Jump to content


Photo

Options for a CCD cam, Cooled. One shot colour.

  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 C8er

C8er

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 154
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2012

Posted 07 May 2013 - 05:36 PM

Hi All,

An imaging beginner here (previous imaging done with a Canon 60D DSLR) confused by the range of options on offer, looking for thoughts/options for a suitable mid range, one shot colour, cooled CCD cam for deep space imaging that would be suitable to use through a range of scopes, primarily on an 8 inch SCT (F10/2032mm focal length, and with reducer at f6.3), but also at times for wider angle imaging on a 5.1 inch reflector (F5, 650mm focal length) and perhaps with 80mm refractors (from F4 - F7). I would be using it on a Celestron CG5-GT goto Eq mount with an Orion SSAG autoguider, so it probably can't be too big and heavy.

If it was suitable for use with Hyperstar on the SCT at some stage if I went that way that would be great too.

My main targets for the device would be nebulae and galaxies I think, as my DSLR does a pretty decent job on Star clusters.

Currently I use DSS for stacking etc of my DSLR images, which works just fine, but if any of the brands of CCD cams come with exceptionally good, easy to use image processing software then that could be a factor in what I buy.

I have a ZWO Optical CMOS camera for solar system imaging, and also a modified Samsung SCB-2000 for video/several seconds integration viewing and imaging.

I think my price range (excluding shipping costs, import taxes etc) is in the USD $1200 - $2000 range and I am happy to buy from outside my own country where there is a very limited range of astronomy dealers, to get the best price.

So far some of the options I can see seem to be the ones below, but there are so many choices I have no idea which might be better/most easy to use/ most suitable for my particular scopes and mount.

ATIK. (314L+ at $1628 or 383L+ at $1790)

Celestron. Nightscape or Nightscape 8300.

QHY. 8L, 8Pro, or 9C.

Tucsen. 6MP cooled TCC-6.1ICE. Sseems unproven and only 12 bit, but very cheap direct from Tucsen.

Opticstar. DS-616C XL (I think possibly a rebadged Tucsen?)

SBIG. STF-8300C (on special at $1795 currently)

Starlight Express. SXVR-H9.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on any of those and other options. Advantages/disadvantages of the various options in particular.

Also, I see Atik and others suggest on their websites that their latest CCD cams, even just mid range ones, remove the need for taking dark frames in most situations. Is that really true?

Cheers.

#2 DaemonGPF

DaemonGPF

    Redonkulous

  • *****
  • Posts: 8201
  • Joined: 22 Mar 2008
  • Loc: Aurora Colorado

Posted 07 May 2013 - 06:13 PM

Yes, with ATIK and several QHY cameras you can get away without taking darks. I seldom took darks with my QHY-8. There are others too. I chose the QHY-8 for Hyperstar imaging and it was fantastic. In fact, I have another QHY-8 in my inventory yet again. ATIK314L+ is a fantastic camera, but it is a smaller chip compared to some of the other options you've listed. While it's nice to hunt for that "all-in-one" camera, it's probably more important to match the camera to the optics you intend to use and image scale you're going to be working at.

#3 C8er

C8er

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 154
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2012

Posted 07 May 2013 - 06:32 PM

Thanks for that Josh. One of the two Atics (314L+ or 383L+) did seem to stand out as possibilities from what I have seen so far. I'l be interested to see what others think.

I was hoping, perhaps naively as a beginner to be able with 1 ccd camera to image everything from smallish galaxies at long focal lengths with the SCT to very wide subjects such as the Eta Carinae nebula region with the 80mm refractor at short focal lengths. Is that not a practical proposition, and would I need different ccd cams for those two extremes?

As a beginner and despite some reading about it I don't yet fully understand the relationships between image scale, sensor and pixel sizes, focal length of scope etc. If someone can point me to a good visual simulator of that stuff it might help me understand better.

Cheers,
Chris

#4 andysea

andysea

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1497
  • Joined: 03 Sep 2010
  • Loc: Seattle, WA

Posted 07 May 2013 - 07:44 PM

Chris. I have owned an Atik 383L+ color for a short period of time and quite frankly it wasn't a huge improvement over my clear modded Canon T2i. I would recommend against any color Kodak KAF-8300 based CCD's as you will not gain much in terms on sensitivity. I have no experience with Sony sensors.
Also, I don't know how you are powering your camera but the 383 is extremely picky when it comes to voltage supply.
If the supplied power fell to near 12V my 383 produced noise that was impossible to remove. I wasted entire nights of imaging because of that.
The only advantage I guess would be that with regulated cooling I could take darks at any time.
My suggestion of course would be to get a mono CCD as in my experience and OSC CCD isn't an improvement big enough to justify the premium.

As far as image sampling I try to not go below +/- 1 arc second per pixel. According to Craig Stark, unless you have exceptional seeing, oversampling will only worsen your S/N ratio and it will not give any gain in image detail definition.

#5 David Pavlich

David Pavlich

    Transmographied

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 27521
  • Joined: 18 May 2005
  • Loc: Mandeville, LA USA

Posted 07 May 2013 - 09:20 PM

QHY8 Pro. Very low noise, nice sized chip, good compromise on pixel size.

David

#6 rgsalinger

rgsalinger

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 253
  • Joined: 19 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Carlsbad Ca

Posted 07 May 2013 - 10:51 PM

I'm quite happy with my SBIG STT8300C. They're about two grand, though and others may be cheaper. While the 8300's don't have the best QE, just cooling to -20 will get you lower noise shots. I have not seen any camera in this class whose results are not improved by shooting darks, though as others have claimed. Would like to see some citations, always fun to learn new things.
Rgrds-Ross

#7 CounterWeight

CounterWeight

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 8160
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Palo alto, CA.

Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:58 AM

As a beginner and despite some reading about it I don't yet fully understand the relationships between image scale, sensor and pixel sizes, focal length of scope etc. If someone can point me to a good visual simulator of that stuff it might help me understand better.


Chris,
This is a great visual aid and can't argue with the price (Freeware!) CCD Calc

Apogee has a site where they go under the hood, CCD University

Hope they help. IMO there's not a world o choices, there are a few chips and many folks making units with them. Good idea is to spreadsheet them, also take note of drivers and info like Bayer for the OSC's, software bundled or discounted.

.

#8 C8er

C8er

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 154
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2012

Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:07 PM

Thanks very much Josh, Andy, David, Ross, Jim.

That is all very useful information.

The CCD Calc simulator is great Jim ( as was your suggestion to spreadsheet all the cams with their sensors, cooling and sensitivity etc) and that has all really helped me see how the different sensor sizes would work with my range of scopes from 8" f10 SCT through 130mm f5 newt down to 80mm f4 frac.

After your help and some more looking I think I'm probably down to a choice of 3 (OSC is the way to go for me as I'm a bit of a lazy astronomer I'm afraid). So it could be one of, ATIK 314L+, ATIK 328EX, QHY8Pro. The 314L+ is right in the middle of my price range and the other two are a whisker over the top of it but I could probbaly stretch to the $2100-2200 needed for the QHY8Pro or 328EX. The two more expensive ones are also a good physical shape if I want to go hyperstar at some stage.

It's a toughie as QHY8Pro has deeper cooling and much larger sensor, while the 428EX has a latest generation and very sensitive sensor with less cooling and a much smaller sensor.

Two very different image scales of course and I have to decide if I want to be able to grab some wider field views on my SCT with the QHY8Pro or would be happy to wider field views by dropping down to a small scope with the 428EX/314L+, which have very similar sized sensors.

Thoughts on the relative merits of those 3 particular cams?

Cheers and thanks again,
Chris

#9 C8er

C8er

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 154
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2012

Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:09 PM

Oooops! ATIK 428EX, not 328EX as I typed it in at least one place. Duh!

#10 Warhen

Warhen

    Vendor (IP4AP)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1074
  • Joined: 12 Nov 2005
  • Loc: WV, USA

Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:56 PM

Right on Andysea, as good as the 8300M's are, is how poor the color versions is. If you are going OSC C8er, and it's a great place to start, especially for a fast system (HyperStar, etc.) the Sony chips are the best choice I think. Atik rocks! SX is great too, I'd choose these over QHY. I hear good things about the Nightscape, despite the 8300C sensor.

#11 andysea

andysea

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1497
  • Joined: 03 Sep 2010
  • Loc: Seattle, WA

Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:06 PM

Chris,
I would listen to Warren....he's got one or two good images to vouch for his knowledge of AP :grin:

One suggestion that I have is to scour the internet for images taken with the CCDs that you're looking at. That should give you an idea of the differences between them. Of course it will also depend on the user's experience, the equipment used and the location, nonetheless I always find that helpful.

Andy

#12 C8er

C8er

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 154
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2012

Posted 08 May 2013 - 06:29 PM

Thanks for that Warren and Andy.

Cheers,
Chris

#13 vpcirc

vpcirc

    Skylab

  • *----
  • Posts: 4012
  • Joined: 09 Dec 2009
  • Loc: Merced CA

Posted 08 May 2013 - 07:37 PM

The 314L is the best of what you mentioned. I got one orginally because of a review by Craig Stark. Then I was lost and got hooked up with the Atik US rep at the time, some guy named Warren. He took me from embarrassing images to some ok ones now. Despite that I bought an 8300 OSC. That was a mistake as the microlens on the OSC version kill it. I then moved to a QSI 8300 mono got my first halfway decent images. I've since moved up. Looking at your equipment and guessing that you're new to this, I hope you're not going to try and learn to image with the C8. I made that mistake in the beginning as well. With your mount, imaging will be a bit of a challenge anyway, so you're better off learning on a widefield setup. If that's your plan great! Just sharing my early years on agony!!

#14 C8er

C8er

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 154
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2012

Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:13 AM

Thanks for that Mike.

I am a beginner, and widefield imaging is in my sights as part of it, perhaps with an ED80 or 90 frac or the like, but I have been using my Canon 60D DSLR to image with the C8 for the last 6-8 months or so, usually with a 6.3 reducer and I think successfully guiding using my little Orion 50mm guidescope and SSAG using PHD software, and the results have been ok for a beginner with a basic CG5 mount I think. Well I am happyish with them for the stage I am at on the learning curve, although I know there are plenty of faults in my images so far.

The main two things I want from a CCD cam over the DSLR are a sensor with lower noise, and something to pick up the Ha light as my DSLR is unmodded and needs to stay that way, but it means my images are lacking seeing the HA parts of objects.

While widefield is in the plan, right now my only refractor is an Orion ST80 f4 achromat and I do plan to also keep using the C8 for some imaging. It is just one of several hobbies/interests I have so there needs to be plenty of compromise on how much and what equipment I can have, as my wife keeps reminding me. :)


Below is a link to a small online album of four of my astro images to show what sort of level of expertise I have gained so far with the C8 and the DSLR, which should show where I am at now. All fairly easy, bright targets, and well visible from here in New Zealand.

Images Album

Cheers,
Chris

#15 alpal

alpal

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3663
  • Joined: 15 Jun 2009
  • Loc: Melbourne Australia.

Posted 09 May 2013 - 12:45 AM

What about the QHY12?

http://www.gamaelect...m.au/QHY12.html


Active pixels : 4610 x 3080
Effective area: 24mm x 16.4mm
Pixel Size: 5.12um x 5.12um square
Color method: RGB BAYER film on CCD
Sony Super HAD CCD sensor


It's a bit outside your price range but may be worth it.

#16 C8er

C8er

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 154
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2012

Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:07 AM

Thanks for the suggestion alpal, but just a bit too far above my price range I think. Even the QHY8Pro and ATIK 428ex are pushing beyond my original price limit, and the QHY12 is quite a bit more than those.

Cheers,
Chris

#17 alpal

alpal

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3663
  • Joined: 15 Jun 2009
  • Loc: Melbourne Australia.

Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:10 AM

OK Chris,.
bear in mind that most people who buy a OSC camera eventually buy a mono.
That means you pay twice.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics