Reviews of digital SLR's for astrophotography
Neil Carboni's Astronomy Tools set of Photoshop Actions is an absolutely essential set of tools for any digital astrophotographer! For $19.95 they're way cheap. I use them all the time, and don't know what I'd do w/o them. The link above shows examples of how to use them.
You can download a free Windows-based image scale calculator with a ton of preset telescopes and CCD camera's which will show you the image and border for each. This is really great! Download CCDcalc here.
Your digital camera probably output jpeg (.jpg) files, like our Nikon D40. Our ST2000xcm outputs in .st2k format, and our ST4000xcm camera in .st4k format. For astronomical research purposes, files should be in the FITS format (.FTS). Photoshop has their own format too, although you can import many different formats in the Photoshop. Somewhere along the way, you'll probably want a program to convert images from one format to another. For the PC, in my browsing so far, the best deal seems to be OmniFormat. It's free, and converts over 75 different formats. You can read about it and download it here. You can do fine in Astro 9ABC without such image converters, however, so no rush.
Our 12" Dome Scope's SBIG ST2000XCM outputs color pictures taken with a single shot. The 1600x1200 pixel detector is arrayed in 2x2 groups of tricolor filtered pixels, giving a color picture of effectively 800x600 color resolution, but 1600x1200 real resolution (Similar for our larger ST4000xcm camera). Use of CCDOPS and other digital processing instruction can be found on the Starizona site.
DCRAW - DC Raw is a software program which will convert the raw output files from over 90 different digital cameras into a variety of formats. Read about and download DCRAW here. The advantage of using raw format is that you retain the maximum ability to pull faint detail out of a picture. The disadvantage is that many programs will not handle them, they're proprietary in format, and the file size is large.
Here is a good site describing digital processing with Registax (here is a Registax tutorial) on planetary images.
You can also do a good job of stacking by hand in Photoshop. Here's a good cookbook how-to for stacking images in Photoshop using layers.
And there is a terrific free program for doing quite a number of image manipulations. In particular, you can assemble a montage from a series of overlapping images in Windows by using Iris.
AstroPix has some great images and processing suggestions and is well worth exploring.
* Pennington's Primer on astrophotography
* A table of exposures for astro subjects
* Dave Wyman's Facebook page for photography - excellent imaging from a master, beyond astrophotography
* Photography genres and Professions
* Understanding Lenses (not detailed or advanced, but a quick primer for the novice)