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The new Orion Starshoot G3

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#1 michael hester

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 12:01 PM

I recently bought this camera and I would like to share my experiences with it and review it.

The G3 I bought as intending to replace my Meade DSI2 as a quick light OSC setup. I tried it using my C6 with a .5x focal reducer and a light pollution filter.

Initial packaging
The box was the same size as the SSAG box. In side it just a plastic bag contained the camera. Also they provide a 12V power cord and a 10 FT usb cord.

First impression
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The camera itself is tiny and extremely light. The case for it is smaller than the original starshoot camera.

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The camera has 3 connectors on the back: From top clockwise in the image its USB, Power ,and ST4. It seems like most Orion cameras are starting to pack this ST4 port now. I would have hoped that port was a new USB port design but they opted for a generic USB port. That port is actually quite stiff.

What to know about the electronics
The camera's electronics setup is identical to the original Starshoot. The camera's CCD and computer interface are independent of the Thermoelectric Power Supply. This was how the original SSDSI was setup. When the TEC power is connected the fan starts going on the back and the TEC is available. TEC power is not necessary to shoot with this camera but half of its price point is the regulated cooling.

Software
What to know about the software: it is not compatible with the usual Starshoot drivers, as such MaximDL cannot control the camera yet at least on the basic version that I have. Orion provides their own software to control the camera and ASCOM drivers such that you can use the camera from another program like Nebulosity or PHD Guiding. The camera could thus serve as an autoguider.

Orion's software must be updated before attempting to use the camera
When I started testing the camera I used orion's software off the CD-Rom to test it. They apparently released a bad version of the software. Mainly most of the images it produced came out with the wrong raw offset, producing nothing but CYAN colored images. After updating the software the camera produces correct colors. Processing in orion's software is clunky at best compared to Maxim DL and Deep Sky Stacker and also buggy especially in the CD-rom version.
When capturing you should capture in YCbCr to reduce some of the time it takes to process. If you plan to process in another program (MaximDL for me), then capture in RAW.

Orion's image stacking has most of the features you might expect: Image calibration, star detection, average and sigma clip algorithms are some of them.


Overall impression
The hardware is light and effective. It makes for an easy to handle camera considering their target audience. The software is easy to pick up so long as it is updated from what the cd had originally. Their new copies of it should have the update.

As far as my personal impression of it, I would only use the orion software to capture images. Maxim DL can process them. The Raw convert settings last used are used for automatic convert, so I have to do generic CMYK and set the x offset to 1. From there all other processing can be done.

The camera's image output is very clean and the controllable TEC allows darkframe sets to be made even during the daytime. I have not made darks yet.

A test image of M42 is below, 11x31 seconds.
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This image was done during a full moon and poor transparency so it isn't a fair test of the camera's capability. I will get a chance at better transparency tonight.

Overall the camera is good for a beginner user. That user just has to be aware of updating the software before going out.

#2 rigel123

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 12:24 PM

Great review Michael! Glad to hear most of the issues we have been seeing in other posts appears to be a software problem.

Looking forward to what you can do with this when you get a better sky and some time to really work with it!

#3 jgraham

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 08:14 PM

Nice review. As per a discussion in the CCD imaging forum I wonder if you need to use an IR filter with this camera to get good color. It'd help to keep the CCD clean as well.

Have fun with the new camera!

#4 TJ&Cody

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 08:42 PM

Hi! Im very new to this so i hope this makes sense. Do i need spacers to achieve focus for a G3 with AT8in? If this isnt the forum for this question maybe point me in the right direction. Thank You, Terry

#5 CounterWeight

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 09:22 PM

Michael, thanks for taking the time and effort for the fantastic post - :) !!

#6 rigel123

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 09:43 PM

Hi! Im very new to this so i hope this makes sense. Do i need spacers to achieve focus for a G3 with AT8in? If this isnt the forum for this question maybe point me in the right direction. Thank You, Terry


You might get more responses if you started a new post, but which AT are you referring to, the RC or the Newtonian? Most scopes need spacers of some sort. The RC's need spacers to get the camera far enough back, the Newtonians typically need a low profile focuser to get the camera close enough for focus.

#7 Raginar

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 02:48 AM

He mentioned the "IN" which refers to their imaging line. My guess would be that you'll need at least the 2" spacer that's provided; similar to a mallincam (ops tested by me).

The picture above has some pretty good vignetting. Did you take flats/darks to compensate or do any processing to remove it?

Chris

#8 sullij1

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 01:45 PM

He mentioned the "IN" which refers to their imaging line. My guess would be that you'll need at least the 2" spacer that's provided; similar to a mallincam (ops tested by me).

The picture above has some pretty good vignetting. Did you take flats/darks to compensate or do any processing to remove it?

Chris


Agreed, the vignetting is horrible! Only 1/3 of the image is discernible. :iwhat:

#9 saga01

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 02:39 PM

I'm fairly new to imaging, but it looks to me like the spacing on the focal reducer is incorrect.

Mike

#10 Jimmy2K63

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 04:55 PM

Thanks for the write-up. I've been wanting to learn more about this new camera. That's an important price point for a lot of people.

James

#11 michael hester

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 09:28 AM

I don't have any experience with the ATRCin line but I imagine that you shouldn't need spacers with the G3. The chip's depth from the T-Ring is about the same as other Orion cameras. At least it is the same as my Starshoot 3 monochrome. Also like their SSAG and original starshoot cameras there is a spot to install an IR cut filter in addition to T threads. They actually moved it back 5 CM to make it easier to install with a T-Thread rather than its nosepiece.

If you aren't understanding: The T-Thread is a threading on the inside of T-rings and astrophoto cameras that allows the installation of any size nosepiece. Some telescope focusers have T-Threaded ends allowing the camera to be coupled directly to the focuser. Such a mounting scheme is ultimately more stable than a thumbscrew nosepiece and a brass compression ring, but unfortunately I have only seen it on cheaper focusers.

I would like to point out that you will probably get better results on the AT-RC8 or AT-RC6 if you use a .5x focal reducer.

#12 michael hester

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 09:17 PM

Now that I got the software updated and got some time under some decent skies I can get some real images rolling off the camera...

So far the image quality is fair for a color camera. It actually pulls the red channels in well.

M42:
30x30sec Orion G3
8 inch newt on CGEM
Posted Image

M1
9x300s
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Flame Nebula
10x180s
Posted Image

#13 Raginar

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Posted 25 December 2011 - 02:26 PM

Mike, did you take darks or flats? How did you process them? Still seem a little noisy kindof like my mallincam. But, the vignettung is gone it seems so good job :)

How's it compare to your DSI2?






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