FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

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FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

Although I am not yet able to start imaging again in Ha, Cal-K and WL with my tri-scope assembly from within my main-observatory, as I need to complete experiments and planning for a new mini-observatory to utilise my ETX-125 and the new Revolution R2 Imaging system - for the winter months when the Sun is too-low from the main-observatory. Hopefully a simple question is :-

What are the main benefits for using Fire-capture over and above SharpCap and are the results prior to further processing any better ??

For some time previously I had been using SharpCap for imaging from previously 3 x ALTAIR GPCAM's (2-mono & 1-colour) for the three scopes.

Since the end of last Autumn'20., I have now replaced the two mono cams with two ZWO ASI-178 cams and for WL and will likely use one of the previously used mono GPCAM's. These are for whole-disk/FD imaging - where I already have various Barlow-types available for close-ups..

The three scopes on the EQ6 mount are:-
LUNT 60mm Hydrogen-Alpha/FeatherTouch/BF1200 & DS available
LUNT 60mm Calcium-K/FeatherTouch/BF1200
ORION ED80T CF Triplet Apochromatic Refractor c/w various F-stops available

I tried the newly installed FireCapture on a new computer late last year for the very short time available before the weather and the Sun were no longer available, but found it much more difficult to get used to than SharpCap - which I have used for some years.

Insufficient time allowed for further evaluation of FireCapture and for being able to use a simpler program as SharpCap, which easily swapped the camera in use via the SharpCap program - where all three cameras are permanently left connected to the computer, which itself is a professional machine with numerous ports of USB-2's and 3's...

(The mount is also controlled via the Computer (not a laptop) and that computer has two screen outputs in use for utilising different applications).

So to repeat, what are the main benefits for using Fire-capture over and above SharpCap
and are the results prior to further processing any better ??

Preferably answers from those who already have trialled and used both of these programs is preferred please.
Also any other programs for the same purpose could be considered, if not already installed in the observatory.

Thank you in advance.
Terry


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Re: AutoStakkert versus Fire-capture ?

Post by marktownley »

I'm assuming you mean Sharp-Cap in the title as Autostakkert and Firecapture do totally different things. I've amended the title, let me know if this isn't what you meant.


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by Montana »

I've only used SharpCap the once so not very familiar but I didn't like the fact that gamma control wasn't available unless you had the paid version. I use gamma all the time. But I guess you could pay for the software.

Alexandra


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

Thank you Mark.
Purely for downloading from the cameras to the computer - using either FireCapture or SharpCap 3.2.6137.0 / SharpCap 3.1.5220.0 ..

Both are installed "ready for use" but I initially found FireCapture more complex and a tad more difficult to use than SharpCap (for an old-age pensioner) !!
+++
Thanks Alexandra for that important note about FC and the lack of Gamma within SC, which I know can be an important feature, so will bear that in mind, when able to restart imaging trials from the main-observatory...

Regards
Terry


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by marktownley »

I only ever use Firecapture, I like it and it works!


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

Ok on that Mark.
I'm hoping that someone will have both programs installed and used for comparing both from their point of view, so when I start imaging from the observatory, if the weather allows here, I will just use SharpCap and only when time/weather allows will trawl through FireCapture to try and sort-out the more complex operation of that program and if it does what I need.

Whether the Gamma correction facility is needed by me at the camera-download stage - will depend on what comparisons are answered here.

I've never experienced any difficulty with SC over several years and prefer to stay with easy operations now, rather than complicated ones...

Thanks
Terry


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by JochenM »

Hi Terry.

I've used both quite a bit (and primarily use SharpCap Pro now). Comparing apples to apples (FireCapture vs SharpCap free version), there honestly isn't much difference apart from the gamma control as Alexandra mentioned. Performance and overal functionality is pretty much identical. It simply depends on which interface you feel more comfortable working with.

The SharCap Pro (paying version) adds a fair bit of functionality, most of which is geared towards deepsky imaging. So it becomes a matter of whether or not you need that functionality. I personally use their feature tracking function every now and then; hence why I opted to go this route (and the fact that the license is dirtcheap anyway).

So bottomline, both are excellent pieces of software. Pick whichever matches your needs.


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

Thank you so much Jochen.
That's the answer that is needed here.

As yourself, I may-well go to the paid-licence version in due course, once I am able to be up and running again from the observatory (as time allows).

Also noted about the extra-functionality of the paid-version, which at present is not required albeit the Gamma function might be useful, even though it hasn't seemingly been necessary in the past for Solar etc.

Your Solar imaging in the past few months, is exactly what I want to get up to match - but as we both live in a very similar part of the globe (weather-wise), your advice is well-needed.

Best Wishes and hopefully no wind-damage for you.

Cheers
Terry


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by Alto »

Sharpcap licence is 'only' £10 per year, I'm happy to pay that if it keeps the thing available.

I've delved into firecapture on a few occasions, but found it too confusing for my little brain - so I tend to stick with SC.
I've tried Genika - but didn't go further as it doesn't support Altair cameras.

Robin at SC has commented that gamma for ZWO cameras is no longer available - I forget the reason, I think it's now a ZWO hardware issue - but likely I'm wrong.

The only thing missing from SC, for me, would be a goto Sun option on the menu :D rather than having to run CdC - but that's me being lazy.....


Call me Geoff.

I do what I do because I want to, and because I can....

Doesn't mean I know what I'm doing, though!
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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

Excellent answers Geoff and many thanks too.

Laziness in this case is not a bad thing, as simplicity and faster-speeds overall, is in my books is a very desirable asset, so to get-on with other things - without rushing and possibly making 'mistooks'. :lol: :band :band :bow

That cost is very low and for the benefits may well be money well spent, which I'll look into - as and when required.

If Genika fails to support Altair cams, then it's of no use to me as I have three of those available if required.

I can well image that the Gamma would really directly involve the ZWO cameras themselves, so Robin at SC has well answered that scenario...

I can and do use either C-D-C or STARRY NIGHT Pro V.6 for controlling the mount and the mount's own SynScan-HBX Controller is ideal for Solar-rate tracking...

As far as Deep Sky Imaging is concerned (as Jochen mentioned) I have a StarLightXpress HX-916 DSI camera which has its' own download/processing possibilities - so not really to use SC or FC to do any of that

Thanks again Geoff and does give me some satisfaction that yourself and Jochen have come-up with these answers...

Regards
Terry


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by DeepSolar64 »

I can't add much since I have only used the free version of SharpCap up to this point. On another note I have noticed Rainer's use of Lucam recorder which looks really nice. It can also control the contrast as well as gamma on the live image. I asked him about it and he said the software was no longer supported and has a narrow camera base for it. That's a shame. It looks like it had the potential to outdo SharpCap and Firecapture.

I'll have to try out Firecapture myself.

James


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by rsfoto »

DeepSolar64 wrote: Thu Mar 18, 2021 3:56 pm I can't add much since I have only used the free version of SharpCap up to this point. On another note I have noticed Rainer's use of Lucam recorder which looks really nice. It can also control the contrast as well as gamma on the live image. I asked him about it and he said the software was no longer supported and has a narrow camera base for it. That's a shame. It looks like it had the potential to outdo SharpCap and Firecapture.

I'll have to try out Firecapture myself.

James
Hi James,

Lucam Recorder only supports the brand Lumenera, very expensive and well outdated for what we are looking for = speed, and The Imaging Source cameras have also lost popularity.

The developer, Heiko Wilkens, abandoned the further development of the software as he thought he was called to something higher. I was involved with him to develop this software package for many months.

I would stick to SharpCap which is a bit more intuitive then FireCapture. I also tried FireCapture but soon abandoned it. Too complicated, at least for me ...


regards Rainer

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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

That last line of your comment Rainer, is exactly as I have found so far - last november'20, but when able will try FC more to see if I can get my head around it.

Cheers
Terry


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by Simon2940 »

Im going to give a bad answer to SharpCap vs FireCap. The answer is neither is better than the other because they both do they same thing. Capture the RAW data and dump out the file. It's really about whos interface and work flow do you prefer.

Ive used SharpCap for many years and i just got use to it, FireCap, not so much, but my results do not change. I get the same image barring differences in time and seeing.


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

Thank you Simon for your comment.

I still have to to try-out FC again, but SC does what I need and for ease of use, will probably be my main program.

Terry


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by Boso36 »

EGRAY_OBSERVATORY wrote: Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:36 pm Thank you so much Jochen.
That's the answer that is needed here.

As yourself, I may-well go to the paid-licence version in due course, once I am able to be up and running again from the observatory (as time allows).

Also noted about the extra-functionality of the paid-version, which at present is not required albeit the Gamma function might be useful, even though it hasn't seemingly been necessary in the past for Solar etc.

Your Solar imaging in the past few months, is exactly what I want to get up to match - but as we both live in a very similar part of the globe (weather-wise), your advice is well-needed.

Best Wishes and hopefully no wind-damage for you.

Cheers
Terry
Hi Terry,
I have used Sharpcap and Firecapture. The good features of Sharpcap have to be paid for, such as flat field and smart histogram.
Firecapture seems ok to use. I think you need to read and familiarise yourself with the programs.
In the 2 or 3 years I started with Astrophotography, I have had to learn to use multiple software. It really pays to familiarise with a program, or at least how to make the best of it. Simple things like getting used to the software.
Firecapture allows you to place a reticle on the image capture window, and adjust size and features, and even move the reticle in the window.
Also allows flat calibration and easier to take full discs.

Obviously, you will have to see if FC will support your camera ok, you may have to install additional drivers, but FC looks quite well supported and you could always contact the author of the software. Donations for the software are also welcome FC says.


I did note that The histogram reads 100 percent after you have added the flat frame, so you will have to judge the histogram level by the appearance, not the numeric (average) histogram value. You can adjust the interface by adding various frequently used features like FlipX, FlipY, Capture 1000 frames, Capture 2000 frames, Capture 30 secs. etc


MalveauX gave a good account of Firecapture.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7rSOXWQDZM

Just reading the manual will give you a lot. Taking a few hours to do this will repay itself +++++
Hope this helps a little.

Magnus


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by Boso36 »

Hi Brian,

I also forgot to mention:

1) my FPS was almost double when I switched to FC compared to Sharpcap 3.2. I was using a ASI120mm-S camera.

2) You can apply gamma to your imaging but I was told you should turn it off at the point of recording the frames.


Magnus


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by PDB »

1) my FPS was almost double when I switched to FC compared to Sharpcap 3.2. I was using a ASI120mm-S camera.
Then you were not using the same settings in both programs. Probably high-speed setting
There can be speed differences but not in that way. Always was able to get max fps announced for that camera in FC

The new Beta version of FC is also a bit faster than the old one. (Much speed optimization done)

2) You can apply gamma to your imaging but I was told you should turn it off at the point of recording the frames.
FC also has re-introduced gamma for ZWO cams. But TURN it OFF for capturing. It is a software function that just applies the same function that can be applied in post processing. (only result you are capturing an already processed image, and won't be able to do all post processing as should)
You should use the screen adjustment functions if you need gamma/brightnes or other changes to the preview if you need these for focusing. These do not have any effect on capturing.

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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by Boso36 »

PDB wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 10:47 am
1) my FPS was almost double when I switched to FC compared to Sharpcap 3.2. I was using a ASI120mm-S camera.
Then you were not using the same settings in both programs. Probably high-speed setting
There can be speed differences but not in that way. Always was able to get max fps announced for that camera in FC

The new Beta version of FC is also a bit faster than the old one. (Much speed optimization done)

2) You can apply gamma to your imaging but I was told you should turn it off at the point of recording the frames.
FC also has re-introduced gamma for ZWO cams. But TURN it OFF for capturing. It is a software function that just applies the same function that can be applied in post processing. (only result you are capturing an already processed image, and won't be able to do all post processing as should)
You should use the screen adjustment functions if you need gamma/brightnes or other changes to the preview if you need these for focusing. These do not have any effect on capturing.

Paul
Hi Paul,

Thanks, I shall have to look at my Sharpcap settings to see why it is so slow. I will also take up your suggestion of not using Gamma to assist focus. Some other members did advise to use Gamma, so I will try the screen adjustment settings which I will have to learn as well !

Magnus


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

Thank you Magnus for your full comment on this subject.

Firstly SC does have an excellent reticule-systems, which I always use to keep the Sun in the absolute centre whilst using either the two ZWO ASI-178MM cams or the Altair GPCAM for WL. The tracking-mount does in any case track very well over long periods too. :hamster:

I have been using SC for many years and it is only since others have suggested FC, that I have installed it, but not yet had sufficient time and conditions to try it out - as yet.

Even though both programs operate with my cams, there is absolutely no problem with SC using FPS. :roll:

As Jochen has stated, Gamma is available, but not really required for the imaging-captures themselves - as Gamma-correction is available during final processing stages.

For my StarligfhtXpress OCULUS (All-Sky-Camera) - SC does a grand-job of downloading images, better than two other specific progs...

I have other programs to use for DS and with my StarlightXpress HX-916 camera.

Alto has mentioned "The only thing missing from SC, for me, would be a go-to Sun option on the menu rather than having to run CdC - but that's me being lazy....." Good point, but not needed if a suitable Solar-tracking mount is available, as is in my case. Also having three scopes on the one mount, does sometimes require a little tweaking when changing from each camera, so that function would not likely work..
I can of course use CdC and Starry Night Pro to link-up the mount for any astro-purposes...

What SC does do well is even with all three Solar cameras USB'd into my Hi-spec computer (not a laptop), allows immediate changing of whichever camera is required via the on-screen Camera drop-down... In fact even the OCULUS camera making four and the P0LEMASTER (alignment camera) make five cams, which SharpCap caters well - on screen... No apparent drop in FPS speeds fount and obviously two are for night-time use anyway... :hamster:

I've never found that for Solar purposes the need to take flats is required and the histogram function in SC is quite adequate for my purposes and in any case the Solar views on my screens for Ha, Cal-K and WL is sufficient to produce what I want...

So all-in-all Magnus - yes I agree that a read-up of the manual is required for FC, but usually I find that on-screen trials and learning is often the easier way for me at least and I do like simplicity to get the same job done for Solar purposes at least..
As one gets older, the easiest and simplest methods often apply, so will have a further go with FC in due course, but will likely continue with SC... :bow

Thanks for all comments to date
Terry


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by marktownley »

Hi Terry,

I think it is a bit of an 'oxo vs bisto' type of discussion, or, 'marmite vs vegemite' (at the risk of being really contentious ;) )

If it ain't broken don't fix it...

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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

That's a good comparison Mark and as you say "If it ain't broken don't fix it..."

I will spend some suitable-time/weather trying FC, but won't "bust a gut" trying to get a decent result.

Regards
Terry


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by FlankerOneTwo »

I prefer FireCapture myself, although SharpCap can certainly do the job for just straight capture. The killer feature for me for FireCapture is the ability to script it. I've used this for time-lapse animations - just something simple like capture <X> sec, wait <X> time, repeat 50 times. You can also code in things like filter changes, which is useful for mono planetary.
For planetary and full disk solar I also find that AutoAlign makes it easier to focus by eye, as features aren't jumping around quite as much. I had fiddled around with the auto guiding in the past, although I use a Hinode Solar Guider now which obviates that need.

-Patrick


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Re: FireCapture versus Sharpcap?

Post by EGRAY_OBSERVATORY »

Many thanks Patrick, for your reply and contains something useful for the feasibility of "I've used this for time-lapse animations " and "Auto-Align makes it easier to focus by eye" - which when able to get to grips with the basics first, could find useful.

In fact as I currently already have an eye-problem seeing, but this has been catered for recently, by installing two large computer-screens, one of which will actually rotate very close to the scopes for any focusing etc., purposes... :bow

My SW EQ6 mount though does cater very-well for tracking and as the stand, mount and three-scopes are left in situ between sessions in my observatory, I never really have any tracking problems and in any case, each scope has its' own Solar-finder, which can easily be seen from the side of the stand - in the event of needs... :band

Best Wishes
Terry


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