Is there a person in your life that needs an escape from everyday 2D life? These gifts will help them step into the third dimension! Or maybe that special person is you. Either way, below are some gift ideas for starting with Reality Capture through 3D Scanning (dedicated hardware) or Photogrammetry (using a regular photo camera).

Infrared 3D Scanner

These depth sensors can be used as active 3D scanners. They are portable, easy to use and offer an affordable first step into 3D scanning. The choice of hardware partially depends on the tablet or laptop that’s already in use. Unless you want to be really generous and gift that as well.


Structure Sensor

Does the happy receiver already have an iPad? Then the Structure Sensor (review) is the best gadget to get him or her started with 3D scanning. It can be ordered with a dedicated mount for almost every iPad model, so be sure to choose the right one!


3D Systems Sense 2

For Windows users — either recent tablets or laptops — a good start is the Sense 2 3D Scanner (review). It features the latest Intel RealSense SR300 sensor for improved speed and texture quality.




Wether you’re using a depth sensor like the above to capture things in 3D, or use photogrammetry, extra light always means better texture quality. Here are some lights that suit different budgets and purposes.

Mobile LED Light

To use a depth sensor on the go, this small battery-powered LED light comes in handy. It comes with various mounts, including an audio jack for iPad/Structure Sensor and a tripod thread (for Sense).


Shooting Tent with Small Light Kit

For capturing small to medium objects indoors, you can use a tent and small light kit like this to make sure your textures are uniformly lit. Also great for regular product photography.


Studio Light Kit

For medium to large objects and body scanning you need a large light kit with continuous lights. For turntable scanning, 2 lights is usually enough. Without a turntable, the minimum is 3.

Small, 2 Bulb Softboxes: $97,95 Medium, 2 LED Panels: $358.00




For capturing objects on a regular basis, a turntable is a must-have. For 3D Scanning with a depth sensor, you should combine it with at least two lights for good results. For Photogrammetry, you should use a shooting tent to make the background totally white.


Manual Turntable

An IKEA Snudda lazy susan is nice, but I use this one a lot because it’s more portable and stable. It also has a tangible texture that improve the tracking for some depth sensors.


Automatic Turntable

This electric turntable uses Bluetooth or IR to automatically trigger your Smartphone or DSLR Camera to to take photos during rotation, so it’s great for Photogrammetry. It also has a LED light in the back that can light the back of a shooting tent, but still need two lights in the front.


Or… A Virtual Reality Headset

Maybe your special person is spoiled and already has the gear to make 3D captures. Or maybe not. Either way, a VR headset is the most awesome way to view 3D content of any kind.


Of course you can use it to play games, but you can also view your 3D scans through Sketchfab and walk around them in Room Scale VR. Or load them into Tilt Brush and paint a beard and Santa outfit onto yourself…


Happy Holidays!

-Nick Lievendag, Founder 3D Scan Expert


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