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Panasonic GH3 for near real time AP

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#1 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:41 AM

Here are some sample Astro Photographs I took with the GH3. I was able to capture 15 objects in a single night. All of these images were out of the camera jpgs.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=UehRwMBEQR4

http://forums.dprevi.../thread/3351947

Some of these shots were in camera HDR shots. That mode works extremely well if you select the +-2 stop option and then shoot a 15 second ISO 3200 base image. The camera then will combine that image with a 60 second and a 4 second image to give you an image that compresses the scenes dynamic range by 4 stops.

This works very well on Orion's Nebula. However, I would like to find a way to use the bulb function with HDR so that we could use longer shutter durations. Also it would be nice to be able to do RAW HDR shots. The camera already can do unlimited in camera RAW stacking. However, it can't align those shots like the HDR mode does.

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#2 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:42 AM

Horse Head

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#3 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:46 AM

Horse Head in 30 Seconds. Remember this is an unmodified camera with the stock filter in place.

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#4 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:50 AM

Running Man

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#5 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:51 AM

The Flame

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#6 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:52 AM

M31

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#7 Zoomster

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 04:39 AM

Very nice work, looks like that series by Panasonic is quite capable, I have the G3 lumix and am still experimenting. I will try your settings soon and see what comes up.

#8 Dwight J

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 11:09 PM

Travis: have you tried DeepSkyStacker Live? It may allow you to stack and display the "live" image and continue to stack as more images are downloaded. This would entail using a computer to view the resulting image. I know it can stack Canon Raw files but I am not to sure about Panasonic Raw files. It can do jpeg, tiff, bitmap, etc. Best thing it is free so no cost to see if it can help. As it is, the images you are getting are coming along and are very good.

#9 nytecam

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 03:36 AM

Excellent series of very clean DSO results Travis from your Panasonic GH3 cam under its own thread ;) I find it very useful to see the cam listed in the thread title and see what other cams, other than the Mallincam, can do. :grin:

As this video-like form of imaging is at the extreme edge of cam sensitivity etc info on scope aperture / f/ratio / exposure etc with each image is very useful for guidance - thanks :rainbow:

#10 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:23 PM

I discovered a few more interesting things about the Panasonic GH3. Not only does it do in camera RAW stacking to reduce noise and increase sensitivity. It also has an option to reduce vignetting in camera. You can do the entire stacking process in camera. However, I am mostly to impatient to do any stacking at all so I shoot mostly single exposure or HDR images.

The HDR mode works wonderfully for Orion. Is there anything else that can take the picture below in camera?

If you really want to know about the other semi live view camera options you really should try to see what the GH3 can do.

It is so wonderful to be able to shoot my everyday pictures and videos with high quality lenses and then be able to use the same camera for near real time AP at night. The wireless streaming, playback, and transfer is simply unmatched by any other camera.

It was so nice to be able to go out last night and not pick just one object to concentrate on. It didn’t matter what size or how dark it was. I could just point my scope at it and in less than 2 minutes I had a near real time picture that met my expectations.

Also some people downplay the benefits of not needing a PC or the connections that go with it. I hate cable clutter and I really don’t want to deal with powering the PC for the 7 hours I was out last night. Much less bringing a table out to sit it on.

If you are truly interested in learning what other options are out there I would be glad to answer any questions about the camera.

This is an out of camera JPG. No editing except to resize to meet CN requirements. It looks exactly like this on the LCD display or on an external monitor.

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#11 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:33 PM

Here is what it looks like when you don't use the HDR mode.

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#12 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:39 PM

Horse Head in 2 minutes ISO 6400

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#13 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:39 PM

M81 and M82

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#14 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:40 PM

M31 oriented better than before.

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#15 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:41 PM

M33 with a plane through it. Couldn't they have picked any other space to fly through at that moment?

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#16 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:42 PM

And our moon

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#17 StarmanDan

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 10:50 PM

Very nice! I may just consider this camera to replace my aging 350D.

#18 mattflastro

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 04:53 AM

I asked you in your first "hypothetical" thread and got no answer so I'm doing it again here, please tell more about the wireless streaming and all the wondrous wireless capabilities of this camera . I too hate cable clutter but at this point you seem to have a great head start in eliminating it . Do you have some pics of your setup?

#19 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:06 AM

I asked you in your first "hypothetical" thread and got no answer so I'm doing it again here, please tell more about the wireless streaming and all the wondrous wireless capabilities of this camera . I too hate cable clutter but at this point you seem to have a great head start in eliminating it . Do you have some pics of your setup?


Sorry I didn’t see your original request in the other thread. This is how wireless works with my GH3 and Celestron CG-5 mount.

1. The GH3 generates its own wireless network. You can connect to that network from any device with wireless capabilities. However, the only way to control it right now is through either an Android or Apple app.

2. Once you connect to the GH3 you can bring up the app and it will show you exactly what the LCD displays. This isn’t precisely real-time. However, it is essentially real-time. I have held the phone up next to the camera’s LCD and the difference in time for the video is less than the time it takes for you to move your eyes from one device to the other. Probably less than 60 Frames of delay(1 second). It is so much better than the GoPro App. That has some serious lag in the display.

3. I can control almost everything about the camera with the phone. I can control Shutter Speed, Aperture(For m4/3s lenses), ISO, White Balance, Lossless 10x Crop mode for Focusing, RAW vs. JPG, Image Resolution, and Color Mode(Including Sharpness, Contrast, Color, and Noise reduction).

4. The only things I can’t control are that I can’t turn on the fully electronic shutter or the HDR mode directly from the phone. However, I can set it up so that the when I shoot RAW+JPG it does not do HDR and when I switch to JPG only it will automatically switch to the HDR mode. Then I can control that from the phone.

5. I also have the wireless remote($150) for my CG-5 mount. That allows me to completely control my mount from my son’s itouch. It doesn’t work with Android yet. However, I need two separate devices to control it so that doesn’t really matter.

6. With both of those devices I can align objects, correct the exposure, take pictures, and review those images.

For me the biggest benefit is that I only have 2 cables on my entire setup. One Cable goes from my mount to my battery pack and the other cable goes from my scope to the battery pack for my dew fan. Where I live it is so humid that I have to run the fan year round.

There are a few drawbacks to the current wireless setup. I can’t review or see video from the camera on the phone. That is because the camera records at a minimum of 22 mb/sec and that could never be streamed. That isn’t a big deal though. Recording video is not useful for Deep space objects.

Also my live view is limited to no more than 2 seconds of shutter duration while viewing on the phone. Now that doesn’t mean that I can’t record an image with greater than 2 seconds exposure. I can actually go all the way to 60 seconds which is plenty when you can use ISO 6400 or even ISO 12,800 in some situations. It is just that I can go to 8 seconds when I am using the camera’s LCD for live view instead of the phone. They might change this with a firmware or app update though.

#20 mattflastro

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 02:59 PM

Travis, thanks for sharing the details of your wireless setup. It sounds great.
There are a few details I didn't understand exactly though .
When you say the camera creates its own network, what does it mean?
Is it connecting via Bluetooth or Wifi (802.11 of some type b/g/n ) ?
Does it need an acces point or is it an ad-hoc connection (peer to peer)?
What form of security if any does this link offer WEP , WPA , WPA2 ?
How do you set up the camera network configuration, is there a cam menu or is it thru a computer connection ?
Did the camera ever refuse to connect to your wireless device or forget the settings ?
Beside the x10 live view crop mode, how do you focus ? Is there any possibility to control a Robofocus type of device , or a temperature compensated focuser from your wireless tablet/phone ?
Are there any limits on the shutter operation , such as max duration of shutter open?
How long does the battery last , and if not all night, can it take a grip with 2 batteries or external power ?
How is the real image noise ? In these reduced images it's impossible to see , please could you post a cropped unprocessed small black area with just the sky black background and a few low magnitude but properly exposed stars ?
Are there any software tools to assist with scope polar alignment , collimation or complete system collimation thru the wireless link ?
Does the camera have in camera image stabilisation , or in lens ? This question is unrelated to any existing application but is something I would need for something of my own.
Oops, my questions list is longer than I thought . If there are Android or iphone apps that answer my above questions that would be a great plus for this camera to have a simple clutterless setup with great potential .

#21 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 03:50 PM

Let me first say that this setup is not meant to be a standalone maintenance free setup. For instance if you are thinking about setting it up in an observatory and then remote viewing via the network connection that probably isn’t going to work.

What I use it for is simply staying out of the cold. You still need to have access to the scope for the initial polar alignment and to set the initial focus. I guess you could get an automated focus motor but I don’t have that.

The steps I have to do manually are listed below. All of my observing can be done remotely after these things are setup. I checked and the wireless works from at least 70 feet away and through several walls.

1. You have to manually polar align the scope. There is no way to affect the polar alignment remotely. Well I guess you could do it if you have a motor on the mount.

2. Focusing must be done manually at the scope. Once my focus is set I use the focus lock on the scope and it doesn’t need to be adjusted after that.

3. Collimation cannot be done remotely.

Once I do those things. I can simply go inside where it is warm and where I can watch TV. I can monitor the camera’s live view remotely or review the pictures that it has already taken and move the mount with the iTouch.

The camera itself is limited to 1 hour exposures or less in B mode. However, the app does not support “B” mode yet so exposures are limited to 1 minute or less. You can get a lot in 1 minute or less when ISO 6400/12,800 is useful.

The GH3 simply creates a standard wireless network that any wireless device can connect to. It looks like any other wireless connection when I bring up the available wireless connections on my phone. It supports WEP and maybe the other encryption schemes. I wasn’t too concerned with security so I just went with the basic WEP I believe.

The Battery on the GH3 is simply incredible. It lasts twice as long as the one in the GH2. It is MUCH larger though. Also it takes 4 hours to recharge the battery. I have two of them and 1 more on the way.

I was out imaging the other night from 6:15 PM till 2:00 AM the next day. I imagined the entire time and used the LCD. The battery still had at least 50% power when I left. It will go all night without any worries. The big benefit of mirrorless cameras like the GH3 is that they don’t have to use power to leave the shutter open. The natural state of the GH3’s shutter is open and it doesn’t have a mirror to move of course.

You can buy a battery grip for the GH3 but it is unnecessary. It just adds weight to the camera.

The sensor in the GH3 is reported to be a brand new sensor made by Sony. It is also the same sensor used in the new Olympus OMD camera and quite possibly very similar to the sensors in the Sony NEX line.

The noise at ISO 6400 is very minimal even in long exposures and without using the in camera noise reduction. My GH2 was simply horrible for noise in long exposures. That is why I actually used my very old GF1 camera for AP before the GH3 came out.

Simply put. I think they actually designed the GH3 to do Astro Photography. They included all of the necessary features to do good wireless AP.

I know some of you scoff at the idea that a CMOS based interchangeable lens camera could be better than a purpose built CCD camera. However, technology specifically in software is advancing very rapidly. There is a lot that they can do to overcome the problems of the past.

I will try some stacking the next time we get clear weather to see if this camera is as good or perhaps better than the Cannon offerings. For now, I am completely thrilled with the results I have been getting for near real time work.

My ultimate goal is to do the Messier Marathon in the spring. I want to get every single messier object with a single shot. The challenge is “Can someone take a single “good” exposure for every single Messier object without retaking any of them”.

I want to have a single SD card with every Messier image on it in sequence. That way if I am doing outreach with kids and the conditions are not right I can still show them what the objects would look like if the conditions had been better.

#22 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 04:01 PM

Here is a single 60 second exposure from the GH2 with the lens cap on. This is with the in camera noise reduction that makes the exposure twice as long.

Trust me you don't want to see it without the Noise Reduction. It is hard to believe but it is even worse.

Keep in mind that this is a straight 800x600 crop of the original jpg file. No other editing was done and the in camera regular(Non dark frame) noise reduction was dialed down to -2.

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#23 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 04:08 PM

Here is the GH3 ISO 3200 60 second exposure with the lens cap on but without the noise reduction that takes twice as long.

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#24 mpgxsvcd

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 04:09 PM

And here is the GH3 with the dark frame noise reduction. 60 seconds ISO 3200 with an extra 60 seconds of dark frame noise reduction.

I would call this a vast improvement over the GH2. Wouldn't you? Just getting rid of the pink glow helps a lot.

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#25 mattflastro

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 04:39 PM

For collimating I should've said software assist , since you are right, there are no motors on scopes . I was thinking of software like Metaguide that improve collimation accuracy greatly. Or like CCDinspector , which allows you to analyse collimation or detect flexure and misalignment in your optical train .
Similarly, for polar alignment I should've said software assist , since there are no motors on mounts for polar align. Software like PoleAlignMax or Pempro .






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