A colleague told me about a new editing software from Skylum for drone pilots, which promises a very effective optimization for drone footage with Artifical Intelligence. To be honest, I was very skeptical at first, because most of these tools with automatic image optimization leave a lot to be desired in terms of output quality. But I was curious enough for a detailed test:
Skylum is a well known provider of the editing software Luminar 3, Aurora HDR and Photolemur, which have some fans among professional photographers. With AirMagic they have now launched a photo optimization tool especially for aerial footage.
The software is available as stand-alone software as well as plugin for Photoshop, Lightroom and Apple Photos.
AirMagic automatically detects the drone camera which was used based on the (exif) metadata of the images and corrects according to its specific characteristics of the lens and the color profile. All common camera drones from DJI, Yuneec, Parrot, eHang and Kespry are supported.
AirMagic will then automatically make adjustments for color saturation, exposure, sky optimizations and various other improvements.
AirMagic supports batch processing of multiple photos at once (up to 4 GB of images). The program supports all common image formats (JPEG, PNG,TIFF, DNG and RAW).
The full version of AirMagic supports:
- Batch processing of up to 4 GB photos
- Adjust the intensity of the enhancement algorithms with a slider
- Use filters or “styles” – currently 5 styles are included
- Plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom
- Save and export in various formats and resolutions
The download (400 MB file size) and installation goes super fast. Double click on the AirMagic Installer, accept the license terms and within a few seconds the software is installed. After the installation you can enter the license key, if you have already bought it before the download or you will be redirected to the payment page with “Buy”. You can pay with credit card or Paypal.
After starting the software, the option to import the photos follows immediately. This can be done via Drag&Drop or as usual via the selection in the folder structure.
The import is done within seconds. After it’s done, the software starts immediately with the optimization on the image preview. Apologies for my screenshots being in German – the AirMagic sets the language automatically (I guess based on general computer language settings) and I could not overwrite its setting to English. This should not be a problem for you guys in the US.
Double-click on a photo to open a view in which the original version can be directly compared with the optimized version using a “slider”.
If you want, you can also choose from five “styles” (preset filters): Chinook, Cinematic, Emotional, Sandstorm, Zephyr. The styles can be selected by clicking on the button in the bottom left corner.
The optimized photos can be sent directly by email or exported to your computer as normal. The usual file formats are supported.
Before and After examples
I fed AirMagic with some unedited images from a trip to the Swiss Alps with my DJI Mavic Pro. As you can see, the original photos are partly underexposed and a bit washed out. The AirMagic optimization visibly corrects the exposure and saturation.
AirMagic’s default settings for the photos with the grass areas are somewhat aggressive when it comes to saturation. However, this is a matter of taste and can be easily adjusted using a slider at your own discretion. If you like the result, you can apply the new intensity to all photos via the “Settings” menu.
Here is a second example of the work of AirMagic:
Prices & Compatibility
The full version of Skylum AirMagic costs $39 and can be activated on two computers. Positive to emphasize: you buy a time-wise unlimited license, you are not forced to a subscription with monthly costs as it is now common with photo software (I am looking at you, Adobe…). There is a free trial version, which only gives an impression of the optimization function for your photos, but does not offer any settings, styles or export function.
What I like:
The user interface of AirMagic is really easy and simple, you don’t need time to familiarize yourself with it. Of course, AirMagic cannot be compared to a full editing program like Lightroom with thousands of features, but the software is very consistently targeted to the simpler use case of batch editing and delivers exactly what many users want.
The quality of the optimizations is really good – no comparison with other batch processing tools I know or even the built-in feature of Apple Photo. By identifying and adapting to the specific drone camera, a much better quality is achieved. The software runs stable on my Mac, no problems occurred and processing is super fast.
What I don’t like:
The only feature I really miss is the correction of a tilted horizon. This is common issue for aerial photography. I could not figure out in test if the software is handling it or not, but it is not mentioned in the description or the processing notes. This is certainly a feature that could be added by Skylum. Another nice feature I would appreciate: adding your own watermark during batch processing. However, I can well imagine that the functions will be added.