3D Scanning on iPhone 12 Pro (LiDAR sensor)

Are you saying that the LIDAR doesn’t have the resolution to do what we want re: 3D printing, or is it possible that the capablility is there, but software hasn’t caught up to it yet? In other words, can we expect apps that will utilize untapped potential?

It the LIDAR can’t function for what I want it, the night time portraiture is not something I really care about. I’d like the tele lens and don’t need the ultra-wide very much. I use my iPhone camera—besides the usual snap shots when traveling—mostly to document my model making and take high res shots of my finished work. I really need control of depth of field and need a camera that permits setting different focal distances. I know the 12 pro gives some control there, but I’m not sure about standard 12.

I can’t speak for the future of the 3D being produced by the various apps, but yes it is theoretically possible that it might reach ‘3D printable’ levels of resolution in this generation - but also maybe not :man_shrugging:

I don’t have an iPhone 12 personally and am basing my judgment on the mesh outputs from polycam and laan labs 3d scanner apps.

I can’t speak for the 2D image capabilities of the device.

Hi Myles,

I’d echo what @nebulousflynn says. The resolution of the LiDAR sensor is very low, with only a few hundred dots in its measurement grid. You can see the projected grid using infrared, as shown in this video.

As you will see from the video, the FaceID camera actually has better 3D scanning capabilities for smaller objects, projecting a grid of 30K dots (using grid deformation to estimate 3D surface as opposed to the lower res LiDAR sensor which records depth per dot), but it’s facing the wrong way…

If I was you, and so long as the battery in your iPhone 7 is still good, I would wait to see what Apple release later this year and use an app such as ProCamera to take RAW (DNG) photos to use with desktop photogrammetry software.


I did buy the 12 Pro. Here’s my justification. The camera system is better with a true telephoto lens in addition to the wide and ultra-wide lenses. The 12 Pro comes standard with 128 GB memory instead of the standard 64 GB. That’s $100 of the $200 premium right there. So $100 for the added camera capability was worth it.

And it’s definitely a wonderful optical system. I have a Canon EOS Rebel that’s now obsolete since the iPhone takes better pictures in all aspects. With some added apps like “Manual Focus” I can even get more control of depth of field that the Canon was used for. I’m thinking about putting the Rebel on eBay. If I can get the LIDAR to do scanning for 3D printing, that would be a bonus, but I, like the other responders, find that the resolution is low and seems better for scanning entire rooms or pieces of furniture. I did download some scanning software just to try it out.

Wishing you all the best with your new camera set up and looking forward to seeing some 3D outputs too :slight_smile:

Hello folks.

Are there any new apps to add to the list at the top of this thread?

Has anyone decided on a ‘go-to’ scanning app on iOS? If so, what is it and why do you prefer it?

Hi, joining the topic as I am starting soon experimenting mixing Metashape photogrammetry with Lidar using the Mark 2 from occipital. I used last year a Mark 1 with an iPad mini making good mesh and imported them in a Metashape project of the same object to align the mesh and get Metashape to build the UV map. https://skfb.ly/o67JM was an example of that process scanning a child chair that was set on the top of my leather Sofa. I should receive tomorrow here in Kyoto the Mark 2 and I will post the results.
I have high expectations as Mark1 was already much better resolution than my iPad pro2020 that I only use for Polycam captures of big simple geometries. You can also get descent point cloud models with iPad Pro2020 but I mainly use it the get a quick processing of alignment during Matterport captures.

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Maybe of interst, Allen Angle has a small collection of 3D models comparing different app outputs for the same subject:

App Scan Compare by allen.angle on Sketchfab


I’m not sure how long this app has been around, but RTAB-Map aims to solve the problem of ‘closing’ scans. Like that time you carefully walked around a large object or building and the end didn’t fit with the beginning…

I’ve added it to the list on the opening post in this thread.

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i’m wondering if the result is better on the iphone 12 pro, iphone 12 pro max or the ipad pro ?

(sorry i don’t know apple products very well)