Choosing the Best LiDAR Scanner: A Buyer's Guide

Are you considering investing in a LiDAR scanner solution? Congratulations! Exciting new realities await as you explore the world of 3D data capture. However, with numerous options available, finding the perfect LiDAR scanner can be daunting. To help you make an informed decision, here are the key factors to consider:

Determine Your Project Requirements

LiDAR scanners come in different shapes and sizes. A smartphone with a LiDAR sensor can be a pocket-sized tool that produces very quick, but sometimes rougher, 3D models. Survey-grade terrestrial laser scanners have a steeper learning curve and a more involved process to set up and operate but produces millimeter-level accurate results.

Your choice should align with your project needs. Consider the size, scale, complexity, and environments of the areas you plan to scan. Large-scale outdoor projects with lots of open spaces and sparse structures or vegetation will require different tools and techniques than an apartment complex.

Most importantly, choose a solution that works best for your required deliverables. Read on to learn more about what to consider before you make a purchase decision.

Ease of Use

A user-friendly LiDAR scanner can simplify your workflow, get you and your team excited to put the tech to work, and minimize training so you can start to reap the benefits of a LiDAR scanner.
Consider the following:
  • Portability: How easy is it to transport the scanner to your project site? A lightweight and compact design can make a significant difference especially when your projects are located in remote areas and/or contain complex structures where accessibility on foot may be limited.
  • User Interface: Is the scanner's interface intuitive? A straightforward interface can save you and your team time and reduce the learning curve. It's important to find a solution that balances a wealth of functionality and a seamless user experience.
  • Battery Life: If your projects involve extended scanning periods, check the scanner's battery life. While a longer battery life means fewer interruptions, it may come at the cost of a bulkier hardware set up. A smaller, more compact battery may not last as long, but will be a lot easier to move around with.

Speed of Data Capture and Processing

The speed at which a LiDAR scanner captures and processes data can be a game-changer, especially for time-sensitive projects.
Look for the following features:
  • Scan Speed: Some scanners allows you to capture quality data at the rate of a brisk walk, while others may require a more steady pace and carefully planned out paths. An important parameter to look at is the points captured per second. You can still get dense and high-quality point clouds with a scanner that has a lower point rate using good scanning techniques, but it may take longer.
  • Real-time Feedback: Scanners that provide real-time point cloud visualization can help you identify missing data and adjust your scanning path as needed. It's also helpful to view the connectivity and operating status of accessories like an RTK module or a panoramic camera, so you know your mission's on the right track.
  • Device and Data management: A robust app can save you the trouble of manually running firmware updates, connecting the scanner to a work station like a PC to transfer files, and logging into a web browser to view real-time point clouds.
  • Post-processing: Scanning missions can result in upwards of hundreds of thousands of points, which will take some time to post-process using software. Some solutions have algorithmic optimizations built-in so that the processing time is only a small chunk of the data capture time. This may save you days or weeks when you add up all the time you spend waiting for models to finish rendering.
A solution like the FJD Trion P1 can post-process in 1/3 of the time it takes to capture data. For example, a 10 minute scan can finish processing in about 3 minutes using  FJD Trion Model.

Data Quality

The ultimate value of a LiDAR scanner lies in its ability to deliver data at the quality, accuracy, and efficiency levels you need.
Here are some factors to consider:
  • Point Cloud Density: The number of data points captured by a LiDAR scanner within a specific area or volume. A denser point cloud usually means more data points are collected, resulting in a more detailed and accurate representation of the scanned environment. This is especially important when dealing with intricate structures, small objects, or features that require precise measurement.
  • Accuracy and Precision: Consider the accuracy and precision of the LiDAR scanner. These factors determine how closely the scanner's measurements match the actual dimensions of objects. Survey-grade scanners like terrestrial laser scanners or more involved wearable systems can offer up to millimeter-level accuracy, but may not be the best option for all projects. Handheld scanners often offer centimeter-level accuracy, and will be quicker to set up for a variety of projects.

Price and Cost of Ownership

LiDAR scanners come with varying price tags, so it's essential to consider your budget and long-term costs, or savings:
  • Upfront Cost: Determine how much you're willing to invest in a LiDAR scanner. Finding the sweet spot of price for performance will help you make the case.
  • Total Cost of Ownership: Consider factors like maintenance, software licenses, and accessories. Sometimes, investing in a more expensive scanner upfront can lead to cost savings over time.
  • Return on Investment: Consider the time savings and efficiency gains and do the math to see if you'll get the ROI to justify the investment.

Compatibility and Integration

Ensure your chosen LiDAR scanner produces outputs that are compatible with the software and systems you use for data processing and analysis. Seamless integration can streamline your workflow and prevent compatibility issues. The FJD Trion S1 and P1 generate universal point cloud data files in .las, .ply, and .pts.

Customer Support and Training

Check if the manufacturer provides adequate customer support and training resources. Responsive customer support can be a lifesaver when you encounter issues, and comprehensive training can help you maximize your scanner's capabilities.

Future-Proofing Your Business

Consider your long-term needs. A scanner with upgradable features and multiple configurations can adapt to evolving project requirements and technology advancements. Flexibility in how the solution can be outfitted will allow you to upgrade your workflows with new advancements in technology. For example, add a camera for colorized point cloud, an RTK for geo-referenced 3D models, or mount the LiDAR scanner on a drone or a vehicle for a different perspective.


For all scenarios, especially larger outdoor scans that require geo-referencing

A handheld solution like the FJD Trion S1 is a versatile option that prioritizes scanning efficiency with a range of up to 120 m and compatibility with an RTK receiver for geo-referenced point cloud and a 360 camera for colorized models. Car mounts and drone mount options will be available in early 2024.

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For quick grab and go missions

The lightweight and compact FJD Trion P1 is about the same size and weight as a large water bottle. While its footprint is small, no compromises were made in making it a powerful tool to capture crisp point clouds, even colorized ones.

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Here's an overview of the key specifications of FJD Trion S1 and FJD Trion P1.

ParameterFJD Trion S1FJD Trion P1
Relative AccuracyUp to 2 cmUp to 2 cm
Scanning Range80 m @ 10% reflectivity
120 m @ 90% reflectivity
40 m @ 10% reflectivity
70 m @ 80% reflectivity
Scanner: 1.8 kg
Data logger: 2.2 kg
Scanner: 1 kg / 2.2 lbs
Battery lifeUp to 4 hours with dual batteries.Up to 2 hours with each battery grip.
The scanner comes with 2 in the box.
LiDAR FOV360° × 270°360° × 59°
Points Per Second
320,000 (Standard)
640,000 (Pro)
Real-time Point CloudYesYes
Colorized Point CloudYesYes
App supportFJD Trion ScanFJD Trion Scan
Panoramic camera module, RTK backpack, extension polePanoramic camera module, RTK module (coming soon), extension pole

In conclusion, choosing the right LiDAR scanner is a significant decision that can impact your project's success. Careful consideration of ease of use, data capture capabililities, data quality, and price will guide you toward the perfect scanner for your specific needs. Remember, the ideal LiDAR scanner should be a valuable asset that enhances your capabilities and helps you achieve your project goals. Happy scanning!