CCD camera makers include a camera control program in the boxes with the cameras. These programs are sufficient for operating the camera on a basic level and doing minor image processing, but most CCDers soon want something that makes image acquisition quicker and easier and which includes a more full-featured suite of image processing tools.
Software Bisque's CCDSoft is probably the "step up" program used by more imagers than any other. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, it was designed for the SBIG cameras and is therefore the natural choice for their owners once they outgrow CCDops (SBIG's "included" program). CCDSofts strengths are a very clean, easy to learn interface and an ability to interface with other Bisque programs. For example, it's usually necessary to know the telescope's current declination when "calibrating" for autoguiding. If the user has Bisque's TheSky planetarium program connected to the telescope, that program can automatically pass the declination value to CCDSoft.
Is there anything not to like? At $350, the program isn't exactly cheap, but there's little that any imager will want to do that can't be done with CCDSoft somehow, even if it's not always easy to do. It's also true that the program has been locked in Version 5.0 for quite a while and is beginning to show its age as far as "look." However, the biggest strike against CCDSoft is that it is designed for SBIG users. If you want to use this program with non-SBIG imaging—or even guiding—cams, good luck. There are a few drivers for non SBIG cameras, but not many.
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