For image manipulation ImageMagick (IM) is really nice. However IM is not natively supported by PHP. Kohana supports IM using a shell wrapper simply because that is the only way to support IM without PECL dependancies.
While this means we can't use Imagick (the PECL extension) using the official Kohana release, this doesn't mean we can't write our own Kohana Image driver. Since I have total freedom on my servers I wanted to use Imagick instead of the shell wrapper and wrote a Imagick driver.
To install this driver, copy Imagick.php to your: ./system/libraries/drivers/Image/Imagick.php And set your default driver to 'Imagick', by setting $config['driver'] = 'Imagick'; in your ./application/config/image.php (copy it from system if you don't have it in your application folder)