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A current favorite in this category is an inexpensive but very capable program, Nebulosity($45). Not only does Nebulosity display the DSLR's images on the PC screen, making for easy focusing, it does many of the things any CCD software does: control camera settings, take single exposures or a series of exposures, take and subtract dark frames, and even do some fairly sophisticated image processing. Nebulosity doesn't stop with DSLRs, either. It can be used to operate the Meade DSI, the Starlight Xpress, the SBIG CCD cameras, and a growing array of other deep sky and planetary imagers.

Like other DSLR programs designed to allow the cameras to take long exposures, Nebulosity requires two connections from camera to PC. One cable delivers image data to the computer. The other connects to the camera's remote ("cable release") interface to allow for and control long exposures. These cables and interface boxes are inexpensive and are available from Shoestring Astronomy Products (Appendix 1).

ImagesPlus ($150) is one of the most popular camera control and imaging programs on the DSLR scene. In addition to operating Canon and Nikon cameras, ImagesPluscontains extensive image processing facilities. In fact, it is so capable in this area that the services of another image processing program such as Adobe Photoshop may not be required.

At the top of the heap, at least pricewise, is Cyanogen's MaxDSLR . ($300). In addition to all the camera control and image processing features of programs such as Nebulosity and ImagesPlus have, Maxim DSLR adds other desirable features, including the ability to operate a guide camera. Max DSLR, like Nebulosity, supports a number of non-DSLR cams, including the Meade DSI and LPI, webcams, and the Luminera "planetcams." MaxDSLR is considerably more expensive than the other programs, but keep in mind that it can be upgraded to Maxim DL, the company's legendary CCD imaging program for an additional $250.

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