All About the Fascinating World of Photogrammetry

All About the Fascinating World of Photogrammetry
All About the Fascinating World of Photogrammetry

While there are many ways to generate models of different landscapes, buildings, and objects, photogrammetry has become a preferred method in various industries. This process takes a straightforward approach to creating a highly detailed, accurate rendering of the target with many useful applications. Its high degree of accessibility makes photogrammetry useful to new business owners and established firms alike.

What is Photogrammetry?

In simplest forms, photogrammetry is the use of photography to measure the distance between objects. However, it is far more complex than simply measuring space. Photogrammetry is the collection, measurement, and analyzing data points captured via photography to accurately measure space and size when a scale is presented.

While much of the technology and applications of modern photogrammetry are just that– modern– the practice of using photos to determine distance is not. These days, however, we have smartphones, drones, and high-tech cameras at our disposal. As such, a startup firm with limited equipment can use photogrammetry with the right software and training.


Photogrammetry is most commonly used in architecture and Building Information Modeling (BIM). An architect can use photogrammetry to create a building plan or create a model of a historical property that lacks original blueprints and documentation. In addition to architects, surveyors and landscapers may also use this method of measurement to assist in determining a large scale building project.

Photogrammetry also allows the recreation of space that is dangerous to enter. For example, one company used this technology (in conjunction with other camera-tech) to create a virtual reality tour of the Chernobyl disaster site. Photogrammetry is commonly used in video game development.

Law enforcement also benefits from the use of photogrammetry in recreating accidents and crime scenes. Some agencies enforce the use of body cameras to ensure that they are able to collect the data needed to create a rendering of the scene to revisit during the course of an investigation.

Another industry that commonly uses photogrammetry to create models and scene renderings is archaeology. For example, upon discovering an ancient skull that holds important information about evolution, an archaeologist’s job is not only to study the artifact but to protect it. Rather than having the skull passed around to be examined by the team at large, they may create a model on which to conduct measurements and visual research.

In addition to studying ancient civilizations, photogrammetry has modern biological applications as well. Surgeons can use this method of measurement to photograph a scoliosis patient’s spine, to better measure the curvature of the area before deciding upon the best course of corrective action. Zoologists also use photogrammetry to recreate models of living organisms as found in their natural environment.

Technological Requirements

As mentioned before, photogrammetry can be conducted with something as rudimentary as a smartphone. The results may not be as ideal as they would with a more advanced camera, but it can be done. For landscaping and topography, companies tend to rely on drone technology.

To turn the photographs into a 2D or 3D model, the right software is required. For example, PhotoModeler is a cutting edge piece of software that allows users to create a model based on the photos they’ve collected. It is not price prohibitive, and though it comes with a learning curve, they offer many tutorials and resources.

For the best results, users of photogrammetry should use a DSLR camera with a fixed wide-angle lens. In a pinch, a lesser quality camera can be used, but the results may be lesser quality as a result.

As with any form of technology, the more research and development put into photogrammetry, the more accessible and applicable it will become. Many industries stand to benefit from this advanced form of measurement.