ERDAS VS ENVI: Which is The Best Remote Sensing Image Processing Software?

ERDAS VS ENVI: Which is The Best Remote Sensing Image Processing Software?
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ERDAS VS ENVI: Which is The Best Remote Sensing Image Processing Software?

Remote sensing is a vital tool in disciplines such as geography, geology, oceanography, military intelligence and ecology. Analysts in disciplines related to earth sciences heavily rely on remote sensing.

Since remote sensing is the process of detecting and monitoring the physical characteristics of an area, sensory equipment such as drones or satellite are equipped with special cameras to collect remotely sensed images of the targeted area, which help us “sense” things about the Earth. The collected data or sensed data are in form of images. To better understand these images, image processing software is used.

Imaging processing software is used to edit, analyze, and enhance an analog or digital image to extract useful information from it. There is a plethora imaging processing software out there. Examples ERDAS IMAGINE, ENVI, IDRISI, eCognition and PCI Geomatica. At the top of the pyramid are ERDAS IMAGINE and ENVI. They are the best imaging processing software. However, they have their strength and weakness. It is difficult to say one is better than the other because each has its stronghold. Another reason is because one man’s food is another man’s poison.

This article intends to layout the main differences between them. The differences will be considered from various standpoints.  The following are 9 differences between ERDAS IMAGINE and ENVI (ERDAS vs ENVI).



ERDAS was invented in Atlanta, USA, 1979. It means Earth Resources Data Analysis System (ERDAS). On the other hand, ENVI was pioneered in Boulder, USA: 1991. It means ENviroment for Visualizing Images (ENVI).


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  1. With its system of add-ons ENVI is scalable and flexible. Atmospheric correction using radiative transfer modelling or advanced radar processing (interferogram stacking for example) are possible in ENVI in ways ERDAS can’t really compete with.

  2. I’ve used both ENVI and ERDAS for years and they both have their quirks. The user interface with ERDAS has always been easier for me, and in the beginning I struggled for a long time moving to ENVI because of that quirk. ENVI however, seems more robust in terms of offerings. ERDAS is a really cool, black box (if you like that sort of thing),whereas ENVI’s help has always been good training, and they tell you where the algorithms come from. ERDAS’ modelling script language is not so flexible; ENVI’s IDL is super-flexible. ERDAS has a wicked expensive maintenance cost, whereas ENVI’s is more reachable. In the emerging Latin nations, where I’ve lived for 10 years, I’ve seen more use of ENVI, maybe also because has been more easily hacked and thus is more accessible. ENVI seems to give more access to special purpose modules (e.g. dem extraction, atcor, photogrammetry, sarscape) than ERDAS.

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