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N.I.N.A. - One App to Rule Them All ?

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#1 Naptown Larry

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 12:42 PM

As someone who is a brand new astrophotographer that's just starting out, I have the luxury of being able to start learning on the newest software available, and I don't have to go through the pain of leaving an old app that I've already invested hundreds of hours into. So I've picked N.I.N.A. as my imaging platform.

Here's my question for those of you with experience on lots of other software platforms...

I know separate software is required for stacking/processing and guiding. But in terms of image capture, polar alignment, focus, etc... Can N.I.N.A. do it all as good or better than all the competing image capture applications?

Or are there other apps like SharpCap, Stellarium, ect... That should be used to supplement N.I.N.A. for functions that they can still do better/faster ?

Edited by Naptown Larry, 21 October 2021 - 01:15 PM.

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#2 Professor2112

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 01:05 PM

I like NINA.  I use it for image capture which I do automated, then Pixinsight for everything else. 


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#3 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 01:20 PM

I think NINA, especially the 1.11 version (nightly builds), is an outstanding and extremely capable application. The advanced sequencer and plugin framework are fantastic additions to what was already a great piece of software.

 

You do still need NINA to interface with other software. It is not 100% standalone. You need guiding software (PHD2). You need plate solving software (ASTAP or similar). You need ASCOM and/or native drivers for your equipment (camera, mount, focuser, etc). You can use a planetarium app like Stellarium or CDC to search for and frame targets.

 

I imagine you'll be quite satisfied choosing NINA as your imaging software.


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#4 imtl

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 01:25 PM

I don't think NINA is the one to rule them all. It's a capable piece of software but SGP and Voyager are as if not more capable. 

None can do everything but using a combination of software to optimize your sequence is the best way in any case.


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#5 AstroVagabond

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 01:29 PM

I'm a beginner. I use N.I.N.A. My progression was BackyardEOS > Astro Photography Tool > Sequence Generator Pro > N.I.N.A.

 

I believe N.I.N.A. is the reason I've been able to become highly automated on the data acquisition side of the equation. I do use QHY Polemaster currently for Polar alignment. 

 

On the image processing side my progression was Deep Sky Stacker > Astro Pixel Processor > PixInsight (Just stated with PixInsight).


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#6 OldManSky

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 01:37 PM

As someone who is a brand new astrophotographer that's just starting out, I have the luxury of being able to start learning on the newest software available, and I don't have to go through the pain of leaving an old app that I've already invested hundreds of hours into. So I've picked N.I.N.A. as my imaging platform.

Here's my question for those of you with experience on lots of other software platforms...

I know separate software is required for stacking/processing and guiding. But in terms of image capture, polar alignment, focus, etc... Can N.I.N.A. do it all as good or better than all the competing image capture applications?

Or are there other apps like SharpCap, Stellarium, ect... That should be used to supplement N.I.N.A. for functions that they can still do better/faster ?

Yes.

Sharp Cap has some nice features, but is quite limited.  Stellarium isn't capture software.  

The main NINA "competitors" are SGP and Voyager.

All three have some pluses and minuses ,things they can do the others can't.  If you need those particular things, then get the software that supports them.

I've been using NINA since it first came out.  I'll be sticking with it.  Been doing digital astroimaging for 20+ years, and used a lot of software -- NINA is the best one for me.

But there's no need to get all "tribal" -- other software is better for other people.  Use what works for you.


Edited by OldManSky, 21 October 2021 - 01:41 PM.

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#7 ac4lt

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 01:54 PM

I'm a big fan of NINA. I use it at home. I'm part of a team that uses Voyager at a remote observatory. For the most part I prefer NINA. I used SGP at home prior to NINA though haven't touched it in a couple of years. 

 

NINA isn't perfect but it's come the closes of any of the acquisition software I've used in terms of UI, speed. There are probably some sophisticated setups where something else might be needed but Voyager covers most of our home use cases pretty well.


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#8 zakry3323

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 02:00 PM

I've used BackyardEOS, SGP, Sharpcap, Voyager, and NINA for image acquisition. 

 

If I really wanted to dig into automating as much as possible, including relays for observatory control, I would write scripts in Voyager. It's very powerful and customizable to fit specific needs. 

 

I don't have a permanent setup. For a quick and easy plop-and-drop, everything works, interface is intuitive, I can change sequence parameters on the fly- NINA is my favorite acquisition software. 

 

As mentioned previously, you'll need PHD2 for guiding and a plate solver (ASTAP works very quickly for me). 

 

Sharpcap is great for getting a polar alignment, for EAA (Live-Stacking), and for planetary/Lunar acquisition. 


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#9 t-ara-fan

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 02:25 PM

I am another NINA fan, after using BackyardEOS then SequenceGeneratorPro.

 

NINA is an excellent program.  You can't beat the price but you can make a donation. 

 

NINA's 3-point Polar Alignment is better than SharpCap that is better than my PoleMaster.  I say that about NINA based on ease of use, and the fact that my guiding with PHD2 is much better.  

 

For DSOs I use Stellarium for framing images and passing that data to NINA.  I don't have Internet access at my observatory so I can't download images from NASA to set up framing.

 

For lunar and planetary I use SharpCap for imaging and checking focus.


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#10 unimatrix0

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 02:41 PM

I think NINA, especially the 1.11 version (nightly builds), is an outstanding and extremely capable application. The advanced sequencer and plugin framework are fantastic additions to what was already a great piece of software.

 

You do still need NINA to interface with other software. It is not 100% standalone. You need guiding software (PHD2). You need plate solving software (ASTAP or similar). You need ASCOM and/or native drivers for your equipment (camera, mount, focuser, etc). You can use a planetarium app like Stellarium or CDC to search for and frame targets.

 

I imagine you'll be quite satisfied choosing NINA as your imaging software.

I wish they'd bring back the multi-dithering feature for the nightly builds, if I want to image with 2 cameras at once.  I don't know why they had to remove it.  There is like nobody wants to piggy back ride another camera on their main telescopes anymore? 

 

Now, If I image with 2 cameras, I have to go back to APT to do that, they still got multi-guide/multi dithering. 


Edited by unimatrix0, 21 October 2021 - 02:41 PM.

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#11 OldManSky

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 02:47 PM

I wish they'd bring back the multi-dithering feature for the nightly builds, if I want to image with 2 cameras at once.  I don't know why they had to remove it.  There is like nobody wants to piggy back ride another camera on their main telescopes anymore? 

 

Now, If I image with 2 cameras, I have to go back to APT to do that, they still got multi-guide/multi dithering. 

There's a new plug-in for the nightly build version that implements multi-camera/instance dithering.  I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds great...


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#12 dghent

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 04:37 PM

Speaking as one of the regular contributors to NINA...

 

I'm rather uncomfortable with the idea of NINA ranging beyond the planning and acquisition mission that it was born with, at least as far as the core application is concerned. People pop up now and then and ask why doesn't NINA have its own integrated guiding that obviates PHD2, or why doesn't it have built-in image calibration and editing like MaximDL does, and so on and so forth. While I can understand the fascination one might have towards a "single pane of glass", monolithic can-do-everything app, I disagree with that approach and the ramifications it can have towards the app's maintainability, as well as such a design's implications in the broader astrophotography app ecosystem.

 

I come from a UNIX background. Anyone who is familiar with the ethos of that environment will know of its focus on a large assortment of tools where each do a specific job very well. This is the opposite a small number of tools where each attempts to address a range of needs and tasks, perhaps making compromises along the way. I think that things such as guiding and processing are of a sufficient magnitude of complexity that the specialized apps that already exist for those tasks should be leveraged rather than competed against. I think sufficient innovation happens enough in those domains that catching up to and surpassing their function and offerings would not add much. Importantly, the open source offerings in those areas (PHD2, Siril, and others) provide sufficient solid ground to scratch any itches.

 

That said, we did introduce the plugin system in 1.11 that affords anyone with a vision that doesn't fit the core app a way to implement it without having the core maintainers poo-poo it because it's too far out of bounds. The plugin system exists for more reasons than that, but that was indeed one of the motivating factors behind its invention. We basically got tired of telling people "sorry, nice idea but it really isn't a fit", so now those ideas can be implemented and plugged in independently of the app's core mission and our (the maintainers') occasionally not-so-humble-opinions on things. Even after just a few short months, the plugin system has already taken off beyond our expectations and there is some interesting stuff in the pipeline.

 

As for the apps that NINA can be considered a peer of in terms of role and purpose, those apps still very valuable to the community and innovate in their own ways. So, I think it would be wrong to conceptualize the environment as a race to some sort of app singularity were "one app rules them all." This introduces an annoying (to me, at least) overtone of petty tribalism which can taint the atmosphere and even relationships. Having seen the inside of the sausage factory I wholly respect the developers, commercial or FOSS, who have also lived it and certainly for longer than I have. Their creations contain just as much blood, sweat, and tears.


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#13 ngatel

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 06:21 PM

Choosing software is like choosing a restaurant . . .

Wife:”Today some of us at work went to this great new Mexican restaurant. We’ll have to go there some night.”

“No.”

“You’re a fuddy-duddy. You never want to try anything new.”

“I have been going to the same Mexican restaurant for over forty years. The food is always excellent, the margaritas are consistently great, great service is the norm, and the atmosphere is always relaxing. Nothing is ever lacking. So why would I want to risk disappointment?”

And so it goes with software. Many experienced imagers are not willing to try a new product, because what they have meets all their needs reliably, and they often become advocates for the product should anyone inquire.

I’m new at this. Not only does NINA do things I didn’t know was possible, it does everything I need it to do. If something was lacking for my particular situation, I would explore other options. NINA isn’t going to be a solution for everyone.

Edited by ngatel, 21 October 2021 - 06:22 PM.

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#14 Alex McConahay

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 06:50 PM

I am not a user of NINA----found something else (SGP) and it does me fine. ONe comment earlier---it depends on PHD2. Yes, and so do a lot of other programs, some of which cost substantially more than NINA..........But, PHD2 is free. So, yes, with NINA, you can do all the acquiring you want. And it will continue to grow, for at least a while. So will all the rest of them. 

 

You are fine with it. 

 

However, do not expect it to do more than gather your data for you. You will still need a processing program. 

Alex


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#15 Birddogoby

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 07:37 PM

I'm a NINA user after moving from APT and it works extremely well for my needs. I just want to make one comment about auto guiding. I realize the vast majority of people use PH2D but to say that "you'll need PHD2" is not accurate. I've used Lacerta's MGEN3 multistar guider with great success since I started AP about 2 years ago. I'm not trying to prolythisize, just letting the OP know PHD2 is not the only game in town...if you want to pay for it.
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#16 BlueGrass

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 07:50 PM

"I'm rather uncomfortable with the idea of NINA ranging beyond the planning and acquisition mission that it was born with, at least as far as the core application is concerned. People pop up now and then and ask why doesn't NINA have its own integrated guiding that obviates PHD2, or why doesn't it have built-in image calibration and editing like MaximDL does, and so on and so forth. While I can understand the fascination one might have towards a "single pane of glass", monolithic can-do-everything app, I disagree with that approach and the ramifications it can have towards the app's maintainability, as well as such a design's implications in the broader astrophotography app ecosystem."

 

I totally agree with this. Too often, programs that started life as simple well written niche applications evolve over time into just another example of unmanageable bloatware. They tend to lose sight of their founding mission objectives and wind up not doing many things very well. Imaging acquisition applications and utilities need to be lean, well performing programs that do their assigned tasks. Leave the post processing and bells and whistles to the huge programs that need high power multi-core, multi-gigabyte machines.  


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