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AddictedToAstro
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First CCD camera choice
      #5700157 - 02/25/13 04:17 PM

Well, here it is... yet another "which camera should I get" post. I apologize in advance if anyone is sick of these, but I'm really struggling.

I am the kind of person that researches the heck out of any big purchase like this, and spending up to $2k on a camera that can ONLY be used with my telescope is a BIG purchase for me. I'm used to spending $500 on a camera, on sale, for the whole family to use. From my research, I'm thinking of these three cameras:

SBIG 8300M
ATIK 314L+
ATIK 428EX

I found a QSI583ws used for $2500, but by the time I make a decision, it will likely be gone. Plus it's definitely over my $2k budget.

I'll be using a CCD camera primarily with my ED80T CF and CGEM mount. About 75% of my imaging will be from my suburban front yard, and the rest from a yellow/green zone dark site. My primary photographic interest is nebulas, being mostly interested in narrow-band imaging and leaving the images in b&w. Maybe color down the road when I get more experience and more money for a filter wheel. But for now, I'll leave color to my cheap & high resolution dslr.

So, from all the calculations of arcseconds per pixel and FOV, all three of those cameras seem a good fit for a wider field of view that I want. I'd love the SBIG because it has so many awesome reviews, has the widest FOV (because of the larger chip) and is a much higher resolution than both of the other options. The 314L+ gets fantastic reviews too and is by far the least expensive, but coming from DSLR, it just seems such a low resolution. And lastly, I like the 428 because it's higher resolution that the 314 and a great form-factor if I ever get into hyperstar imaging with my 9.25" SCT, but it's actually slightly more expensive than the SBIG. I know hyperstar cams are better as OSC, but my main interest is b&w nebula imaging. And f/2 wide field nebula imaging sounds amazing.

I seem to be focused on resolution, and I know that resolution isn't everything. But being able to make a print larger than a postcard would be desirable, if I chose to do so. I'm currently using BYEos for camera control, and not sure what I would use with a CCD, so that could play a role too.

Any opinions out there?


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turbo399
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5700417 - 02/25/13 07:09 PM

I would like to suggest you consider the QHY9M monochrome CCD which has the same KAF8300 chip as the SBIG 8300M. For several reasons. First of all it offers superior cooling with a -50C below ambient, secondly it weighs in much lighter at just a touch over 1.1 pounds.
It also has a considerable price point, for $2,099.00 a 5 position filter wheel is included.

I have been using one now for over 2 years and it has never let me down.
Clear Skies
Terry Hancock


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mmalik
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5700460 - 02/25/13 07:34 PM

Quote:

I'm thinking of these three cameras:

SBIG 8300M
ATIK 314L+
ATIK 428EX




8300M bar none; not that simple though. Lot of choices in 8300M, read more here.... Thx


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rigel123
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5700769 - 02/25/13 11:17 PM

Do you already have a guiding set up or do you need that as well? Just thinking of what else you might want to add to your purchases. Yep, the Atik is a great camera, and I have never owned one of the larger chip cameras so I won't chime in on which is the best.

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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: rigel123]
      #5701262 - 02/26/13 09:38 AM

Quote:

I would like to suggest you consider the QHY9M monochrome CCD which has the same KAF8300 chip as the SBIG 8300M. For several reasons. First of all it offers superior cooling with a -50C below ambient, secondly it weighs in much lighter at just a touch over 1.1 pounds.
It also has a considerable price point, for $2,099.00 a 5 position filter wheel is included.




Thanks for this recommendation Terry. Being a CCD newbie, does "regulated cooling" mean that it's set-point? Or is it just -50c from whatever ambient?


Quote:

8300M bar none; not that simple though. Lot of choices in 8300M, read more here.... Thx




I'm really leaning this direction, but the price of the QHY9M is really temping, being the same as the base SBIG but including a filter wheel. I won't need a filter wheel for LRGB for a while, but it would be nice for when I get more narrowband filters.


Quote:

Do you already have a guiding set up or do you need that as well? Just thinking of what else you might want to add to your purchases. Yep, the Atik is a great camera, and I have never owned one of the larger chip cameras so I won't chime in on which is the best.




Warren, I do have a guiding setup... SSAG with a 50mm guidescope, just like yours. You know, your astrobin is the main reason why the 314L+ is even in the running, because your images are so amazing, with many of them from the exact same OTA I have.


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Dr Benway
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5701328 - 02/26/13 10:19 AM

I have been using the QHY9M since it was introduced with no problems. You won't find a better price with the filterwheel included.

John


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: Dr Benway]
      #5701524 - 02/26/13 12:06 PM

Guys, I've been looking into the QHY9M since this morning, and I am finding almost all good things about it. Some have talked about how the engineering and build quality of the SBIG is so much better. But the engineering and build quality of an expensive Mercedes far surpasses a Chrysler Sebring, but we love our Sebring. There are a couple of negative comments about it here and there, but overwhelmingly the reaction is positive.

I've looked at images from the 8300M and they don't seem superior in any way to images from the QHY. Now, I know there's a LOT behind the scenes, but the end results are stunning from both cameras.

For $2100, it comes with a 5-position 2" filter wheel and the pixel size seems good for my setup... can't beat that. I'm pretty sure I'm heading this direction. Thanks Terry for the recommendation. Now I just have to wait for the tax return to arrive


BTW -- Terry, your work on your website is stunning!


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5701535 - 02/26/13 12:09 PM

Wow, John, same thing... stunning images on your website! And I see you own both the QHY9M and STF-8300M. Since your comment was for the QHY and they have the same ccd, I assume you like it better?

Also, does the QHY have set point cooling or is it just based off ambient?


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5701560 - 02/26/13 12:21 PM

I expect the QHY has set point.

But the SBIG is really only about $400 more than the QHY, if you get the Xagyl filter wheel.

I have a QHY8 - one of the earliest models from QHY - and I am dissatisfied with it. But maybe my expectations are high.

I expect the 9 should have improvements over the 8 like addressing the pesky dewing of the front glass, maybe the CCD chamber is sealed? because on the 8 it's a PITA to get rid of dirt on the sensor.. OK my perceptions of QHY are colored by my unsatisfactory experience.

But in your shoes, QHY9M for $2000 vs STF-8300M + filter wheel for $2500, I know where I'd go. Also the QHY is MIC and the SBIG is made in the USA. Don't know if that counts for anything to you (it would to me, even if I'm not American!)


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buckeyestargazer
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5701594 - 02/26/13 12:38 PM

I'll just throw in my here...
I think the recommendation of a QHY9 is a good one, but at that price point I would look into the Atik 383L+ as well. I have never used a QHY9, but I have used a QHY8 and was very impressed with it.

I have been using an Atik 383L for 3 years now (I had one of the first in the USA I believe). Currently you can buy a package with the camera, EFW2 9-position filter wheel and case for just over $2500. But here's the kicker, you can use 1.25" filters down to about f/5, which will save you a ton of money on filter prices vs. 2" for the QHY9. This was the determining factor for me in purchasing the Atik over the SBIG and QHY versions. The qhy9 does have a little better cooling (-50c vs. -40c for the Atik).

Here are my reasons for choosing the 383L+
1. Price
2. Ability to use 1.25" filters
3. 9 position filter wheel
4. Lowest published read noise of any KAF-8300 camera (But in reality this is debatable).

I've been very happy with my 383L and am just sharing my experience here. Either camera will be a great choice for you.

Now, if those Sony-chip cameras were a little larger and a little less expensive, I would gladly switch from the Kodak. Sony chips are much better, lower noise etc, but you pay a lot more too.


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andysea
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: buckeyestargazer]
      #5701843 - 02/26/13 03:10 PM

I had the Atik 383L+ OSC and color. They are good cameras but the ones that I had were extremely picky about power supply. If the voltage was close to 12V the camera generated noise and once I had to throw away an entire night of subs. I learned that I had to supply ~13.5 volts in order to keep the images clean. After that experience every time I used the 383 I was worried that I would have to discard all my subs.

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Dave Venne
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5701940 - 02/26/13 04:01 PM

I image with an SBIG-8300M (my first CCD), and before I bought it I was doing similar wrestling. I had almost decided on the Atik314L+, but I had a hard time reconciling myself to the smaller chip size. Then a used SBIG came up for sale at a generous discount and I had my camera. That might be your best strategy: Patience and prowling the classifieds. If your patience wears thin, pick one of your candidates and buy it new. There are a great many CCDs that can give you good images. If you decide to change to another camera you can always sell yours and put the money toward the next purchase.

My sky is very light polluted as well. You can use the 8300M to put a lot of very nice H alpha data in your inventory for future use while you wait on the filter wheel.

Good luck with whatever camera you choose,

Dave


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Konihlav
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: Dave Venne]
      #5701988 - 02/26/13 04:19 PM

if you are from EU or other non-US location, you should also look at:
http://www.gxccd.com/art?id=374&cat=132&lang=409



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buckeyestargazer
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: andysea]
      #5702049 - 02/26/13 04:47 PM

Quote:

I had the Atik 383L+ OSC and color. They are good cameras but the ones that I had were extremely picky about power supply. If the voltage was close to 12V the camera generated noise and once I had to throw away an entire night of subs. I learned that I had to supply ~13.5 volts in order to keep the images clean. After that experience every time I used the 383 I was worried that I would have to discard all my subs.




Yeah Andy I read that thread on the Atik forum with interest and made me wonder about my camera too. But I use the Atik AC power supply which gave a regulated output of 12v DC, and I didn't notice any difference between that AC 12v powersupply and a 13.8v DC power supply. But I believe others have reported what you experienced too, though I have not seen this myself.


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rigel123
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5702248 - 02/26/13 06:39 PM

Quote:


Warren, I do have a guiding setup... SSAG with a 50mm guidescope, just like yours. You know, your astrobin is the main reason why the 314L+ is even in the running, because your images are so amazing, with many of them from the exact same OTA I have.




Thank you for the kind comment! From the discussion I think you can go with any of the camera's suggested and you should be happy. I'm sure I'll eventually go with a larger format chip, but will probably stick with a Sony chip just for the convenience of not having to take and keep a library of darks. Not that it is that big a deal, but I think of myself as a casual/hobby imager and only have so much time on my hands for imaging!


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andysea
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: rigel123]
      #5702259 - 02/26/13 06:46 PM

Yes I see stunning images produced by Sony sensors. Not having to take darks is definitely a plus!
Does anyone know anything about the Sony ICX413AQ?

Andy


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: andysea]
      #5702343 - 02/26/13 07:41 PM

I agree it being nice not having to deal with darks. But at the same time, with setpoint cooling I can set the camera on my desk, let it reach temp and take a bunch of darks overnight while I'm in bed or busy working. It's still dealing with darks, but easier than having to take them while imaging like I do now with my dslr.

Still haven't decided for sure though. I'm going to take Dane's suggestion and keep an eye on the used market to see what comes up. I'm not in a huge hurry, but super excited to get started. We'll see how long I hold out.


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andysea
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5702364 - 02/26/13 08:02 PM

Yes that's what I do with my CCD. I just take darks at home. I standardized all my subs at -15C and I created a library of darks at various exposure lengths and binning combinations.

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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: andysea]
      #5702457 - 02/26/13 08:54 PM

Andy, the ICX413AQ is an old, old OSC chip from Sony that was used in the Nikon D70s and the earliest prototype QHY8's.

But the production QHY8's ended up using the ICX453AQ which is the improved sensor in the Nikon D40x and D60.

Now in my experience the QHY8 is ok but not great - it's basically equivalent to modded and cooled DSLR - so I imagine the ICX413AQ is worse.


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hytham
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5702608 - 02/26/13 10:31 PM

Looking at the QHY9M it states on their website that the 2" filter wheel with RGB filters are only included as a part of a special deal available until March of 2010.

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andysea
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5702745 - 02/26/13 11:57 PM

Thanks Orly. I am wondering if there are any large format sony chips that are as good as the ICX694 or similar. I would love to have such a camera....if it was matched with outstanding electronics.

Andy


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: andysea]
      #5702751 - 02/26/13 11:59 PM

There isn't.. because the 694 is the largest mono chip that Sony makes.

All the new Sony DSLR sensors (IMX021, IMX071) are all CMOS now. The D200 is the most recent Nikon DSLR that is CCD.

As I mentioned in some other threads and perhaps above, the swankiest camera you can get today with the 694 is probably the Apogee Ascent A694. Unless FLI also has one.. (so far they have a 285 camera)


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andysea
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5702763 - 02/27/13 12:11 AM

The Atik460 is pretty inexpensive tho.

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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: andysea]
      #5702785 - 02/27/13 12:47 AM

2800. vs 3100 for the qhy22, and 3300 for the apogee.

i'll pay an extra 500 bucks for an apogee if i'm ever in the market.


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: hytham]
      #5702786 - 02/27/13 12:47 AM

Quote:

Looking at the QHY9M it states on their website that the 2" filter wheel with RGB filters are only included as a part of a special deal available until March of 2010.




Well, since that date has long since passed, I wonder if it's still going on or they just haven't changed the website. Worth a phone call to see. I actually didn't see that on the website though. Are you looking at www.astrofactors.com?


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5702791 - 02/27/13 12:55 AM

The Atik 428EX was on my list of contenders, and has the ICX674, which is the little brother of the ICX694. I'm pretty sure the only difference is half the resolution. I thought about that one too, but it's $2100 without a filter wheel. The Atik 460EX has the ICX694, but it's way outside my budget at $2900.

Again, being a Sony chip might be worth it, especially since I really don't *need* a color wheel for a while. If I get a camera at the max of my budget, an Ha filter is all I will have for a while so I can just leave it on all the time.

You know, I can't help but to slightly consider the Atik 420. It's has the smallest pixels and the smallest FOV at 50x38 with my refractor, but it's also only $1100 at nearly 2 megapixel with set point cooling to -30C. I could bank the savings and get some CCD experience under my belt with the 420, and then maybe next spring move on to something bigger and better.

Too many choices.


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korborh
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5702799 - 02/27/13 01:07 AM

Quote:

i'll pay an extra 500 bucks for an apogee if i'm ever in the market.




Me too.


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andysea
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5703217 - 02/27/13 10:34 AM

I agree with you Orly, I would get Apogee.
I discovered that for CCD's that are made in the US I get much quicker customer support than with imports where I have to deal with a distributor. Most of the time support is just one phone call away.

Andy


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rigel123
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5703289 - 02/27/13 11:11 AM

Quote:

The Atik 428EX was on my list of contenders, and has the ICX674, which is the little brother of the ICX694. I'm pretty sure the only difference is half the resolution. I thought about that one too, but it's $2100 without a filter wheel. The Atik 460EX has the ICX694, but it's way outside my budget at $2900.

Again, being a Sony chip might be worth it, especially since I really don't *need* a color wheel for a while. If I get a camera at the max of my budget, an Ha filter is all I will have for a while so I can just leave it on all the time.

You know, I can't help but to slightly consider the Atik 420. It's has the smallest pixels and the smallest FOV at 50x38 with my refractor, but it's also only $1100 at nearly 2 megapixel with set point cooling to -30C. I could bank the savings and get some CCD experience under my belt with the 420, and then maybe next spring move on to something bigger and better.

Too many choices.




If you really want to start out inexpensive, look for a used DSI III Pro mono, it is the exact same chip as the Atik314L+ but without cooling. That was what I started out with and actually learned about darks from!


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Inverted
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: rigel123]
      #5703459 - 02/27/13 12:44 PM

Quote:


If you really want to start out inexpensive, look for a used DSI III Pro mono, it is the exact same chip as the Atik314L+ but without cooling. That was what I started out with and actually learned about darks from!




That's actually not bad advice for a beginer. Starting out, I don't think I had the processing skills to tell the difference between a cooled and uncooled CCD. At that point, the only benefit to cooled would have been less darks, but I was using short subs, so, no big deal. Actually, purists all make a big deal out of equipment, but after 10ish years off and on in the hobby, I think processing ability is still my limitation, not so much equipment. Not to say my equipment isn't a lot better, or that the improvements haven't helped, but as I get better equipment there is only so much improvement before my processing skill limitations become apparent. Learning on less expensive equipment seems fine. Although, big chips are easier. I started on a DSI and remember spending literally hours trying to find targets LOL (but it was a pretty *BLEEP* mount too). Big chips are much more forgiving in many ways, I think that is why a lot of people start with DSLR and I may get flamed for this, but that is not a bad way to go either to start... But as you have the DSLR experience, you may already have some good processing experience, so, a better ccd may be preferable.


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: Inverted]
      #5703474 - 02/27/13 12:52 PM

the only uncooled camera i have is a meade DSI 1.

and boy is it noisy. hot pixels, stuck pixels galore. huge dark noise even with 5-second exposures.

i don't think an uncooled camera is at all comparable to a cooled one..


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orion69
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5703706 - 02/27/13 03:32 PM

Main problem for "new" astrophotographers is that they don't really know what level of AP they want or if they really even want to persue AP as serious hobby. I know from personal experience.
If one wants to just shoot some quick pictures with minimal personal engagement and without intent to upgrade AP equipment then some low end camera is perfect.
But, if one intentions are more serious about AP then low end (or OSC) camera is waste of money and time. IMHO


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orion69]
      #5704003 - 02/27/13 06:34 PM

Quote:

But as you have the DSLR experience, you may already have some good processing experience, so, a better ccd may be preferable.




I've been shooting with DSLR since I started last July and continued as I got more serious with AP in October by adding guiding. I've thrown away ten times more images than I've kept, mostly due to guiding problems, under/over exposing, excessive noise, etc. Although there's always more to learn, I feel much more comfortable with guiding now. But what I'm most interested in imaging (nebula) seems to be the most difficult for me to learn on DSLR in a light-polluted area. All of my successful images from my light-polluted suburb have been star clusters with a few of the brighter nebula, like the rosette and M42. And with it not being practical to go out to a dark site every time I want to image, or even every once in a while, I need to do most of my imaging from my home.

Ideally, I would only image from a dark site, but it just isn't practical for me to go out very often at all.


Quote:

Main problem for "new" astrophotographers is that they don't really know what level of AP they want or if they really even want to persue AP as serious hobby. I know from personal experience. If one wants to just shoot some quick pictures with minimal personal engagement and without intent to upgrade AP equipment then some low end camera is perfect. But, if one intentions are more serious about AP then low end (or OSC) camera is waste of money and time. IMHO




Well said! I completely agree. I'm sure most people jump in with the intention of being serious, then see how difficult it is and give up. That's not me. I know how difficult it is and I'm up for the challenge. I just need to approach it the correct way for me, which is to not jump in too deep all at once. And I don't think any of these cameras I mentioned above are too much to start with. I think if I wanted to immediately jump from DSLR to LRGB with some narrowband thrown in, that might be too much. But I want to start with shooting monochrome narrowband, which should work extremely well from my somewhat light polluted front yard.

My post-processing skills are improving, but certainly not where I would like to be. But I have to wonder if it's partly because I'm not starting with good data. Processing star clusters is going very well. Nebula, not so well, I think partly because of shooting from a suburb. If I don't have good data, then it's harder to learn proper post-processing, in my opinion. If I can learn to capture better data from my somewhat light-polluted home with a narrowband monochrome setup, then that might help me get better at post-processing. Plus, post-processing monochrome data has to be easier anyhow.

Then, as I get better and more comfortable with operating a mono ccd and processing in mono, I'll add RGB.

Is this logical, or is my thinking process way off?


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tjugo
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5704148 - 02/27/13 07:56 PM

The Orion StarShoot pro 3 is cooled, but is not regulated. IMO is the best bang for the buck. I had one and I let it go for a KAF8300, right away I saw the difference between Kodak and Sony.

There is another variation of the new Sony CCDs:

http://www.sxccd.com/sxvr-h814-progressive-scan

The specs are excellent for short focal length fast scopes...

Cheers,

Jose


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: tjugo]
      #5704233 - 02/27/13 08:42 PM

1) if you want to do mono narrowband then I think a Sony 694 is best. You need all the sensitivity and QE you can get. An OSC is a waste of money.

2) what mount do you have? Doing long exposure narrowband is all well and good, but the mount has to he up to it

3) another option is to go fast. Powernewt or hyper star. You still will need a good camera but the mount requirements will be relaxed.

4) large diffuse nebula or planetaries? The latter are small and bright, hence don't need long exposures or high sensitivity. They do need long focal length. I.e. you'll need a long scope and a great mount.


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5704639 - 02/28/13 01:17 AM

Quote:

1) if you want to do mono narrowband then I think a Sony 694 is best. You need all the sensitivity and QE you can get. An OSC is a waste of money.

2) what mount do you have? Doing long exposure narrowband is all well and good, but the mount has to he up to it

3) another option is to go fast. Powernewt or hyper star. You still will need a good camera but the mount requirements will be relaxed.

4) large diffuse nebula or planetaries? The latter are small and bright, hence don't need long exposures or high sensitivity. They do need long focal length. I.e. you'll need a long scope and a great mount.




1) I don't want an OSC, and I wish I could afford the ICX694. I *might* be able to swing the ICX674, which I think is the same specs except for a lower resolution.

2) I'm using a CGEM and guiding with an SSAG and 50mm mini guidescope from Orion. This setup has served me well for up to the 10 minute exposures I've done. With my LP and DSLR, exceeding 5 minutes is a waste of time. But I did a 10 minute to see how it guided and it was spot-on.

3) I would love to be ready for hyperstar with a narrow bodied ccd. But, I don't want that to be any significant factor to my decision, as most of my use would be my refractor until I could afford the additional grand for a hyperstar.

4) I prefer the larger and medium sized nebulas, but everything interests me... small nebula and galaxies. My primary interest, though, is filling the image with nebula. I can cover both with my ED80T CF and EdgeHD 8" (getting the focal reducer when it's released). Not sure if I can successfully guide with a 50mm guidescope on my C8, but if not, I'll get an 80mm guidescope and try it. I'm also planning on getting my CGEM hypertuned this summer, so hopefully that will help with longer focal length imaging.

Guys, I just downloaded CCDCalc and punched in the numbers for the cameras I'm considering and my telescope, and I was surprised. I thought the Atik 314, 420 and 428 FOV would be too small, but it's actually perfect for all but a few (veil, california and n. american come to mind). But, that being said, I want to fill my image with nebula and with those three, the image would certainly be full. I checked the FOV of the QHY9M and it was remarkable wide. I guess when looking at the numbers, I had a different vision in my head. Seeing it on CCDCalc though made it much clearer. I guess a wider 8300 chip and higher resolution means that I can crop in if I want. But then I end up with a resolution probably not too far from the atik cameras. Never thought of it that way.

I'm actually really considering the Atik 420 now. It's just over a grand and uses the sony 274 chip with -30C set point cooling and fairly good numbers. I could bank the rest of my money and save it for a 694 camera while cutting my teeth with this one. I don't know though. Wow, never thought deciding would be so tough. I just wish I could find someone that has the Atik 420 to get their opinion. It seems like on one has it. Maybe that's a sign.


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5704664 - 02/28/13 01:45 AM

well with narrowband you'll be surprised how long you can go...

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pfile
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5704703 - 02/28/13 02:37 AM

yeah i was doing 12 minute subs at f/2.8 with 5nm Ha and i probably could have gone longer.

i banged my head against a wall with a DSLR for a long time. but i think it made me a much better post-processor. having to deal with excessive noise and banding really forced me to learn a lot about processing.

now that i have a cooled CCD i feel like the images almost "process themselves".

this is all under really badly light polluted skies. i'm shocked how well the "real" camera does even shooting L during a full moon.


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kozzina
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5704830 - 02/28/13 07:57 AM

Quote:

I'm actually really considering the Atik 420 now. It's just over a grand and uses the sony 274 chip with -30C set point cooling and fairly good numbers. I could bank the rest of my money and save it for a 694 camera while cutting my teeth with this one. I don't know though. Wow, never thought deciding would be so tough. I just wish I could find someone that has the Atik 420 to get their opinion. It seems like on one has it. Maybe that's a sign.




After 2-3 years with self-moded and uncooled Canon 1000D DSLR i decided to buy Atik 420m camera. Its about half year i bought this camera and due bad weather (like every winter in cz) i did only 2 test atik 420m]images with this camera.

Im really satisfied with this camera despite the fact that this camera has really small chip. Its only about choosing right scope to shoot with (some short focal lenght refractors). Calibration of light frames is ridicuously simple in comparsion with DSLR data. Hotpixel map, bias and flat frames is all you need, with chip cooled to -10C (there is no reason to get lower like with other cameras). I can only recommend this camera, if you can live with its small chip, you will be more than satisfied Imho small chip got some advantages to big ones ... 1,25" filters are much cheaper than 2", small chip is less exacting on quality of optics. Like we say in czech republic: even with small clown you can make big show


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: kozzina]
      #5705125 - 02/28/13 11:18 AM

Quote:

After 2-3 years with self-moded and uncooled Canon 1000D DSLR i decided to buy Atik 420m camera. Its about half year i bought this camera and due bad weather (like every winter in cz) i did only 2 test images with this camera.

Im really satisfied with this camera despite the fact that this camera has really small chip. Its only about choosing right scope to shoot with (some short focal lenght refractors). Calibration of light frames is ridicuously simple in comparsion with DSLR data. Hotpixel map, bias and flat frames is all you need, with chip cooled to -10C (there is no reason to get lower like with other cameras). I can only recommend this camera, if you can live with its small chip, you will be more than satisfied Imho small chip got some advantages to big ones ... 1,25" filters are much cheaper than 2", small chip is less exacting on quality of optics. Like we say in czech republic: even with small clown you can make big show




This is good news! Thanks for sharing, and I loved your two photos. I agree about the 1.25" filters being much more affordable. Didn't think of that one.


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5705191 - 02/28/13 11:59 AM

even the 8300 can use 1.25" filters in specific cameras (the QSI WS) where the wheel is very close to the CCD.

all of the Sony cameras as well. even the 694 which is the largest chip Sony mono camera has a rather small chip overall (15mm diagonally).


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cn register 5
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5705869 - 02/28/13 05:57 PM

I'm using 1.25" filters with an Atk 383L+ and a Brightstar (aka Orion Nautilus) filter wheel - but...
I'm not planning to go faster than about F/6.
I'm prepared to accept some vignetting in the corners.

The reality is that flats handle it and in any case I always end up trimming the edges off the image.

It may be coarse astro imaging but it works for me.

Chris


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Inverted
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: cn register 5]
      #5705949 - 02/28/13 06:41 PM

In my st-8300 manual I think it says 1.25" filters can be used as long as you don't go below F7. Some of the other 8300 cameras may be able to go faster with them though. The qsi I know is made for them. I like 2" filters though because I can use them for visual observing with 2" eyepieces.

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hytham
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5706354 - 02/28/13 10:45 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Looking at the QHY9M it states on their website that the 2" filter wheel with RGB filters are only included as a part of a special deal available until March of 2010.




Well, since that date has long since passed, I wonder if it's still going on or they just haven't changed the website. Worth a phone call to see. I actually didn't see that on the website though. Are you looking at www.astrofactors.com?




My apologies, I was looking at CCD Labs which I had mistaken for the QHYCCD site *sigh*. I would call to be safe in case the site was not updated on AstroFactors as well.

http://www.ccd-labs.com/Qseries/qhy9m.htm


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hytham
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: hytham]
      #5706381 - 02/28/13 11:12 PM

So what is the big deal with the Apogee that they can charge $500 more for the same chip, same cooling and still require the purchase of a 3rd party software vendor for camera control for $400 for MaximDL or $300 for CCDSoft?

Looking at the ATIK 460EX, it comes with everything stated above (it's own capture software) for $800 - $900 less. That savings will get you a motorized ATIK EFW2 filter wheel ($600) and a set of Astronomik LRGB filters ($279) or splurge and extra $171 and grab yourself a set of LRGB Astrodon filters ($450).


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: hytham]
      #5706395 - 02/28/13 11:21 PM

Apogee and FLI are the top tier vendors. I'd say QSI is next, then SBIG. The rest... are below (I'll get into trouble with wolfman again for this, haha).

There is a 2-year warranty on the camera and lifetime warranty on the vacuum-sealed CCD chamber. If you look at the price of the FLI ML8300 for example (or the Apogee Alta F8300) compared to the equivalent SBIG, a $500 price premium is ridiculously low.

But then again.. if you think that a QHY or ATIK is equivalent to an Apogee or FLI.. then that's great!

You don't see folks like Rob Gendler or Jason Ware tooling around with ATIK's though..


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hytham
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5706458 - 03/01/13 12:10 AM

I have no idea if it is technically equivalent and that's why I asked. I couldn't understand the cost difference, but based on the little info you provided you are paying for the added warranty (which is great). In reality it's another maximum $900 difference for the camera when including the capture software.

Robert Gendler is a vascular radiologist which kinda gives him a slight edge on many people on Earth when it comes to affording nice equipment

Now don't get me wrong. If I were making $500K per year, I would have the nicest equipment money can buy!


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microstar
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5706470 - 03/01/13 12:28 AM

Quote:

Apogee and FLI are the top tier vendors. I'd say QSI is next, then SBIG. The rest... are below (I'll get into trouble with wolfman again for this, haha).

There is a 2-year warranty on the camera and lifetime warranty on the vacuum-sealed CCD chamber. If you look at the price of the FLI ML8300 for example (or the Apogee Alta F8300) compared to the equivalent SBIG, a $500 price premium is ridiculously low.

But then again.. if you think that a QHY or ATIK is equivalent to an Apogee or FLI.. then that's great!

You don't see folks like Rob Gendler or Jason Ware tooling around with ATIK's though..




Then again J-P Metsavainio shoots with a QHY9. If that represented the limit of what I'd be capable of with a bottom tier CCD, well from his webpage (Astro Anarchy):

.---Some publications---NASA APOD (Astronomy Picture Of the Day, four times), National Geographic (Space picture of the Week, February 2012, two times), LPOD (Lunar Picture Of the Day, five times), Sky & Telescope magazine, Discover magazine, Interstellarum, Ciel & Espace, Tähdet ja avaruus, Stella Arcti prize 2009. A five-page article in Sky & telescope magazine (Jan 2005, p 142-146.)


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: microstar]
      #5706507 - 03/01/13 01:18 AM

in no way did i imply that good images can't be taken with lower-tier equipment. they can.

as with everything, more money buys more convenience, better reliability, etc. etc. etc.

i see a lot of photos out there taken with EQ6 and Atlas that are far better than anything i've ever done with my Mach1. so equipment isn't everything.

for me though, dealing with the incessant dirt on the sensor and frosting issues on my QHY8 has soured me on the brand. but that's just me.


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rigel123
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5706773 - 03/01/13 08:56 AM

In short, the best camera out there is the one that works for you and your situation! In my case, at first it was a DSI III pro, and now it's the Atik314L+. Who knows what it will be in the future!

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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: rigel123]
      #5706794 - 03/01/13 09:12 AM

well the best camera is the one you use.

i can say this: my QHY8 has given me a lot of hassles (it's an old model, so it doesn't have the heated window, the CCD chamber is not sealed, etc. etc.)

the later QHY's definitely fixed the issues with the 8, but it soured me on the experience. are there folks out there producing great images with the QHY8? definitely!

but really if you had the choice between something that dews up and has an unsealed CCD chamber, vs one that does not dew up and has a purged and vacuum-sealed chamber, which would you choose? (if you can afford both)

of course I have an 8 because it's what i could afford, so...


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MattThomas
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5707065 - 03/01/13 12:12 PM

Quote:

warranty on the vacuum-sealed CCD chamber




Just to be clear, none of the vendors you mentioned (including SBIG) have vacuum sealed chambers.

All the camera companies that you have mentioned have dry chambers with a seal to keep moisture from leaking in - but it is not a vacuum chamber. Vacuum chambers are much more complex and costly.


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5707339 - 03/01/13 03:07 PM

Quote:

for me though, dealing with the incessant dirt on the sensor and frosting issues on my QHY8 has soured me on the brand. but that's just me.




The QHY9M has a heater on the sensor to help avoid dew, right? Wouldn't something like that work against the cooler to keep noise down?


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orlyandico
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5707868 - 03/01/13 09:51 PM

the qhy9m has a heated cover glass, AFAIK. not a sensor heater..

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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5707951 - 03/01/13 11:10 PM

Quote:

the qhy9m has a heated cover glass, AFAIK. not a sensor heater..




Ah, that makes more sense.

I keep looking at the disadvantages of each camera and using them as an excuse to remove it from the list. But then I see the AMAZING images produced by every single one of them.

I have to just narrow it down to which one will be the best at what I want to do, which is narrowband nebula imaging. From what I've read, high QE is the most desirable for nebula and narrowband, correct? The chips with the best QE seems to be the 674/694 Sonys.

But then I look at images from sites like http://www.pbase.com/tango33/nebulae&page=all and http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/qhy9m/Interesting, with many or all of the images on both coming from the Kodak 8300. I know expertise behind those photos plays a HUGE role in the successful images, but knowing the cameras are capable of it helps.

I think I will just figure out what field of view I want and go with it.


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5708003 - 03/02/13 12:06 AM

Oh my gosh, I just looked up narrowband filter prices. I can't believe I hadn't checked out those costs before. For Astronomik, the 1.25" is $200 and 2" is $450 for the 6nm narrowband. Wow on the 2" price. The 12nm filters are quite a but less... would you all recommend against them? Since the 6nm lets in a smaller wavelength of light, would the exposures be much longer?

Out of curiosity, I checked out the Astrodon pricing and it's about double the Astronomik. I had no idea how expensive these filters are. That can play a definite role in my decision now.

If I get one of the sony cameras, I know I can use 1.25 as stated above. But would they mount at the front of the nosepiece, or just in front of the sensor window?


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korborh
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5708017 - 03/02/13 12:24 AM

Yup, unfortunately the narrow-band filter prices are extortionate.
You can use the 1.25" with Sony mono sensors using a filter wheel no problem.


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rigel123
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5708722 - 03/02/13 12:29 PM

Quote:

Oh my gosh, I just looked up narrowband filter prices. I can't believe I hadn't checked out those costs before. For Astronomik, the 1.25" is $200 and 2" is $450 for the 6nm narrowband. Wow on the 2" price. The 12nm filters are quite a but less... would you all recommend against them? Since the 6nm lets in a smaller wavelength of light, would the exposures be much longer?

Out of curiosity, I checked out the Astrodon pricing and it's about double the Astronomik. I had no idea how expensive these filters are. That can play a definite role in my decision now.

If I get one of the sony cameras, I know I can use 1.25 as stated above. But would they mount at the front of the nosepiece, or just in front of the sensor window?




You want to go Narrow on your NB, I use Orion's 1.25" 7nm HA and SII and Astrodon's 5nm OIII. Others use 5 or even 3nm for their NB filters. 12nm is too wide and you will allow some LP into your image.

I have been happy with the Orion HA and SII, the OIII gave me funky stars for some reason so I went with the Astrodon on that one, and I did a full set of Astrodon RGB as they eliminated blooming on my stars.


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AddictedToAstro
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: rigel123]
      #5708942 - 03/02/13 02:45 PM

Thanks Warren. Good to know. Orion filters are quite a bit less money. Do you find that you have to refocus between the Astrodon filters and Orion filters?

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rigel123
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Re: First CCD camera choice new [Re: AddictedToAstro]
      #5708979 - 03/02/13 03:12 PM

Quote:

Thanks Warren. Good to know. Orion filters are quite a bit less money. Do you find that you have to refocus between the Astrodon filters and Orion filters?




I refocus always between filters, even my Astrodons


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