part 1: Photoscan | Part 2: VisualSFM+MeshRecon | Part 3: VisualSFM+PMVS+Meshlab | Part 4: OpenMVG + MVE | Part 5: MVE | Part 6: ReMake | Part 7: SMVS (+MVE) | Part 8: COLMAP | Part 9: 3DF Zephyr Free | Part 10: MicMac | Part 11: VisualSFM + openMVS, & COLMAP + openMVS | Part 12: Revisiting OpenMVG (with OpenMVS) [updated] | Part 13: Revisiting 3DFZephyr Free (v4.001) | Part 14: AliceVision Meshroom

Current Recommendation: Part 14, AliceVision Meshroom

I have previously outlined my goal of testing multiple photogrammetry solutions on a single dataset, and reporting times and results.

I’m using a dataset based on photographs of this Styracosaurus model (I’ve had it since I was quite young):


The dataset has 53 photos in total, and is available from this link. [This will be moved to figshare in due course].

The model is about 12 cm in total length, has texture for the scales, and a reflective brass nameplate on the base. The model was situated on a glass desk, and there may be reflection issues from that.

Ok then, this popped up on my twitter feed the other day, so I’ll try out 3DF Zephyr Free.

First caveat: The free version of this software maxes out at 50 images.  Enough for a single specimen, but you’re not going to be doing super detailed models of skeletons or outcrops with it.

My standard Styracosaurus dataset has 53 images, so I’ve arbitrarily deleted the last three to try out 3DF Zephyr. Also, it tries to set itself as the default 3d file viewer – make sure you untick that box during installation.

Assuming you’ve installed the software ok, upon opening it you’re presented with a professional looking interface:


I clicked Workflow->New Project, and was greeted with the new project wizard, where I checked the boxes as seen here (let’s go all in to start!):


I clicked next, added my photos (it detected data from the Exif, and also found adjusted calibrations for my camera online).

I hit next again, left ‘Category’ as Close range (alternatives being Ariel, Human Body, and Urban).

I set the texture to 4096 (my go-to resolution for textures), left image resolution at 50%, and left maximum number of vertices at 2000000.


Then I hit run.

It dud each stage in one go, but from the log I got the following timings:

Matching and Sparse cloud: 200 seconds

Dense Cloud: 20 minutes

Mesh: 8 minutes

Texture: 2 minutes

Total time: 33 minutes.


All cameras were matched. Here’s the finished model viewed in 3DF Zephyr Free:



I’m a little torn about this – on the one hand the Styracosaurus is excellent and complete, but on the other hand the base is very irregular and missing a fair portion that other packages managed to get. It wasn’t particularly quick, and the 50 image limit in the free version makes it totally unsuitable for my use (but then I don’t think it’s really fair to ask for more from a free version!). But, the software is pretty good, with loads of options and buttons to twiddle [always a good thing].

The final model viewed with sketchfab:




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