Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Do I need PixInsight?

astrophotography
  • Please log in to reply
26 replies to this topic

#1 khursh

khursh

    Viking 1

  • ****-
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 534
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2018

Posted 25 May 2020 - 09:39 PM

Hello fellow imagers

 

I am super new to this. I think I have the basic idea of how to get decent images, but the devil is in the details. 

 

My equipment is in my signature below (I do not use the C8 for imaging at this time)

 

I managed to figure out SGPro this week and man is that thing amazing. The autofocus routine alone is worth the price, but of course having the whole thing automated is really sweet. So, here I am with a stacked image straight from DSS and I tinkered with it in GIMP and it's OK. If I hunkered down, I could get quite a bit better I am sure, but I want to know two things if am going to invest a significant amount of time and energy (and money) learning new software.

1. Will the workflow become second nature pretty quick?

2. Are there features that people can turn decent data into a really nice final product that GIMP or even PS cannot deliver?

 

Examples of my first attempt from this week:

 

4.5 hours of 120s subs at Unity Gain with ASI533MC pro @-5C (was 5.5 hours, but I used "best 80%")

30 darks

25 flats

25 dark flats

100 bias

 

My DSS output file

https://drive.google...DBnjrkZvKO4bud_

 

My half hour attempt with GIMP

get.jpg?insecure


  • aa5te and SambaChoro like this

#2 Readerp

Readerp

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 158
  • Joined: 22 Jun 2019
  • Loc: So Cal

Posted 25 May 2020 - 09:51 PM

Give StarTools a go.

 

It can get you very good results quickly and superb results as you learn.


  • Rudix likes this

#3 Michael Covington

Michael Covington

    Author

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 6,061
  • Joined: 13 May 2014
  • Loc: Athens, Georgia, USA

Posted 25 May 2020 - 10:42 PM

PixInsight is great, and the key to it is realizing you never need to learn the whole thing.  The joke is that if there are 3 good ways to do something, all 18 of them will be implemented in PixInsight.  So start with Rogelio Bernal Andreo's book and learn the parts of it you will actually use.


  • lakeorion and kathyastro like this

#4 JamesTX

JamesTX

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 212
  • Joined: 27 Aug 2017
  • Loc: Texas

Posted 26 May 2020 - 02:01 AM

No, you don't need Pixinsight.  I've seen excellent work done by many with different programs including Photoshop and APP (Astro Pixel processor).

 

That said, I have been using Pixinsight for the past couple of years and have been happy with it.  For me it was easier to learn than photoshop.  Photoshop does handle a few things better but I do 95% in pixinsight before using Photoshop to touch up a few things.

 

I took a crack at your data. Spent a little under 30 mins with it, 100% in pixinsight.  I only used photoshop to resize/compress the image to fit as an attachment here.  I have an asi533 on order and was curious to see what the data was like so thank you for making your data available.  I like what I see.  smile.gif

 

How dark are your skies?

Attached Thumbnails

  • asi533_test_med.jpg

Edited by JamesTX, 26 May 2020 - 02:03 AM.

  • OldManSky likes this

#5 Stelios

Stelios

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,326
  • Joined: 04 Oct 2003
  • Loc: West Hills, CA

Posted 26 May 2020 - 02:26 AM

"Need"? Do you need astrophotography? No. Do you need great pictures? No. Neither do you need Pixinsight. 

 

Will you master the workflow pretty quick?  If you mean a week or two, no. You will be able to use the program in that time *if* you buy a book or spend time with online tutorials, in a "monkey see, monkey do" fashion. To really understand what you are doing you will need to devote comparable time to mastering Photoshop. Months. You would be productive in the interim, but the layer of expertise that makes for the difference between adequate and superb will need time and effort to achieve.

 

As to whether you can best what a Photoshop master with deep understanding of astrophotos can do--who knows? I've often wondered what would happen if Jerry Lodriguss (a Photoshop master) and Adam Block (expert in both PI and Photoshop) were to battle it out with the same data. I am sure we would see some fabulous images, I think the difference would be in comparing Michelangelo to Bernini. If you are a Photoshop master, you probably don't need Pixinsight.

 

And how much do you value time in developing an image? If it's important to do it in no more than an hour or so, then Star Tools is probably best for you. Pixinsight is spending many hours (I spend at least 10 hours per image and I'm average at best) trying to find just how to optimally tweak your picture. And learning a bit more every time. Workflows (there are many) are just a starting point. To continue my sculpting analogy, t's about "finding the shape within the marble."

 

Pixinsight has a steep learning curve, and without a significant investment in time for every image won't do much more than lesser programs. If you are a speed limit driver you don't need a Lamborghini, a Camry will do. To just get something decent out and impress your friends, you definitely don't need Pixinsight. 


  • jdupton, Scott1244 and SoDaKAstroNut like this

#6 Becomart

Becomart

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,167
  • Joined: 03 Jan 2015

Posted 26 May 2020 - 02:41 AM

The cost of the software is minuscule imho compared to the amount you’ll get out of it. There are no free lunches on the learning curve though so the real ‘cost’ is in the time to learn it. I’ve been using it for 4 years and have only become proficient to the point of not having to consult books and tutorials for typical workflows in the last year. Still learning and am now moving on to more complex techniques. Don’t think the learning curve will stop anytime soon. The videos in my signature will get you going. 


  • okiedrifter likes this

#7 khursh

khursh

    Viking 1

  • ****-
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 534
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2018

Posted 26 May 2020 - 08:31 AM

Thank you James. That is obviously quite a bit better than I could do. I live/image in Bortle 5 skies (SQM 19.7) and shoot to the east which goes to Bortle 2 in about 10 miles. I think your handling of my data tells me 2 things.

1. I need many more hours of data, which I don't mind with SGPro, and 

2. I could get quite a bit more out of PI 

 

YASOU Stelios. Thank you for your insights.

 

Thank you Becomart. I love tutorial videos! I will watch tonight!



#8 Ivo Jager

Ivo Jager

    Vendor ( Star Tools )

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 312
  • Joined: 19 Mar 2011
  • Loc: Melbourne, Australia

Posted 26 May 2020 - 08:33 AM

You are in an enviable position where you are apparently "new" to this, but produce datasets that almost say otherwise! waytogo.gif

 

This is important, as it allows you to better evaluate software based on its ability to make the most of your data, rather than how well it can hide defects. Perhaps the main thing holding you back is the chromatic aberration of your optics; it bloats stars and introduces blue/purple halos.

 

Below is a quick go with a fairly standard workflow (~10m - 30m, depending on your machine) in StarTools;

 

khursh_M101.jpg

 

The only non-standard stuff added on was getting rid of the chromatic aberration and shrinking the stars just a little. Turning color balancing off in DSS would have yielded better results though (ST specific, but may help in some other applications as well that process luminance and chroma separately). I have a feeling that you shot this without an IR/UV filter in place. Having one in place would have helped with the coloring a little, as the response of many ASI OSCs increases for all channels past the visual spectrum (feature - not a bug), causing some color balancing issues that are hard/impossible to fix (this took me extra time as well). Happy to post workflow if useful.

 

Processing for hours is OK if you're learning, evaluating software or have a slow machine, but it is absolutely not something to strive for - it correlates with poorer results, not better. If you're launching a module, filter or algorithm to correct the one you used prior, you will quickly find yourself in tweak-upon-tweak hell with no closure. If your software allows; reduce, simplify, be targeted and respect your signal. Less is more.

 

Clear skies!


Edited by Ivo Jager, 26 May 2020 - 08:34 AM.

  • bobharmony, Readerp and Seven007 like this

#9 Madratter

Madratter

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,487
  • Joined: 14 Jan 2013

Posted 26 May 2020 - 08:58 AM

No, off course not. It is superb at what it does, and excellent value for the money. But there are alternatives, some of them excellent.

 

And that is a good thing because people think about image processing in different ways, and some of those ways fit some products better than others.

 

For example, although I am very adept at Photoshop, and I have used it for some of my processing, as a whole, PixInsight fits my way of thinking about the problem better.

 

EDIT: Also, sometimes a product will do something particularly well and you might want to consider using a mixed workflow.


Edited by Madratter, 26 May 2020 - 09:03 AM.


#10 khursh

khursh

    Viking 1

  • ****-
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 534
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2018

Posted 26 May 2020 - 11:45 AM

Ivo

Thank you for your nice words and positive feedback. I know my little ED refractor is just a doublet, so limited with respect to star bloat. I am looking into a triplet ;)

I definitely like your goal of 'reduce, simplify: less is more'. 

I will download your trial and try it out to see if I can get anywhere near what you have been able to achieve. Thank you again.



#11 Madratter

Madratter

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,487
  • Joined: 14 Jan 2013

Posted 26 May 2020 - 11:53 AM

For what it is worth, I own Star Tools and it is way easier than some alternatives at particular things. Among them are deconvolution and denoising. Also to be appreciated are the non-destructive aspects of how the tool works.

 

In other words, Star Tools is certainly worth looking into.



#12 the Elf

the Elf

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,491
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 26 May 2020 - 12:31 PM

If you want a serious answer grab a large bucket of popcorn and click this link:

https://www.youtube....h?v=mvuMrHEWaS8

Make sure you watch in 1080p.

 

If you think this might be your way, apply for a free PI trial, download the data provided in the video description and process along. After that you should have a tendency.

Note that PI also comes with an "all data in and push the button" pre processing or that you can do pre processing in Deep Sky Stacker and use PI for post processing only. Also note that PI contains a lot of analysis tools to track down issues in your equipment.

 

For an impression how to process using GIMP and PS watch this:

https://www.youtube....h?v=fSxdHrO0zfU

https://www.youtube....h?v=C3Fd2Nc_WYw

 

Hope that helps!


Edited by the Elf, 26 May 2020 - 12:36 PM.


#13 TelescopeGreg

TelescopeGreg

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,805
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2018
  • Loc: Auburn, California, USA

Posted 26 May 2020 - 01:45 PM

+1 for StarTools.  At least, for me.

 

There is a base decision that you are faced with.  If you want to get into the details of image processing, down to the massaging of every morsel of information in every pixel, the right long term answer is PI.  But with great power comes great responsibility, and I expect it's easier to create terrible images with PI than pretty much any other tool.  But if you want to become a pixel craftsman, PI is the tool box you need.  Astro Pixel Processor is considered by some to be "PI Lite".  It's on this side of the decision tree.

 

If you don't want to get into (learn) that level of detail in image processing, but still want to create great images, the right answer is StarTools.  The premise here is that Ivo has taken all that knowledge (and power) and incorporated it under the covers of ST.  You do have control, but at the high level.  No pixel math is required, nor is it offered.  If you want to do that sort of thing, ST will probably frustrate you because you will be fighting the tool.  But in the hands of someone who can work at that higher level, it can produce as great an image as with other tools (as he has demonstrated).

 

My own choice has come from a heart-to-heart chat that I had with myself, realizing that of all the various opportunities to learn stuff about this hobby, getting down to the pixel level just isn't for me.  So, StarTools is my choice.



#14 khursh

khursh

    Viking 1

  • ****-
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 534
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2018

Posted 26 May 2020 - 02:16 PM

Wow Elf.. you look way older than eleven, by the way. That is quite a long video. I know what I'm doing tonight! Thank you!



#15 Phil Sherman

Phil Sherman

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,088
  • Joined: 07 Dec 2010
  • Loc: Cleveland, Ohio

Posted 26 May 2020 - 11:37 PM

Try downloading the now free "ImagesPlus" from Mike Unsold's site. It's a complete image processing program that does just about everything. There's also written documentation and instructional videos on the site.



#16 Deesk06

Deesk06

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 304
  • Joined: 25 Jul 2015
  • Loc: New Jersey

Posted 27 May 2020 - 08:13 AM

I personally hate Pixinsight. I do not enjoy the organizational aspect of it. I hate how all of the windows pop up all over the screen and then I have to organize them. I would personally enjoy a much structured layout from them. Its like they added stuff and just threw it in the drop down menu. I am also very visual with editing, so that personally brings me to use Photoshop, which I already know how to use very well. My combo is APP (Stacking & mild stretching, Gradient removal) and then PS (Stretch, Stauration, Details, Masking etc.) pretty much APP for the stack and then PS to polish it up. There is however nothing wrong with Pixinsight, its regarded as the top editing software. Personally, I believe that you can achieve the same edit with PS as you do in Pixinsight. You just have to know how to use different tolls to bring out what you want. You can see plenty of comparisons between Pixinisght edits and PS, Its really up the the user and their knowledge of the editing program they are using. With that said, Pixinsight is very analytical, and for some people thats what they need to work with.  


Edited by Deesk06, 27 May 2020 - 08:19 AM.


#17 Peregrinatum

Peregrinatum

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,201
  • Joined: 27 Dec 2018
  • Loc: South Central Valley, Ca

Posted 27 May 2020 - 08:27 AM

Yes.  buy once cry once

 

I know there are imagers that create beautiful astro-images without PI, but my observation is that the best imagers on CN seem to use PI.

 

I personally really enjoy the processing side of imaging, and it has to do with how detailed and powerful Pixinsight is

 

btw, Elf is da man, his videos are superb.


Edited by Peregrinatum, 27 May 2020 - 08:28 AM.


#18 Michael Covington

Michael Covington

    Author

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 6,061
  • Joined: 13 May 2014
  • Loc: Athens, Georgia, USA

Posted 27 May 2020 - 09:11 AM

I personally hate Pixinsight. I do not enjoy the organizational aspect of it. I hate how all of the windows pop up all over the screen and then I have to organize them. I would personally enjoy a much structured layout from them. Its like they added stuff and just threw it in the drop down menu. I am also very visual with editing, so that personally brings me to use Photoshop, which I already know how to use very well. My combo is APP (Stacking & mild stretching, Gradient removal) and then PS (Stretch, Stauration, Details, Masking etc.) pretty much APP for the stack and then PS to polish it up. There is however nothing wrong with Pixinsight, its regarded as the top editing software. Personally, I believe that you can achieve the same edit with PS as you do in Pixinsight. You just have to know how to use different tolls to bring out what you want. You can see plenty of comparisons between Pixinisght edits and PS, Its really up the the user and their knowledge of the editing program they are using. With that said, Pixinsight is very analytical, and for some people thats what they need to work with.  

You might like MaxIm DL, which is much more organized to put the common operations at your fingertips and the less common operations deeper in the menus.  Nebulosity, too, and Astro Pixel Processor.


  • Deesk06 likes this

#19 khursh

khursh

    Viking 1

  • ****-
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 534
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2018

Posted 27 May 2020 - 11:22 AM

Thank you everyone who are chiming in. I appear to have a long road ahead of me in terms of learning. I knew that already, but it's hard being patient when you have good data piling up.



#20 the Elf

the Elf

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,491
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 27 May 2020 - 01:55 PM

Wow Elf.. you look way older than eleven, by the way. That is quite a long video. I know what I'm doing tonight! Thank you!

Who says I'm eleven? Four and a half times eleven is closer to the truth.



#21 khursh

khursh

    Viking 1

  • ****-
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 534
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2018

Posted 27 May 2020 - 02:04 PM

Sorry. Bad joke. Elf in German is eleven.


  • Ivo Jager and Michael Covington like this

#22 TelescopeGreg

TelescopeGreg

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,805
  • Joined: 16 Jul 2018
  • Loc: Auburn, California, USA

Posted 27 May 2020 - 08:18 PM

Try downloading the now free "ImagesPlus" from Mike Unsold's site. It's a complete image processing program that does just about everything. There's also written documentation and instructional videos on the site.

Perhaps a side topic, but it's a Windows app.  My processing machine runs Linux, so I tried under it under Wine.  Some things seemed to work (it converted a bunch of raw files into fits), but mostly it just crashed.  Is there a way to get it to run there?



#23 the Elf

the Elf

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,491
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 27 May 2020 - 11:17 PM

Sorry. Bad joke. Elf in German is eleven.

That's true indeed. Elf in German is Elbe. Elbe is a village in the US and a River in Germany as well.

 

best

the 11 (Haha!)



#24 APshooter

APshooter

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,077
  • Joined: 14 Oct 2013
  • Loc: Camby, In.

Posted 27 May 2020 - 11:18 PM

I started with Pixinsight and moved over to APP.  I'm more of a slider kind of guy; I love moving sliders to see a result.  PI has too many boxes that need to be filled with numbers.  That's not me.  I DID do an experiment for myself, which was to process the best image I could using the same data in both PI and APP.  What I found was APP did just as good a job, and maybe a smidgen better than PI, (with the caveat that after 2 years of learning PI I'm still in whelp mode).  APP was far faster and easier to learn, just an evening or two: not a year of learning, specialty dvd sets, online tutorials, videos and a book to boot.  PI is absolutely wonderful, but its complexity can be overwhelming at times.

 

I use APP, Photoshop and Topaz Denoise AI.  I DO still use PI for very specific tasks, such as histogram stretch and especially masked stretch, which is a fantastic tool. There are also a few analytical scripts that I use on very rare occasions.  Everything else is APP, Photoshop and Topaz Denoise AI.  I've got 20 years Photoshop experience, so I'm super comfortable with it.  YMMV.



#25 Kevin Ross

Kevin Ross

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 935
  • Joined: 28 Mar 2018
  • Loc: Traverse City, MI

Posted 27 May 2020 - 11:39 PM

I started with Pixinsight and moved over to APP.  I'm more of a slider kind of guy; I love moving sliders to see a result.  PI has too many boxes that need to be filled with numbers.  That's not me.  I DID do an experiment for myself, which was to process the best image I could using the same data in both PI and APP.  What I found was APP did just as good a job, and maybe a smidgen better than PI, (with the caveat that after 2 years of learning PI I'm still in whelp mode).  APP was far faster and easier to learn, just an evening or two: not a year of learning, specialty dvd sets, online tutorials, videos and a book to boot.  PI is absolutely wonderful, but its complexity can be overwhelming at times.

 

I use APP, Photoshop and Topaz Denoise AI.  I DO still use PI for very specific tasks, such as histogram stretch and especially masked stretch, which is a fantastic tool. There are also a few analytical scripts that I use on very rare occasions.  Everything else is APP, Photoshop and Topaz Denoise AI.  I've got 20 years Photoshop experience, so I'm super comfortable with it.  YMMV.

I feel exactly the same way.




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: astrophotography



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics