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PixInsight - is it worth it?


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On 02/10/2021 at 23:18, conspicuity said:

Of course, if software existed that produced the ideal result with just one click, I am sure that would be profoundly unsatisfying. 🙄

Isn't that googling your imaged object and looking at the equivalent Hubble image? As you wrote: "profoundly unsatisfying".

1 hour ago, jager945 said:

More on-topic; definitely have a look at the different trials on offer. And - most importantly - try software with good quality data. The worst thing you can do is judge software on how well it is able to hide flaws, because as you progress in AP, you learn how to minimise flaws and will become much more concerned with making the most of your hard won data.

Wise words.

In the end it's not the plane that gets you to your destination, it's the pilot. And if the equivalent of that in AP ever changes, this hobby will lose much of its appeal.

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4 minutes ago, wimvb said:

In the end it's not the plane that gets you to your destination, it's the pilot

True, but if the wings fall off then the best pilot in the world is still going to crash and burn.

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46 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

stretch and hope

That's how I find it. I'm happy to change it to whatever you like. As you have said several times, in ps it's essential to set the background before proceding. Get that wrong and there's no hope. I agree.

I'm not happy with that approach. It doesn't work for me and it takes ages. If it works for you though, great:)

Cheers 

Edited by alacant
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This has turned into an interesting debate. At the moment I am struggling to get better results from StarTools than my earlier efforts  with PSP, however that is probably because I don't understand properly what the tools are doing yet. Clarkey's comment resonates for me. 👍

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54 minutes ago, alacant said:

That's how I find it. I'm happy to change it to whatever you like. As you have said several times, in ps it's essential to set the background before proceding. Get that wrong and there's no hope. I agree.

I'm not happy with that approach. It doesn't work for me and it takes ages. If it works for you though, great:)

Cheers 

That's not quite what I do. My first step, after an edge crop, is to run the linear stack through DBE or ABE in Pixinsight. This gets the background right in terms of flatness, freedom from colour gradients and, usually, colour balance - so that part of 'setting the background' is not done in Ps but in PI. The part that I set in Ps is just the background brightness value (between 21 and 23 depending on target and data.)  If, at this point, I'm not at colour parity in the background I'll make a small adjustment (it's only ever small) probably using the dead simple colour balance slider set to shadows.  

Many tutorial-makers in assorted programs continue to stretch the full histogram beyond this point and bring in the black point again. I used to do this but now prefer to pin the background and stretch only above it, so as not to raise the background noise level. I do this using Curves but you can use any stretch you like under a mask for the background if you can make the right mask. I prefer just to pin in Curves. (It's more complicated if you have dusty areas of interest below the background sky brightness. That requires a different approach.)

ABE and DBE are not the only gradient removing tools. There are now lots of other good ones but I just use what I know.

Olly

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I have seen threads like this before and unfortunately its one of those questions that will divide peoples opinions, so very difficult to decide what to do going on others opinions, including mine.
I have not been into AP so long and still very much a novice even after 3 years or so.
I originally started off with Nebulosity, it is pretty cheap and will pre-process and stack images and do some post processing but  I then found it very limiting but was great to start out and learn the pre processing side at least and get some initial images.

I tried Gimp and maybe did not give it very much chance I just found it hard to use, but that could have been me.

So I then tried PI on the trial and whooa thought this is too hard for me but with the aid of the many tutorials made some progress.
However, 45 days is no time at all to pick PI up and get anywhere near proficient with it, but I did like the ethos of PI and the method in which you use it so emailed Pleiades Astrophoto and explained this and they gave me another 45 days trial.
I did then buy it, and yes its expensive and so thought hard about it but my thoughts were I have just laid out a few K for scope, camera, even wiling to pay several hundreds for filters and without the tools to process the data properly what use was all that money if I am not willing to fork out £200 to £300 for the software for me to get the best out of my data.

From what I sort of saw after asking similar questions was that generally (and I say generally because there are many other software about and so also many also use these alternatives) but it did seem to me that most either used Photoshop or Pixinsight, and some use a mix of both.

But you also find a bit of a Marmite preference for PI as some love it and others really do hate it.
I am pretty new as I said but it did also appear to me (and I could have read this wrong) but many very good imagers, who I assumed had been at it for a few years or more,generally preferred Photoshop, some also used PI but many also just did not get on with it.
Now maybe this is for good reason but it could also be because the methodology of PI is very different from PS and if you are conversant with PS may find PI difficult or confusing.
As I never really used PS I did seem to take to PI, I am still learning and have a lot to learn but I personally really like the way it works and the way you use it - it just seems to make real logical sense to me.
The problem with software like PI is that there are so many tools and you have to be prepared to put time into learning it, and you do not have to use all the tools, and to start with just learn the essential ones really.
But I think PS is the same , I do not think that it is just easy to use and you would also need to put time and effort into learning it as well.
I am sure PS is also a fantastic program, it has to be as so many prolific images use it, and many who use PI say there still have to use PS to so some things that PI cannot do.

All this may not help your decision but I think if you are fairly new to all this then if you are prepared to put the time and effort in then PI or PS will do what you want, PI is an initial costly outlay and ultimately as PS is a subscription it is a moderate outlay but ongoing so will probably cost more in the end, but unless you are on a tight budget I personally would not scrimp on the processing software compared to what you may have spent on other equipment, it is just as important.
 

Steve

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27 minutes ago, teoria_del_big_bang said:

I have seen threads like this before and unfortunately its one of those questions that will divide peoples opinions, so very difficult to decide what to do going on others opinions, including mine.
I have not been into AP so long and still very much a novice even after 3 years or so.
I originally started off with Nebulosity, it is pretty cheap and will pre-process and stack images and do some post processing but  I then found it very limiting but was great to start out and learn the pre processing side at least and get some initial images.

I tried Gimp and maybe did not give it very much chance I just found it hard to use, but that could have been me.

So I then tried PI on the trial and whooa thought this is too hard for me but with the aid of the many tutorials made some progress.
However, 45 days is no time at all to pick PI up and get anywhere near proficient with it, but I did like the ethos of PI and the method in which you use it so emailed Pleiades Astrophoto and explained this and they gave me another 45 days trial.
I did then buy it, and yes its expensive and so thought hard about it but my thoughts were I have just laid out a few K for scope, camera, even wiling to pay several hundreds for filters and without the tools to process the data properly what use was all that money if I am not willing to fork out £200 to £300 for the software for me to get the best out of my data.

From what I sort of saw after asking similar questions was that generally (and I say generally because there are many other software about and so also many also use these alternatives) but it did seem to me that most either used Photoshop or Pixinsight, and some use a mix of both.

But you also find a bit of a Marmite preference for PI as some love it and others really do hate it.
I am pretty new as I said but it did also appear to me (and I could have read this wrong) but many very good imagers, who I assumed had been at it for a few years or more,generally preferred Photoshop, some also used PI but many also just did not get on with it.
Now maybe this is for good reason but it could also be because the methodology of PI is very different from PS and if you are conversant with PS may find PI difficult or confusing.
As I never really used PS I did seem to take to PI, I am still learning and have a lot to learn but I personally really like the way it works and the way you use it - it just seems to make real logical sense to me.
The problem with software like PI is that there are so many tools and you have to be prepared to put time into learning it, and you do not have to use all the tools, and to start with just learn the essential ones really.
But I think PS is the same , I do not think that it is just easy to use and you would also need to put time and effort into learning it as well.
I am sure PS is also a fantastic program, it has to be as so many prolific images use it, and many who use PI say there still have to use PS to so some things that PI cannot do.

All this may not help your decision but I think if you are fairly new to all this then if you are prepared to put the time and effort in then PI or PS will do what you want, PI is an initial costly outlay and ultimately as PS is a subscription it is a moderate outlay but ongoing so will probably cost more in the end, but unless you are on a tight budget I personally would not scrimp on the processing software compared to what you may have spent on other equipment, it is just as important.
 

Steve

Agreed. The thing is that, in quite a short time, you'll get your captures up to the point at which they won't get any better without changing your kit and we all have an upper limit on what we're willing or able to buy.

However, your processing can get better and better and better, ad infinitum - but you need software for that. It's part of your imaging observatory. You need software with which you feel comfortable and (I really think this is under-discussed) which you enjoy using. A happy imager is a creative and inspired imager.

Olly

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19 hours ago, conspicuity said:

This has turned into an interesting debate. At the moment I am struggling to get better results from StarTools than my earlier efforts  with PSP, however that is probably because I don't understand properly what the tools are doing yet. Clarkey's comment resonates for me. 👍

Happy to do a personalised tutorial with your own dataset if that helps (absolutely 0 obligations - we all do this for the love of the hobby!). Making sure your data is the best it can be is incredibly important (see here), particularly for StarTools, but also if you wish to trial PI.

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59 minutes ago, jager945 said:

Happy to do a personalised tutorial with your own dataset if that helps (absolutely 0 obligations - we all do this for the love of the hobby!). Making sure your data is the best it can be is incredibly important (see here), particularly for StarTools, but also if you wish to trial PI.

I think it's easy to take data quality out of the equation for any software evaluation. The IKI observatory has released several datasets of excellent quality. So, besides working on data collected by the OP, there is the possibility to also work on such a data set.

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On 05/10/2021 at 08:50, Clarkey said:

I think at the end of the day it is a 'horses for courses' debate. There are multiple different options for image processing all of which have positives and negatives. For me I use the option that gives me the best results I can, in the time I have available. I find the Affinity interface easy to work with so it is what I use. Is PS better? Probably - but only if I can get it to do what I want. PI might be the 'best', but it is no good if I can't get it to work correctly.

FWIW I use different software combination for different types of image. I find Startools really good for galaxy images, but I struggle to get the result I want with nebulae. Whether this is the software or my incompetence is somewhat irrelevant. So as I have said - the best software is the one you can get the best result with. If I gave my data to someone else they might well get a better result with their software and processing skills - but if I cannot repeat it then it is meaningless other than to make me want to improve my own work flow. (What is 'better' is often subjective anyway).

I agree.  Like any set of tools,  different ones are better suited for different tasks, although many tools will overlap to some degree or other. But which ones do we KNOW how to use well and in which situations?

A better tool is only better when we know how to use it properly

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 05/10/2021 at 11:18, ollypenrice said:

You need software with which you feel comfortable and (I really think this is under-discussed) which you enjoy using. A happy imager is a creative and inspired imager.

Exactly.

Watching the stack build in real-time during an imaging session with DSS Live is fun and exciting. 

I enjoyed the interactive star alignment process of Nebulosity (a bit nerdy, perhaps?🤪).

In PixInsight, I like the way you drag a process onto an image to apply it, and other 'interactive' implementations (e.g., use of the scroll wheel and button). Plus, the batch processing and EZ Processing Suite scripts are a time saver. I enjoy using it.

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