Photogrammetry Testing 13: Revisiting 3DFZephyr Free (v4.001)

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

At the risk of running too many repeats recently, I’ve retested the newest version of 3DF Zephyr Free on my standard dataset.

I’ve previously tested 3DF Zephyr Free, and found it to be pretty straightforward to use, about as quick as other software, but limited to 50 photos in the free version.

I saw on Twitter that 3DF Zephyr had reached a new milestone that promised performance improvements:


So, I downloaded the free version, and ran the process just like before (everything on default, using ‘close range’ settings).  As before, the free version limits you to 50 photos, so I arbitrarily removed 3 photos from the Styracosaurus dataset.

It took a total of 20 minutes, 38 seconds, and the end result was, as before, excellent, albeit had auto-cropped a bit too much of the base:


To give you an idea of the look of the untextured mesh, here it is in Meshlab:


And, as always, you can see the model uploaded to Sketchfab:



It’s certainly a lot faster than the version I tried last year (20 minutes vs 33!), and I’m happy with the quality of the reconstruction. It’s actually significantly faster than COLMAP and OpenMVS, but remember that we’re three photos down here, and photogrammetry tends to increase processing time exponentially with additional photos (or it did).

But, as with last time the 50 photo limit is fairly restrictive for what I do.  You can pay just €149.00 (+ vat) to get the ‘Lite’ version, which ups the limit to 500 photos, and allows use of two GPUS if you have them.  For me though, I consider that version to still be limited (I do occasionally go above 500 photos), but costing €149.00 more than open source/freely available programs I’ve been testing and using. For comparison, Photoscan is $179 (€153.08) and doesn’t have the 500 photo limit.  There may well be features unique to 3DF Zephyr that make it the right choice for you, but I’ve not explored them.

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