Unmanned aerial vehicles are becoming more and more available together with drone acquired imagery/data, this contributes a lot to the development of automated photogrammetric processing. Products like Pix4Dmapper, ContextCapture, PhotoScan and many others have formed a distinguished class.
The software products, that we are going to discuss here, are intended to solve similar problems that is why they are very alike. This review will consist of a series of short summaries where we compare every application to an abstract standard.
So, a typical solution for digital imagery processing has the following features:
- RGB, NIR and RedEdge image processing
- creating point clouds that meet the quality of aerial laser scanning
- creating DSM/DEM surfaces with a high degree of detail in TIN or GRID format
- building 3D-models using the input imagery for texture generation
- construction of orthophotos
- measuring lengths, areas and volumes
The availability of the above features was considered a must for the solutions in this class. Additionally, many of the products that we will look at have additional, sometimes very specific, functions. For example, CAD-support operations, processing of LiDAR points together with the imagery, or generation of animated models and scenes. These extra features can be crucial in choosing the program, that suits the specific needs of a user.
There are many products on the market and new ones are constantly appearing. For this review, we’ve selected the most popular ones and those that can offer unique functionality.
We have looked at the following software products:
- Pix4Dmapper Pro
- Agisoft PhotoScan Professional Edition
- Bentley ContextCapture
- 3DF Zephyr
- Correlator 3D
- Menci APS
- Autodesk ReCap 360
- Icaros OneButton
- Drone2Map for ArcGIS + Ortho mapping in ArcGIS Pro
- Inpho UASMaster
- PHOTOMOD UAS
- Drone Mapper
Pix4D might be the most popular product in its class.
Main features: highly automated computing, user-friendly interface and a low threshold for getting started, support of a wide range of cameras, including 360° and video, own cloud service.
- Easy to learn, low entry threshold
- Modern intuitive interface
- The process of image processing is fully automated, it can run without any user intervention. You choose the desired outputs and hit the magic “Start” button. The program will do everything by itself
- Provides a possibility of manual editing of processing results by the user, although limited
- Quality training materials, a large knowledge base, active community and technical support. The likelihood that you will have problems during raining or unanswered questions about the product is very low
- Supports video and 360 ° images processing
- The processing can be performed by the cloud services (but unfortunately there are limitations)
- The user has limited impact on processing. There is no way to work around and adjust intermediate results. That’s why you will probably not get a satisfactory result from flawed data or complex scenes
- The option of editing the results manually is quite limited
- Work with reference points is not very well organized. This is a weak point of most applications in the class.
- Terrain generation is limited. Do not hope to get a quality terrain model. However, I would like to point out that the product is being developed together with DTM creation possibilities
Prices and conditions
It is possible to get a subscription for one month or one year, as well as purchase a permanent license. The permanent license provides one year of paid technical support, and access to the cloud service. The license terms allow work on two devices simultaneously. Only works on Windows.
260 € – 1 month, 2600 € – 1 year, 6500 € – permanent license.
The product is easy to get to know and easy to use. But don’t expect too much from Pix4D.
Agisoft PhotoScan Professional Edition
PhotoScan is a very flexible tool. It is easy to learn, and at the same time has a big amount of possibilities for an advanced user.
Main features: flexibility, nonlinearity, Python script support, distributed processing.
- Simple interface, very easy to learn the basics. Good manuals for beginners
- Excellent mathematical model of processing. It can work with any camera, even unknown models can specify the parameters “on the fly”. Works even with the imagery that was not correctly shot and photos without coordinates
- Work with reference points is realized perfectly. There is a function of automatic marker detection, support for scale rulers
- Image masks can be created
- Flexible and non-linear processing. Many configurable options and opportunities for user intervention. This makes it possible to achieve acceptable results even with very bad initial data
- Automation of processing. An internal scheduler lets you create scenarios of varying complexity. In addition, the program supports external Python scripts, allowing you to create your own extensions. Work through the console is possible.
- Automatic generation of DTM produces excellent quality
- Dense point cloud editing and classification. Standard LiDAR classes are used
- You can edit the 3D model. Although the choice of instruments is small, it is enough for most tasks
- Works great with non-geo objects. You can create the most complex 3D models. For example, for printing or graphics
- A large number of file formats is supported. Interim results can be exported to perform some tasks in them with third-party software, and then import into PhotoScan to continue processing
- Support for distributed processing (with certain conditions)
- 4D modelling, that is to reconstruct a model dynamically
- Assembling 3D panoramas
- Tile model generation. As a PhotoMesh Layer, and in a native format
- Quality Documentation and Support
- The program is being actively developed
- The cost is lower than the market average
- Stable operation
- No pre-existing scenarios. The user will have to create them on their own
- It is difficult to master “advanced” functionality
- There is no automatic scene splitting. If the scene is very large, you may have to assess the scope and resources to manually split it into subtasks. This may, for example, result in you launching the construction of dense point cloud, and then seeing an “Out of memory” error message in several hours. And you will have to start from the beginning
Prices and conditions
It is only possible to get a permanent license. It covers a year of paid tech support, the updates are not limited in time. There is a stand-alone, a floating license, and a license for students and educational institutions. Works on Windows, macOS and Linux.
$ 3499 – standard license, $ 549 – educational license.
It can digest even the worst imagery and give acceptable output results. Take a week to master it and PhotoScan will surprise you with its capabilities.
It is impossible to separate ContextCapture from the Bentley ecosystem. If you know what I mean.
Main features: cool 3D models, speed, integration with other Bentley products.
- Supports video processing
- Convenient scheduler with widgets
- Generates 3d models of very high quality
- Evaluates system resources and splits the scene into subtasks. It allows for rather big scenes to be processed
- Imports and processes LiDAR point clouds
- Generates tile models. They are saved in own format, but there is a description of it
- Highly integrated with other Bentley products
- Supports structure lines, although with limitations (only СС Center)
- Has a Python API (only СС Center)
- Claster calculation model (only СС Center)
- The scheduler’s interface is unnecessarily overloaded
- The processing project is a file DB. It is not bad, but it is not reflected in the interface. And.. see above
- The ContextCapture Master scheduler, Acute3D Viewer and ContextCapture Engine are three different applications. I haven’t found any benefits of it for the user (I have honestly tried)
- The viewer is only capable of displaying the 3D model (and only displaying). For other processes, the user will have to export it into another software
- The previous point implies a limited impact on processing by the user. The ability to intervene is there, but very limited. And you have to do it in another software
- Working with tie points and GCPs is painful. Get those eye drops ready
- Does not know how to create DEMs, at all; and the developers do not plan to do anything about it. Deal with it
- Only real orthophotos. As may be inferred from the previous point
- Highly integrated with other Bentley products. Yes, it is a disadvantage as well
Prices and conditions
Only a permanent license can be purchased.
3500 € – standard license, 7900 € – ContextCapture Center.
If you use Bentley’s MicroStation and other products, then ContextCapture is suitable for you. But we are not sure.
Photogrammetric software for processing UAV images, images from any kind of cameras and also synchronized cameras, as well as laser scanning.
Main features: positioned as software for artistic modeling, common processing of images and lidar points, easy to master.
- The interface can be rebuilt as desired but within pre-existing templates. There is quite a big number of them, everyone will be able to find a convenient one
- At the beginning of the work, you can immediately upload a folder with pictures and click Start. The program will begin the process of aligning the images to the construction of the orthophoto without interruptions
- At the same time, you can run each process separately, adjusting the given parameters
- It is possible to import GCP from any file, but you need to specify its structure: delimiters, field order, etc
- The program produces good results even with poor recording quality. In the demo version, the quality of some output data is deliberately poor, but still, the result was pleasing to us
- Processing on average takes less time than in other software
- At the start, the main window opens helpers. There are additional links to the online knowledge base, FAQ and other related resources. You will not get lost in the documentation
- Creating DTM is not possible
- The “ribbon” interface was clearly not successful. Processes related to one stage may be in different tabs, etc. The organization is not very logical
- There are problems with scaling the program window when working with multiple monitors. When turning to full screen the window may cover a part of the screen expand to the adjacent screen
- When processing large volumes of data, it consumes all PC resources
- There are many questions about manually finding common points in images. The tutorial has a list of actions for manual referencing but it does not correspond to reality. Trial and error method had to be used
- When selecting a folder with images, you need to be careful because the program reads all subdirectories. And if they also have an image, then they will all be pulled into the software. And it is completely unclear how to remove unnecessary photos
- After installing the application, the Start menu does not automatically display a shortcut in the list of programs, there is only a shortcut on the desktop. Not so much a minus, but an inconvenience
Prices and conditions
There is a variety of licencing options. Below are a few examples.
RealityCapture Promo, 3 months – 99 €. This only includes updates, requires an internet connection to export results, max 2,500 images, no tech support.
This version can also be purchased at Steam, although the price is a little higher.
RealityCapture CLI, 6 months – 3.750 €. Fully-featured application, command line Interface (CLI), includes updates and technical support, offline during export.
RealityCapture, perpetual license – 15.000 €. One year of free updates and technical support, 25% maintenance fee, no CLI possibility.
This software is quite good in its class. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to try out all the possibilities is a demo version, but the results are promising.
3DF Zephyr is a Windows-only application that is positioned as a professional software for photogrammetric processing.
Main features: complete automation, beautiful models.
- Intuitive interface. Virtually all menu items are duplicated with separate buttons
- Despite a large number of settings for each stage, there is a default setting function. You don’t have to go into the specifics of a process
- A very good result of processing at the stages of construction of a dense cloud and a polygonal grid. Even for sets of data that are far from ideal
- Export of the results in many formats
- At large volumes of data, there is a very big load a PC
- It is desirable to have a CUDA GPU from Nvidia on your PC. Otherwise, the processor dies
- It takes more time to process data than the average for this kind of software
- Saved project files take up a lot of space. Not critical to start, but it may be a problem with project accumulation
- The quality when constructing an orthophoto or a mosaic depends very much on the quality of the original data. For example, in places where there was not enough overlapping, there are strong distortions
Prices and conditions
$ 4200.00 for a perpetual license, that includes updates and technical support for one year. After the 12 months are over the support can be prolonged for an additional 20% of the price.
Exceptional software, it allows to control the process and set the parameters manually. However, if your dataset is not of the best quality, 3DF Zephyr will not handle it well on all stages.
One of the leading solutions for UAV data processing.
Main features: can process a huge amount of data of various sorts.
- Complete processing automation is possible. It is possible to create a set of stages and exclude any of them
- The interface is simple enough, clearly divided into processing stages (but simplicity does not equal convenience)
- High processing speed. The calculations do not require a big amount of resource
- Possible to process unlimited amounts of data
- Possible to intervene manually into any of the steps after data calculation, and to edit the results
- Unlike most software products in the class mainly uses the CPU, not the graphics card. Is this an advantage? For you to decide
- Supports all types of cameras
- Has a detailed manual
- The simplicity of the interface sometimes means that it is unclear what some buttons are meant to do
- The zoom does not function properly
- The software will not upload any image if it has no EXIF data (that is these cannot be uploaded later)
- Moreover, it is not possible to upload images, if any camera parameters are missing. In this case, you would have to google the focus distance or pixel size to simply add images to a project
- For the automatic processing to give good results, the input dataset has to be nearly perfect: images of required quality with necessary overlap
- If the drone trajectory was systematic, with no overlap in some areas, automatic processing is not possible. Even manual processing does not guarantee a more or less normal outcome
- Manual search for common points in the images is simply terrible. It is necessary to draw straight lines between a pair of images and in most cases, they both are oriented randomly. This way the time for searching for the points increases. For data of average quality this process takes a lot of time and, the worst part, does not guarantee a result
- Working with GCP is a separate horrible chapter. Uploading the points in the program is only possible through a .gcp file with a rigid structure. You will have no room for error
- The software is prone to crashes
- There are no user forums where one can ask a question or search for typical work problems. The manual is the only source for answers, and your experience (although tech support is available)
Prices and conditions
All types of licenses include technical support and regular updates of software. The program is only designed for Windows platform.
License options: 250 € for one month, € 2,500 for one year, € 5,000 for the permanent one (5,450 € floating).
Correlator 3D is not bad. But we are not sure who it is for.
3Dsurvey is positioned as software for engineering needs. Is that so?
Main feature: CAD functions.
- The interface is easy and comprehensive
- Work with GCPs is good. Even great. You have to select any three markers and the software will find the rest. The only thing you will need to do is check the recognition correctness
- Automatic processing produces of excellent quality. 3Dsurvey was able to work with very poor data
- Works very fast. If you have enough memory resources…
- Can paint the point clouds into elevation map colours. Very convenient
- Automatic classification of terrain points is really convenient and effective. However! It is impossible to assign a class to points, you can only remove all the points which are not points of land. This really narrows the range of tasks
- Advanced set of tools for measurements and calculations. It can calculate the volume of a quarry or an open mine, build profiles and sections, compare two models, and more
- Profiling tools are as good as any full functioning CAD
- Excellent implementation of working with a bounding box, no other product has anything like this. You should try the trial, just to see it for yourselves. I’m not kidding
- You can manually set the height of selected points in a dense cloud. Absolute as well as relative
- Requires network connection to start work. You are an engineer in the field and the closes network access point is three hours away by helicopter? My condolences.
- The drone model has to be indicated. Will not work without it
- Sometimes crashes during processing
- This software is very resource demanding. A very intensive program. It is noted in the system requirements that the recommended minimum of RAM is 4GB and 8GB. But in practice at 8 – the whole system hangs for 20 minutes during processing (the PC itself was not loaded by anything else at that time). For example, we only managed to process a small data set (39 images). This took twice as much time than other software. 3Dsurvey did not work with a large dataset.
- The tools are located in weird places. There is a right-hand panel containing all the tools. However, the buttons to start DSM and orthophoto creation are located in the drop-down menu of the top panel (File, Edit…). It’s not clear why it is so
- You cannot edit general points on the photo manually. If the automatic recognition did not work, you will have to take what you get
- Editing the orthophoto is in no way easy
- The output image format is .jpg only
- Does not generate raster elevation maps
Prices and conditions
The price includes user training, tech support and updates for one year. After this period these options can be extended for another year for 540 €. Only works on Windows.
A permanent license is € 3,000 and a monthly subscription would cost 200 €.
The processing results are good, the software is easy to master and has a great set of tools. 3Dsurvey really is suitable for construction and engineering monitoring. That is in case you have a powerful computer and internet connection on site.
APS is a set of tools for drone data processing. It has three additional modules: StereoCAD (3D CAD planning), TerrainTools (professional DEM viewer and editor), APSCheck (in site flight check).
Main features: full automation, a wide range of functions.
- User-friendly interface is clearly divided according to processes. Everything is clear and does not require prior knowledge of the topic
- There is an excellent manual, which describes step-by-step work from uploading the images to exporting outcomes. Excellent customer support, there is special software for that. Many educational materials, test datasets can be downloaded
- To get started, just download the photos, and the program will work its way
- Quite good processing speed. 219 photos aligned in one hour
- The quality of processing is excellent. Without user intervention. There is such an option, although it is limited
- The program does not use up all the PC resources even under the most labor-intensive calculations (there is a minor slow down at the beginning)
- Finally, the work with GCPs is convenient.
- You can import CAD data and edit directly in the program. Only basic tools are available
- The GPU testing software had crashed at the start and never opened again (this did not influence the main program)
- Only works when the computer is online starts working after authentication on the server and has to connect periodically. The computer needs a direct internet connection, no proxies or VPNs. This is somewhat inconvenient
- The survey has to be performed as a correct order. In other cases the processing results are unsatisfactory
- Impossible to manually correct the image relation to one another
Prices and conditions
A monthly subscription is possible. This includes tech support, updates, training. A yearly licence is available upon request. Only for Windows.
300 € for the monthly license.
APS is an excellent software. Easy, convenient and powerful. Surprisingly, it does not require too much from you or the hardware.
Autodesk ReCap Pro
Software from Autodesk, ReCap PRO is an updated combination of ReCap 360 for image processing and ReCap for laser scanning processing.
Main feature: cloud solution.
- The product is based on the previous web service, so it will work on any hardware and any platform. Only the installation of the main product is required, all processing is done remotely
- Each user gets 5 GB of space in the cloud and an unlimited number of projects
- The free version allows you to fully process up to 50 images. Large photosets will also be processed for free but in poor quality
- The interface is simple, clear and minimalistic. Comfortable wizard for creating new processing: choose photos, set several parameters and the model is being built. Quick and convenient, without any problems
- Separate processing mode for “air” photosets. Presented by the “nadir optimization” function
- Very good quality of models and orthophotos
- Integration with Autodesk ecosystem
- You can manually “sew” images that the program could not handle. Or simply add common points to already processed images, to improve the result. However, you need to do it very carefully because you can break the entire model
- There is a mobile app for iOS (for iPad only)
- There is an API but still a beta. Until the release, the API will be free
- Installing and initializing licenses and software itself requires patience and time because most of the actions have to be performed at random
- After uploading the project into a cloud, you’re in the queue for processing, but it takes a lot of time. When processing is completed, an email notification arrives, but not always
- Available products – 3D mesh terrain and orthophoto, DEM
- Working with the program requires an Autodesk account, but you can create one in a few clicks, plus there is an option of authorization through social networks
- There are no model post-processing functions. You are supposed to use a third-party editor
- ReCap Pro does not allow texture management. It chooses which image will be used to construct the texture
- There is no way to intervene in processing
- Does not support GCPs
- Sometimes there is a problem with the reconstruction of large data. Too many artefacts
Prices and conditions
For processing more than 50 images a fee of 30 cloud credits is deducted each time. When creating an account the user gets 100 credits, later you can buy them: 100 credits = $ 100. Credits can be used for 12 months after purchase, and then they disappear.
ReCap Pro will be good for those who use other Autodesk products and sometimes process the data for further use in AutoCAD, Revit or other software.
Also, the software is useful for reconstructing small 3D objects. Especially if you use a smartphone to take pictures.
Another product aimed at processing drone images from Icaros. It is positioned as the easiest solution in its class, hence the name.
Main features: fully automated, easy to start working with it, flight planner.
- The program justifies the name. It really has only one button to launch all the processes
- Pleasant, minimalistic interface. There is a selection of color schemes, the dark one is pleasant to the eye
- Despite only one button, in the beginning, when creating a project there is a set of parameters that affect the calculation: the choice of camera, the type of landscape, for which purpose the end result is required
- Very high-quality processing. Although it is not fast
- Good documentation. Installation instructions are shown on the site, sent to your mail, and after the software is registered you get a document describing the start of work
- Includes a program to control the flight of drones from the ground. We did not test it because it goes beyond the scope of the review
- The program sometimes tries to download data from its servers. If you access the network through a proxy, then there may be connection problems
- The CPU is very loaded
- If surveying is done with violation of technology, processing is impossible. For example, in the case of insufficient overlapping of photos in some places. It will not even create a bad result
- Sometimes you need to manually set the camera settings
- Intermediate processing results, such as a point cloud, are not displayed. Perhaps this is a limitation of the trial version
Prices and conditions
Simple package: $ 1,200 per year, $ 2,995 – Permanent license. Professional package: $ 2,995 per year, $ 7,995 forever.
We tested Simple package. Differences in the Professional version: GCP work is organized differently (How? Nobody knows), there are quality control tools and tools for editing orthophoto.
The software bribes with its simplicity. There are certain disadvantages, but you can come to terms with them. Suitable for those who handle simple images to get typical outputs. However, we already have Pix4D for that…
Drone2Map for ArcGIS
ESRI’s UAV data processing product.
Main features: integrated into ArcGIS, easy to use.
- Simple interface. It will be especially useful for people who often work with ESRI products
- Good integration with ESRI products or their cloud services
- The program is integrated with the services and components of ArcGIS
- When creating a project there are pre-made processing profiles. For example, 2D processing, 3D model and others. Their difference is in the end result, or rather in data sets. The 2D project will result in orthophoto, DSM and NDVI, 3D – a dense cloud of points and mesh
- There is a large selection of baselayers: satellite images, navigation maps, topographic maps, etc
- Very fast processing of 2D type projects
- You can upload photos without geotagging. Then add a separate file
- Fine results of processing both in 2D and in 3D
- The program will execute at once all that is included in the processing profile. It is impossible, for example, to only create a dense cloud. The mesh is built with the cloud, even if you do not need one
- Very demanding for PC resources, especially RAM. Very slow processing of 3D projects
- The program comes in addition to ArcGIS Online / Desktop. You must be an ESRI user
- The program is based on the Pix4D engine. For those who do not use ArcGIS, it makes no sense to buy Drone2Map
- Few formats for exporting results
1,500 $ for one user for one year.
Very good product. Manages to process large volumes of information. But if you do not use ArcGIS on a regular basis, Drone2Map is not for you. Since it makes no sense to subscribe to several services for the sake of one program.
Ortho mapping in ArcGIS Pro
Integrated ortho mapping module for ArcGIS for Desktop. It is not entirely within the scope of our review, but given the popularity of ArcGIS, it was impossible to pass by.
Main features: integrated into ArcGIS, easy to use.
- Comfortable and minimalistic interface. Split into groups, it is convenient to navigate, it is immediately clear what process each process is for
- Automatically detects camera type and model, its configuration and projection
- It is possible to connect a base layer, there is a choice of layers
- Works fast enough. By work, we mean not the processing itself, but other actions such as zoom, selection of objects, work with the menu
- Fine quality construction of models and orthophotos
- Allows processing of satellite images, as well as digital and scanned aerial photographs
- Work in the ArcGIS environment
- As it is based on online technology, there may be various difficulties at launch (long time) and in the processing of data (if the connection is interrupted, the processing is freezing and must be restarted)
- Data processing itself takes a long time. And it is not always clear why the program is slowing down in the calculations. The same set of data can be processed in a different amount of time
- Cannot create 3D models
- For those who are not familiar with the principle of ESRI product licensing, it may be difficult to find where to attach a license and how to distribute it to employees
- There is a bug in the stage of loading images. The program does not always correctly determine the elevation of the images. More precisely, it compares the elevation of the images with the elevation of the specified area above the sea level, and if the figure in these images is less, then the program does not load such images. The problem is solved by passing the Constant elevation 0 parameter in the settings
- There are problems when Python is installed. Temporary solution – disable it in PATH
- Sometimes, for unknown reasons, internal processing modules crash and the stage needs to be restarted (as well as ArcGIS)
Price and conditions
You need to get a quote from your local distributor. The ortho mapping package is included in the Advanced version only.
A quite good solution from ESRI, it gives good output results but also has limitations and it looks like a simplified (and less stable) version of Drone2Map. Should work for those who already have ArcGIS Desktop Advanced.
UASMaster is an advanced package for photogrammetric data processing by Trimble.
Main feature: Trimble product.
- Provides all the same tools as Inpho for traditional photogrammetry. That is cool
- GCPs are uploaded from a .csv file, no extra file format is needed. Indeed, compared to other software this is an advantage
- Active community, a lot of issue discussions, best practices and so on. There are video tutorials with step by step guides of all project stages. The manual is very detailed
- Paints the point clouds and 3D models with colours similar to what an elevation map normally has. Very convenient
- Character lines are fully supported
- You have full control of the processing
- The interface is very confusing. The software is for those who can handle Trimble products and know the technical details of drones/cameras. The processing is possible using default settings, however, this may result in unsatisfactory output quality
- The software requires the camera parameters file (coordinates, altitude and so on). It will not read this info from the EXIF data
- Although the manual is quite detailed, it does not cover some errors/warnings that appear during work. The user forums don’t always cover issues like these
- If the camera is not in the equipment DB, you will have to enter ALL of its parameters. Even the ones that the producing factory has no idea about
- It is not possible to say anything about the processing quality as the trial version only allows to perform photo orientation
Prices and conditions
Works on Windows platform
Price on request.
We cannot give an evaluation as we haven’t tried the full version. If you are used to Trimble products, UASMaster may suit you. Or may not. We don’t know that. We don’t know if it even works
A program for processing UAV data from Racurs. The “daughter” of the PHOTOMOD program is reworked for processing drone data. As a result, the software suffers from the same diseases as other programs of the class with similar pedigrees, for example, Inpho UASMaster.
Main feature: it’s cheap.
- Low cost
- Two technologies of data processing. The first involves strict photogrammetric image processing with an accuracy of 1-2 GSD in plan and 2-4 GSD in height. Designed for mapping terrain. The second represents a simplified processing with absolute accuracy of tens of meters. Designed for quick monitoring of terrain
- In addition, almost any intermediate or output data can be created in different ways. For example, DTM can be built using a dense model, or piquets. Each way has its advantages and disadvantages
- Support for characteristic lines
- Full stereo picking of piquets
- Capable of capping frames. Sometimes it is useful
- It has a built-in GIS Panorama Mini. No need to switch to third-party software for any additional actions
- There is synchronization with ArcGIS
- Very detailed reports
- Full support for analog cameras. But what for?
- Very high entry threshold
- Extremely detailed documentation. 284 pages of instructions
- The interface immediately confuses and makes you consider if you really need this software. Some users argue that with the advent of updates, the situation improves, but it is not easy for a new user
- Very weird, incomprehensible and inconvenient system of downloading the original data
- Almost not possible to search for the projection by the EPSG code, just by name
- Missing equipment base. You need to adjust the camera settings yourself
- Bad results of automatic processing. Requires manual control
- Can not create textures
149 000 RUB (~ $ 2,300), for permanent license.
The program has its advantages in processing, but the mess in the interface, the confusion of any action, tons of documentation make its use unclear and uncomfortable. But still PHOTOMOD UAS offers a great toolkit and several unique features.
Drone Mapper is a desktop software for photogrammetric UAV image processing. There are three types of licenses: RAPID, REMOTE and REMOTE EXPERT.
RAPID is a free version with extremely limited functionality. It allows you to receive only terrain 3D mesh and orthophoto. Handles only images taken by a DJI camera. The functionality of REMOTE version does not differ from RAPID, but other cameras are also supported. In fact, a complete processing is available in REMOTE EXPERT, so we will only look at this version here.
Main features: easy and convenient.
- Very user-friendly interface. Two tabs for work: displaying results and displaying tasks and processes. To get started, it’s easy to specify a folder with images, and the program will automatically begin processing. The process is divided into three logical stages, each of which is started separately from the process tab
- Despite its simplicity, everything is very informative: the number of current tasks, the percentage of processor and memory load, the time spent on each stage, the data on the camera, projections, and images are displayed
- The program processes data very quickly without overloading the system, which is not common for other solutions
- The result of the data processing is impressive. Excellent quality, especially given the high processing speed
- It is possible to include OSM or Bing (Sattelite / Maps / Hybrid) baselayers
- It is possible to measure the distance/area
- Quality and very detailed documentation
- All images must have EXIF parameters. You can not download them as a separate file. Non-georeference images cannot be processed
- Zoom-in works only to scale 1: 2000
- Each version has a limit on the number of images
Prices and conditions
Drone Mapper REMOTE EXPERT – 999 $.
Officially, the program is designed for the Windows 10 platform, but in fact, it works perfectly well on Windows 7.
Excellent program, which gives a great result without using all the resources of the PC.
Free, expandable application and software interface for image processing based on OpenDroneMap. Can be both a separate application and integrated into QGIS or AutoCAD. It has an open source code that can be modified/expanded according to needs (knowledge of Python and web technologies required).
Main feature: open source.
- Available for all platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux
- You can install both locally and on a remote desktop
- Very good result even for not very good data
- There is a log of the process in which you can observe the processing details
- Comfortable, minimalistic interface
- Many export data options
- The program is free and open
- There is a good community where you can find a lot of useful information
- In order for all relevant components to be present, Win 10 is required
- Installing the program can cause great difficulty. It is based on the use of the Virtual Box, which is known for its bugs, so the installation and launch become a quest
- The first launch of the program takes a long time: it is downloading and installing libraries
- If your PC has an Internet access through a proxy, then there may be problems accessing the web interface
- Despite the fact that there is a processing log, there is no indicator of the end of the process
- All processing is built into a single process. You must upload the images and just run it. This is not always good, because you can not intervene in the process
- Takes quite a long time for data processing
An exceptional solution in the category of free UAV software. It is possible to work separately or integrate into other software.
We summarize all of the above in tabular form. For ease of perception and greater visibility. The score is not numeric and based on our impression of the implementation of each of the functions in the product.
6 thoughts on “Review: UAV image processing software”
Hi this is great article, i have used pix4d, agisoft and drone deploy
i belive all desktop tools are good for advance users who want more control over processing of drone data .
tools like drone deploy and newly launched “Minoair”(www.minoair.com) are good for people who want to process drone images without desktop and easily also it helps to visualise data better and option to share it online with anyone.
Great post! But you should have included a section for processing time in the table at the end. Realitycapture is about 10x faster than others in my experience, which can be HUGE
Thanks, run into your article while troubleshooting some data using one of the above tested sw’s.
Some years ago I played with Photomodeler (while having a broken leg) which has its root in closerange photogrammetry but currently with drone capacities. Would be exiting to hear how you compare it to the above tested
Amazing work @Yulika and Aleksey. Comphrensive documentation interms of software usage. It helped me a lot in choosing software for my project. Thanks for the great contribution
This is a really nice work. As of my industrial experience, Agisoft is good in all the aspect especially Ortho, DSM, Point Cloud generation. SimActive is providing better result in DTM filter form DSM. Context capture provides better 3D reality mesh model.
Wow. This is a very complete and interesting article. I have to agree on most of what you say. I’ve used Pix4D, Agisoft, Correlator 3D, APS Menci and drone mapper when it was just a cloud solution. From my tests every single one of this software have their benefits over the others, but the one that gets the best results overall has to be agisoft, without a doubt. Every time I try a new software I just get more convinced of how good agisoft is. Very good work and thanks for taking the time to evaluate all of this. It would be nice to get an update with LPS from ERDAS Imagine.