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Image Processing PixInSight vs StarTools

Tracy Perry

Dark Sky Lover
Founder
263
34
Texas
Telescopes

William Optics 103mm
Celestron NexStar 8SE


The title is fully self explanatory.

I realize that PixInSight has a LOT more features/functions, but for someone what really wants to hit the ground running, and is willing to later "upgrade", is StarTools a good option?
I realize it doesn't do stacking, but there is plenty of other software out there (for free) that a beginner can use until they "
#1 - figure that they enjoy the hobby
#2 - have the funds to purchase expensive software
 

OhNo

Founding Member
I won a license for StarTool at the ole Astronomy Forum. While I have seen some good images processed with it, I struggled. Learning how and what o us in PixInSight is like eating an elephant. It can be done with commitment. time and lots of searching.

For any image processing program it is important to remember garbage in; garbage out. Same with computers or life...... The other thing is that this is where technical crosses the road to "Art". I remember reading things like "oh the sky isn't that black".... well that depends on location. It also depends on your life exposure to science. Interpretation also plays a major role in processing. But without taking the time to discover all the things your software ca do, it is moot.

what you want your final image to be appreciated for varies also. I've seen images that could be termed "Astro Art". These images can be sanitized cleaner than a surgical OR. Or they can have the colors jacked up to psycodelic. Then there are those that think space is dusty and dirty. Some would call this "noise". These are just a few observations I've had. Art depends on the individual. No right, no wrong.
 

Tracy Perry

Dark Sky Lover
Founder
263
34
Texas
Telescopes

William Optics 103mm
Celestron NexStar 8SE


I went ahead and grabbed a copy of StarTools (paid). I haven't played with it much and really need to install it on my processing computer and not on my Surface Book.
I can't really justify PixInSight right now as my level of (in)experience would probably blow me away. My philosophy is usually KISS. Then once you understand the basics, start digging into the deeper stuff.
It's like the two images of the moon I grabbed when when first playing with the camera... the only real difference was the gain setting on the camera... and several friends liked the "darker" one better... even though the lighter one is more realistic.
 

OhNo

Founding Member
Yes the KISS theory serves most well. I must thrive on frustration!:ROFLMAO:
 

Larry

Founding Member
43
13
Pittsburgh PA
Telescopes

8" Orion Astrograph


Hi Tracy!
I also won a licensed copy of StarTools from the old forum and I used it with pretty good success. There aren't many useful tutorials for it, unfortunately... I did find a few where Ivo Yeager himself processes some very pristine data and comes out with a great image, but I need something I can muscle some less than pristine data with, so I purchased Pixinsight a few weeks ago.

Now for the comparison:

StarTools was super easy to use and produced decent results very quickly. I thought the UI was pretty intuitive and the modules completed their tasks rather quickly. I just couldn't find enough support for things like the "Wipe" module. This module is very important in the process and there just isn't anything out there about what you're actually trying to achieve with it. I mean, what should your image look like when you run it through there???

I also needed more control of my background. (I think this is also in the mysterious "Wipe" module)

I went "kicking and screaming" into Pixinsight and I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the results in my limited time (a few weeks) of using it.
I will say I HATE everything about PI except the result. By that I mean the UI is absolutely horrible! I don't know who named the various "processes", but there are names like "multi-linear transformation" and "SCNR" (which has absolutely nothing to do with noise reduction) and many more confusing processes...

The good news is that there are a TON of video tutorials that will get you started and there are some nice folks that have created "scripts" that you can install that take some of the guess-work out of some of it.

As far as price goes, it's really not bad at all considering what everything else in this silly hobby costs and you own it. It's not a rental like APP or PS.

On the downside... What you've learned working with StarTools doesn't really apply to PI. It's like starting over. But you'll catch on soon enough.

Larry
 

OhNo

Founding Member
Larry, you forgot nice guys who make videos tailored to the intended recipient!:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

OhNo

Founding Member
If I was more disciplined they would be way shorter..... o_O 😉 😉
 

Tracy Perry

Dark Sky Lover
Founder
263
34
Texas
Telescopes

William Optics 103mm
Celestron NexStar 8SE


On the downside... What you've learned working with StarTools doesn't really apply to PI. It's like starting over. But you'll catch on soon enough.
As you said.. in this arena, the overall cost of the software is small beans... but would you not consider it entering into the realm of informational overload for someone new to the field to immediately jump directly into PixInSight instead of starting out with something like StarTools?
Think back to when you were first beginning to do captures... there are SO many things that you don't know.. I'd prefer to spend my time on something a little simpler to use to start with and spend more time on fine-tuning the capturing of the data.

The data sets you have captured will still be there for after you have become more experienced in the core function of astrophotography... the actual capturing of the data. Using a less complicated software to process your images seems like it would be less stressful to me, until you became comfortable with the capture aspect and then wanted to broaden your horizons.
 
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