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Comparison: Nebulosity vs PixInsight

Posted: 16 September 2014

Part 4 - Summary

Now that you've read the Introduction and my use of Nebulosity and PixInsight, the following Summary is offered.

A very different business philosophy comes across for these applications. While both offer free full-featured time-limited demonstration versions, only Nebulosity offered a full refund of your purchase cost if you later decide that Nebulosity is not right for you. PixInsight explicitly states that there is no post-purchase refund available. On the other hand, Nebulosity uses a "nagware" approach on each launch and it embeds lines in saved images to mark them as from the demo mode. PixInsight does not use the nagware approach and is fully functional during the trial period with no saved image degradation.

Both applications have user support forums: the Nebulosity Yahoo Group and the PixInsight User Forum. I did not use either of these during my trial periods.

As I mentioned in each review, Nebulosity has a real manual, while PixInsight has no manual. I prefer real documentation. And for the price of PixInsight it should have real documentation.

As you probably guessed from reading my review of PixInsight, my opinion of the application is very much influenced by the lack of documentation and the problems I experienced when trying to learn to use it. I recognize that there is a lot of power in PixInsight for the serious astrophotographer, but it will take the user a long time to even begin to use the application for basic image processing. If you have the time and inclination to devote to watching the online video tutorials and learning this powerful application, then you will likely be rewarded with processed images that are as good as they can be. PixInsight may be the image processing application you want to use, assuming you don't get as frustrated as I did by the lack of a good "getting started" guide, the convoluted and confusing user interface, and the issues I had in trying to use the application. Since I still "play" at doing astrophotography, PixInsight is not an application I want to pursue.

So, is Nebulosity the application that I want to use to improve my astrophotography images? Is it sufficiently better than the other applications I have used in the past (Aperture, GraphicConverter, Photoshop Elements, Keith's Image Stacker, Lynkeos, and Neat image)?

From an image stacking perspective, Nebulosity had two main attractions for me:

1. It is native on the Mac (as well as on Windows).
2. Image rotation during stacking to compensate for camera rotation when imaging the same object on different nights.

Its image processing tools are also more appropriate for use on astro images than are the general purpose tools in the other applications I use. Even without wanting to use the camera control functions, Nebulosity does offer advantages.

The low cost of Nebulosity makes it an attractive option for astrophotographers like me who just "play" at doing astrophotography. And it has enough capabilities to make it a valuable tool for serious astrophotographers as well. If you don't need/want camera control, it would be nice if Stark Labs had a version of Nebulosity available at lower cost that had all the current features except for camera control. Unfortunately, such a version is not available. But is $80 (USD) so high a price for this astro image processing application? There are viable alternatives that cost less (including being free) and there are some that cost way more. Nebulosity is a well known application from a respected company (Stark Labs) and it definitely deserves your consideration, regardless of your level as an astrophotographer.

Will I buy and use it? After processing the NGC660 Polar-Ring Galaxy images, I was seriously considering it. And after seeing what Nebulosity was able to do with the B&W NGC7023 nebula images, I was even more impressed. Unfortunately, my experience with the color version of NGC7023 made me decide that I should stick with doing my astro imaging the way I've done it in the past (long guided exposures at moderate-to-high ISO) and stack (as needed) and edit the images using the tools I already have.

If you want to be more serious than I am about doing astrophotography, I recommend Nebulosity over PixInsight, especially if you don't have other image processing tools. But as I still "play at doing astrophotography", I won't be using either application.

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