Wednesday, September 5, 2012

PixInsight vs. Photoshop

A reader sent me a tip about a specialty application called PixInsight, asking what I thought about it for image analysis. So, I sent them a request to review their software. Never heard of them? Here's where they place themselves on the image processing spectrum:

"PixInsight and Photoshop are two very different applications. They are in fact so different in their goals, in the way they have been conceived, and in how they are being developed, that we actually think that PixInsight and Photoshop represent, in many aspects, two opposite ways of understanding image processing. So if you are using Photoshop, or a similar application, then PixInsight cannot be a replacement: it can only be a change.

PixInsight pursues a scientific, highly technical approach to image processing. Most of our tools have been designed to solve the problems specific to astrophotography and other technical imaging fields through rigorous and flexible implementations, where the user has full control on every relevant parameter of each applied process. While we try to design and implement our tools to facilitate the user's work as much as possible, ease of use is not one of our main goals. In general, we make no concessions to simplification: there are no fast-food solutions in PixInsight. Versatility, efficiency, powerful tools, rigorous implementations and the development of astrophotography through image processing culture are the main elements of our vision and our mission as the developers of PixInsight.

Photoshop has not been conceived or designed to solve the kind of problems that arise in highly technical imaging fields, of which astrophotography is one of the most demanding ones. Photoshop is a general-purpose image edition application. It is excellent for image edition and retouching but it doesn't qualify for astrophotography because it lacks the necessary algorithms and tools; it is simply not based on the correct principles to provide the required solutions. Photoshop pursues a simplified approach to image manipulation, where the user has little or no control over the applied processes. Due to its lack of resources and to the inadequacy of its implementations, Photoshop is being applied to astrophotography through tricky procedures, including arbitrary manual manipulations and retouching practices without documentary and algorithmic basis that we consider unacceptable in astrophotography.

Hand-painted masks, arbitrary manual selections, retouching, unrigorous layering techniques and other 'magical recipes' are just the opposite of what we understand by astrophotography. Contrarily to what it may seem at first sight, these procedures tend to block your creativity: they teach you nothing about your data and don't require you to understand your images and the actual problems you have to face and solve to build them.

PixInsight provides you with a completely different platform where you can develop your astrophotography with solid foundations. With PixInsight we want to grow your image processing knowledge, as the best way to materialize your creativity and your pursuit of excellence.

The PixInsight project originates from the inside of astrophotography. It is a software platform made by astrophotographers for astrophotographers. PixInsight is not a general-purpose product made by a large multinational company with mass-market interests. It is a highly specialized platform in constant evolution, for which astrophotography is its natural ecosystem. PixInsight is available as native 32-bit and 64-bit applications on FreeBSD, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, and a single commercial license allows you to install and run PixInsight on any machine you own, on all supported platforms, with unlimited free updates and support. The development of PixInsight is open to the community through an integrated scripting environment (PJSR, the PixInsight JavaScript Runtime) and a comprehensive, cross-platform C++ module development framework (PCL, the PixInsight Class Library). PixInsight is our personal project and we back it with hard work every day. We are close to you and easy to reach. We are different."

Here's me smiling - I love it when geeks talk smack.


1 comment:

Steve said...

That's interesting - our lab received a voice message from one of their reps yesterday inviting us to check out their program.