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SBIG ST-2000XM or ST-8300M?

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#1 Micheal

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 12:09 PM

Christmas list revision 4.3a is about to be sent off to Mrs. Claus but I don't know enough about CCD cameras and/or Astrophotography to make an informed decision on which camera to add to the bottom of this list.

On the one hand I would like to get the ST-2000XM used with filter wheel and filters which I have seen quite a few of lately for under $2,000.00. I like the idea of having a built in auto guider too and I have seen some great images from these camers. But then I ask myself why are people selling them? What are they graduating up to? Nobody seems to answer my informal poll when I email them :(

On the other hand for less than $2,000.00 I can get a new with warranty ST-8300M and then get for about $1000 more a filter wheel and filters. The ST-8300 is a newer chip correct? "The SBIG ST-8300M monochrome, high resolution CCD camera is based on the super-popular KAF-8300 full frame sensor, with an array of 3326 x 2504 pixels @ 5.4 microns."

That seems pretty impressive! I can imagine some really nice high resolution images from that camera.

I read the specs on the ST-2000XM and its all greek to me. Lots of information about how it does great at this and better at that etc. I haven't seen any direct comparisons between these two cameras and like I said I am really new at this. I am leaning towards the ST-2000XM used but I'd feel really stupid if I pass up a better camera NEW to save $1000. Realizing of course that if I went NEW with the ST-2000XM it would be $3500.00 which is about $500.00 more than the ST8300M new.

I hope someone could help me with some simple to understand information on the differences between these two cameras and maybe a recommendation.

Thanks!

#2 DeanS

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 12:33 PM

I have both of these cameras Micheal, just recently got the SX H18. both great but different.

I suggest you research what image scale is and how it relates to each camera and scope combination.

Generally speaking, the longer the focal length the more difficult, the smaller the pixels the more difficult, and both these together, very difficult. Of course you can bin a camera to effectivly double the pixel size but you will lose resolution.

I really like my ST2000XM for longer focal length imaging, nice medium size pixels, and still a decent size chip. Plus like you say, it has the internal guide chip, which I use as often as I can even though mine has the external guider port.

The 8300 is indeed a nice chip, but smaller pixels are more demanding, however you can bin it to have 10um size which is ok as well with longer focal length. Then you would need to get filters and wheel, guide camera, extra hassels.

I personally think that the ST2000 would be a better camera to learn with. If you get a ST2000 used, you should be able to recoup close to your investment in a year or so if you decide to move on. I'm sure you will hear from others on this.

Dean

#3 Micheal

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:02 PM

What I noticed is that the ST-8300M has:

CCD Kodak KAF-8300
Pixel Array 3326 x 2504 pixels
CCD Size 17.96 x 13.52 mm
Total Pixels 8.3 million
Pixel Size 5.4 x 5.4 microns square
Full Well Capacity ~25,500 e-
Dark Current ~0.02e-/pixel/sec at -15C.
Antiblooming 1000X

Compared to the ST-2000XM with:

CCD Kodak KAI-2020M +
TI TC-237
Pixel Array 1600 x 1200 pixels
CCD Size 11.8 x 8.9 mm
Total Pixels 2 million
Pixel Size 7.4 x 7.4 microns square
Full Well Capacity ~45,000 e- unbinned
~90,000 e- binned
Dark Current <0.1e-/pixel/sec at 0 deg. C.
Antiblooming Standard

So it seems that the 8300 has higher resolution with smaller pixels than the 2000xm. At F/6.3 using CCD calc I can see how each camera would frame a target. The 8300 seems like it would be much better at f/11 and ~F/6. Hoping to hear a few more suggestions. Thanks

#4 Galaxyhunter

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:10 PM

But then I ask myself why are people selling them? What are they graduating up to?



Although I have not sold mine, I bought an ST10MXE camera for a little larger chip & more sensitivity.

The ST2000 was my first real camera (I built a Cookbook 245 in the mid 90's), It is a good mid-level camera. I liked the ABG chip. I shoot only monochrome so I can't tell you anything about the filters. This camera hooked me on selfguided cameras forever (no worrying about extra guide camera, guide scope & scope flexture). I pick a guide star & go. If you bought a used one & used it for a couple of years to get your feet wet, you could resell it (when you feel the need to upgrade) for only a little loss.

#5 Micheal

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:22 PM

While I agree with the both of you about picking up a used one to learn with I also was wondering if using a off axis guider with the 8300 would be the way to go. I could perhaps grab a used meade dsi 2 off of the classifieds for a few hundred dollars and use that as an autoguider or for the mean time use my existing SSAG(though I don't really like this camera).

#6 elbee

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:24 PM

i suggest you are going to want as big a field of view as you can get (bigger size chip). you can bin the smaller pixels of the 8300 to suit your longer focal length, if needed. and you can crop the larger field if you want to.

a built in guider chip is nice, IF you can get a guide star on the chip. in order to do that you will need a planetarium program that includes detailed guide stars (TheSKy6) and you will usually have to adjust the rotation of the camera (manually, if you don't have a rotator). it's a lot of effort most of the time. i really liked the lighter, easier setup of using a camera with a built-in guide chip, but i've stopped using it and use a separate guide scope now. that also makes it easy to include narrow band imaging in the run.

#7 dsnope

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:33 PM

Berhnhard Hubl is a master with the ST2000. Check his gallery to see what wonders can be done with it.
http://www.astrophoton.com/

As others have said, it comes down to field of view and image scale with your scopes/camera combinations. Also your imaging train, guiding setup, and how large of a flat field your optics support.

#8 DeanS

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:44 PM

Lee,

I always hear about problems finding a guide star, had not been much of a problem for me either with the internal chip, or my OAG with my 8300. Makes guiding easier without worry about flex. But what ever works best for each person.

#9 Bugs Denis

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 03:12 PM

One MAJOR difference between the ST-2000XM and the ST-8300 is the internal guide chip which make the ST-2000 more attractive as it reduce the price of the guiding as well as a source of guiding problem, with the exception of narrow band imaging.

I own a ST-2000XM for years and I don't regert it. Last year I was looking for a KAF-8300 based camera, but IF I buy one it will not be the SBIG one, QSI has my preference

#10 Galaxyhunter

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 03:46 PM

I always hear about problems finding a guide star, had not been much of a problem for me either with the internal chip,



I image @ 2027mmFL with the camera orientation North up. The only object (in three years) that I have to rotate the camera to get a guide star is M51. So finding a guide star is almost a non-factor.

#11 Micheal

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 05:40 PM

So do I get a thumbs up going with an 8300 chip camera and using an OAG using perhaps a meade DSI-II camera? The only drawback of the meade camera is that from what I hear the drivers do not support 64bit OS like my windows 7.

#12 astrovienna

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 06:33 PM

The Meade DSIs are now Win7 compatible. I use one to guide.

http://www.meade.com.../downloads.html

#13 Alph

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 06:51 PM

So do I get a thumbs up going with an 8300 chip camera


The KAF-8300 is a complete mismatch for the EdgeHD 14". The KAF-0900 is the best match for the HD14.

#14 Micheal

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 08:35 PM

The Meade DSIs are now Win7 compatible. I use one to guide.

http://www.meade.com.../downloads.html



That is great news!

Thanks a bunch.

#15 Micheal

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 08:38 PM

So do I get a thumbs up going with an 8300 chip camera


The KAF-8300 is a complete mismatch for the EdgeHD 14". The KAF-0900 is the best match for the HD14.


Educate me please. Why is it a complete mismatch? Are you talking about at full f/11.5? What about at reduced f/6.3? That ccd calc program I downloaded and tried out seemed to indicate it would be a good choice but I really have no clue what I am really looking at.

#16 Jeff in Austin

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 09:55 PM


I personally think that the ST2000 would be a better camera to learn with. If you get a ST2000 used, you should be able to recoup close to your investment in a year or so if you decide to move on. I'm sure you will hear from others on this.

Dean


That's exactly where I'm at with the ST-2000XCM. It's been great to learn with but I'll be trading up to an 8300 camera in the next few months.

#17 DeanS

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 10:34 PM

Jeff, what are you imaging with?

Michael, do some research on image scale, arcsec/pixel and what this means. Ron Wodaski's The New CCD astronomy is a great book for learning things like this.

#18 WadeH237

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 12:56 AM

A couple of people have implied that the 8300 would be better for long focal lengths.

Actually, it is exactly the opposite. The pixels on the 8300 are very small. Because of this, the camera excels as a wide field camera on a short focal length scope.

As DeanS says, do some research on image scale. The larger pixels on the ST2000 make it a better match for longer focal length.

If you get the monochrome version of the 8300, you can bin it to get a reasonable image scale for longer focal lengths. If you get the color version of the 8300, then you lose color when you bin it.

I've never used an ST2000 or ST8300, but if I had to choose between them as a starter camera, I'd probably pick the ST2000, unless I was looking for wide field. I really like the larger chip on the 8300, but would prefer the larger pixels and self guiding on the ST2000.

As for using the self guiding chip on the ST2000, it should work really well and totally avoid flexure issues. I have an ST-10 and it's much harder to find an appropriate guide star for self guiding. The difference between the ST-10 and the ST2000 is that the ST2000 is one-shot-color, so the guide chip gets lots of light. On my ST-10, the guide chip sites behind the filters. There seem to be lots of really red stars out there, and they dim dramatically when they are behind the blue filter.

-Wade

#19 Smo

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:00 AM

The ST-2000 also comes in Monochrome, I used a mono ST-2000 for my first real camera but I didnt have much of an issue finding guide stars through my filters.

This obviously has a lot to do with the mount as well, if your imaging through filters well just get really good polar alignment and do 10 second exposures on your guider corrections.

If your mount is barely capable and you need to do corrections every second this can become a problem.

And I see that the person who started this has a CGE Pro so likely you would be fine running your guide exposures a few extra seconds when imaging through a filter.

#20 WadeH237

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:14 AM

Ah yes, I forgot that the ST2000 is also available as monochrome.

As for longer exposures, I've tried imaging targets with my ST-10 where even with 10 second guide exposures and 2x2 binning, I'd lose the guide star behind the blue filter.

I've recently ordered (but not yet received) a camera rotator. I'm changing my pre-planning such that I will be selecting a guide star even before I set up for imaging and will use automation software to rotate and acquire the guide star in the field.

-Wade

#21 Rick J

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:38 AM

Educate me please. Why is it a complete mismatch? Are you talking about at full f/11.5? What about at reduced f/6.3? That ccd calc program I downloaded and tried out seemed to indicate it would be a good choice but I really have no clue what I am really looking at.


Another thumbs down if it is to run on the 14" EdgeHD. That scope is designed for a large pixel camera and NO reducer. That's the whole idea of its design, eliminate that element and all the problems it creates. Using one is like driving a sports car with the brake on. It still works, sort of.

Now for the APO it would be a very good match. That's the type scope it is designed for. But not for the EdgeHD. A standard SCT 6.3 corrector/reducer is fine for a standard SCT, if you can stand the problems it creates, but won't work with your scope that already has a flat, corrected field. It would just screw things up horribly. You'll need a pure reducer such as the Optec NextGEN 0.7X Ultra WideField reducer. That would reduce you down to f/7.7 Binned 2x2 that is a 0.8 pixel. Such tracking is extremely difficult to achieve and requires a night of superb seeing. What is your seeing? Do you even know this? If not measure it with your DSLR. It will guide you as to what chips to consider so you don't severely over sample the image as the 8300 does. Also high resolution, if allowed by seeing (like atop Adam Block's Mt. Lemon location) greatly increases imaging time meaning when you do get one of those nights you may only have time for half the data and thus a noisy image. It may be weeks or years before similar or better seeing occurs with that object well positioned to take advantage of it. Reducers just add reflections as well and you'll have enough of them even without one. Exact spacing is another problem with them.

I image with an f/10 14" LX200R and use an 18 micron pixel nearly every clear night. I limit imaging to an hour of the meridian if low and 2 hours if high just to achieve the seeing needed for that size pixel. Check my posts here for examples. You'll see even then I'm seeing limited most of the time.

Of the two cameras the 2000 would be far better considering it could be used on both scopes more effectively. With a 14" finding a guide star won't be a problem. While I rarely guide, if I'm monitoring my imaging I do turn on the guider camera to monitor seeing. I've never had an issue with a star for this. One is always on the chip. Smaller aperture may however. But again this is a function of your mount's tracking ability at the image scale you are using.

Rick

#22 Bill W.

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 07:26 AM

I debated the same thing this past June. I ended up selling my ST-2000XM and buying a QHY9 (8300). Let me say that I don't think you can go wrong with either imager. Both have their strong points. There aren't too many cons.

8300

1. Bigger field of view.
2. Smaller pixels for wide field imaging.
3. Lighter than my ST-2000XM.
4. Better Ha performance.

2000XM

1. On board guiding.
2. Reasonably small pixels.
3. Doesn't require 2 inch filters.
4. Option to add AO7 or AO8.

My QHY9 can be binned at 1x1, 2x2, 3x3, & 4x4. So, it's pretty versital because you're only going up 5.4 each time instead of the 7.4 on the ST-2000XM. While the on-board guiding is nice I didn't use it that much. I ended up using a guidescope because when I would shoot through my blue or Ha filter I could never find a good guide star. I only had trouble finding a guide star once while doing luminance. The larger field of view of the 8300 is nice but will show vignetting, bad collimation, etc. more readily. IMHO, the biggest drawback of getting a 8300, for me, is the cost of 2 inch filters. Narrowband filters can cost a good bit more... even LRGB filters are a good bit more. You can spend a easy $1000 getting a color filter wheel and cheap LRGB filters. If you decide on the ST-2000XM try to avoid the first generation. The first generation 2000XM came with a smaller guide ccd and a slightly noisier imaging ccd. Like I said, I don't think you can go wrong with either imager. Check out my website at the link at the bottom of the page. I've use both imagers using the same optics. Good luck... it is a hard decision.

-Bill

#23 Alph

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 02:24 PM

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#24 Konihlav

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 02:42 PM

my pure decision between these two cameras NOT TAKING INTO ACCOUNT WHAT telescope you use it with would be 8300.

#25 AlanP

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 03:12 PM

OK, so I am a OSC guy... I have a Atik 383L+ and two ST-2000XCM Cameras. My favorite? The ST-4000XCM, really.
But back to the question at hand. If your Camera ices; with the ST-8300, some dis-assembly is required. With the ST-2000XM, you do some backing, or buy a Desiccant Plug replacement that makes life really easy.

Buying new, ST-8300 or equivalent [the Atik uses replaceable desiccant packs]. Buying used, the ST-2000XM, because of price, internal guide chip, SBig great service support, faster Ha, good image size and file sizes and fast download times and easier maintenance. AlanP






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