Old 07-01-2014, 07:49 PM
Andrew_Campbell (Andrew)
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Talking Software Workflow

OK, I'm very confused, typically. I am looking to set up a software workflow that will allow me to take RAW files from my Canon 7D and end up with images that will make my friends and family weep with joy. Now, assuming for a moment that I can take images that don't suck (focussing, guiding, blah blah), what is the software path that is recommended?
Some folks mention that Pixinsight is the bees knees, some are PS / Lightroom fans. Some seem to work in FITS and use Liberator to mess with them, then Nebulosity.

What I'm looking to image is Widefield nebulae and, umm, stuff, and I am eagerly awaiting an 80 ED APO to pop onto my NEQ6 mount.

I am willing to buy the software that will suit me best, but I don't really want to buy it twice, so should I fork out for Adobe CC and sink my energy into DSS then straight into Lightroom for Noise reduction, then Photoshop for general level bending, etc, or should I go DSS | Fits Liberator | Nebulosity, or even DSS | Pixinsight?

Very confused, and I appreciate that everyone has different preferences, but I'd rather spend several hundred dollars on more gear rather than software that is going to be sitting on my PC, mocking me as it gathers figurative dust.

I am quite the nerd, and have pretty good PC gear, but other than a brief period fiddling with 3d Studio Max in my distant youth, I'm not what could be considered a graphic artist (Publisher / Corel Draw is about it for me currently).

Any insight from mistakes that have already been learned from would be much appreciated, as the amount of beatings my wife gives me is proportional to the amount of money I spend on AP

Many thanks, folks

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Old 07-01-2014, 08:16 PM
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RickS (Rick)
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There are many different routes to Nirvana

I'm a PixInsight weenie. I have tried several of the other options and PI is what works for me. It does have a steep learning curve and probably suits the hardcore geek best. You can get a time limited evaluation version to try for free. Check out the Harry's Astroshed videos if you are interested.

CCDStack is another nice package. It is quite a bit easier to use than PI but (IMHO) less powerful. I think you can get a free eval of this as well. Adam Block has some nice instructional videos but you have to buy them.

Hardcore Photoshop users also produce some great stuff but I think you'd be silly to take this option unless you already have a lot of time invested in Photoshop and are a guru. Forget Lightroom. It doesn't really have anything to offer for astro image processing.

You can also get by with DeepSkyStacker and free tools but I think if you're serious you'll need to upgrade at some stage.

That's my $0.05c worth!

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Old 08-01-2014, 09:54 AM
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scagman (John)
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Hi Andrew,

I'm also a PixInSight(PI) user, very beginner with image processing. PI does have a big learning curve but as Rick says Harry's Astroshed is a great place to start for tut's.
Another option is Startools. I know another member of IIS who uses this and things its great.

I looked at startools but struggled to use it. I prefered the look and feel of PI personally. I also stack all my images using PI.
It is worth downloading the trial versions to see what clicks with you.

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Old 08-01-2014, 12:48 PM
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rmuhlack (Richard)
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I'm another happy Pixinsight user, working exclusively with DSLR images from my 400D and 1000D. By following Harry's video tutorials I was able to get up and running with Pixinsight quite quickly. My experience is that the calibration and stacking is superior with Pixinsight as compared with DSS. Pixinsight is designed specifically for astroimaging (unlike PS), and i have found that the noise reduction, masking, gradient removal (DBE) and deconvolution processes really work wonders.

As others have mentioned there is a trial version you can play with for free. Pixinsight is available for Linux (as well as PC, FreeBSD and MacOSX) which was a plus for me as I run Linux on my desktop, not to mention that it is HEAPS cheaper than Photoshop.
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Old 08-01-2014, 02:35 PM
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White Rabbit
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After being in this hobby and wasted so much money on stuff that kinda works but not really, I've taken on the moto "Buy once, buy well".

I have have just about every astro software out there and there are three or four I'd recommend.

They are.

The Sky X with camera add on
It's a planatarium software that will control your mount, and with the camera addon, control you camera, filter wheels focuses and just about everything else. Best of all is that it will plate solve your images to tell you precisely where you scope is pointed, not where your mount thinks it's pointed. It's software that you will grow into not out of.
If you don't want want to shell out for the camera add on and have a DSLR I'd recommend Backyard EOS, it's really good and quite cheap.

Pixinsight, for stacking and processing.

Align master for polar alignment.

Maybe one more, Pem pro for periodic error correction.

If you have all of the above you'll be laughing. ...Well maybe you'll be pulling your hair out while your laughing hysterically, and cursing the day you ever thought that this hobby was a good idea. But then.... you will glance down at your screen one day at your very own own astrophotograph made from photons that have travelled for hundreds of millions of light years and that you captured and painstakingly put together with the knowledge that you have accumulated over hundreds of hours of trial and error. You'll call out out to your wife or partner or whom ever you hold dear and say "Behold, look what I have created" like a cave man who invented fire you'll beat your chest and and wait for the recognition you so richly deserve. She'll look at you and see the giddiness in you eyes, and say "It looks a little blurry, is it supposed to be like that". That's when the real bug bites....
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Old 08-01-2014, 06:52 PM
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ZeroID (Brent)
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/\ Funny post .... but true !!
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:18 PM
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Geoff45 (Geoff)
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PixInsight is only a little more expensive than CCDStack and much more powerful. It's waaay cheaper than Photoshop. People complain about the learning curve, but it's no worse than getting up to speed with Photoshop and a lot more intuitive for astroimaging once you get into it. You can do everything except guide and capture. Really a one-stop shop.
Note added:
OK just had a closer look at some of the posts above: add Pempro for polar alignment and PE correction.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:05 PM
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peter_4059 (Peter)
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As you have an EQ6 I wouldn't bother getting pempro unless you want to use the drift alignment feature. PHD2 also has a drift alignment feature and it is free. EQMOD has it's own PE recording and PECprep tools that cost nothing. If I was starting out again I'd buy and learn Pixinsight for processing.
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:43 PM
Andrew_Campbell (Andrew)
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Cheers, folks. Looks like Pixinsight has the popular vote. I have downloaded the 6 week trial and will grab some files from their site to process, until I can capture my own.
Indeed, the learning curve for Pixinsight can't be any steeper than PS (and I have messed around with it a bit on my wife's computer), so I guess I'll get there eventually.

I'll have a look at Alignpro, as that will be the first hurdle to overcome in my quest for images.

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