Jump to content


Photo

Upgrade to a Mallincam?

  • Please log in to reply
31 replies to this topic

#1 barbarosa

barbarosa

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 863
  • Joined: 11 Apr 2010
  • Loc: "lamorinda", CA

Posted 11 April 2013 - 01:51 PM

I think it is time for a better camera, but which one? My primary scope is a CPC1100. I use a Samsung SCB-2000 and lately a Lntech LN-300 I am a few miles east of the San Francisco Bay and on the edge of a green belt, but the sky is semi-suburban/urban. My immediate area is illuminated by Insanely bright "period" lights at a nearby college. The Milky Way left town a few years back.

Attached is a recent image of M51 using the the LN-300 (x1024) security cam. It is about as good an image of M51 as I can get. I want to do better.

I plan to shift the scope to a wedge and pier. I have not decided about auto guiding. Right now I have no interest in long exposure, post processed stills.

A Mallincam is within the budget but I find the various models and options very confusing. Does the level of sky glow constrain my choice? If I can use longer exposures will I need to guide at some point? So, help me please and tell which camera and what options I should get.

Thank you.

Attached Files



#2 mpgxsvcd

mpgxsvcd

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1949
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Raleigh, North Carolina

Posted 11 April 2013 - 03:05 PM

There simply is a huge difference between a dark site and a not so dark site.

There are 3 images below. The first one is from a mildly dark site. The other two are from my backyard that has intense sky glow(Humidity might make it worse?).

One of the images in my backyard was without a filter. The other one was with the strongest LP filter you can buy. As you can see it really didn't make a difference. These are all 23-30 second ISO 6400 single exposures.

Attached Files



#3 mpgxsvcd

mpgxsvcd

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1949
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Raleigh, North Carolina

Posted 11 April 2013 - 03:06 PM

Here is one from my backyard.

Attached Files



#4 mpgxsvcd

mpgxsvcd

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1949
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Raleigh, North Carolina

Posted 11 April 2013 - 03:06 PM

And Another from my backyard. Can you tell which one used the Sky Glow filter?

Attached Files



#5 Dwight J

Dwight J

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 965
  • Joined: 14 May 2009
  • Loc: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Posted 11 April 2013 - 04:08 PM

Hi David: I would recommend a Mallincam Extreme. That way you are not limited in terms of exposure time. For moderate to heavy light pollution I would use the Astronomic UHC filter. If light pollution is not that bad a Lumicon Deep Sky filter or one of the IDAS LPS filters will help. To put this in perspective, I live in a suburban area and the Lumicon DS filter is adequate most nights. The UHC filter lets me use the camera during moonlit nights and image in color, albeit with longer exposures to compensate for the stronger filter. I have also used a Ha filter with good success but in mono (saturation at zero). Chris A. (Astrogate) has used all of these filters from a suburb of Toronto - pop 5 million, with great effect. As Travis noted though, there is no substitute for dark skies and you will always get better images the darker the sky. I still use the Lumicon DS filter from a dark site as it reduces natural sky glow and enhances emission nebula. Catch a few NSN broadcasts and ask questions of the hosts as they are from a variety locations from rural to urban.

#6 mclewis1

mclewis1

    Thread Killer

  • *****
  • Posts: 10781
  • Joined: 25 Feb 2006
  • Loc: New Brunswick, Canada

Posted 11 April 2013 - 05:42 PM

David,

The choice of Mallincam video cameras is pretty simple.

First they all perform the same when considering exposures under a minute, and they all operate the same when using exposures under 2.1s (solar system work for example).

MCHP - manually controlled camera, all the longer exposure controls are switches on the outside of the camera. Up to 56s exposures in fairly coarse jumps (2.1, 7, 14, 28, and 56s). Some computer control is possible for all the menu functions but not for the longer exposures ... for that you have to use the camera's switches. Cooling is also controlled via an external switch, it's either on or off. Menu control is also possible via an external wired hand box. This is the simplest Mallincam to operate.

VSS+ - manual or computer controlled. Longer exposures are controlled via a knob (pot) on the camera, or via computer. Exposures to just under 2 minutes are possible. Enhanced (graduated) cooling. Menu control is also possible via an external wired hand box.

Xtreme - computer control or a combination of wired and wireless external controllers. Long exposure control is not possible without one of those two configurations. Long exposures are available up to 999 seconds. CCD mode for imaging (no automatic gain). Enhanced (graduated) cooling. The X2 option for the Xtreme camera is for further enhanced cooling capabilities (internal as well as external heat sinks and fans). The X2 option is suggested when you are regularly using the camera in warm/hot conditions (nightime temps above room temperature for example).

The choice between them really comes down to how you want to control the camera and whether or not you want all the bells and whistles of the Xtreme for exploring longer multi minute exposures.

All of the cameras have the option of the more sensitive EXView HAD chip in place of the regular Sony sensor. In general this upgrade is more effective for shorter exposures (not the multi minute type). Users have reported that the combination of the EXView chip, shorter exposures, and aggressive filters works quite well under heavy light polluted conditions.

#7 Dwight J

Dwight J

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 965
  • Joined: 14 May 2009
  • Loc: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:19 PM

Just a slight correction to what Mark said in his excellent description about the VSS model - max exposure time is 112 seconds (2X the MCHP). Another point about the Exview HAD chip is that the colors are less saturated in exposures over 30 seconds.

#8 Jack Huerkamp

Jack Huerkamp

    Vendor - Waning Moon

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1047
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2005
  • Loc: Louisiana

Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:20 PM

David,

Send me an email and I will help you with selecting the best MallinCam for your usage.

Jack

#9 dragonslayer1

dragonslayer1

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1017
  • Joined: 25 Feb 2012
  • Loc: SLC, UT

Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:26 PM

Hey David,
I have the VSS+ and really like it and the big advantage I like is no computer needed. Just scope, camera, small screen and power supply to view and share visuals. If desire to do frame grabbing etc hooks right into a computer with grabber. Just a viewpoint to consider. :grin:
Kasey

#10 nytecam

nytecam

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11412
  • Joined: 20 Aug 2005
  • Loc: London UK

Posted 12 April 2013 - 08:51 AM

There simply is a huge difference between a dark site and a not so dark site. There are 3 images below. The first one is from a mildly dark site. The other two are from my backyard that has intense sky glow(Humidity might make it worse?). One of the images in my backyard was without a filter. The other one was with the strongest LP filter you can buy. As you can see it really didn't make a difference. These are all 23-30 second ISO 6400 single exposures.

Nice try but yes that's reason I don't use my DSLR for DSOs - it hasn't got enough OOMPH but then my Lodestar is a KILLER if too tiny to get the Leo Trio on in one field hence this montage from my London LP NELM 3.5 backyard :rainbow:

Attached Files



#11 barbarosa

barbarosa

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 863
  • Joined: 11 Apr 2010
  • Loc: "lamorinda", CA

Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:21 PM

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and thank you Dwight for chatting with me last night on NSN. If the difference between class 0 and class 1 is on the Mallincam sites, I missed it. Anyway it seems that class 0 might not be worth it, but I am open to further suggestions.

Filters seem to be a controversial topic. However, there is support for some specific filters, and I’ve seen some used on NSN that appeared effective. I will come back to the subject later.

I looked at the comparison chart on Jack’s site and it was helpful.

Right now, I have an ultimately simple camera control—push buttons on the camera. I have a small display, but I generally use a laptop and USB frame grabber attached to the mount. Image quality takes a hit, but I like the convenience being able to move indoors and use one long USB cable to control the mount and carry the image. Are there any problems with connecting the Mallincam via a serial/USB adapter (other than problems with the number of devices that I can connect to a long active USB cable run)?

I think that I do want full PC control so the Extreme seems like the better choice, I do not expect to take the camera to the field.

I still am uncertain about the X2 version. If in fact the real distinction is extra cooling for warm nights, I might not need that. We do get the occasional shorts and T-shirts, jump in the pool at midnight weather, but generally the summer marine layer moves in by 12PM and temperatures (and visibility) drop rapidly. If the cooling and other changes make for a discernable improvement in the image, particularly with the EXview HAD option, then hey, its only money (sweat of brow, years of toil, 1 day in a better nursing home).

The comment about less saturated color with the EXview HAD is not clear to me. Does it mean that the colors are marginally dimmer or washed out compared to the standard sensor? Can any comparison be made with the EXview HAD II type-1/3" ICX672AKA in the LN-300 I am using now?

If the EXview HAD chip performs, better under suburban sky that seems a good trade off for color saturation.

Based on what I understand so far, the best choice seems to be the Extreme 2 with the EXview HAD option, with the VSS+ a close second.

Are there any must have accessories?

Maurice, I don’t know quite what to make of your fine Lodestar images in terms of the Loadstar-C as an alternative to the Mallincam. I looked at your Spring Compilation and if it was contest with my SCB-2000 or LN-300 some of yours were definitely better and some M1 for example, were not. On the other hand, your images don’t show the odd black ringed or rectangular stars that show up in some video frame grabs.

Travis, Dwight, Mark, Kasey. and Maurice I appreciate your help and any addition advice or information you can give me. Jack I am about ready to email you.

#12 nytecam

nytecam

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11412
  • Joined: 20 Aug 2005
  • Loc: London UK

Posted 12 April 2013 - 04:48 PM

David - only teasing with my nice Lodestar pics but you can see I'm happy :grin:

The Extreme has a large OSC Sony RGB sensor [used in a number of CCD astrocams] with, I understand, a 'video-like' streaming option - many CCDcams will do this with suitable s/ware. It won't have the sensitivity CYMG filtered Mallincam which will probably suit you best. Good luck in your choice ;)

#13 Chris A

Chris A

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1112
  • Joined: 03 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 12 April 2013 - 06:12 PM

Hi David

The difference between a standard class 0 and class 1 CCD sensor is the class 0 has 0 to 1 hot pixels and less warm pixels also the class 0 has a lower dark noise current. The class 1 sensor is very good and does extremely well though. I did some test images quite awhile back between the Standard class 0 and the EXView HAD class 1 and the difference was amazing. The standard CCD sensor was my 1st choice from my area which requires filters to be used and longer (30 to 90 sec) exposures. Now keep in mind that my older MCX with regular cooling had the standard sensor and the EXView HAD had the newer updated cooling X2. I would say that if the sensors were in both MCX original coolers the difference would have been even better for the standard sensor.

Now keep in mind the two image comparisons were of both galaxies M51 & M64 and since the standard CCD sensor is more sensitive in capturing the Hb & OIII wavelengths, I was expecting this result but not this extreme. I would have loved at the time to compare these two sensors on a nice emmision nebula since the EXView HAD is more sensitive to Ha wavelength. Keep in mine that you will have more hot/warm pixels and for sure amp glow with the EXView HAD CCD sensor. Anyways have a look and see for yourself what you think.

M64 http://www.flickr.co...tream/lightbox/

M51
http://www.flickr.co...tream/lightbox/



** I would recommend that if your observe under dark skies or have a fast scope of F2 like a Hyperstar C11 or C14 then perhaps the EXView HAD sensor is best for you.

Chris A
Astrogate

#14 barbarosa

barbarosa

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 863
  • Joined: 11 Apr 2010
  • Loc: "lamorinda", CA

Posted 13 April 2013 - 12:13 PM

Chris the photos are dramatic and very helpful. I was almost reflexively inclined to go for the EXview HAD chip. Now I have to rethink that. Neither of us is in a dark sky location and your broadcasts on NSN are very good, your specific suggestions on filters would carry weight.

My scope is a standard CPC1100 generally fitted with an f/6.3 reducer on the scope and/or a .5x reducer on the cam for DS0s.

Is there any contradiction or distinction between your closing comment and Marks comment that, “In general this upgrade is more effective for shorter exposures (not the multi minute type). Users have reported that the combination of the EXView chip, shorter exposures, and aggressive filters works quite well under heavy light polluted conditions.”

What are your thoughts on using software to make on the fly corrections for artifacts such as those seen in the EXView HAD image?

Thanks again for all the help.

#15 Chris A

Chris A

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1112
  • Joined: 03 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 13 April 2013 - 02:47 PM

David the only way to get around using short (for me less then 60 sec) exposures are

1) Observing from a dark sky location, so no filters are required and use a fairly fast focal ratio of F3 to 5.

2) Observe from a city but use filters and a must would be a very fast focal ratio of F2 or greater.

Now using F2 or greater would require some extra aperture like 11" or more so the image scale esp. for the galaxies provides a decent size scale.

Now with us having VirtualDub filters to take care of the amp glow and hot/warm pixels that is much more prevailent with the EXView HAD CCD sensor, perhaps one could now obtain good results going longer then 60 secs.

Jim Thompson's amp glow masks were created with the standard CCD sensor, so you might have to make your own to be effective when using the EXView HAD chip.

Chris

#16 mpgxsvcd

mpgxsvcd

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1949
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2011
  • Loc: Raleigh, North Carolina

Posted 14 April 2013 - 12:19 AM

David the only way to get around using short (for me less then 60 sec) exposures are

1) Observing from a dark sky location, so no filters are required and use a fairly fast focal ratio of F3 to 5.

2) Observe from a city but use filters and a must would be a very fast focal ratio of F2 or greater.

Now using F2 or greater would require some extra aperture like 11" or more so the image scale esp. for the galaxies provides a decent size scale.

Now with us having VirtualDub filters to take care of the amp glow and hot/warm pixels that is much more prevailent with the EXView HAD CCD sensor, perhaps one could now obtain good results going longer then 60 secs.

Jim Thompson's amp glow masks were created with the standard CCD sensor, so you might have to make your own to be effective when using the EXView HAD chip.

Chris


I got to experience those amp glow filters last night on NSN. We were able to easily see the Hickson 50 with a Malincam and those filters. They were absolutely fantastic.

I tried my first broadcast and it was pretty much clouded out but I was able to show a few things. Tonight is so much better. However, I got home to late to setup the computer and everything for NSN so I just imaged instead.

NSN really was fun. I stayed up way too late(3:00 AM) experiencing other people's equipment.

#17 budman1961

budman1961

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1103
  • Joined: 25 Feb 2011
  • Loc: Springfield, MO

Posted 14 April 2013 - 03:27 AM

Join the club Travis!

#18 A. Viegas

A. Viegas

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1049
  • Joined: 05 Mar 2012
  • Loc: New York City/ CT

Posted 14 April 2013 - 09:00 AM

For the extra $139 or whatever to get the class 0. I think it's worth it, as during summer you will get many more hot pixels anyhow and give the relatively small pixel,array it becomes increasingly noticeable... I have a class 0 and when I setup near a friend who has a standard class 1 MCHP the difference is very noticeable... However, the miloslick software has a dark frame subtraction routine which greatly reduces the hot pixels... Net, net I think you will be happy with either choice, especially because now e software is getting much better as well...

Al

#19 Chris A

Chris A

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1112
  • Joined: 03 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 14 April 2013 - 10:29 AM

Yes Travis the VirtualDub filters are amazing and soon Stephan will come out with the MC Control with the VD filters built right into the software for an easier access and adjustment. Glad to see you on NSN and looking forward to joining your show next time.

Chris A
Astrogate

#20 Chris A

Chris A

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1112
  • Joined: 03 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 14 April 2013 - 10:32 AM

I talked to Bill and others who have tried the dark subtraction filter in the MiloSlick and it seems to not work well at all making the hot/warm pixels turn into black spots. Are you not seeing this when you try the dark subtract Al?

Chris A
Astrogate

#21 barbarosa

barbarosa

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 863
  • Joined: 11 Apr 2010
  • Loc: "lamorinda", CA

Posted 14 April 2013 - 02:04 PM

David the only way to get around using short (for me less then 60 sec) exposures are

1) Observing from a dark sky location, so no filters are required and use a fairly fast focal ratio of F3 to 5.

2) Observe from a city but use filters and a must would be a very fast focal ratio of F2 or greater.

Now using F2 or greater would require some extra aperture like 11" or more so the image scale esp. for the galaxies provides a decent size scale Chris

I am not in a dark site and I use an 11” SCT and stack reducers to get something between f/3 and f/4. Does this mean that without software processing I cannot use exposures >60 seconds unless I use filters and Fastar? 60 seconds might be a great improvement over the 17 I have now, but if 60 seconds is even close to the practical limit (because of sky glow?), perhaps the VSS+ is a better choice.

Whatever the answer Chris, you have been a great help.

#22 Stew57

Stew57

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2525
  • Joined: 03 May 2009
  • Loc: Silsbee Texas

Posted 14 April 2013 - 02:43 PM

If your skies are light polluted like mine the question is how do you want to control the camera. If you want to be able to control the camera at the scope without a pc the VSS is the way to go. If you want to be able to control integration time via the pc the extreme or VSS+ is the way to go.

#23 Dwight J

Dwight J

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 965
  • Joined: 14 May 2009
  • Loc: Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Posted 14 April 2013 - 02:56 PM

Hi David: you don't need to use Fastar to get 60" and beyond. At the focal ratios you are talking about longer exposures are quite possible providing you use a light pollution filter of some sort. At F 2 a filter is a necessity at almost any exposure time. At F 4 you might be able to get 30 seconds but after that contrast gets lost in the light pollution. I already had the Lumicon Deep Sky filter before I got a Mallincam so it ended up as the filter I used. Any light pollution filter will improve the view and make longer exposures possible and more pleasing. You can augment with other filters as you go but I believe that from a suburban/urban location that a filter is essential.

#24 barbarosa

barbarosa

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 863
  • Joined: 11 Apr 2010
  • Loc: "lamorinda", CA

Posted 14 April 2013 - 03:12 PM

Stew, your "polluted" sky is likely better than mine, at least accoding to the satellite images and the Artificial Night Sky Brightness overlay in Google Earth. Chris in Toronto might be in a similar or somewhat worse situation than mine.

Yes, I see that the differences then would be in computer control and possibly in cooling and noise, but these might not be important in 60 second exposures.

This is disappointing, but better to know this now rather than repent my choice later.

#25 Chris A

Chris A

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1112
  • Joined: 03 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 14 April 2013 - 03:35 PM

David the Faststar recommendation was for only the EXView HAD CCD sensor in order to keep the exposures below that 60 sec where amp glow and hot/warm pixels do not distract from the object/image.. If you use the standard CCD senor then you can go longer then 60 sec and use whatever f ratio you desire and I find that F3 to 6 is best.

If you want full computer control of your camera then the MCX is the way to go plus if you ever plan on using Ha filters for the full moon nights on emission and diffused nebulas that will require longer than 2 min exposures VSS+ limit.

Glad that the info helped you out!

Chris A
Astrogte






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics