The Top 10 Best 3D Photo Apps of 2020
It’s looking like 2020 will become the “year of 3D” as demand for 3D Photo apps continues to grow. In response, developers have released a wave of 3D apps, with some being more successful than others in the creation and sharing of 3D Photos on social media such as Facebook, or within their own app.
Jump to a specific app
For the purposes of this high level review of the top 10 best 3D photo apps of 2020, we will focus on what the apps themselves can do, without external help from 3D Glasses, VR Headsets and other peripherals. Filters, frames, and other features will be ignored, as we are focusing on 3D capture and display quality for this post. In order to level the playing field, we will feature the same heavily-used baseball for capture and review of the resulting 3D photos. Apps are listed in no particular order.
Here’s a list of the best 3D photo apps available in 2020
Google’s Cardboard Camera was made to “capture and share moments with virtual reality (VR) photos.” It allows you to capture spaces for viewing in AR or 3D, with just a single camera, and it excels at this task. Unfortunately, it is less successful when it comes to capturing an object in 3D.
To capture the test baseball in three dimensions, you are asked to slowly pan your camera from left to right (and only left to right), similar to how you take a panoramic photo in your stock camera app. Be careful not to go too fast when panning, as the app will ask you to re-capture the image if you move too quickly. You also want to avoid rotating your camera around the object. Try and only move in one direction at a time.
The resulting image is available to you in multiple ways, including a standard 2D panoramic image like your phone can already take, or as a stereoscopic image formatted for a VR headset you would place your phone into, and then on your face.
When it comes to viewing the output on your phone without any extra add-ons, the Cardboard Camera does not do a great job. The baseball is displayed as a flat, 2D image that is a bit distorted and completely static. There is no 3D effect noticeable, and moving the phone in space does not cause the image to change.
Cardboard Camera asked to access my photos and microphone, but did not ask to access my location. There were no embedded ads.
LucidPix, a new app that is still in beta, is unique in the fact that it was designed to not require you to move your phone in a specific manner to capture an image, nor does it require any special add-ons, or even a multi-camera phone to capture and view the 3D Photos LucidPix creates. You just take a photo like you normally would, and LucidPix uses advanced AI to convert the 2D image into three dimensions.
There are multiple ways to capture an image in LucidPix. The easiest is to use your phone’s built-in camera app to take your photos like you normally would. However, you could use any camera app for capture, and apply filters to create the perfect look.
Once you’ve come across a photo that would look great in 3D, you open up LucidPix, slide over to 3D Conversion, and choose the photo from your camera roll. Alternatively, you can capture a photo from within the app with a simple point and shoot setup. The best part is, there’s no need for you to move your camera around to capture. Just point and shoot.
The resulting 3D Photo is available after a short processing wait. In our case, it performed the best as making the photo appear in three dimensions on your phone. The image is clear, the movement really adds a 3D effect, and is actually something that you’d want to share with friends on social media. No other 3D photo app was able to produce such a quality output, including those that use specialized depth sensors or multiple cameras.
LucidPix 3D Photos are exportable as native Facebook 3D Photos, animated GIFs and MP4 videos. These three options allow you quick an easy sharing on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, WeChat, LINE … basically anywhere.
LucidPix did not have embedded ads, did not try and access bluetooth, and did not try and access my location, nor did it try and track users via GPS. It did require access to my camera roll and camera, like most camera apps.
Camera 3D Pro
Camera 3D Pro is similar to Cardboard Camera in that it requires you to move your phone in space to generate 3D information. However, unlike Cardboard Camera, Camera 3D has a larger learning curve. Even as an experienced app user and 3D aficionado, it was not immediately clear how to successfully capture an object.
After unsuccessfully trying to press the shutter button and “pull camera” towards me as instructed by the app, I tapped on the flashing Help! button. The resulting video took a few watches to understand what needed to be done, but I eventually figured it out. The app wants you to keep the shutter button down and move the phone to the side, while NOT moving the finger holding the shutter button down. It’s as difficult as it sounds, and definitely makes photo capture a two-handed job. It doesn’t help that the app repeatedly crashed when trying to capture, and frequently refused to display the camera’s view despite being granted access.
Camera 3D Pro outputs the capture in 4 ways: Stereo, 3D color, 3d mono, Wiggle, and Regular. The first three options require you to have a VR headset or 3D glasses. Wiggle simply flips between two images, similar to how it looks when you quickly switch between closing one eye at a time, with a slight perspective change between one image and the other. Regular just displays a static 2D image. If you want to share the results, you have to make an in-app purchase. Unfortunately, the app crashed every time I tried to use the unlock feature, so I can not elaborate further.
Camera 3D Pro serves up embedded ads, requests your location, and needs access to the camera and photos. It does not embed ads or try and access bluetooth.
Fyuse is a polished app that excels at creating “interactive panoramas.” We say interactive panoramas, as the app doesn’t really create a 3D image, it lets you interact with video panoramas by moving your phone. Think panoramic wigglegram. Upon launch, you are shown an impressive interactive gallery of user-submitted panoramas that move as you move your phone from left to right.
In order to capture an object in 3D, you are asked to tap on it, at which point Fyuse draws some connected red dots on the object and gives you a line to follow as you move your phone to capture. In the case of the baseball, it was tapped, then my phone was rotated to the side, trying to keep my red line on the white guide.
The resulting output does an OK job at giving the illusion of depth, but does not quite cross the line into 3D territory. We just can’t get past that it looks like a video that is played back by moving my phone.
In addition to sharing to others that use the app, Fyuse allows you to share on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter from within the app. However, we could not get this feature to work. Tapping on the social network’s icon allows you to grant access to the app, but nothing comes of it.
Fyuse requests access to your location, your camera, and your photos. It does not have ads, nor did it try and access bluetooth or the microphone.
3D Photo Effect – Glitch Editor
This app is focused on creating “Glitch Photos” and “Glitch Videos.”
Before we had a chance to test out the app, it popped up a screen asking for a subscription payment. It took a few moments to realize that this could be dismissed by taping the small X at the top of the screen. Then, after closing the subscription pop-up, we were hit with a full-screen advertisement the got stuck loading, despite our gigabit internet connection. Once that was out of the way, we were ready to test out the app.
3D Photo Effect creates “old fashioned” 3D photos that must be viewed through red/blue 3D anaglyphic glasses like we used in the 1950s. It can either capture in-app or use photos captured elsewhere, such as with the built-in camera app. The user then can choose what type of 3D effect to use, or to add a glitch effect.
As we have not owned a pair of red/blue anaglyphic 3D glasses since the 1980s, we can’t speak to the quality of the 3D effect, but the images do look to have minimal distortion, unless you purposefully add some with the glitch effect.
The app allows you to share via email, Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram as static images. In addition to the standard camera and photo access, 3D Effect requests access to bluetooth. It does not request location or microphone access.
FILM3D creates wigglegram images that the user can customize with a wide range of filters. As with other wigglegrams, the result does not pop out of the screen, but it does give a slight 3D effect to images. Upon launch, the app is immediately placed in capture mode.
The capture process is extremely quick, taking just a second or so. Once you tap the shutter button, you must quickly move your phone from left to right. The app then processes the video and displays the resulting wigglegram.
The resulting output is clear and of high quality. As mentioned earlier, the 3D effect is minimal here. FILM3D allows the user to save the results to the camera roll as a GIF or MP4 or directly to Instagram.
In addition to camera access, FILM3D requests access to your location. It does not display ads or request access to bluetooth or your microphone.
Parallax: 3D Photo Live Camera
Upon launching Parallax: 3D Photo Live Camera you are immediately hit with a request to subscribe to the app. It seems like you must pay to even try the app, but if you tap the small X at the top of the screen the subscription pop goes away. After you dismiss the pop-up, you are shown some examples of the app’s 3D capture process, which is essentially a wigglegram.
Parallax: 3D Photo Live Camera’s capture process uses a small + on the screen that you are instructed to keep in the same spot, while you move/rotate around the object. This is easier said than done, as we had a difficult time keeping the + on the same spot of the baseball.
The output is much like that of FILM3D; you simply get a multi-image wigglegram. You may share the result to Instagram or as a message using your built-in messaging app.
Parallax requests access to your photos and camera. It does not show ads, nor does it request location, microphone or bluetooth access.
PopPic is an app that attempts to extrapolate 3D data from images to display a 3D photo on your phone. We say attempts, as the system it uses did not result in a clear 3D photo in our testing. Upon launch you are immediately in capture mode, and ready to take your next 3D photo.
As with LucidPix, capture is easy, just point your camera at the subject and hit the shutter button, you don’t have to move your phone around in space to capture the photo. However, unlike LucidPix, PopPic requires you to have a multiple-camera phone, such as an iPhone X or better, in order to shoot 3D Photos. Users that opted to not spend $1000+ on their phone most likely can not use this app.
The output of the baseball was disappointing, with the app not seeing a sphere, rather the app created an add-shaped object with many different sides. While we’re sure the app tried it’s best here, it just could not produce quality output like you get from similar apps such as LucidPix. Sharing of the resulting 3D image is possible on the PopPic website, as a video, or texted/saved to the camera roll as a 2D photo.
PopPic asks for the standard access right of your camera and photos. It does not ask for location, bluetooth or microphone access, nor does it serve ads.
This is a neat app that uses 3D data to modify the depth of field of your photos, as well as add lighting effects. (And a whole lot more that is outside of the scope of this review.) Upon launch, you are immediately ready to take a photo with Focos.
Capture is quite easy, only requiring you to point and shoot like a normal camera. It is worth mentioning that, if you want to use any of the 3D features of the app, you must have a phone with dual (or more) lenses and use the zoom lens to take the photo, or allow their AI to extrapolate depth.
The app does not output as a 3D photo, which is fine. That does not seem to be the goal of the app. As mentioned above, this app offers a lot more features that we did not discuss, and seems to be equally powerful and complex.
Focos asks for bluetooth access, along with the standard camera and photo roll access. It does not serve ads, nor does it ask for location data or microphone access.
Honorable Mention: OmniVirt
OmniVirt is worth a mention, even though there is no native smartphone app, as it usually does an admirable job at converting flat 2D photos into depth-enhanced 3D photos. In fact, this blog post was inspired by their 2019 review of 3D Photo apps.
Their simple web interface prompts you to start a three-step process. 1) Choose a 2D photo for conversion, then 2) you either upload your own depth map, or use their “Predict” feature to make one based off AI. Finally, step 3) gives you the resulting RGB image and Depth Map in a zip file you download, unzip, and then manually upload to Facebook or use elsewhere.
In this case, OmniVirt did not do a great job of making our subject baseball 3D. The results were similar to PopPic, with a mis-shapen object that does not resemble a sphere.
It’s great to see the app market is growing when it comes to 3D Photo capture, sharing and display. More and more apps are released all the time, and the apps listed above will most likely be updated with new features and better 3D results.
Did we miss your favorite 3D app? If so, please leave a comment below and let us know.
|App Name||Point & Shoot Capture?||Capture Quality||3D Display||Privacy/Ads|
|Cardboard Camera||No. Must move phone during capture.||Average||No. Requires VR headset.||Standard access + microphone|
|LucidPix||Yes||Above Average||Yes||Standard access|
|Camera 3D||No. Must move phone during capture.||Below Average||No. Requires VR headset.||Standard access + location data, includes ads|
|Fyuse||No. Must move phone during capture.||Average||No. Displays animated wigglegrams.||Standard access + location|
|3D Effect||Yes.||Above Average||No. Requires special glasses.||Standard access + bluetooth|
|FILM3D||No. Must move phone during capture.||Average||No. Displays animated wigglegrams.||Standard access + location data|
|Parallax||No. Must move phone during capture.||Average||No. Displays animated wigglegrams.||Standard access|
|PopPic||Yes||Below Average||Yes||Standard access|
|Focos||Yes||Above Average||Yes||Standard access + bluetooth|
|OmniVirt||N/A (Can not capture photos)||N/A (Can not capture photos)||Yes||Run by ad company.|