There are a few simple, but important, do's and don'ts to prepare your dataset for post-processing in StarTools.
Learning how to use a new application is daunting at the best of times. And if you happen to be new to astrophotography (welcome!), you have many other things, acronyms and jargon to contend with too. Even if you consider yourself an image processing veteran, there are some important things you should know. That is because some things and best practices play a bigger role in StarTools than in other applications.
Really, these all boil down to making sure your is as virgin as possible. Note that doesn't mean noise-free or even good, it just means you have adhered to all best the below conditions and practices to the best of your abilities.
When learning how to process astrophotography images, the last thing you want to do, is learning all sorts of post-processing tricks and techniques, just to work around issues that are easily avoidable during acquisition or pre-processing. Fixing acquisition and pre-processing issues during post-processing, will never look as good, while you will also not learn much from this; it is likely whatever you learn and do to fix a particular dataset learn is likely not applicable to the next.
Conversely, if your dataset is clean and well calibrated according to best practices, you will find workflows much more replicable and shorter. In short, it is just a much better use of your time and efforts! You will learn much quicker and you will start getting more confident in finding your personal vision for your datasets - and that is what astrophotography is all about.
When we say StarTools requires the most virgin dataset you can muster, we really mean it. It means no procedures or modifications must be done by any software - no matter how well-meaning. No gradient reduction, no color balancing, not even normalization (if not strictly necessary). Signal evolution Tracking - the reason why StarTools achieves objectively better results than other software - absolutely requires it.
Some common problems in StarTools, caused by ignoring the check-list above;
Thank you StarTools for turning my average photos into amazing ones.
Open an image stack ("dataset"), fresh from a stacker.
As of StarTools 1.6, you get the choice of two noise reduction styles.
You can convert everything you see to a format you find convenient. Give it a try!