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Thread: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

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    Default Photoshop vs. PixInsight



    My absolute least favorite part of astrophotography is the post processing. I find it tedious and boring. I so totally wish there was a piece of software out there that would allow me to tell it what the target was and how I took the photo and then click one button and - whamo bammo - out comes my processed image. But that doesn't exist.

    Okay, so which is better and why?

    I currently am using Photoshop but I really don't know what I'm doing with it and it seems like I'm going to have to spend more money getting plug-ins and add-ons to make it do what needs done to astronomy photos.

    So does it make more sense to use something aimed directly at astrophotography like PixInsight?

    I've never touched PixInsight before and know nothing at all about it except that it's more or less designed with astrophotography in mind. I don't even know how much PixInsight costs, never mind how to use it. I've head it's more difficult to use that Photoshop but, frankly, I don't see how that's even possible. To my mind, there is basically nothing intuitive about processing images in Photoshop. It's not even intuitively obvious how best to save the final image!

    Regardless of which way I go, it seems there is a pretty steep learning curve so any advise about where to go to learn how to use the software correctly (whichever one) would also be greatly appreciated.


    Clete

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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    A couple of things to start...
    PixInsight and PS are not the only games in town.
    There are a few others out there.
    Star Tools is probably the closest in popularity. A bunch of us here use any of the above.

    I suggest you do a Youtube search on each of the three to see what each can do and how it's done.
    There are dozens of tutorial videos out there on all of these.

    Photoshop and PixInsight will set you back a bit. You can get all the details for PixInsight here:
    https://pixinsight.com/faq/index.html

    Price for PI is around $260 USD
    PS is now on a subscription basis, I guess... I don't use it

    Startools is a very powerful program, but needs other programs to stack and integrate frames for you.
    It's a lot cheaper, (<$100 USD I believe)
    Deep Sky Stacker is a free program for doing the stacking and integrating, but it is a separate program to use and learn.

    The bigger picture here is, no matter what program you decide on,
    expect to devote a substantial amount of time on learning it so you don't get frustrated
    with the processing part of the hobby.

    If you think the terminology in PS is hard to decipher... PixInsight is like learning another language, from space aliens...

    PixInsight offers a 45 day free trial, unrestricted... Which means you can save your files
    Startools has a free trial period also, but does not allow file saving during that time.


    Good Luck!
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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    Hi Clete,

    Wow, you just completely described my situation and dilemma too. I currently use PS because I already had it and the expense of PI and (from what I gather here on the forums) its incredibly steep learning curve. I even went so far as to buy Warren Keller's PI book. I still can't bring myself to get up the gumption to just do it!

    To me, post-processing (pp) brings back memories of how badly I did not want to do my English homework in high school!

    I'll be watching this thread.

    Cheers,
    JT
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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    That $250 for PI, (at the time), was the best money I've spent on this hobby yet, no exceptions...
    I use that software 100 times more than my gear. Reprocessing images as you get better, results in brand new images, even from old data.
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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    Yeah who wouldnt want a program that gave you the raw data to a finished image in your liking directly without going through the post-process!
    That would be a dream!
    But i think if you already using PS you have a very good program for AP . I have only used PI once when i tried the free trial and i thought it was immensely hard. So yeah a steep learning curve for sure.
    I would say without having to much experience with PI that it is a much better program then PS when it comes to AP if you have the will to learn it.
    If you will stay with PS i would recomend the astronomy action tools set.https://www.prodigitalsoftware.com/A...l_Version.html In my opinion are really great plug-ins.
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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    Hi Clete -

    I started my astrophotography (AP) processing using Photoshop CS2 and used it for more than two years. The only PlugIn you really need is GradientXterminator which will help to remove gradients from your stacked image.

    There are a series of tutorials on YouTube from Doug German (see link below to the first of his 6-tutorial series) that are intended for beginners. I found them very useful. Each tutorial is about 15-20 min long and they are easy to follow. They assume you have a stacked image.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke3iO9d2Qw8

    Doug also has a separate YouTube tutorial on how to use DSS (Deep Sky Stacker) to stack your images. DSS is free.

    I now use Pixinsight, but, had great success with Photoshop for several years.

    Hope this helps.

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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    Hello Clete, and welcome to the forum. Post processing is the one thing you need to get good astro images. I think you need to get some background knowledge. Do you have RAW processing experience from normal daytime photography?
    Astrophotography is very hard because of post processing, but unless you enjoy? it, its not worth pursuing this hobby.
    You can follow youtube videos, read some books, I can recommend a few including getting Nic Symanek pdf book (you have to join Astronomy Now magazine). There are lots of free resources to test before committing lots of money if you have it e.g. Puxinsight tutorials...However, I find Pixinsight quite hard, but am waiting until I get better. You need lots of time as well to learn it.
    I just realised after 1 year that I should buy a field flattener/focal reducer to improve my astroimages! Now I see chromatic purple circles around bright stars like the Pleiades main stars so I am looking at ways to get around this!!! This will require some tricks etc!!!

    Best if luck in your endeavors, and clear skies
    !!
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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    I agree with the above comments about the challenges of getting good images out of your raw data. My own journey started with Photoshop and the Doug German tutorials that are linked by STEVE333. They gave me enough to get started with. I would also agree that GradientXterminator is the most useful plug-in for PS. I have purchased the Astronomy Tools as well, but I hardly ever use them.

    In time I picked up (actually I was selected as "Beginner of the Month" here on AF and was awarded) Star Tools, which is a very versatile program and can produce some good results with a few steps. Hondo (Scott) has outlined a basic processing method that is a good starting point.

    Recently I have started combining the two programs a lot more in my processing flow, doing a pass at GradientXterminator in PS, then opening and processing the result in StarTools, then back to PS for some final tweaks to the image. Easy? Not really, but as time goes by I get a better understanding of what different tools do.

    One other word of advice - start with bright objects in your first attempts. They are easier to deal with and can get great results with minimal post-processing. M42 - the Great Orion Nebula, M31 - Andromeda galaxy, M20 - Trifid Nebula are some targets that can provide a positive experience and the chance to learn the tools without getting frustrated quickly.

    BTW, I use DSS for stacking and calibrating images, as others have mentioned. Good luck with whatever path you choose to take!

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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    Programs like PixInsight, Star Tools, Nebulosity, Astro Art, Maxim DSLR, DSS and FITS Liberator are written specificly for working with AP images. They tend to work better and are easier to use when processing AP photos.
    Programs like PhotoShop, GIMP, Paint Shop Pro, PS Elements, Lightroom and others are general purpose photo editing programs. You can do most AP processing, but it may require extra steps or not be quite as easy. There are a number of plugin's for PhotoShop that makes AP processing easier. Astronomy Tools Actions Set, Annie's Astro Actions, GradientXTerminator, Hasta La Vista Green, Noise Ninja and FITS Liberator.

    Note: FITS Liberator now exists as a PhotoShop plugin and a standalone program.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mag95On View Post
    Now I see chromatic purple circles around bright stars like the Pleiades main stars so I am looking at ways to get around this!!! This will require some tricks etc!!!
    !!
    Well if you have PhotoShop, get yourself the plugin "Astronomy Tools Actions Set". It has two actions to do this:
    Reduce Small Blue/Violet Halos - Remove small blue/violet rings around bright stars
    Reduce Large Blue/Violet Halos - Remove large blue/violet rings around bright stars
    Plus it has quite a number of other useful actions.
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    Default Re: Photoshop vs. PixInsight

    The best images I have seen have been done with PixInsight. That was what sold me on it.

    Yes it has that ominous-sounding "steep learning curve", but it is in fact quite easy to use. What is intimidating is:

    (a) The sheer volume of features. No one on the planet has mastered all its features. Don't even try. You can make excellent pictures with a dozen or so basic functions. The rest exist for when you have a problem.

    (b) The terminology. Functions tend to be named by their mathematical operations rather than by their photographc effects. The first language of the designers is not English. RGB, for example, is often referred to as RVB (rouge, vert, blue). It takes some getting used to. But you can easily get used to it, even if the names leave you scratching your head.

    (c) Everything is adjustable. Even parameters that no sane person would ever adjust. Much of the adjustment is there for dealing with problems. The good news is that most of them default to something sensible, so you can ignore many of them.

    Once you learn a basic workflow, you can produce better photos in less time than with other software. My typical processing time is one hour for most images.

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