Even though they are kind of "niche," there are a lot of astronomy-related apps out there, each and everyone with their own unique set of features, advantages, and disadvantages.
SharpCap is a feature-rich and surprisingly user-friendly astronomy camera capture tool that aims to provide its users with all the necessary software tools and as little drawbacks as possible.
Thanks to its wide range of features, SharpCap is pretty suitable for anything from planetary, solar, lunar, and deep-sky astrophotography and video astronomy, all the way up to EAA, short for Electronically Assisted Astronomy.
Usually, apps for astronomy-related photography boast a wide range of supported cameras, and SharpCap is no exception.
Some of the most popular astronomy camera brands include Altair Astro, Basler, Celestron/Imaging Source, iNova, Point Grey (or FLIR), QHY, StarlightXpress, ZWOptical, and other brands that provide ASCOM driver-based cameras.
What's great about SharpCap in particular, is that it also features support for almost all webcams and most frame grabber devices. It also features special support for adjusting parameters of the SPC900 webcam, and LX modified SPC900 cameras.
Before we go into the nitty-gritty details, it's also important to point that SharpCap can capture anything from still images to formats such as PNG, FITS, TIFF, and JPG, but also videos to formats such as AVI and SER.
Another aspect worth mentioning is that the fact that the exposure time is actually only limited by the camera's capabilities.
You are provided with a full set of camera controls in the panel next to the capture area. You can see live deep sky images build on-screen, and customize each frame before adding it to the stack (alignment, centering, collimation, and rotation options).
Like all good photography software, this app also provides you with a clear histogram, useful for ensuring proper exposure settings.
Other features include flexible file naming, the ability to save and restore the camera settings (with the mention that the specific settings are always displayed alongside every captured file), a useful quick capture feature, focus aid, plate solving, and sensor analysis.
The PRO version brings a few extra image processing options (like the ability to add dark frames subtraction and flat frame corrections), polar alignment, python scripting capabilities for script creation (automation), an autofocus assistant, an improved histogram, feature tracking, the ability to automatically capture when the area passes a set threshold, and optimized memory usage.
Even though its feature set is impressive and its GUI very user-friendly, it might seem like a handful for beginners at first.
Thankfully, SharpCap comes with a very detailed and comprehensive User Manual, updated for each new version. We recommend that you at least take a look at the Quick Start, Camera Basics, and Camera controls sections before using the app.
Taking everything into account, SharpCap is definitely a very good choice for both novice and more experienced users passionate about astrophotography. You can start off with the free version that offers a lot, and if you feel that you need a little in terms of adjustment and processing power, then you can opt to pay for the PRO version