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Structure from motion (SFM) photogrammetry

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journal contribution
posted on 14.05.2015, 10:03 by Natan Micheletti, Jim Chandler, Stuart N. Lane
Topographic data measurement is a fundamental aspect of many geomorphic research applications, particularly those including landform monitoring and investigation of changes in topography. However, most surveying techniques require relatively expensive technologies or specialized user supervision. Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetric technology lightens both these constraints by allowing the use of consumer grade digital cameras and highly automated data processing, which can be free to use. SfM photogrammetry therefore offers the possibility of fast, automated and low-cost acquisition of 3-D data, which has inevitably created great interest amongst the geomorphological community. In this contribution, the basic concepts of SfM photogrammetry are presented, whilst recognising its heritage. A few examples are employed to illustrate the potential of SfM applications for geomorphological research. In particular, SfM photogrammetry offers to geomorphologists a tool for high-resolution characterisation of 3-D forms at a range of scales and for change detection purposes. The high level of automation of SfM data processing creates both opportunities and threats, particularly because user control tends to focus upon the final product visually rather than upon inherent data quality. Accordingly, this contribution seeks to guide potential new users in successfully applying SfM for a range of geomorphic studies.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


MICHELETTI, N., CHANDLER, J.H. and LANE, S.N., 2015. Structure from motion (SFM) photogrammetry. IN: Clarke, L.E. and Nield, J.M. (Eds.) Geomorphological Techniques (Online Edition). London: British Society for Geomorphology. ISSN: 2047-0371, Chap. 2, Sec. 2.2.


British Society for Geomorphology


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This is an edited book chapter in Geomorphological Techniques (Online Edition) (ISSN 2047-0371). It is also available at: http://www.geomorphology.org.uk/sites/default/files/geom_tech_chapters/2.2.2_sfm.pdf