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Sony A7s - New Low-Light Camera - Wow!

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#676 Don Rudny

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 03:50 PM

Hehe, on a lighter side, probably a bounty for the EAA software is the way to go.

(SONY released the new SDK on Oct 31, 2014 which is more polished than in the past.  <-- except no support on BULB_start and BULB_end)

 

Before that happening...

I see many probably can't afford A7s initially to develop the code, I'd say go for an A7 (now made obsolete by A7 ii), or an even cheaper APS-C mirrorless (A5000 or A5100) to try out  the concept. 

 

I would think the following will be a quick-n-dirty way as a work around:

1. Use a wired-shutter timer control (about $20 and up) to set an interval shooting, say once shot every 20 seconds, pad 5 seconds in between to allow for image transfer.

2. Use a Toshiba FreshAir SD card to automatically transfer each captured image file to a PC "silently in the background".

3. The transfer folder in that PC will be actively monitored by DSS-Live which will do automatic stacking and image refinement on the fly.

3a. if necessary, insert some fast image processing steps <-- use WIndows PowerShell to automate such process 

4. The processed/stacked image can be displayed on PC screen once every 20 second.

(From 1 thru 4, there will be no human touch, after the process is started.)

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello

CCS,

 

DSS Live only does average stacking, not sum, so that would limit the ability to do shorter exposers on dim objects.  See Technical Information in this DSS Live link.

 

http://deepskystacke...lish/index.html



#677 Relativist

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 04:33 PM

ccs_hello, if you watch the youtube video I linked to a few posts back, at around 2:22 they describe the 'intervalometer' type function of the 'Remote Camera Control' software. This is all done via USB connection so that part is already viable (it's ok that it's not wireless - which would be preferred, but is not required), and it downloads into a pre-determined folder, on the video he takes a picture and it shows up on his desktop.

 

Since I'm on Mac, someone else will need to chime in on if or how DSS-live or DSS Observer Toolbar can or does handle a folder with updated images from a camera. In addition, for DSS, in the past it's been stated that A7 raw files were only in beta, has that changed, or are raw files the only way to go?

 

For Mac, the way I see it, Nebulosity is one of the few options to investigate, or maybe LightRoom as Moromete has described.



#678 Relativist

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 04:35 PM

CCS,

 

DSS Live only does average stacking, not sum, so that would limit the ability to do shorter exposers on dim objects.  See Technical Information in this DSS Live link.

 

http://deepskystacke...lish/index.html

 

 

Don, with the sensitivity of the chip, maybe average is enough. Are you able/willing to try some out, or have you and not found it satisfactory? Likewise, if your able to use DSS with the A7s, have you also considered using the DSS observer toolbar?



#679 Don Rudny

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Posted 11 January 2015 - 05:10 PM

Curtis,

 

I haven't used DSS Live for anything yet.  I have Lodestars that use the Lodestar Live s/w.  I'm a Mac guy, too, so I'm always looking for ways to run astro stuff on Mac.  LL has mean, median and sum stacking.  I almost always use the sum stacker.  For dimmer DSO's sum is great in keeping the exposure time within the limits of the tracking.  For brighter stuff, sum does a better job of reducing noise and smoothing the image.  

 

I was was looking at DSS Live because I dream of the higher res EAA camera.  The other night I saw Tom(SoIN) broadcast on NSN.  He use an Atik 460 with a Sony 694 sensor.  He was mainly showing emission nebulae with a NB Ha filter.  The images were fantastic, but the single exposures were rather long.  I think I saw your name as a viewer.  I thought if there were someway to do on the fly stacking with that camera or the SX694, it would be a great NRTV system.  I have Neb 3 for the Mac and it will control both of those cams, but it doesn't do auto or on the fly sum stacking, so that's why I looked at DSS Live.  

 

You may be right that the A7 is sensitive enough in some cases, but the average stacking exposure will not be any better than a single image.  It may improve the quality of the image but not the brightness of dim objects.

 

Neb 3 is a pretty nice program, but so far I haven't seen any way to do on the fly processing like LL does.  You can download a trial version from Stark Labs that doesn't have a time expiration and is fully functional.  You just can't save clean images.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Don



#680 Moromete

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Posted 12 January 2015 - 01:56 PM

Moromete,

 

Would it be possible to explain further your EAA use of LR 5.7? For example, let's say your doing 10 seconds with the camera, and it's set to continuously take 10 second exposures. Can LR 5.7 be set to automatically import the exposures and automatically apply the pre-determined settings?

 

Yes, you can. LR has an Auto Import function.



#681 Relativist

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Posted 13 January 2015 - 07:31 PM

Thanks Moromete,

 

Luckily, my iMac has not yet been updated to OSX 10.10, so I was able to successfully instal and use Sony's 'Remote Camera Control' software and was able to use it connected to my camera (a5100, but A7s is also supported) with USB to take pictures and have them appear on my desktop, and I can send them to any folder of my choosing. I did a test of the 'intervalometer' and it worked just fine (10 seconds between shots was the fastest it would go, and I can have it do up to 1000 shots.

 

From my initial look an Nebulosity it does not seem to have an auto file open function. I'm currently working on an Automator script to see what can be done with 'Quartz Composition Filter' actions. The Automator 'script' will detect when there is a new file in the folder and automatically apply the image adjustment steps I set up. Lastly, I will have the photo open in iPhoto in case I want to further adjust the histogram, each time a new capture comes the old one will close and new one will come up. Cross your fingers! If this works for me, I'll see if I can share the Automator script.

 

So far some of the useful 'Quartz Composition Filter' actions are; Color Controls, Exposure Adjust, Gamma Adjust. Just to name a few. I'm probably going to have it open up in preview for now. I will check what the maximum exposure I can do when in manual control is and report back on this post.


Edited by Relativist, 13 January 2015 - 09:02 PM.


#682 ccs_hello

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 06:29 PM

Just want to share the standalone wired shutter control device

see: http://www.cloudynig...hutter-control/

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#683 CHAPSKINS

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 04:21 AM

As a Mallincam X2 user who uses a HyperStar setup, I'm feeling more and more frustrated with the real estate views that the Mallincam offers. I keep reading these A7s threads with great interest because of the full frame vs puny Mallincam sensor.

 

Has anyone spoken to Sony or and software developers out there about increacing the video capture times so as to be able to take advantage of what seems like this fantastic A7s camera?

 

.


Edited by CHAPSKINS, 17 January 2015 - 04:23 AM.


#684 Moromete

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 06:21 AM

As a Mallincam X2 user who uses a HyperStar setup, I'm feeling more and more frustrated with the real estate views that the Mallincam offers. I keep reading these A7s threads with great interest because of the full frame vs puny Mallincam sensor.

 

Has anyone spoken to Sony or and software developers out there about increacing the video capture times so as to be able to take advantage of what seems like this fantastic A7s camera?

 

.

Since you already have Hyperstar optics, in my opinion there's no need to use a longer exposure than 30s with A7S + Hyperstar if you set the ISO at 102.000 on A7S for near real time viewing. I'm sure you'll reach Nirvana with this combo.

 

Actually the A7S+Hyperstar must be the best combo because of at least two reasons: 1) the A7S body is smaller than other DSLRs and it blocks less light because of it; 2) the A7S can be fully controlled remotely with a mobile phone/tablet and you don't have to worry about cables in the light path.



#685 skysurfer

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 06:32 AM

Since I'm on Mac, someone else will need to chime in on if or how DSS-live or DSS Observer Toolbar can or does handle a folder with updated images from a camera. In addition, for DSS, in the past it's been stated that A7 raw files were only in beta, has that changed, or are raw files the only way to go?
 
For Mac, the way I see it, Nebulosity is one of the few options to investigate, or maybe LightRoom as Moromete has described.


DSS runs fine on a Mac. Use VMware Fusion with a Windows (maybe 7 or 8.x) image in it and install DSS into it. I do this on my Macbook Pro running Yosemite 10.10 with VMware Fusion 7 and Windows 8.1 in it. Flawless and fast !

#686 mmalik

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 07:54 AM

I think this thread might be of interest to anyone considering the Sony A7s for near real time observing.  The link below points to the start of a description of the A7s including its features, menus and settings and what promises to be an astro mod performed on the thread.  So if you want to see the guts of the A7s for free, here is your chance.  You can go a few pages back to see more discussion of the A7s and its pluses and minuses when it comes to astro imaging.

 

http://www.cloudynig...emma/?p=6384756

 

I happen to stumble upon this thread and noticed Todd had already provided the link; thanks Todd! I feel bulk of this discussion could have transpired in the DSLR forum and probably would have been a better place for it (although I understand EAA suitability for a small part of the discussion). In short, please feel free to switch to imaging related dialogue in progress here..., your insights will be greatly appreciated. Another, somewhat related discussion here.... Regards


Edited by mmalik, 19 January 2015 - 08:00 AM.


#687 Relativist

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 03:37 AM

So over the weekend I was able to test an Automator script that monitored the folder that 'Remote Camera Control' sends photos to after they are taken by the camera and automatically imports them into iPhoto. It worked very well, and I also was able to live broadcast it over Youtube Live here (I was going to simulcast test on NSN but Camtwist hasn't been working for me). Please note that I was messing around a lot with different exposures, camera modes like DRO & HDR and also white balance was not really set properly. In addition, the camera I'm using is an a5100 which runs on the same 'Remote Camera Control' software, but it's no A7s in terms of sensitivity. That said I feel it's promising for brighter targets, but I'll elaborate on that in a separate thread when the time comes.

 

Once the image is brought into iPhoto it takes me one click to open it, then a couple of keystrokes to get it adjusted per the previous exposure. What this means is lets say your doing 30 second exposures and you are moving the histogram, one can save the settings once they are where you want them and they can be applied to the next image that comes in. This can all be automated in scripts so that all one really needs to do is start the exposure sequence in 'Remote Camera Control' and adjust levels where one wants them. For my a5100 there is a limit of 30s exposures that are preset, otherwise bulb mode seems to be available, but it seems to require that one hold down the button. I will need to test bulb mode further, and it is also something that could potentially be scripted so as to prompt the user for a length of a bulb exposure, and the script would do the rest. In the video I did try the intervalometer and it worked just fine, each time the image would automatically get sent into iPhoto.

 

I'm also considering purchasing Aperture, since it can have much more automation that iPhoto seems to be able to on it's own, and is also capable of more advanced image manipulation.

 

Also note that I was not bringing in the display via HDMI into my iMac, so I had to rely on short test exposures as I changed things. I was worried that it would make it unusable, but since the images would come up fairly quickly I didn't miss it. The only issue I really had is that a couple of short videos I took with 'Remote Camera Control' software didn't get uploaded like photos did. That is alright for now since I can always get an HDMI/thunderbolt capture device if needed. Lastly, if you do visit my Youtube channel, feel free to subscribe if you'd like to get notified about the next live broadcast.


Edited by Relativist, 21 January 2015 - 03:49 AM.


#688 RandyC

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 11:13 AM

It looks like great progress on getting software going. Here are simple exposures at 4mins iso2500 with the A7s. No stacking, just a Fotor post process using "Auto-Adjust"

 

These are M65 and NGC3628 of the Leo Triplet.

Attached Files


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#689 Howie L

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 08:59 AM

 

CCS,

 

DSS Live only does average stacking, not sum, so that would limit the ability to do shorter exposers on dim objects.  See Technical Information in this DSS Live link.

 

http://deepskystacke...lish/index.html

 

 

Don, with the sensitivity of the chip, maybe average is enough. Are you able/willing to try some out, or have you and not found it satisfactory? Likewise, if your able to use DSS with the A7s, have you also considered using the DSS observer toolbar?

 

 

Hi Curtis,

 

I don't have access to an A7s camera so I borrowed one of Brian's (bwallan) A7s Raw files that he had previously posted
(I hope he doesn't mind)

 

This is a 30sec iso6400 APS-C RAW image of the Running Man nebula (taken with an At8RC at F8 at a fairly dark location)

 

I ran it thru AstroToaster (formally called 'DSS observer toolbar'), and it took about 15ses to process.
So this would be the image displayed in less than 1 minute total time.

 

 

gallery_6117_3188_177266.jpg

 

 

 

It is using the DeepeSkyStacker engine (vesion 3.3.4), to convert the RAW image data,
it does not apply imbedded meta commands for NoiseReduction, sharpening, etc.

 

So  it is just the raw data, and has the noise and hot pixels expected from an iso6400 raw image.

This is only one 30sec  image, ( the image would improve with live stacking, and if darks were used )

 

It does look as if the A7s can be used for EEA with a computer as well as in standalone mode,
Someone with the camera would have to try it out and see how it goes.


Edited by Howie L, 23 January 2015 - 10:40 AM.

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#690 Dom543

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 03:59 PM

That's great news Howie! Thank you for trying out.

 

Real-time stacking has been the only clog missing to use the full potential of the new Sony cameras for near-real-time EAA.

I assume that AstroToaster would equally be able to treat RAW images from other, less expensive, Sony cameras. Like my NEX-6.

 

Brian once said that DSS was also able to handle the fine and extra fine JPEG images that the camera can also save. Is this also true for AstroToaster? He said that those were just standard JPEG files. But they do include the results of the on-camera processing, like noise reduction, DRO and HDR.

 

Thank you for all your work on AstroToaster and for trying it out with the Sony files.

--Dom



#691 Howie L

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 08:54 PM

Hi Dom,

 

AstroToaster should be able to process RAW images form other Sony cameras, ( I haven't tested this though )

 

It is just taking the file names and passing them to the DSS engine,
if DSS can process them,  then AstroToaster should be able to.

 

It will also handle Sony extra fine JPEG images from the camera, which contain the on-camera
processing, noise reduction, DRO, HDR.

 

I borrowed another one of Brian's (bwallan) A7s JPEG files that he had previously posted on his dropbox

This 30sec iso6400 APS-C  JPEG mage of the Running Man Nebula ( I don't think he was using DRO or HDR on this one )

 

I ran it thru AstroToaster and it took about 10ses to process. This would be the image displayed in less than 1 minute total time.

 

 

gallery_6117_3188_113038.jpg

 

JPEGs are only 8bit, and tend to have the histograms already stretched,
They are  good for live viewing and stacking, and may be the best way on the fly to
achieve a good view for EEA.

 

For fine astro photography post processing it would be to better have 16bit RAWs
( I don't know if DRO or HDR can be used with RAWs )

 

If you use the camera to produce RAW images you can also Post-Process them into 16bit TIF files that
have the on-cameras processing in them. You should be able to adjust the amount of Noise Reduction,
and histogram stretching (brightness, contrast etc) that you want for post processing.
( someone with the Sony raw image program, or Adobe Lightroom will have experiment with this )

 

I processed one of Brian's TIF images of the same view,  it is similar is in color to the JPEG, but has a bit finer details and textures.

I believe the only way right now to produce a TIF is thru post processing in a RAW conversion program.


Edited by Howie L, 25 January 2015 - 08:57 PM.


#692 Relativist

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 09:26 PM

Howie,

 

i have an a5100, so I can supply you with files to test if you PM me your e-mail. Otherwise, where can I find Astrotoaster, and is it windows only? In addition, how does it get the exposures when doing EAA type viewing, does it monitor a folder for new exposures? It would be helpful to have screen shots of how it works.



#693 DonBoy

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 10:20 PM

http://www.astrotoaster.com/download

 

Looks like PC only


Edited by DonBoy, 25 January 2015 - 10:20 PM.

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#694 Relativist

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 10:49 PM

Thanks Don, that link answers some of my questions! I'll have to make sure my parallels install is all straight, haven't used it in a while. but looks promising as we have already established the functionality of the intervalometer to consistently send captures to a folder.



#695 Howie L

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 10:50 PM

Hi Curtis,

 

I'll PM you my email address,  I never have enough test data, and I am interested in seeing if it will work with the a5100 images.

 

Unfortunately it is Windows only, Right now I am not even sure of what would be involved in getting it to run under a Mac environment.

 

You can download it  from my website at http://www.astrotoaster.com

It requires that DeepskyStacker be installed, ( for newer cameras you would need the latest version 3.3.4 ) http://deepskystacker.free.fr

 

A camera control program such as BYEOS,  Sony "Remote Camera Control"  or "Mallincam Universe Control" would drop images into a folder.

 

AstroToaster automatically monitors the folder for new images,  processes and stacks them as they appear.

The viewer continuously updates as new images are processed.

 

There is a UserGuide, and Help available on the website and in the application.

 


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#696 RandyC

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Posted 30 January 2015 - 08:29 AM

Now that the winter galaxy fiesta has begun, I am testing some Sony A7s settings. Using contrast is nice if there is enough light which larger galaxies provide. I have been using 0 contrast to bring out lighter features. But on M51 it looked better using it. I continue to use Fotor and the Automatic Adjustment is almost always the best. Some of the other Scenes like Backlit and Portrait are also useful. There are several versions of Fotor out there, mine is on a Windows 7 computer. This has Automatic and Exposure adjustment. On most all exposures, the setting is 5mins at iso2500. A freshly charged battery lasts several hours even in real cold. 

Attached Files


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#697 CHAPSKINS

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 05:21 AM

@RandyC

 

Hi Randy :)

 

I don't know if you're aware but there is a Sony [and knock-off's] mains powered battery combo that slots into the A7s battery compartment that removes the need for worrying about batteries running out which saves a load of aggravation. 

 

.



#698 RandyC

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 09:07 AM

Hi, thanks, yes I have one of the cheap AC powered battery inserts. But it was another wire hanging off the camera. One battery fully charged lasts long enough for one of my sessions, about 3 hours, even in the cold. The camera gives several warnings when it's running low, so I can go out and swap the included spare one. I think you're also playing with fire using an $8 component to power the camera.


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#699 chasing photons

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Posted 23 February 2015 - 12:32 PM

I just stumbled across this android app that appears to have some newly added features that would pertain to longer exposure astro and live view usage for the A7s.  RCCDroidPro provides full tethering of SONY Alpha Cameras (SLT-A58 SLT-A99 DSLR-A700/A850/A900 A77II, A7x, A5000, A5100, A6000) with live view for A7S, A7II and A77II

 

Preview of taken pictures on an Android Display (Semi-Live view)
Change of Camera parameter
Wireless shutter release over Bluetooth
Shutter release via sound monitor
Focus Trap
Phototrap (Cameratrap) via Motion detection
Long Term exposures without touching the camera
HDR without touching the camera
Timelapse
New: HDR Timelapse
Extended HDR up to 13 shots +-4EV
Bulb intervalometer (Startrail and HDR Options)
Start of Video
Write GPS-Data to JPG pictures (EXIF)

 

http://rccdroidpro-en.glensk.com/




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