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ZWO 178 Cooled Monochrome Camera- Fact Finding Mission

ccd astrophotography imaging
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#1 StarFood

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 06:23 PM

Here's what I hope to do with the camera!

24464898631_c06c700c55_z.jpg

Me and some of my friends from the Barnard Astronomical Society in Chattanooga are super excited to get our hands on the ZWO 178 MM Cooled camera.  I'm hoping this thread will become a fountain of knowledge for those of you out there interested in this camera.  If you've had any experience with the ZWO cameras, you know they are great, having owned the new 224 and 174 cameras for some time now.  While this one is brand spanking new, with updates to the drivers almost daily, I know they are hard at work to figure out how best to implement it.

We are clouded in here in Chatta-Vegas so I thought I'd run some tests today. 

 

Here are my test results:

 

Here is a 60s dark.

 

24438991882_2c0233dc86_z.jpg

And here is the 60s stack of 8 images in Pixinsight. Cooler engaged and reading -20c. I am not sure if that is the temp at the sensor or the cooler.

 

24438907042_3dc13a9bb4_z.jpg

More to come!




 


Edited by StarFood, 22 January 2016 - 06:32 PM.

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#2 PiotrM

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 07:39 PM

My 178MM cooled dark looks similar, maybe without the diagonal band.
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#3 ChrisLX200

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 07:43 PM

Well you got 3 bright corners.. (amp glow?) @ only 60sec so not that impressed TBH

 

ChrisH


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#4 StarFood

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 07:56 PM

Great link you shared there!

 

Yes, the stack seems to exacerbate the problem.  The 120s and 300s seem to be the same. Cant wait to get it out under the stars.

 

It it seems this camera will not need longer exposures, but a higher quantity instead?

 

 

 



#5 HxPI

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 08:10 PM

How is the lens aperture controlled with the adapter? I'm interested in a similar setup to connect Nikon G lenses and some method to control the aperture is required. Also, there wouldn't be any chance of a filter wheel fitting in the chain and still being able to come to focus? Yeah I'm not holding my breath on that one haha!!

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

Ciao,

Mel



#6 rkayakr

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 09:08 PM

Nice setup

Sam at ZWO said that they will also release a T2 to EOS lens adapter.

Is there enough backfocus left for a filter wheel?



#7 james7ca

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Posted 22 January 2016 - 09:48 PM

There are several threads on results with the ZWO ASI178MM-Cool that exist over in the "Beginning and Intermediate Imaging" topics. You may be interesting in reading those, here are the links:

 

http://www.cloudynig...l/#entry6989569

 

http://www.cloudynig...l/#entry6991686

 

And this tread which compares the ASI178MM-Cool to the uncooled ASI174MM:

 

http://www.cloudynig...e/#entry6984070

 

Next, there is a long running thread on using ZWO's CMOS cameras with Nikon and Canon lenses with information about the needed backspacing, adapters, and mounts for the camera itself:

 

http://www.cloudynig...p/#entry6649219


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#8 easybob95

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 01:04 PM

Looks great but too bad for the ampglow. It will be not so easy to manage, especially if ampglow is not constant. It will be hard to make treatments and it will be also hard to make darks bank.

 

This problem should be solved.

 

Alain


Edited by easybob95, 27 January 2016 - 01:52 AM.


#9 PiotrM

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 07:01 PM

Looks great but too bad for the ampglow. It will be not so easy to manage, especially if ampglow is not constant. It will ba hard to make treatments and ot will be also hard to make darks bank.
 
This problem should be solved.


The actual amp glow on ASI178MM is actually smaller than on ASI174. It's not that big and it is rather static.

#10 easybob95

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 02:18 AM

Hello Piotr,

 

Cooled ZWO cameras are very interesting but considering they start to be quite expensive, the ampglow problem must be corrected or at least manage in order to have better results.

 

If it is hard to make long exposures, the cooling system is not very interesting. Why should i pay for cooling camera if i can't make long exposures ? If i have to make short exposures, the none cooled cameras are a better choice.

 

And what about narrowband filters use ? We need in that case long exposures.

 

A fast launch for new camera is a good thing but a too early launch is not so good.

 

I really hope ZWO will correct this problem.

 

Alain



#11 james7ca

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 02:56 AM

The amp glow on my ASI178MM-Cool seems manageable as long as you have a good set of DFs to go along with your subs. However, you absolutely need DFs since without them you'd have to crop a modestly large area from the upper right of the frame. You might be able to do without darks if you set the gain to zero and keep your exposures short, but as Alain said if you're going to use very short exposures then you might as well get the uncooled version of the camera.

 

There is, however, one other advantage to the cooling since it allows you to use a set-point for the temperature and that should make for an even better match with the calibration subs. That's true even with short exposures, since if the air temperature changes that will affect the camera temperature unless you have regulated cooling.

 

Based just on the camera temperature reported with Sequence Generator Pro, the cooling on my ASI178MM-Cool seems very stable. It seems to keep within +/- 0.5C regardless of the air temperature and/or changes I make to the exposure times. And that +/- 0.5C only happens very briefly when there is a change in either the camera's operation or during a sudden shift in the air temperature, at other times the set-point temperature is constant (within the minimum reported temperature delta, which also seems to be 0.5C).



#12 PiotrM

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 03:51 AM

 

Cooled ZWO cameras are very interesting but considering they start to be quite expensive, the ampglow problem must be corrected or at least manage in order to have better results.

 

If it is hard to make long exposures, the cooling system is not very interesting. Why should i pay for cooling camera if i can't make long exposures ? If i have to make short exposures, the none cooled cameras are a better choice.

 

And what about narrowband filters use ? We need in that case long exposures.

 

They should, and QHY did show some frames where they did remove the amp glow. But still you will pay a bit more for Atik 314L+ or 320E than for ASI174MM Cool or ASI178MM Cool and those DS cameras will have quite clear and uniform noise and no problems on really long exposures if needed. So even with amp glow removed there still will be some limitations/differences on how you use those new multi-purpose cameras for DS imaging. Existing images show that they prefer multiple shorter exposed frames (which isn't that common for DS imaging), and some additional processing to clear out random horizontal lines. And in the end you still need a guide camera for your DS camera - so in this case two planetary-alike cameras ;)



#13 easybob95

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 08:54 AM

I agree with you Piotr !

 

But it is necessary to reduce as much as possible the weak points of the CMOS sensors. Cooled CMOS cameras are of course less expensive but the price start to be significant.

 

I suppose this is the very beginning of cooled CMOS cameras and future will bring us good surprises.

 

Alain



#14 Thirteen

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 11:53 AM

I really would like to see the anti-amp glow result from the 174. I use the ZWO version, and the amp glow is easily calibratible with regulated temps and darks. BUT, I feel like the absence of an amp thermal signal at all would yield better results. The bottom line is that I run my camera nightly at -30C, so the thermal signal is pretry small amyway.

Qhy is late to the first round though. I'd have to think by the time they are to market and available, zwo will be working a 2nd generation already.

Edited by Thirteen, 27 January 2016 - 11:54 AM.


#15 PiotrM

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 03:09 PM

I suppose this is the very beginning of cooled CMOS cameras and future will bring us good surprises.


Did you saw that QHY DS camera with Gsense CMOS? $5000 for the back side illuminated version with ~90% QE and very low read noise ;) http://qhyccd.com/QHY42.html It's a direct challenger to big old Kodak CCDs, and good match for RC/DK astrographs. Sadly the prices won't be that much lower (the standard version will be cheaper than the BSI version though). The wider problem is that Sony as mass CMOS maker doesn't make big pixel big diagonal sensors. There isn't that much usage for such sensors for them (it seems). And only mass made sensors would be cheap. But who knows.

Edited by PiotrM, 27 January 2016 - 03:11 PM.


#16 StarFood

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Posted 28 January 2016 - 01:33 AM

I'm getting close to posting my results. I don't think it's a bad camera at all, I think it's a DIFFERENT type of camera. 

 

To to say that it's not good simply because it's not like traditional CCDs is a bit dismissive and premature. 

 

Time me will tell, as will my findings. 



#17 StarFood

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Posted 03 February 2016 - 02:19 PM

Just a quick update- 

My 178 had to go back to the retailer because of a problem with it.  They graciously accepted return and I am in line for a new one.  

The good news is my friend who also purchased a 178 (and who helped me verify my problem in his system) managed a good night of imaging and testing.  To say the least, his results were phenomenal for 1 minute exposures.  I'll let him post and show the results.

I still think this camera has a lot going for it, despite the difference from traditional CCD techniques and processes.  Admittedly, it is my opinion. 
 



#18 HxPI

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Posted 03 February 2016 - 03:28 PM

Just a quick update- 

My 178 had to go back to the retailer because of a problem with it.  They graciously accepted return and I am in line for a new one.  

The good news is my friend who also purchased a 178 (and who helped me verify my problem in his system) managed a good night of imaging and testing.  To say the least, his results were phenomenal for 1 minute exposures.  I'll let him post and show the results.

I still think this camera has a lot going for it, despite the difference from traditional CCD techniques and processes.  Admittedly, it is my opinion. 
 

 

I'd be curious to see if the ASI178 has similar performance as the ASI224 for planetary imaging. I'd also like to know if the ROI FPS performance between these two is similar. I'd prefer the higher resolution of the ASI178 without tremendous increase in noise. However, the ASI224 seems to be the favorite for planetary imaging at the moment!

 

Ciao,

Mel


Edited by HxPI, 03 February 2016 - 03:30 PM.


#19 gregj888

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Posted 03 February 2016 - 04:37 PM

You guys do realize the CMOS sensors have not only an ampe per row (or column) but also and A2D and a (probably pipeline) image processor on chip (sensor) right?

 

The statement above the CMOS and CCDs are different is the correct one, IMO.  CMOS is a new tool that we need to learn how to use and it may not fit all uses (the fear).



#20 sprinklestudios

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 11:06 AM

I am one of the friends that StarFood talked about getting a ZWO ASI178MM Cooled. I was able to get some imaging in the other day. I unfortunately had some issues with tracking and focusing, but ignore the lack of round stars and the info should still be good LOL. More testing will be done tonight.

 

Here is a shot of my setup. It includes the 178MM, Teleskop Service filter holder system, T-Thread to EOS adapter, Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro. I am using a 75mm TeleFokus Microfocuser from teleskop-express. I now have the camera mounted using 90mm scope rings from ADM instead of the tripod foot shown here.

ZWO%20Lens%20setup_zpszidgfgoe.jpg

 

 

Here is the stacked image of Flaming Star and Tadpoles I shot. It was on a Mach1GTO, unguided, and unfortunately with a poor polar alignment (hit my RAPAS and knocked it out of alignment and haven't adjusted it back yet) It is made up of the following:

(100) 60s 1x1 Ha

(30) 60s 1x1 R

(30) 60s 1x1 G

(30) 60s 1x1 B

(100) Darks

(162) Bias (Sequencer Generator Pro crashed on me during shooting the Bias that's why the odd number)

No flats

All data was shot with the cooler set at -15C and set at the lowest read noise preset. Though the Darks and Bias were shot earlier in the week in my apartment. Images were processed in PixInsight and the final version was then brought into PhotoShop for final editing.

Flaming%20Star%20amp%20Tadpoles_FB_zpsam

 

The above image is cropped some from the original because of poor alignment of RGB to Ha (forgot to re-center after meridian flip)

 

 

Here is the uncropped single frame Ha data. As you can tell the amp glow is pretty bad. 

Flaming%20Star_Tadpoles_60sec_1x1_HA_fra

 

 

Here is the stack of 100 Ha with Bias and Darks applied:

Ha_16bit_zps0bctdfe3.jpg

 

 

Here is the master Bias:

bias-BINNING_1_zpsn0dax2cz.jpg

 

 

And here is the master Dark. You can tell the Amp glow is quite pronounced with 100 darks stacked. But it seems to handle it well when applied to the light frames:

dark-BINNING_1-EXPTIME_60_zpsh2lknx6m.jp

 

 

All in all I think this camera is going to be capable of some great imaging. Just have to be prepared to gather a lot of images and have a good library of Darks and Bias. Flats will probably help some too and hopefully I can test that tonight. The biggest advantage of this camera is going to be the shorter exposures and lack of guiding. I am really looking forward to imaging with this camera more!


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#21 StarFood

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 11:09 AM

Thanks for posting Dennis!  

 

Exactly what I was hoping to show!  hopefully my camera replacement arrives soon!


Edited by StarFood, 06 February 2016 - 08:31 PM.


#22 sprinklestudios

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 11:10 AM

I just realized the Ha Master was the cropped version. Sorry about that. Here is the uncropped Ha master (100 Ha with Bias and Darks applied):

 

light-FILTER_Ha-BINNING_1_zpsuwubz5zg.jp



#23 sprinklestudios

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 11:11 AM

You're welcome Matt! I want to be able to post some good info on this camera whether it shows good or bad on it. Just actual information. I hope you get your replacement soon so we can test these side by side!



#24 StarFood

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 01:43 PM

Here are my few images before the camera was sent back.  I was unable to adequately test the dark frames/bias frames/flat frames, but Dennis managed a full set and his results I believe are truly impressive.  My  images ONLY speak to sensitivity.  THEY HAVE BEEN CROPPED.

1 single image- CROPPED

 

24190944173_56d840298c_c.jpg


And 30 - 60 second images captured and stacked- no dark frames, no bias frames, no flat frames. CROPPED

24817787345_2461af621e_c.jpg

I had intended to show the full frames and can still after I pull them off my computer but without calibration frames all the amp glow and noise is amplified, as is evident in my images.

Thanks again to SprinkStudios for posting his findings.  We'll be out testing again tonight!  Well, he will with is ZWO... mine will be a while before it's back. :(

My setup is similar to Dennis's except I used a Gerd Neumann filter drawer setup.  


Edited by StarFood, 04 February 2016 - 01:45 PM.

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#25 gregj888

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Posted 04 February 2016 - 04:23 PM

The CMOS senors do a lot of on-sensor calibration of the images.  Different cal numbers mean different responces for bias,  probably darks and flats too.

 

With the QHY 5Liim the calibration numbers are recalculated each time the camera is started and when exposures are changes.  There are several threads on the topic with more detail on what causes and when this re-cal is done.  I do bias/dark for each target as part of the data set.

 

The ASI224 seems to do a re-cal for each frame, but also seems to do a good job.  For our speckle work we find using the frames without bias subtract (40ms exposure so combined bias/dark) gives better results and less pattern noise.

 

I have not used an IMX178 based camera, but might be worth checking.  Take two sets of 20 to 100 bias frames average each set and subtract.  then check the remaining noise levels.  Change exposures etc average and subtract these sets from one of the first sets.

 

We are also finding the "brightness" level on some cameras are set pretty low with the default.  This reduces apparent noise but also cuts out some faint information.  If after faint, may want to check that you can see most of the "read noise" hump at the bottom of the histogram (should be a hill, not a downward slope). If you have a lot of 0 adu count pixels, likely an issue.




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