sorry for the late reply, but I needed some help to solve donut correlated problems, as you might have read.
Definitely, ST is awesome in this regard! It made my day with my first poor data sets and convinced me to go on with AP.
That seems to a lot effort to get decent stars? I was thinking about buying a high quality refractor some day as well, but this is sadly not what I would have expected. Have you considered buying a Newtonian? If you like, take a look for example on Stefan's (Stefan B) images here on ST forum, they have an awesome quality and he uses a 6" f/5 Newtonian which is pretty affordable compared to APO refractors ...
Best regards, Dietmar.
Edit P.S.: Of course, there are a lot more people here making incredible images with Newtonians - Martin, Mike ... without claim to completeness. It was just my first thought.