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NexImage 5 -- yes or no?

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#1 butsam

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 03:58 PM

OK, I'm close to pulling the trigger on the Celestron NexImage 5, here's your chance to convince me one way or another...

My primary goal is to do some basic low-time-requirement solar system imaging, and learn the associated image processing.

I have not done astrophotography before, but have an above-average understanding of the theoretical issues (I'm currently a PhD student in physics, but I am more computational/theoretical).

I don't really have an interest in long-timescale AP.

I have a NexStar 8 SE, and live in moderately light-polluted skies...I can routinely see down to about magnitude 11-12 stars from my back yard (~12 looking more toward the east, ~11 looking more toward the west...somewhat large city to the west). So, that gives some indication of sky conditions around here.

The price on Amazon is around $160. (If I get a favorable impression from the forum, I'll shop around some before pulling the trigger.)

Also, any other accessories you'd recommend? Why would I want/not want a focal reducer?

I'll also post in the beginner AP forum to get their perspective, but would like the NexStar perspective as well.

Thanks!

#2 herrointment

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:12 PM

Just starting out I'd opt for the old Neximage used. Cheap and easy to learn on. If you enjoy the process then there are better choices available other than the Neximage 5 for not a whole lot more dough. I've got both and can't recommend the 5.

That said, your seeing will be the final determining factor in the quality of your photos. One night of great seeing throws all the "what am I doing wrongs" right out the window.

#3 TmaninTn

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:50 PM

I second the old Neximage (a used one should run you $50-$60) if you are just starting out. I've had tons of experience with it and I've been able to get some pretty decent images.

Of course, all it did was make me want more advanced imaging equipment, so be forewarned.

Here's a Jupiter pic I took with the Neximage a few months ago.

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#4 ben2112

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:56 PM

What makes the Neximage 5 worse then the Neximage? And is there another camera that is sub $200 one could get besides the Neximage 5?

#5 TmaninTn

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:02 PM

The 5 is actually a better camera, here's the difference.

Neximage Resolution: VGA 640x480, Chip: .25-inch format, HAD, color CCD chip, Pixel Size: 5.6 micron square

Neximage 5 Resolution:5MP (2592 x 1944) Chip:1/2.5" format, color CMOS Sensor Pixel Size:2.2 micron square

I'm not sure if this a $100 better camera, but these are the stats.

#6 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:11 PM

Just starting out I'd opt for the old Neximage used. Cheap and easy to learn on. If you enjoy the process then there are better choices available other than the Neximage 5 for not a whole lot more dough. I've got both and can't recommend the 5.

That said, your seeing will be the final determining factor in the quality of your photos. One night of great seeing throws all the "what am I doing wrongs" right out the window.


This sounds like good advice. If you have an Astronomy club nearby maybe someone might one of each for comparison. Good luck....

#7 CelestronDaddy

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:14 PM

Nice one Tim ....

#8 WaterMaster

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:48 PM

There's another difference between the original Neximage and the Neximage 5. The 5 is a single exposure camera, the original is a webcam.

#9 jturie

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 09:24 AM

Tim, great shot. Can you supply the details (scope, processing, etc)? I have a 6SE and a Neximage and your results are definitely exciting.

butsam--I just bought my Neximage used from Skies Unlimited for 49 bucks. They had a second one there for $49, and it included the reducer lens. No disk, but I was able to download everything I needed along with Win7 drivers.

I'm still learning my way around the sky with my 6SE, so I haven't used it yet other than to plug it into my laptop.

#10 TmaninTn

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:06 PM

Hi Jack,

That Jupiter pic was about 3x barlow, 200 frames through wxAstrocapture, 1/25, F5, and Registax 6.

#11 jhirsch

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:39 PM

Tim,
Great photo. Thanks for supplying us with some specifics of how you were able to obtain the shot. :waytogo: I've done pretty well at resisting the urge to cross over to the dark side (AP). But at a starting price point of less than $100.00 used I may have give in to my curiosity and venture into the dark side...

#12 hopskipson

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 07:26 PM

I have the original NexImage and haven't yet realized its potential. That's a great Image of Jupiter Tim. I've tried but my seeing has been aweful or the sky's been clouded over. I did get some decent captures of the Moon the other night.

#13 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:18 AM

The pixels for the NexImage 5 are 2.5 times smaller (in each direction so they are actually 6.25 times smaller in area) than the pixels for the original NexImage. This means you will have more pixels on your planet, or a higher resolution picture, if you use the newer camera.

Watch this video to get an idea of what to expect in terms of field of view. In the video both cameras' field of view are compared.

If you use both cameras in 640x480 mode then the field of view will be 2.5 times wider with the older camera. Having a bigger field of view is nicer for finding the planet and keeping it inside of your field of view during the minute long "movie" you will want to make to feed to RegiStax for processing. Having this wider field of view comes at the expense of having a tinier image of the planet. For this reason you will want a smaller field of view (when at 640x480). You can either use a 2.5x Barlow with the older camera or just use the newer camera. With the newer camera you also have the option of going much higher than 640x480. Then you will have a larger field of view AND higher resolution for the planet. The penalty then becomes the resulting file is much bigger and the frame rate is reduced.

I use the newer camera and use the higher resolutions to help me find the planet. Once I center the planet I drop back to 640x480 so I can maximize my frame rate. I have a CGEM and am able to keep Jupiter within the field of view (at 640x480). I don't know if this is possible with the NexStar 8SE. If not I would still want the newer camera. You could go up to 1024x768 or a little higher if needed.

This link will take you to some images (more links) that have been posted on Cloudy Nights that were taken with the NexImage 5.

#14 butsam

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:22 AM

Thank you! :)

How big is the FOV issue, if I have a 6 mm EP already? I think the FOV of the NexImage 5 was quoted at equivalent to a 5 mm EP. Would it be enough to center and focus the target in the 6 mm EP, then put on the NexImage 5, and it should appear?

All this said, I am now talking myself down, and thinking of waiting until I can get a good all-around camera such as the EOS Rebel T3, which is about double the price ($400 on Amazon) but can do a lot more...my wife brought up that she wanted a better camera when I mentioned the NexImage 5 again yesterday evening, so this may be my opportunity (once we have the savings for it)! A fair number of people on the Solar System Imaging side were recommending against NexImage and instead for a just under $300 AP-only camera...and if that is the case, I might as well just wait for a just under $400 all-around camera since I don't have a great all around camera yet...I have a decent one, but not a great one, and no DSLR. Any thoughts on how that would compare?

#15 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 09:50 AM

If you watch the video about how to calculate your field of view you will see that you need a camera with tiny pixels for imaging the planets. You also want a camera that takes 30 to 50 frames per second. A DSLR camera doesn't have small enough pixels so you would need to use a 2x to 4x Barlow. You would be adding a couple pounds of payload hanging way out on the back of your NexStar 8SE. A DSLR camera would be far from ideal for imaging the planets. If you do decide to go that way I would look for one that would allow you to select a 640x480 region at high frame rate, if they even make such a camera. If you are taking 5 to 10 megapixel images you will find that 99% of the pixels are empty and your planet only uses 1% of the pixels.

The NexStar 8SE mount does not allow long exposure photography. One problem is that it doesn't have a wedge. This web page shows why you want a wedge.

If you open up the NexImage 5 camera to the full 2592 x 1944 mode you shouldn't have much of a problem finding your planet. Then you can center the planet and drop down to 640x480. The idea of using a 6 mm eyepiece to focus and then insert the camera might work. I often use the sync mode on a nearby star. I use the nearby star to focus the camera using a Bahtinov mask. Then I have to find the planet with just the camera. That way I know I have perfect focus.

I can find it easy to believe that people from the Solar System Imaging forum are against the NexImage camera. They all have the ASI120MC camera or the $500 Imaging Source cameras. I don't recall seeing very many pictures of planets taken with a DSLR. Perhaps it is useful for Moon shots.

This link I provided shows you what you can do with the NexImage 5. To me, Celestron has made the ideal camera for planetary imaging for under $200.

#16 rg55

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 12:58 PM

Some recent images taken with the Orion 180mm Maksutov and the NI5.

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#17 rg55

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 12:59 PM

Jupiter.

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#18 rg55

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 01:01 PM

Messier A and B.

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#19 rg55

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 01:44 PM

I would concur with Steve's assessment of the NI5 above. I think that it's a good camera, a significant upgrade from the original NexImage, and a good value under $200. In that sense I think it's the best new entry-level camera at the price.

Being who we are, astrophotographers soon desire more from their equipment and so the passionate imager will move on to the next stage such as the ASI120MM, the Flea3, etc., with the attendant filter wheels and related requirements. That is another category of imager, that I would consider intermediate. The NI5 is not really for the intermediates. You need to decide at what level you will be working and what you can afford. That will guide your decision.

Either way, you are living in the golden age of planetary imaging! Enjoy! :D

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#20 butsam

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:03 PM

Great images and advice, all; thank you much! Looks like the NexImage 5 can really do a lot of cool things :) I appreciate all of the tips!!! :) It's hard to see the NexImage 5 in action...frequently they talk about the original NexImage, and searches produce a mix (with far less NexImage 5 since it's relatively new still). I appreciate it greatly!

Sam

#21 butsam

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 08:58 AM

k; I bit the bullet and decided on the NexImage 5. Part of the driving factor was that I could pick it up for $120 in used (like new) condition, still in the original packaging and unopened. I figured for an extra $40-$60 (beyond the price of a used original NexImage) the added benefits of the NexImage 5 are probably worth it, and the NexImage 5 will probably have better resale value if I later want more. I'll keep you all posted! Thank you for the great help...love this forum! :)

#22 jturie

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 09:06 AM

Great price. Good luck with your new toy, and exercise patience with the learning curve. Clear skies!

#23 jhirsch

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 09:44 AM

Keep us updated on your progress.

Jerry

#24 hopskipson

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:43 PM

Good luck with the new camera and post plenty of pics. I find the limiting factor seems to be the steadiness-seeing of the atmosphere at the time. Have fun!

#25 Arctic_Eddie

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 12:55 PM

Available at Amazon for $164.99. Only 11 left in stock but more on the way.

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B006ZN4V...






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