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IckleImp

Which Software??

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Greetings Stargazers

I am just starting out in trying to do a bit of imaging.

I bought an xbox 360 webcam which I have modified. I am now looking for capture and stacking software.

Which is the easiest to use and hopefully also free?.

Will I need a motor for moon imaging or will I get suffient frames from the scope being stationary or can I track manually?. Should I use a barlow to increase image size?.

Any advise is much appreciated.

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Sharpcap for capture, and i use registax for stacking, then photoshop to try and make it look half decent.

Moon and planets can be tracked manually.

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As above, I would add that if using registax then use PIPP (which is free) first this can center and crop the image allowing the use of non tracking mounts.

Alan

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Autostakkert for stacking the avi http://www.autostakkert.com/wp/download/

Sharpcap for capture http://www.sharpcap.co.uk/sharpcap/downloads

Pipp if you have trouble opening the avi or want to order / crop before processing https://sites.google.com/site/astropipp/downloads

Paint.net for final adjustments http://www.getpaint.net/download.html

That should get you going

Also firecapture is a good alternative to sharpcap http://firecapture.wonderplanets.de/download.html

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That's great thank you. What exposure time would I need? Or is it a case of the longer the better?. Do images get more detailed with longer exposure?. For anyone interested CEX have xbox 360 webcams on sale for £2.50 and PS3 webcams for £4.00.

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For the Moon/Jupiter... 10fps and 2000 frames are a good starting point. Longer exposure does not neccessariliy mean more detail, as noise, movement etc will start to affect things.

Focus however, is critical, with any type of camera.

And yes I did note that you are manually tracking.

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That's great thank you. What exposure time would I need? Or is it a case of the longer the better?. Do images get more detailed with longer exposure?. For anyone interested CEX have xbox 360 webcams on sale for £2.50 and PS3 webcams for £4.00.

I can't speak for the camera you have.  I use FireCapture with my camera.  I usually have the gain set around 50% (the advice seems to be to keep gain around there to keep noise down).  Firecapture shows a histogram along the bottom left of the screen.  I usually adjust exposure until this is showing a little more than 'half way' but with none of it going off the right hand side of the graph.  For the moon, I am usually finding 5-10ms (with an IR filter).  Without the filter it would probably be significantly less than that.  In any event, let the histogram be your guide. 

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Last question, I assume my modified webcam with 1.25" nosepiece goes straight into the focuser tube and I focus via the image on the laptop screen?. Do I need to use a barlow?.

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Last question, I assume my modified webcam with 1.25" nosepiece goes straight into the focuser tube and I focus via the image on the laptop screen?. Do I need to use a barlow?.

Correct. No need for the diagonal, obviously. You can add in a Barlow. Probably best just to keep it simple to start with though.

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Sharpcap for capture, and i use registax for stacking, then photoshop to try and make it look half decent.

Moon and planets can be tracked manually.

Ah but which "Photoshop"? The are several flavours.

So far, even with tracking,  I am finding that using an actual camera is producing far less noise and a sharper image than stacking.  Perhaps I am doing something wrong with the stacking but I do find a modern camera's dark frame and noise reduction to be significantly better than Photoshop Elements or Lightroom, or for that matter processing the raw with Adobe Camera Raw 8.5 - Photoshop can "do more" but it seems to be designed for family holiday snaps.

Focus is important, it has to be spot on and a modern camera will/should have focus confirmation or highlighting to assist, which is more reliable than my old Mk.1 eyeball

Fyi dumping a good long lens on the GH4 on EQ tracking allows me to pinpoint autofocus nicely on Jupiter, which is just plain silly. The Lumix 100-300 gives me 300mm at f/5.6 (gets stopped down to sharpen image, f/6.3-f/8) which on M43 is a "600mm" field of view i.e. not far short of the 130SLT's 650mm f/5

I seriously need to learn more about stacking and processing astro shots.

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@ickleimp

Download Gimp it is free and has enough to get going with.

@ jefrs

Have a read of budgetastro.net to understand dark frames, light frames, bias and flats. You don't want in camera noise reduction turned on. You want to collect a number of images that you then stack in say DSS to create a final image which you can then further process in say Photoshop.

There are lots of astro orientated action scripts for Photoshop I gather.

Edited by happy-kat

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Photoshop has to be cs5, other versions don't like my 32bit tiff files.

Need to try out some the plugins I've seen recommended for removing lp etc

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