Photogrammetry in Cultural Heritage: Comparison of Results Between iPad and DSLR Cameras

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Figure 1. Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal in .obj file format, photos were taken by a DSLR. Software used in the project: Autodesk Recap 360 and BuildIT

If 800 people are working on the iPhone camera, would this mean that smartphone / tablet cameras will soon match the performance of DSLRs?

The short answer is « No », as long as the camera sensor size is not increased.  A larger camera sensor allows the capture of more light and reduces noise levels. Their applicability to smartphones / tablets will always be limited, however, since a larger sensor size would also require a larger lens, which would not be very practical for a smart device.

We compared the results of an iPad 4 with a DSLR Nikon D90 for a photogrammetry application in cultural heritage. As a preliminary experiment, we took photos of the Notre Dame basilica in Old-Montreal. The photos were then converted to 3D .obj models through Autodesk’s Recap 360 software.

Caveat: The number of photos taken with the iPad was less (100 versus 250) and the atmospheric conditions were also different.

The difference in results was striking. We had four times more points with a DSLR, with higher resolution and more detail on the surfaces. You can compare the results more closely below.

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Figure 2. Comparison of device performance (iPad versus DSLR): The facade of Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal

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Figure 3. Comparison of device performance (iPad versus DSLR): Facade detail of Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal

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Figure 4. Comparison of device performance (iPad versus DSLR): Columns of the gateway of Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal

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