Geospatial on a Budget 4: Imagery

June 15, 2016

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Editor's note: Welcome to the fourth installment of our 2016 monthly series, Geospatial on a Budget. Today we're going to take a look at imagery processing and management software tools.

This year we have seen lots of excitement around the UAV industry and 3D data. Whether you need to process, manage or collect the data, we have several options for you to get that imagery project off the ground.


You have collected the data but need it in a format that works in your GIS. These companies have some budget-friendly solutions for you:


While the regular subscription might be more than our $1,000 budget ceiling, we were impressed that their trial version expiration is a year! (Yes, you read that correctly.) Icaros developed OneButton™ photogrammetric software which “lets you easily and automatically create fully georeferenced products in 2D and 3D while combining highly optimized performance to produce exceptionally fast and accurate results. [Their] goal is to remove any barrier to getting Icaros software into the hands of users so that they can begin to make money with their UAV. As a result, [they] are providing OneButton™ for free for one year with no strings attached,” according to the website.


This popular software makes our budget listing because you can rent the pro version for just a month, an affordable way to use the features of a more expensive investment for just the time you need it. According to their website, “Pix4Dmapper software automatically converts images taken by hand, by drone, or by plane, and delivers highly precise, georeferenced 2D maps and 3D models. They’re customizable, timely, and compliment a wide range of applications and software.”They have several levels of software options for you, including some free tools. Check out their product comparisons or their store for more details.


If you prefer open source, then this option will make you happy. James Holland at Coonamble Shire Council in Australia recommended OpenDroneMap. According to the OpenDroneMap site, they are an “open source toolkit for processing civilian drone imagery.” Their solution can deliver point clouds, digital surface models, textured digital surface models, orthorectified imagery, classified point clouds, digital elevation models, etc. They are sharing their tool at GitHub.


Our friends over at LizardTech have been in the imagery business since 1992. According to their website, “LizardTech has delivered innovative software products for managing, accessing and distributing massive, high-resolution geospatial data such as aerial and satellite imagery and LiDAR data. LizardTech pioneered the MrSID technology, a powerful wavelet-based image encoder, viewer and file format. The MrSID format is supported in all major GIS applications."

While their regular software might be more of an investment, they have some free options that can help your imagery workflow. GeoViewer Lite is free and allows you to view a wide variety of imagery files. There’s also an app version that includes measure tools and more.

They also have a collection of free plugins for your browser or GIS software.

You also might enjoy their latest product demonstrations on our Webinar Channel.


Aerial Imagery for Hire: Airphrame

If you don’t have your own drone, Peter Kobylarz, GIS coordinator at WRA, recommends Airphrame "to anyone who sees the need for high quality, on-demand, and affordable aerial imagery data!” He said that using their service “has allowed WRA to acquire high quality/high resolution aerial imagery (up to 2cm/pixel) for numerous projects at a fraction of what aerial imagery used to cost.” Their site includes project planning tools that give cost estimates quickly and a “project viewer tool which allows non-GIS users to interact with the imagery through a web interface.”


We’ll be back next month with more low or no cost geospatial tools. If you're using low or no cost tools, we'd love to share those tools and/or your experiences with others. Email us at


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