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Which imaging software do you suggest to Beginners?

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#1 Tripp

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:06 PM

I have Astrophotography Tool and latest version of Sharpcap installed and messed around with both the other night during the lunar eclipse. Is their a preferred software that people suggest for someone starting out using a CMOS camera? Right off the bat Sharpcap seems more user friendly starting out. Opened it up and the camera was showing a cool picture of the moon right away. When i opened AT it was just a big ball of blur so i assumed more configuring would be needed to use that software but i could have been missing something. Is one better than the other for deep space imaging?

 

I just don't want to put the time into one and get used to it then find out the other might be better. I do have the Sharp cap pro since it was just $15 and has the polar align feature.

 

Thanks for any suggestions!



#2 Jim Waters

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:36 PM

May want to repost with CMOS in the title and move to CCD/CMOS Forum.



#3 CrzHrs

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:37 PM

Ccdciel is a simple good tool



#4 Eddie_42

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 03:57 PM

APT's default LIVE VIEW is to max out settings on ISO and stack several images. For something like the moon, thats a wash out.  Open the settings (tools tab -> APT settings), and de-select live view automation, or set a maximum ISO.  Select the Advanced tab in the settings, and you will find the number of frames being stacked.



#5 f430

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 04:26 PM

If you want a capture, and processing program, Nebulosity 4 is a good and easy to use program.

It'll see you from beginner, through intermediate user, and even beyond if need be. 

Cost is $95 I think, so maybe more than you care to spend now.

 

http://www.stark-lab...nebulosity.html



#6 dcollier

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 04:44 PM

SharpCap is free for basic use and only $15.00 to unlock the the Pro features.  It is simple to use.

 

https://www.sharpcap.co.uk/

 

-Dave


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#7 dcollier

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 04:48 PM

Your issues are likely with the exposure/gain  if you have pro you can calibrate your camera and SharpCap will suggest setting for you for both based on sky conditions. I is relatively easy to do.  Works well for deep sky imaging.  

 

         -Dave


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#8 Stelios

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Posted 22 January 2019 - 09:39 PM

If you're asking about planetary imaging, Sharpcap and Firecapture are both excellent.

 

If you're asking about DSO imaging, SGP (my preference) and APT are up there. Sharpcap keeps improving, but doesn't yet have the capabilities of SGP. 

 

Still, Sharpcap (the non-Pro version) is something everyone should have. Other standout free software are PhD2 for guiding and Cartes Du Ciel for a planetarium program.

 

And don't forget DSO Browser for plotting an imaging session, or Astronomy.Tools for calculating FOV of objects. 


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#9 Gipht

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 09:50 AM

Gimp does a lot of what photo shop can do and it is freeware.  Probably more for finishing touches then a  complete processing.  SharpCap, Star  Tools and Deep Space Stacker are the other software I use.



#10 Tripp

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 12:07 PM

If you're asking about planetary imaging, Sharpcap and Firecapture are both excellent.

 

If you're asking about DSO imaging, SGP (my preference) and APT are up there. Sharpcap keeps improving, but doesn't yet have the capabilities of SGP. 

 

Still, Sharpcap (the non-Pro version) is something everyone should have. Other standout free software are PhD2 for guiding and Cartes Du Ciel for a planetarium program.

 

And don't forget DSO Browser for plotting an imaging session, or Astronomy.Tools for calculating FOV of objects. 

Thanks for the info. Wow that DSO Browser and astronomy.tool are sweet! Really can't wait to learn the stuff to see something other than the moon haha!!



#11 Alex McConahay

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Posted 23 January 2019 - 10:44 PM

Whether beginner or advanced I would recommend SGP and Pixinsight. 

 

BUT.....and this is important...….

 

I would not recommend you try to use either of them to do all they can do. 

 

That is, both these programs are very complex, but they need not be. Simply ignore the complex parts, and use the easy parts. This will get you what you want. Good images of lots of different types of targets. 

 

Let's face it. No matter which program you use, you will have to learn certain things. Learn them on one of the beginner programs, and you know them. They are really no harder to learn on the advanced programs.

 

I really do not think you can get much simpler than the Batch Pre Processing script on PixInsight (assuming you know which checkmarks to check in general----and that you can find in various tutorials, or just take the defaults). Yes, there may be six different stacking algorithms (whatever an "algorithm" is) but you do not have to care about that. Just use the one that it defaults to. Your images will still be as good or better than with most other programs. 

 

The adjustments you can make with the Screen Transfer Function are, for many beginners, far better than anything the beginner can pop out with any other program. And it is incredibly simple to do.

 

So, just do the simple things, and ignore the rest of it.

 

Then, when you have figured the basics, move on to other more complex things. 

 

At some point you will be using things in the higher level program that are just not in the lower level programs. 

 

Why spend the time learning the basic program (which, believe me, will have a learning curve) when you can spend that same amount of time learning the more advanced program? True, after an equal amount of time learning both, you will have only scratched the surface of the deeper program. But you will have maxed out the beginner program. 

 

Is it hearing some esoteric argument here on CN comparing one work flow versus another? Who needs more than one work flow. There are a number of work flows that you can find in tutorials on line that simply work. They work better than what you find in the beginning level programs. You do not have to care that there may be eighteen other workflows to do the same kind of things...….just learn the one that you like. It is really no more difficult in PixInsight than on the other programs. It looks simpler in the other programs because they use more friendly language......and, more importantly, because they only have one work flow, or very few, to choose from. 

 

Is it a budget thing? Really, you cannot beat SGP on budget. PixInsight is more expensive. But, if you are going into the hobby for real, someday you will want it. Why spend $50 to $100 for a temporary thing, if you are going to eventually spend the $250 or whatever?  (On the other hand, if you are unsure of how committed you are, do stick with the freeware (or budget stuff) as much as possible......it does in fact work.) 

 

Let me take an analogy from equipment. Is it better to spend $1200 on a mount you are going to use for a year or two, knowing that you are going to spend $2000 eventually? Why not just buy the $2000 mount now? Skip the double learning curve, and all that.  (On the other hand, if you already have the $1200 mount, put it to use now.....) 

 

So, back to my old man advice......Skip the "beginning" program" and go right to something that will last a lifetime. 

 

Alex


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#12 rockstarbill

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 03:11 AM

I have Astrophotography Tool and latest version of Sharpcap installed and messed around with both the other night during the lunar eclipse. Is their a preferred software that people suggest for someone starting out using a CMOS camera? Right off the bat Sharpcap seems more user friendly starting out. Opened it up and the camera was showing a cool picture of the moon right away. When i opened AT it was just a big ball of blur so i assumed more configuring would be needed to use that software but i could have been missing something. Is one better than the other for deep space imaging?

 

I just don't want to put the time into one and get used to it then find out the other might be better. I do have the Sharp cap pro since it was just $15 and has the polar align feature.

 

Thanks for any suggestions!

You just asked CN what they recommend. Their answer was SGP. Check that out as you will.

 

Also try Voyager. 

 

Wiki Docs: https://voyager.tour...title=Main_Page

 

Software: https://software.sta...ex.php/voyager/

 

Makes SGP look like child's play. 



#13 CrzHrs

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 05:11 AM

For first steps i'd go for something free and easy, like sharpcap or ccdciel are. Postprocessing even astropixelprocessor is powerful and easy.

 

a beginner needs an imaging tool that is "push and see".

 

voyager vs sgp is a no-choice. The accurancy voyager has is over the top. But the lack of a fits viewer might confuse a beginner, that is why i would say to start with ccdciel before going with voyager.



#14 Tripp

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:52 AM

Whether beginner or advanced I would recommend SGP and Pixinsight. 

 

BUT.....and this is important...….

 

I would not recommend you try to use either of them to do all they can do. 

 

That is, both these programs are very complex, but they need not be. Simply ignore the complex parts, and use the easy parts. This will get you what you want. Good images of lots of different types of targets. 

 

Let's face it. No matter which program you use, you will have to learn certain things. Learn them on one of the beginner programs, and you know them. They are really no harder to learn on the advanced programs.

 

I really do not think you can get much simpler than the Batch Pre Processing script on PixInsight (assuming you know which checkmarks to check in general----and that you can find in various tutorials, or just take the defaults). Yes, there may be six different stacking algorithms (whatever an "algorithm" is) but you do not have to care about that. Just use the one that it defaults to. Your images will still be as good or better than with most other programs. 

 

The adjustments you can make with the Screen Transfer Function are, for many beginners, far better than anything the beginner can pop out with any other program. And it is incredibly simple to do.

 

So, just do the simple things, and ignore the rest of it.

 

Then, when you have figured the basics, move on to other more complex things. 

 

At some point you will be using things in the higher level program that are just not in the lower level programs. 

 

Why spend the time learning the basic program (which, believe me, will have a learning curve) when you can spend that same amount of time learning the more advanced program? True, after an equal amount of time learning both, you will have only scratched the surface of the deeper program. But you will have maxed out the beginner program. 

 

Is it hearing some esoteric argument here on CN comparing one work flow versus another? Who needs more than one work flow. There are a number of work flows that you can find in tutorials on line that simply work. They work better than what you find in the beginning level programs. You do not have to care that there may be eighteen other workflows to do the same kind of things...….just learn the one that you like. It is really no more difficult in PixInsight than on the other programs. It looks simpler in the other programs because they use more friendly language......and, more importantly, because they only have one work flow, or very few, to choose from. 

 

Is it a budget thing? Really, you cannot beat SGP on budget. PixInsight is more expensive. But, if you are going into the hobby for real, someday you will want it. Why spend $50 to $100 for a temporary thing, if you are going to eventually spend the $250 or whatever?  (On the other hand, if you are unsure of how committed you are, do stick with the freeware (or budget stuff) as much as possible......it does in fact work.) 

 

Let me take an analogy from equipment. Is it better to spend $1200 on a mount you are going to use for a year or two, knowing that you are going to spend $2000 eventually? Why not just buy the $2000 mount now? Skip the double learning curve, and all that.  (On the other hand, if you already have the $1200 mount, put it to use now.....) 

 

So, back to my old man advice......Skip the "beginning" program" and go right to something that will last a lifetime. 

 

Alex

 

Whether beginner or advanced I would recommend SGP and Pixinsight. 

 

BUT.....and this is important...….

 

I would not recommend you try to use either of them to do all they can do. 

 

That is, both these programs are very complex, but they need not be. Simply ignore the complex parts, and use the easy parts. This will get you what you want. Good images of lots of different types of targets. 

 

Let's face it. No matter which program you use, you will have to learn certain things. Learn them on one of the beginner programs, and you know them. They are really no harder to learn on the advanced programs.

 

I really do not think you can get much simpler than the Batch Pre Processing script on PixInsight (assuming you know which checkmarks to check in general----and that you can find in various tutorials, or just take the defaults). Yes, there may be six different stacking algorithms (whatever an "algorithm" is) but you do not have to care about that. Just use the one that it defaults to. Your images will still be as good or better than with most other programs. 

 

The adjustments you can make with the Screen Transfer Function are, for many beginners, far better than anything the beginner can pop out with any other program. And it is incredibly simple to do.

 

So, just do the simple things, and ignore the rest of it.

 

Then, when you have figured the basics, move on to other more complex things. 

 

At some point you will be using things in the higher level program that are just not in the lower level programs. 

 

Why spend the time learning the basic program (which, believe me, will have a learning curve) when you can spend that same amount of time learning the more advanced program? True, after an equal amount of time learning both, you will have only scratched the surface of the deeper program. But you will have maxed out the beginner program. 

 

Is it hearing some esoteric argument here on CN comparing one work flow versus another? Who needs more than one work flow. There are a number of work flows that you can find in tutorials on line that simply work. They work better than what you find in the beginning level programs. You do not have to care that there may be eighteen other workflows to do the same kind of things...….just learn the one that you like. It is really no more difficult in PixInsight than on the other programs. It looks simpler in the other programs because they use more friendly language......and, more importantly, because they only have one work flow, or very few, to choose from. 

 

Is it a budget thing? Really, you cannot beat SGP on budget. PixInsight is more expensive. But, if you are going into the hobby for real, someday you will want it. Why spend $50 to $100 for a temporary thing, if you are going to eventually spend the $250 or whatever?  (On the other hand, if you are unsure of how committed you are, do stick with the freeware (or budget stuff) as much as possible......it does in fact work.) 

 

Let me take an analogy from equipment. Is it better to spend $1200 on a mount you are going to use for a year or two, knowing that you are going to spend $2000 eventually? Why not just buy the $2000 mount now? Skip the double learning curve, and all that.  (On the other hand, if you already have the $1200 mount, put it to use now.....) 

 

So, back to my old man advice......Skip the "beginning" program" and go right to something that will last a lifetime. 

 

Alex

Thanks for the response. I think i will end up getting Pixnsight simply because i have nothing else so i can put all my focus into that software and learning.  Good advice with skipping beginner and getting right into. That's normally what i do but the software's just seem so in dept, so much you have to know and the orders of everything need to be right, just to find a dso haha. But I will keep at it. This week i'm going to use the Sharcap polar align for the first time, hopefully i get aligned. I still haven't got past that stage yet with about 8 attempts. So then i go look at the moon haha



#15 Alex McConahay

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 09:46 AM

>>>>>>> I would not recommend you try to use either of them to do all they can do.

 

Sorry, its a little weird to quote myself....but I was trying to come up with an analogy that did not involve cars. I tend to use cars overmuch when writing analogies. I once wrote a tutorial about starting with PixInsight called "Pixinsight and a loaf of bread." (  http://alexastro.com...iclesindex.html ) The idea was that I had just bought a new car with fifty-six (or something) buttons switches and dials on the dashboard, and all I wanted to do was head on down to the store and buy a loaf of bread. Too much complexity for me. But, really, the car runs fine without knowing what all fifty-six buttons do. (PS....Car is eleven years old now, and I still don't know what some of those buttons do.)

 

Here are some other examples:

 

I have used less than ten per cent of what my smartphone can do. I make phone calls, and take pictures, and get email, and browse the internet. Eight years after I got it (or its earlier release), I finally tried the voice to text button. Works fine.

 

My desktop computer I am writing on does email, browsing, image processing and a few other things.  I have never really gone into the reams of information about how to adapt it for a vertical monitor, large print for visually impaired, porting a video to my television, or any of the thousands of other things it can do.

 

My wife got me a solar powered watch that can be set up for travel to favorite destinations in different time zones, and can autocorrect itself depending on location. It can also be trained to receive different time synch signals depending on where I am. I've never set it up to do so. And it sends me beeps and reminders when asked to do so. I use it to tell time by looking at where the hands are. 

 

There are things I could do with airline reservations (according to the airline) that make my plane ticket magical, allowing the airline to send me text alerts, and reminders, and speed me through check-in lines, and categorize my travel miles, and ……… I just buy the ticket, and fly on the airplane. 

 

I guess the list could go on. But the point is, just because something is complex does not mean one needs to use it at its most complex level. 

 

Alex


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#16 bigeastro

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 10:54 AM

I think you are on the right track with APT.  I would keep using that and honing your skills at exposure, gain settings, pointing, plate solving, and connecting gear.  You can't buy a more comprehensive program for $30.  Along with processing, that will get you quite a bit of experience with very little dollars.  With respect to processing, might as well go for PixInsight, but be ready for a steep learning curve.  Put as much money as you can in a mount.



#17 CCD-Freak

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 12:41 PM

I will throw Astro Art v7 into the mix.  http://www.msb-astroart.com/

 

It is not too expensive and it is a very good program for capturing images it can control your telescope, do plate solving, auto guiding, focus control etc

It has very nice pre-processing capabilities and post processing as well.  There is also an  online forum where you can get answers if you have any problems.

 

I have been using it since version 2 and it just keeps getting better.  It is very popular across the pond and has a small following here in the US.

 

M20-Cal-Sigma-DN-Str-Sat-CS-2x2-AA7-sm.jpg

M20 30 x 120 seconds ASI-1600MC-Coolv3 OSC, Explore Scientific ED127,  AP900GTO

Captured and processed with Astro Art

 

John Love

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WD5IKX


Edited by CCD-Freak, 24 January 2019 - 12:41 PM.

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#18 f430

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 04:28 PM

Another vote for Astroart. V7 being the latest version.

 

It's a great program that is frequently overlooked by many. I guess it's just not finicky enough, or complicated enough, to warrant serious consideration.... 


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#19 Tripp

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 01:26 AM

>>>>>>> I would not recommend you try to use either of them to do all they can do.

 

Sorry, its a little weird to quote myself....but I was trying to come up with an analogy that did not involve cars. I tend to use cars overmuch when writing analogies. I once wrote a tutorial about starting with PixInsight called "Pixinsight and a loaf of bread." (  http://alexastro.com...iclesindex.html ) The idea was that I had just bought a new car with fifty-six (or something) buttons switches and dials on the dashboard, and all I wanted to do was head on down to the store and buy a loaf of bread. Too much complexity for me. But, really, the car runs fine without knowing what all fifty-six buttons do. (PS....Car is eleven years old now, and I still don't know what some of those buttons do.)

 

Here are some other examples:

 

I have used less than ten per cent of what my smartphone can do. I make phone calls, and take pictures, and get email, and browse the internet. Eight years after I got it (or its earlier release), I finally tried the voice to text button. Works fine.

 

My desktop computer I am writing on does email, browsing, image processing and a few other things.  I have never really gone into the reams of information about how to adapt it for a vertical monitor, large print for visually impaired, porting a video to my television, or any of the thousands of other things it can do.

 

My wife got me a solar powered watch that can be set up for travel to favorite destinations in different time zones, and can autocorrect itself depending on location. It can also be trained to receive different time synch signals depending on where I am. I've never set it up to do so. And it sends me beeps and reminders when asked to do so. I use it to tell time by looking at where the hands are. 

 

There are things I could do with airline reservations (according to the airline) that make my plane ticket magical, allowing the airline to send me text alerts, and reminders, and speed me through check-in lines, and categorize my travel miles, and ……… I just buy the ticket, and fly on the airplane. 

 

I guess the list could go on. But the point is, just because something is complex does not mean one needs to use it at its most complex level. 

 

Alex

I read your link to the tutorial and saved it for when i purchase the software. Awesome write up and very informative. I totally agree with you analogies as well. You have great pictures on your website!!




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