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KAF-8300 questions?

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#1 Footbag

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:57 AM

After four years of imaging with a DSLR, I'm considering making the jump to CCD. I will be building an observatory this summer and want it to be accessible remotely. This means I need to start thinking CCD. It will be mono w/filter wheels.

The obvious answer would be a KAF-8300 based camera. I really wish I could get something APS-C sized, but bigger then KAF seems expensive. I am going to miss the FOV. Even used, the SBIG package will be pushing my budget, so bigger probably isn't an option.

Two questions on this, is it a good match to an Edge 800 SCT? Or is there a better? If it could do double duty on the Edge and a fast refractor, that would be best.

Also, isn't the KAF-8300 late in it's lifecycle? Will there be a replacement for it in the next couple of years? Or with SBIG's new camera, is it safe? I think SX moved away from it, and I see people complaining about it as noisy; but it does seem to be the only game in town.

What else should I be looking at?

#2 mmalik

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:15 AM

Some info in this... thread; I feel the same way, it seems a bit late in the cycle, but forecast isn't pretty either. Thx

#3 blueman

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 11:52 AM

.56 arc sec image scale with an SCT is not going to be easy. OAG will be a must and the mount will have to be very good to get good images, the Mach 1 should handle that.
A larger pixel would help.
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#4 Footbag

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 12:37 PM

.56 arc sec image scale with an SCT is not going to be easy. OAG will be a must and the mount will have to be very good to get good images, the Mach 1 should handle that.
A larger pixel would help.
Blueman


Is there a sensor which would have bigger pixels, but not sacrifice FOV? Also, without breaking the bank?

#5 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 01:44 PM

I am in a similar position as you. Trying to find a camera for use on my 280mm SCT and 106mm refractor is not fun :)

What is your budget?

As for noise, the FLI ML8300 has amazing specs. There are users on this very forum that use it and have produced beautifully clean images.

8e- RMS @8MHz
.003e- Dark current @ -35C
QE ~60% @540nm
Cooling is 60C below ambient

#6 Footbag

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:11 PM

I am in a similar position as you. Trying to find a camera for use on my 280mm SCT and 106mm refractor is not fun :)

What is your budget?


Hard for me to put my budget in writing, but as long as you don't tell my wife I'd have to be under $4k finished business including filters. But I'd jump on a used deal to save some money if I have the opportunity.

I did see the FLI site, and have heard of their reputation. I did notice that they offer many sensor options in each form. But, I have no idea about their prices.

#7 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:17 PM

Their prices are quite high, but you do get what you pay for.

When I first started my budget was around yours; $5K. Now I've decided that if I'm going to do it, I may as well buy something with a solid reputation that will meet my needs for the next 5-10 years. I've since increased it to slightly under $10K

The ML3200. 6.8micron pixels, 3.3MP, high QE and a picture scale of .7 asec/pixel. FOV is ~18 x ~26 arc minutes, but the cost is a weeee bit higher than the ML8300. $8000. With this you can still use 1.25" filters

There is also the ML6303. 9 micron, 6.3 MP, high QE of nearly 70% with a picture scale of .93 asec/pixel. FOV = ~32 x ~48 arc minutes. Cost is $7895. Sensor diagonal is a 33mm

#8 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:22 PM

Do you own a focal reducer? Another option is to acquire the focal reducer for your EdgeHD reducing your image scale with an 8300 to .79 asec/pixel with a fairly decent FOV equating 33 x 44 arc minutes

#9 Footbag

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:24 PM

Do you own a focal reducer?


I will be getting the .7x reducer for the Edge.

As much as I'd love to, I think the FLI's will be out of my budget. I already doubled my original budget with the intention of buying the STF-8300m. Now I'm just making sure I'm heading in the right direction.

#10 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:39 PM

Of course I neglected to mention several other key factors such as noise and full well, but moving on ...

The STF-8300 is a very capable camera and has been used by many astrophotographers with excellent results.

I'm presuming that you will be going the route of the STF-8300m with the OAG and FW package?

#11 Footbag

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:44 PM

I'm presuming that you will be going the route of the STF-8300m with the OAG and FW package?


Yes. Most likely the complete package. I like the integrated OAG and FW.

So when people complain about a "noisy" KAF-8300, what are they comparing it to?

#12 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 02:53 PM

If we compare to a sensor that is in its approximate price range, the ICX694 would be the one to *beat*. It is an absolute gem, but it is a tiny little sensor with a 16mm diagonal which reduces your FOV significantly.

It has a very high QE (77%), small pixel scale, a very low dark current of .002e/pixel/s @-10C when compared to SBIG's 8300 with a dark current of .02e-/p/s @ - 15C ... different of 10x) and a small RMS. It also has a small full well capacity of 20K e- giving it a dynamic range of 64db.

It is not a fair comparison when I see people comparing a 16803 with an 8300.

Side note: I also forgot to mention the cost of the ML8300 is $3895 and it does not include; filter wheel, filters, and OAG.

#13 bilgebay

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:12 PM

After much deliberation I went with an Atik 460 EX. I know FOV is small compared to DSLR or 8300 but there are targets to fit into that as well.

You don't have to worry about darks with this sensor.

I am still waiting for a clear night for the color exposure but here is a luminance frame for you to see the FOV

Posted Image

Hires image

35x 300 seconds Light frames, calibrated with flat and bias master frames
FSQ106EDXIII
Astrodon Truebalance Gen II Luminance filter - SX Filterwheel
Atik 460 EXM
Vixen New Atlux Mount + NexAtlux board - controlled via Sky Safari
Guided via 50mm Borg + SSAG/PHD
Framed, focused and captured with Sequence Generator Pro
Calibrated, aligned and stacked CCDStack
Post processing in Pixinsight&CS6

and here is another image of a very difficult target

Posted Image

Hires image

6x 1200 + 1x 600seconds Light calibrated with flat and bias master frames
FSQ106EDXIII
Astrodon 3nm Ha filter - SX Filterwheel
Atik 460 EXM
Vixen New Atlux Mount + NexAtlux board - controlled via Sky Safari
Guided via 50mm Borg + SSAG/PHD
Framed, focused and captured with Sequence Generator Pro
Calibrated, aligned and stacked CCDStack
Curves and levels in Photoshop.

#14 Footbag

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:24 PM

Great images! I like the scale you get with your FSQ, but I'm not sure about my Edge 800 HD. Then again, I may have to rethink what I want out of this camera.

One thing standing out in my mind is I'd probably not be able to get M81 & M82 in the same field even using the reducer. I'd be afraid I'd find this with a lot of my targets.

#15 bilgebay

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:31 PM

You will have the same FOV with a Hyperstar, even wider...C8 Hyperstar has a 420 FL... just a sec... off to Starizona site

OK, I'm back, you will have a FOV of 101' x 81' whereas the images you see are 81' x 65'.

I will collect my C8 Edge and Hyperstar lense at NEAF and I am very excited about this new setup.

#16 pfile

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:36 PM

i made the same transition about 5 months ago and chose the STT-8300M. i had the same concerns about the chip being old and whatnot.

almost any CCD with proper cooling is going to knock your socks off relative to the DSLR. i can not believe what i've been able to do from this high-LP site with astrodon LRGB filters. check out my astrobin link.

at bin 1x1 i'm way oversampled (0.51 arcsec/pixel) but that has not stopped me from doing L at 1x1. of course you can also bin 2x2 or 3x3 with the 8300.

#17 Footbag

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:48 PM

i made the same transition about 5 months ago and chose the STT-8300M. i had the same concerns about the chip being old and whatnot.

almost any CCD with proper cooling is going to knock your socks off relative to the DSLR. i can not believe what i've been able to do from this high-LP site with astrodon LRGB filters. check out my astrobin link.

at bin 1x1 i'm way oversampled (0.51 arcsec/pixel) but that has not stopped me from doing L at 1x1. of course you can also bin 2x2 or 3x3 with the 8300.


Thanks. Very nice images in your gallery. I think I may just go with the STF-8300 when the time comes. If I happen across something better at NEAF or before my observatory is finished, I'll consider it. Thanks for all of the info.

#18 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:02 PM

I love the ATIK camera and the reports from Europe have been highly positive. The ONLY reason why I'm moving away from the ATIK is due to its European location in the event of support. If FLI comes out with an ICX 694 ... I'm all over it.

I'm VERY interested in seeing what Sony will do with their line given their new relationship with Aptina. I have my eyes on that one for sure!!

#19 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:05 PM

Great images! I like the scale you get with your FSQ, but I'm not sure about my Edge 800 HD. Then again, I may have to rethink what I want out of this camera.

One thing standing out in my mind is I'd probably not be able to get M81 & M82 in the same field even using the reducer. I'd be afraid I'd find this with a lot of my targets.


I think it may just barely fit. Look at it this way ... you get to learn how to do mosaics ;)

#20 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:13 PM

Atik just announced the new 490ex, basically a larger version of the 460ex. Benefits are a sony sensor, but with more pixels than the 460ex. I'm sure there are more substantive differences between the two.
Atik 490ex

This is probably going to be my next camera...I better start saving now!

#21 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:32 PM

Those are some very small pixels.

The larger pixel density is offset by the smaller pixels, but your resolution does increase somewhat.

*I originally stated diagonal which is incorrect. The diagonal of the two chips (694 and 814) are the same.

#22 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:45 PM

Oh, you're right! Somehow I mis-read the pixel size. I thought they were the same size as the 460ex. So you are correct, the resolution increases but the FOV is about the same.

#23 hytham

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:55 PM

I absolutely hate that they do not give you more detailed information regarding the model. "Outstanding QE" ... what does that even mean? "Very low noise ..." ok, go on.

I see that they give you an RMS of 5e-, but what about dark current? What about full well capacity?

#24 SL63 AMG

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:11 PM

Adam,

I really don't find the KAF-8300 to be all that noisy, especially with FLI's electronics in the ML8300.

I just grabed a random luminance image, stretched it as far as possible and uploaded it for you to compare with a stack of luminance and a finished image.

M78 single 10 minute Luminance, no calibration, stretched

Posted Image

M78 Stack of 16 10 minute Luminance frames- calibrated

Posted Image

M78 fully processed LRGB 6.2 hours integration- virtually noise free

Posted Image

I also had a QSI 583wsg and I never had frames where the noise overwhelmed the signal or was otherwise a problem.

The KAF-8300 is an excellent chip for the price and will serve you well. I think any of the four main manufacturers will provide you good results.

#25 Footbag

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 08:35 AM

Very nice images Dave. I don't think they look noisy, in fact they look great. I never thought the KAS-8300 looked noisy, I just heard the comment frequently. I guess that happend when your splitting hairs over $4k and $10k cameras.

The FLI cameras do look nice, but a bit out of my price range.






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