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Which Camera to Buy for Astrophotography?

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#1 Lew

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:50 AM

I want to acquire a decent camera for astrophotography. I want to image the planets and deep space objects. I recently acquired the IEQ 45M and various OTAs and other stuff to do astrophotography. I have a DSI II I’ve been experimenting with trying to learn how to do it. I’ve had trouble trying to use it with Maxim and have decided to take the plunge for a better camera. I want to spend around $2K, but willing to go up to $3K. I’ve seen adds for lots of cameras (SBIG, Celestron, Canon DSLR, ATIK, QSI). Since I’m a newbie to Astronomy and esp. photography, I have several questions would like input on in choosing a camera for astrophotography. Any suggestions or advice on any of these is welcome.

1. Are ‘pure’ astro cameras (such as SBIG) better choice than a Canon DSLR (if people get the Canon because it can be used for regular photography, I don’t have any need for using it for regular photography)?

2. Color vs. B&W (I’d normally pick color, but saw something that might mean color has less resolution?)?

3. Views from owners / others on which camera to get?


Since I’m not sure which forum to post this in, I’ve posted in Equipment and Beginning Imaging. Thanks for any answers / suggestions.

Lew
Pgh, PA

Ioptron IEQ45M; Celestron 11" XLT; Orion 120mm EON; Orion 80mm CFT; Meade ACF LX 90; Meade ACF LS-6; Meade ETX 90PE. Various Celestron X-Cells and Meade 5000 HDs, Orion 12mm reticle, Astrotech 1.25" dialectric diagonal, Antares f/6.3 SCT reducer and Meade plossl set. Orion Mini-guider package; Orion Off-axis guider. Meade DSI II color and Orion Starshoot Deepspace video camera. Maxim DL v.5.

#2 Raginar

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 01:30 PM

Hey Lew,

Check out the Beginner imaging forums, you'll find this question answered a lot. I'd recommend going to Astrobin and typing in the cameras you're interested in to find pictures from people with similar setups. That way you can get an idea of what a beginner/intermediate/advanced picture will look like. Finally, you'll need to decide how much you want to image and what. It'll essentially drive you to pick your camera for you since you seem to already have a mount/OTA/etc.

My advice is anything from SBIG or Atik seems to be popular. You can get a KAF8300-based chip for right around 2k. I'd recommend mono for the reason you've already stated; it does provide you better resolution though you'll need a filter wheel/filters to take color images (around 1k extra).

If you're really looking at planetary work, you'll need another camera as well. The common way to capture planets is through something like a Flea or an Imaging Source camera. They capture at between 30 and 60fps and you rely high magnification through 2-3x barlows to get the data necessary.

Oh, and you'll need a guide camera. Assuming you don't get a self-guiding camera (like SBIG's earlier cameras, the ST-7/10/2000 series), you'll need one of those since your IEQ45 isn't going to be precise enough to take unguided photographs at length. I'd recommend a Lodestar; it's popular because it's sensitivity allows you to find an appropriate guidestar in almost any frame.

Good luck, and I'd recommend posting in the imaging forums and taking a look at the pictures on Astrobin before purchasing!

Good luck,
Chris

#3 D_talley

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 02:57 PM

Since this is your first try at astro photography, I would suggest a Canon camera like the T2i which has the same chip as the more expensive 60da. You can try out astro photography without spending too much and get very quick results. Mono cameras require you to take 4x the number of photos as a DSLR. If you like how things look then you can upgrade to a dedicated mono camera like the SBIG.

#4 tecmage

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 05:53 PM

Hi Lew,
If you're new to all this, then I also suggest a DSLR. If you decide that AP is not for you, you can still use the camera for other things. additionally, you can pick up a DSLR for a few hundred and produce great images. Check out the DSLR Forum- there are plenty of threads about camera selection.

#5 Lew

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:00 PM

Chris, Dwight & Richard,

Thanks much for the advice. I also posted the same question in the beginning imaging forum and got a number of responses in it. Based on everything I read, I decided to get a DSLR (I picked up a Canon T3i last week on sale) to use along with my DSI II to learn the basics of AP before buying a real CCD imaging camera. On CCDs, the clear choice appears to be one with the 8300M; maybe they will come down in price by the time I buy one.

Again, thank you to everyone for the advice.

Lew

#6 Jim Romanski

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 11:08 AM

I highly recommend buying this book: Digital Astrophotography: A Guide to Capturing the Cosmos
There are other books that can give you more in depth information about a particular imaging method. But this book will give you an overview of astrophotography and help you figure out where to get started. It also gives you enough information to do some astrophotography but once you get into it you may want more detailed information.

The graphics and photography are outstanding. There's a graphic in the back of the book that shows the size of the the field that each type of imaging method will capture. It also tells you the pros and cons of the various equipment and methods.






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