Image analyzing apparatus and methods are disclosed for analyzing 3-dimensional as well as 2-dimensional images. The pixels of the 3-D images may be represented by multivalued digital data signals which are analyzed in one or more programmable neighborhood transformation stages. In the preferred embodiment, each stage is programmed with selected contribution values associated with each pixel in the neighborhood. The values of the data signals for each pixel are modified by these contribution values and the maximum value thereof is selected as the transformation output of the stage. A series of dilation/erosion transformations may be used to transform the original image matrix in such a manner so as to locate the position and/or identify the shape of particular objects contained in the original image.