A new method for absolute 3-D profiling, based on the fringe projection technique using a vertical scan mode, is described. With a combined measurement of the modulation and the phase it is possible to acquire the topography without any ambiguity problems by using one grating period only. Consequently, the vertical measurement range is limited only by the free working distance and the resolution is comparable to standard fringe projection techniques. We present a microscopic solution, based on a zoom stereo microscope, which enables interesting applications in an extended microscopic range, such as the measurement of microcomponents and microshapes, for example. © 2001 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.