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DSLR image capture & processing software?

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#1 SometimesKen


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Posted 24 March 2019 - 09:59 PM

Howdy Folks,

 Life gets in the way of what you really want to do sometimes, so after a long hiatus from astrophotography (10 years) I'm getting ready to jump back in, but I forgot more than I knew and will be re-learning everything.


I have a observatory and more than enough hardware, but my old laptops crashed and burned a long time ago. Along with those laptops went all my capture and processing software.


What software is most current to use with a modded Canon 350D? I assume Photoshop and I had Nebulosity 2, is there anything better now-a-days? 

I should add that I'm looking at ZWO cameras when I save the $$$.


Thank you in advance!


Edited by SometimesKen, 24 March 2019 - 10:14 PM.

#2 Tom K

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Posted 24 March 2019 - 10:30 PM

I will presume that you are on Windows for the sake of this reply.   Nebulosity can do capture and processing.   Other popular capture applications are APT (Astrophotography Tool) which is low cost and can get the job done and Sequence Generator Pro that costs a bit more but has lots of features to automate the process.  Others use BYEOS but I don't have any experience with that application.


For processing, the gold standard now is Pixinsight but at $260 is pricy.   Nebulosity 4 can work along with Photoshop as you know.


As always, YMMV!

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#3 bobzeq25



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Posted 24 March 2019 - 11:05 PM

Capture.  BackyardEOS and Sharpcap (compatible with many cameras) are the simple alternatives.  State of the art capabilities at moderate price are the domain of Sequence Generator Pro, and the new Voyager, which some like better, particularly for autofocus.


Processing.  Nebulosity is long in the tooth.  Photoshop needs astro specific addons.


I like astro specific programs, particularly these three.


Astro Pixel Processor.  Relatively simple, relatively competent.  Fine gradient reduction tool, essential for my light polluted skies.  Many touch up the output in something like Photoshop.  My first recommendation for total beginners, maybe for you.  What you learn will largely carry over if you move on to PixInsight.


StarTools.  (needs DSS for calibrating and stacking).  A unique program that's computer assisted processing.  You tell it what to do, it takes care of some details.  Quite competent.  The best processing program for people who don't like to process, although processing is never simple.


PixInsight.  What most (not all) serious people gravitate to these days.  Incredibly competent, a vast array of tools and adjustments.  But, not designed to be user friendly, and it's often not.


Forget the paltry $250 cost, it's unimportant.  The real cost is the time spent learning and using it.  I have hundreds of hours in that, routinely take 10-20 hours to process an image.  I built a dedicated computer, was tired of staring (that much) at spinning disks.


If you go the PI route, I strongly recommend this book, as better than the websites I tried.  It's capable, but not comprehensive.  There's only so much you can do with PI in 300 pages.  Smiling, but not kidding.




If putting the time in on PI has no appeal, go to one of the two proceeding it.  PI's superiority grows larger the more your skill with it improves.


Important point.  Data acquisition can use a very simple laptop, like a few hundred dollar one from here.  Mostly, you want some USB ports.




Data processing requires horsepower, especially if you get one of the new CMOS cameras (which typically work better with more, shorter subs).  As the saying goes in car speed shops.  "Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?"

Edited by bobzeq25, 24 March 2019 - 11:16 PM.

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#4 SometimesKen


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Posted 25 March 2019 - 03:53 PM

Thank you for the replies!


I'm pulling the trigger to fully automate my obs and eventually plan to operate from the house. When I built the BMO I ran 2 conduit lines into the house, one for power and one for data lines so I should be good with that. 


I have my old imaging note book with camera settings, so just ordered Neb4 because I used it before with Photoshop and for $95 I think it's a good jumping off point.  When I switch to a newer camera I'll get the appropriate software. I have a big learning curve ahead with ASCOM but that's a topic for a different forum. smile.gif 


Thanks again!  

#5 BQ Octantis

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Posted 26 March 2019 - 02:27 AM

If you're still using Photoshop, reco you get Annie's Astro Actions (US$15) and Astronomy Tools (US$22)—two excellent and affordable action sets for AP.



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#6 OldManSky



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Posted 26 March 2019 - 10:27 AM

To start off for free, you can give DigiCamControl a try. 

It works with pretty much all Canon and Nikon cameras, is very full-featured, and includes an "astronomy" module -- it can script/setup sequences, talk with PHD2 for dithering/settling, and supports magnified live view with focus assist tools.

And it's free.



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