ON1 have released their latest software, ON1 Sky Swap AI 2023, competing directly with the powerhouse that is Adobe. Sky Replacement has been a feature of Adobe Photoshop for some time now and uses Adobe Sensei, the AI engine in Adobe, to create a mask. It only seemed right that we put these two pieces of software head-to-head and play spot the difference. There’s a part of me that wants Adobe to come out on top but it seems they’re up against some tough competition.
Starting in the Netherlands with some old windmills, let’s get into it. The sunrise was nice on the morning that I took this shot. Let’s see what we can do to improve it in both Adobe Photoshop and ON1 Sky Swap AI 2023. One key difference that is evident with this image is that inclusion of a Water Reflection Slider.
ON1 Sky Swap AI 2023 on the left, Adobe Photoshop on the right.
When we look closely at the masking, we see Adobe falling back. With Adobe Photoshop we clearly see some fringing and it caused a distinct line of incorrect color around trickier objects, such as the trees on the horizon that aren’t tack-sharp.
ON1 Sky Swap AI 2023 handles these trees a lot better, and even retains the power pylons from the original image.
That’s definitely a point to ON1. Sorry Adobe, I’m not impressed. The thing is, when I think of the term ‘AI’ I guess I want the tech to do the work for me. ON1 uses the term ‘AI’ in the the product name, but although Adobe don’t it’s clear that’s what’s happening. The AI engine, Adobe Sensei, is masking and doing all the work for us, so it should be automatically hitting the mark and getting everything right.
Let’s move on and try a photo with sky that doesn’t reach to the edges of the frame:
This is a photo of my van outside the Yoda Cave in Iceland. Can these two pieces of software use their blending and adjusting tools to find both pieces of sky, and match the foreground to become night?
ON1 Sky Swap AI 2023 has immediately selected he correct elements of sky within the scene. The horizon is correct. There is a slight halo effect around the edges of the cave but overall, good job.
Adobe Photoshop Sky Replacement has also nailed the selection and masking of where the sky is. The foreground adjustments are a little better, in my opinion. The tools we’re given to refine the selection and mask in both pieces of software are very similar. We’re able to take control to some extent, using the sliders, but the main difference is that we can output the whole thing to Layers in Adobe Photoshop. This means we have full control over any further adjustments if we have the knowledge to change things.
Here’s a direct comparison. ON1 Sky Swap AI 2023 on the left, Adobe Photoshop on the right
Sky Swap AI Key Features
The software includes a large library of sky presets to choose from, including blue skies, sunsets, stormy skies, and more. There are 125 skies included, from OcuDrone. Users can also upload their own custom sky images to replace the original sky in the photo. The software includes a horizon line tool that makes it easy to adjust the position and angle of the new sky to match the original photo. Users can adjust the new sky’s color, brightness, and contrast to match the rest of the photo, as well as blend the edges of the new sky for a seamless result. As well as the reflection slider mentioned, there’s also a long exposure simulator. You can add motion blur to your sky to simulate a long exposure, which is pretty cool.
Overall, ON1 Sky Swap AI 2023 is very impressive and packs a powerful punch. I’d be most inclined to buy it as part of the bundle rather than as a standalone.