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jACK101

What software for image processing.

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jACK101    45

I intend to buy a software package soon but I am confused about the relative merits of each package.

 

What would be your advice taking into account:

 

Ease of learning. I am 77 and may not have too long to spend learning.

Functionality. I am mainly interested in nebulae

Cost

 

Thanks

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Davey-T    10,271

What equipment are you using to capture images ?

Dave

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Adreneline    247

Hi.

Based purely on personal experience:

An example of a package that does it all, i.e. pre-processing (calibration, registration and stacking) and processing then PixInsight should be considered. PI is designed for the task of AP image processing. I found the learning curve quite steep but once you get into the methodology of the software it is not too bad. It is regularly updated and there is a wealth of support (videos and tutorials) on the web. I compiled my own set of instructions/steps based on various things I found on the web or on this excellent forum.

Having said that I started with DeepSkyStacker (for calibration, regisitration and stacking) and Photoshop CS6 (for image processing) - DSS because it was free and PS because I was lucky enough to own a copy. In my opinion the learning curve for PS is every bit as steep as PI but the approach and methodology is quite different.

I now use both when image processing - PI for the pre-processing, background extraction, noise reduction and initial stretch to non-linear, and PS for all the colour processing (using layers and masks) whether it be LRGB or narrowband. If I had neither and was now making the choice I would just buy PI.

I am sure someone will pop up and give advice on software like Astro Pixel Processor (APP), StarTools (ST), AstroArt (AA) and GIMP - and no doubt others! I tried PI, APP, ST and AA as trial versions before settling for PI.

Maybe which one might suit you best also depends on whether you are a left side brain person (science and maths) or right side brain person (creative and arty) - or a mixture of both! I'm a mathematician and physicist by qualification and profession so I like the way PI works - but then I also like the creative element that PS provides.

It's a tricky one. One thing is for certain though - none of them are easy to use well - but there again learning is good for the mind and what is good for the mind is good for the body!

I am sure you will get lots of excellent advice from forum members.

Good luck.

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Demonperformer    1,572

When starting out, the advantages of Deep Sky Stacker and GIMP are that they are free. The disadvantage with GIMP is that the latest stable version (2.8.22) only works in 8-bit (and so is not really suitable for astro work). There is a 'development' version (2.9.8) that functions on 16-bit, but may be subject to crashes.

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jACK101    45

Thanks for the replies.

 

I am using a Celestron CPC925 either with or without a Celestron 0.63 focal reducer. My camera is a Canon 600D which has not yet been modified, but I intend to get this done over the summer months.

 

Left brain or right?  These days I'm not sure if I have a brain. In a more serious attempt to answer your question, I was a chemist ,not pharmacist many years ago. I have already downloaded a trial version of Pixinsight and am slowly making some progress, but it is quite difficult. Before going ahead to buy it at the end of the trial period, I am just checking to make sure this is the right decision.

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jACK101    45
Just now, jACK101 said:

Thanks for the replies.

 

I am using a Celestron CPC925 either with or without a Celestron 0.63 focal reducer. My camera is a Canon 600D which has not yet been modified, but I intend to get this done over the summer months.

 

Left brain or right?  These days I'm not sure if I have a brain. In a more serious attempt to answer your question, I was a chemist ,not pharmacist many years ago. I have already downloaded a trial version of Pixinsight and am slowly making some progress, but it is quite difficult. Before going ahead to buy it at the end of the trial period, I am just checking to make sure this is the right decision.

I should add that I regularly use Lightroom 5 for conventional photography and I also have an old copy of Photoshop Elements.

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tomato    451

Astropixel Processor (APP) is the new kid on the block and is a very powerful calibration and stacking package, and will do the image processing as well. Take a look at Sara’s review, there’s a 30 day free trial and IMHO it is reasonably priced. 

Having said that, a big proportion of the established imagers on SGL use PI.

But, you can go a very long way with Free software DSS, and GIMP. 

Sorry, I’ve not really narrowed it down for you, there certainly is plenty of choice. My own view is any of the packages will do a good job on quality DSO data, most have smart processing tools to improve your final result, but for me there is no substitute for a good signal to noise ratio.

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swag72    5,865

I use APP for all pre processing (such as calibration, gradient removal, combining channels etc) and then I am afraid I am something of a dinosaur it would seem and do all of my actual processing of an image in Photoshop.

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happy-kat    3,614

Have a read of the book Dark Art or Magic Bullet it covers image processing by the same author of Making Every Photon Count.

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Tomatobro    54

I have fallen in love with Atik's Infinity software. Using a 314L OSC It stacks them in real time, allows me to do some processing while the picture is building (which I can copy as a jpeg) and saves the individuals as FITs so you can play with them later. As you say when you are 77.........

 

 

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gazza    87
Posted (edited)

Hi,

the choice of package depends upon what your aims are I think. Are you going to aim for multiple APODs or are are you just looking to make pretty pics and have some fun. There are people who will spend a whole weekend processing a single image, and there are people like me who get bored after an hour or so. I'm happy to get 80% of what is possible, and like to concentrate on getting good data that requires a minimum of processing rather than spend hours staring at a computer screen. That said I admire hugely the results that people with more patience and software skills than me can achieve.

I own Astroart 6, Astropixelprocessor, Pixinsight, Startools, Nebulosity 4 and an old copy of Photoshop. All acquired in an effort to find the easiest, quickest way to process.

By far the easiest, way to process is in Astroart, however the stacked data is not as good as other programs, though it is waaaaaaay faster. Have never found a group of settings that gave as good a result as other programs. It does however have a great feature that easily allows you to fix elongated stars.

Startools is cheap, has great support and processes easily, but you need another program to do your stacking. So it is not standalone.

Pixinsight is a fabulous program and provided you are happy with basic processing (like me) is nowhere near as hard to learn as some people say PROVIDED you aren't going to try to get the last bit of image  out of your data. The tutorials here are the best I've come across:

http://www.alexastro.com/Alex Home Page/Articles/Articlesindex.html - there is a tutorial for OSC and a tutorial for mono. Shows you how to get a great result from simple steps.

Astropixelprocessor is probably the easiest to use and I like it very much, but it is a long way yet from being a complete package. At this point, I use it for most stuff, but do a bit of tweaking in PI.

If I had to have only one package it would be PI, even though I never use even a tenth of it's capabilities.

If I could have two, the APP and PI....Neither is hard to use if you stick to the basics. In the long term, I think I'll end up 90% using APP.... I'm lazy and like to do things easily. Besides, I have other hobbies that take up time - flying RC planes, Metalworking with my lathe and mill, model trains and drawing...there is only sooo much time in this retiree's day :-)

hope this helps

Cheers Gary

 

Edited by gazza
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jACK101    45

Thanks for all your comments. I have now tried free trials of PI and APP. I think I will go with PI when the trial periods expire. It will not be the easiest option, but with a little patience, which is not my strong point I think I will be able to use it adequately. It seems to be also a programme which will last a long time, I will probably never use all of its functionality, but it is comforting to know it is there.

 

Thanks again.

 

 

Jack

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Merlin66    1,039

+1 for AstroArt.

It controls all my cameras, and does all the necessary pre-processing (darks, flats) as well as stacking and image enhancement.

Highly recommended.

 

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Demonperformer    1,572

Glad you have come to a reasoned decision with which you are happy, Jack.

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