Creating Facebook 3D Photos with DepthCam

Facebook 3D photo format is changing the way we experience mobile photography. As you scroll though Facebook photos, you’re likely starting to see 3D photos that move and rotate as you scroll. These are depth photos posted as Facebook 3D photos.

DepthCam for iOS makes it easier than ever to create 3D photos that can be posted to Facebook. A Facebook 3D post requires two things, a photo and a depth map.

Portrait Mode

The easiest way to create a 3D photo is taking a photo with DepthCam or the iPhone's built-in “Portrait” mode. Without any editing, you can post these to Facebook as a 3D Photo. (Note, you need an iPhone that supports depth capture: iPhone7+, iPhone8+, iPhoneX, iPhoneXR, iPhoneXs, and iPhoneXs Max.

I recommend using DepthCam to capture depth photos. DepthCam is a dedicated camera app to capture depth photos and is faster than the builtin Portrait mode. Plus, you can immediately see your photos and depth maps in DepthCam.


Editing Depth Photos

If you wish to do any editing with your depth photo such as cropping, you'll need DepthCam. I designed DepthCam as the ultimate depth camera and depth editor.

Open your depth photo in DepthCam and you'll see the photo and depth map. You can crop your photo with the crop icon on top. Keep in mind, Facebook expects photos to have a 4x3 or 3x4 ratio. (Portrait or Landscape). Square photos won't work correctly. I often crop my photos because they're off center, zoomed out too much, etc. DepthCam has smart cropping that will crop the depth map behind the scenes to keep everything aligned.

When done editing in DepthCam, select the Save Facebook 3D Photo after tapping lower right save icon.

In case you're wondering about Portrait photos containing people, DepthCamPro also intelligently preserves and translates the new Portrait Effects Matte (PEM) so no data is lost when cropping. The PEM isn't required for Facebook 3D Photos, but is preserved for possible future uses.


Photo Apps

Another possibility is editing your depth photo in various filter and paint apps. These typically strip away the depth data, but DepthCam comes to the rescue enabling you to re-join the depth map with an edited photo.

One of my filter apps is SWRLY. SWRLY is a modern take on the original Petzval lens and is great for creating old tintype photos.

As long as you're starting with a depth photo, you can use SWRLY for tintype effect then open it in DepthCam to add back the depth map.


  1. Take photo in DepthCam, or open existing depth photo in DepthCam.
  2. Save depth map as an image file. Tap the save icon in lower right and select Save Depth Map.
  3. Edit your photo in your favorite filter app such as SWRLY. Make sure the image stays the same ratio and isn't cropped or cutoff in any way.
  4. Open your newly edited photo in DepthCam.
  5. Tap Import DepthMap. Select the grayscale depth image you saved in step 2.
  6. Visually check to make sure the depth map matches the photo. Now save final 3D photo. Tap lower right save icon and select Save Facebook 3D Photo.

Creating Depth Maps

For adventurous users, you can create your own depth map for any photo. Again, start with a photo that is landscape or portrait with a 4x3 or 3x4 ratio. From this photo, create a depth map. A depth map is a grayscale image that encodes the distance to each pixel by a shade of gray. Black is close and white is furthest away.

Creating custom depth maps is beyond the scope of this article but here are a few suggestions. Tip: keep the contrast low, avoiding solid black next to white.


Starting with your photo, create a new layer and start brushing and filling in shades of gray to represent distance. You can use a simple straight gradient or radial gradient for easy depth. Here's an example of a photo I edited in my Circular app. To make the sky 3D, I created a radial gradient centered on the sky center.

  • Circular Sky 3D
  • Circular DepthMap
  • Circular Sky


3D Applications

If you're rendering images in an app such as Cinema4D, you can also render a depth pass.

Here's a scene I created in Cinema4D, along with the depth map.

  • Cinema4D 3D
  • Cinema4D Render
  • Cinema4D Depth Pass

Once you have custom depth map, use DepthCam to open the original photo and import the depth map. Save as Facebook 3D Photo. Try posting to Facebook and see if the 3D effect works. You can always check before committing to a post.

I hope this is helpful. I look forward to seeing your 3D Posts!