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New Sony 1.4MP CCD sensor (useful?)

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#1 chasing photons

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 01:45 PM

When I looked at the specifications for this new Sony ICX825 EXview HAD II CCD sensor, I thought it might be a good candidate for new, high sensitivity, low noise astro cameras with a slight boost in resolution for near real time viewing. As with most things in life, there are tradeoffs, but, in this case, maybe camera manufacturers can achieve higher resolution with little or no loss in performance.

Here are the interesting specs and a link to the announcement by Sony.

EXview HAD II (Sony’s latest and greatest CCD technology with improved sensitivity and low noise)

1.4 MP (1360 x 1024)

6.45 micron pixels (not huge but maybe a fair tradeoff for higher resolution)

2/3 format (the 11mm diagonal is a bit larger than the 1/3 and 1/2 sensor format choices for use with the rather aggressive focal reducers that are commonly used, but maybe not too big to cause significant vignetting or distortion for many OTAs)

http://www.sony.net/...4/icx825_e.html

What do you think? Is there anything there that would kill it as far as being a good sensor choice for near real time viewing and entry level imaging cameras?

Thanks for your input.
 

#2 Relativist

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 03:08 PM

Interesting, is it used in any cameras currently, like maybe security cameras? If it were we could test it out.
 

#3 chasing photons

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 03:13 PM

I think Sony just released it. I do not know of any cameras that use it.
 

#4 BigDob Al

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 04:34 PM

Interesting, is it used in any cameras currently, like maybe security cameras? If it were we could test it out.


I don't think its predecessor , the venerable icx285 is used in security cameras and it had plenty of time to be designed in . It's used in $1500+ scientific cameras . If that's any indication, the new sensor won't live in cheap cameras either.
Clear Skies,
Al
 

#5 chasing photons

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 04:56 PM

The Atik 314L+ uses the ICX285. I suppose Atik could kick out a new camera with the updated ICX825 in short order. I am not looking for a cheap camera. But I am looking for a sensitive camera with higher resolution for near real time viewing.
 

#6 BigDob Al

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 05:10 PM

The Atik 314L+ uses the ICX285. I suppose Atik could kick out a new camera with the updated ICX825 in short order. I am not looking for a cheap camera. But I am looking for a sensitive camera with higher resolution for near real time viewing.

I'm sorry, I wasn't implying that you were looking for a cheap camera . I was answering Curtis who was asking for a potential , hopefully not too expensive surveillance camera with this new sensor. I would like to believe such a thing existed but it's not likely .
Clear Skies,
Al
 

#7 nytecam

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 05:14 PM

Interesting, is it used in any cameras currently, like maybe security cameras? If it were we could test it out.


I don't think its predecessor , the venerable icx285 is used in security cameras and it had plenty of time to be designed in . It's used in $1500+ scientific cameras . If that's any indication, the new sensor won't live in cheap cameras either.
Clear Skies,
Al

The newly announced Sony sensor is double the area of Sony 1/2" sensors as used in the Lodestar and other cameras including video/security cameras.

The pixels are smaller so the gross pixel count is more than x2 for the 1.4M sensor which use 'darker' ( more absorbent) RGBG filter matrix than the CYMG secondary colours in the 1/2" and 1/3" Sony sensors.
I rate the CYMG colour sensor under test to be about 60-70% that of the mono chip but the same can't apply to the new 1.4M colour chip.

Part of the increased sensitivity is in near-IR and will be lost if a IR-block is used on refractors ( to avoid star bloat) . Starlight Xpress homepage lists cameras using the older version of the sensor with the same physical characteristics for reference. As Al says the cameras with the new/advanced sensors will not be cheap :o
 

#8 BigDob Al

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 05:18 PM

The Atik 314L+ uses the ICX285. I suppose Atik could kick out a new camera with the updated ICX825 in short order. I am not looking for a cheap camera. But I am looking for a sensitive camera with higher resolution for near real time viewing.

The new sensor may be not as great as Sony wants us to believe. Its QE is double that of icx285 but there's a fine print that says measured at 850nm . Wondering how much of that useful to us . May be somewhat useful for a BW cam but not that much for color video . Color balance and saturation are difficult with a lot of IR in the picture.

Clear Skies,
Al
 

#9 Relativist

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 06:27 PM

I don't think its predecessor , the venerable icx285 is used in security cameras and it had plenty of time to be designed in . It's used in $1500+ scientific cameras . If that's any indication, the new sensor won't live in cheap cameras either.
Clear Skies,
Al


Al, that's a good point about the price :foreheadslap:.

That said, the reason I asked about security cameras was because it's mentioned as a possible use in the following quoted section in the OPs link.

"Diagonal 11 mm (Type 2/3) approx. 1.45M effective pixels
The ICX825ALA and ICX825AQA are diagonal 11 mm (Type 2/3) CCD image sensors with approx. 1.45M effective square pixel array progressive scan developed for industrial use, scientific measurement and security cameras (see table 1). The new sensors succeeded in very high improvement in characteristics over the existing ICX285AL/AQ (see table 2).
"
I added the bolding.

In addition I noticed that there is a mistake in the specification table 1 where the diagonal is listed as 1mm instead of 11mm, which I'm sure is a typo.

Likely any security camera that uses this chip will be a high end camera.
 

#10 Chris A

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 07:56 PM

I just wished that Sony would have stayed with the CMYG matrix over the RGB for even better sensitivity. The QE is 7 dB higher than the older ICX285AL but this is at 850 nm getting into infrared territory. I would have like this increase at the 656 nm for the important Ha that we go for in nebulas. The pixels are square a good thing but they are a lot smaller at 6.45 um than the larger pixels in the older ICX285. Now it is interesting looking at the sensitivity with the new ICX828ALA at 700 mV higher than the ICX285AL. Another plus with this new sensor is the saturation signal at 450 mV higher over the older sensor. The smear rate is 5 dB higher with the new sensor and the frame rate is faster. This is exciting and I forward it to Rock of Mallincam to get his thoughts.

I used to have an SXV-H9 mono camera that had the older ICX285AL sensor and it was great for CCD imaging but I am not sure how it would have done for neat live observing.

Chris A
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#11 ccs_hello

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 09:44 PM

Todd,

When I saw your first post with some general spec. w/o clicking the link, I thought at last, S is finally doing the face-lift on the classic ICX285. And after I clicked the link, sure it is, it's the new '285 with some bonus features. :jump: :jump:
Just like the previously announced type-1/2" ICX429 face-lift oops modernization, this time it's type-1/1.5".

Contrary to some badly crafted rumors about type-1/2" heating problem (not that at all), the real problem is "capitalism", the production quantity.
So long as there is no quantity order from buyers of tier-1 cam mfgs, there will be little or no production runs. The price will be very high thus making the net production cost high and price unattractive.
This was the story on ICX285 (Framos price was about $500/qty 1.) Thus the Artemis astroCCD (now Atik) cost was high. I don't think next gen '285 can avoid the same fate, especially now that SONY's EXMOR CMOS is catching up and most likely better (mind melt between two design depts and integrated A/D.)
The best deal is that some very best sensors are used in volume production DSLR and mirrorless. See Oly's E-PM2 <-- IMX109 ($200) and N's D5100 <-- IMX071 ($350.)

BTW, ICX285 is used in industry/scientific cameras, such as this one (mono ICX285AL) I have. (Reference connector pitch is 3mm, note a bit perspective difference due to projection.)

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello

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#12 Chris A

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 10:14 PM

It was mentioned on another group that the casing for these new sensors are plastic and not ceramic, so is this correct? If so, then longevity will be short live if used for video.

Chris A
 

#13 ccs_hello

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 10:36 PM

Chris,

Yes the spec says it's plastic DIP, just like most (edit: changed from all) versions of SuperHAD II and ExviewHAD II generations. The way S can go that path is because its new gen CCD sensors use low-voltage for their operations. Low voltage CCD image sensors consume less power thus less heat generated. This is why S chose to use the less expensive plastic chip carrier, even for continuous readout mode such as 45 frames/sec at 2-channel readout sense-amplifiers (call it as video, if you will.)

Hint: trust SONY engineers, they have more stakes than everyone else.

I should also mention that in astroCCD application, the CCD imager most of time is not doing anything other than just sitting there waiting for photons to be gathered from far-away DSO. Once in a while (say every 16 sec, a readout cycle is initiated. Only in that activity, the CCD is fully active then immediately going back to the photon accumulation mode.
The so call "video" is just continuously playing back the same stored digital image, outside the CCD sensor, repeatedly. That activity has nothing to do with the CCD image sensor read-out activities.


P.S. Plastic DIP can be Peltier cooled, it's just that the cool down ramp should not be too steep. (I would say the same for Ceramic chip carrier for a different reason: bonding adhesive failure in between top and bottom CerDIP.) Use a professional PID temperature controller!


Clear Skies!

ccs_hello
 

#14 RichardHC

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 10:39 PM

What makes you say they will be short-lived for video? Most of Sony's cheap 1/3" chips uses in H24 surveillance applications are plastic cased.
 

#15 nytecam

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 02:09 AM

The new sensor may be not as great as Sony wants us to believe. Its QE is double that of icx285 but there's a fine print that says measured at 850nm . Wondering how much of that useful to us . May be somewhat useful for a BW cam but not that much for color video . Color balance and saturation are difficult with a lot of IR in the picture.

Clear Skies,
Al

Al - true colour for astro objects is largely myth and often based on old photo-film days . Narrow emission line nebula skew results particularly OIlI on the blue/green boundary. Also we can't see colour at low intensity anyway to make a valid judgement.

Best to use in brief exposure video/EAA all the photons even in near -I R :grin:
 

#16 chasing photons

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 10:02 AM

Has anyone tracked down a data sheet on the new ICX825 sensor?
 

#17 jimthompson

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 11:43 AM

Greetings All,

This thread is like many others that have come and gone on this forum over the years. Whenever a new sensor is released there is a ferver of discussion about how this new sensor may take Video Astronomy a step forward in sensitivity or resolution. Alas, it is our sad plight that our imaging application is just a tiny itsy bitsy fish in an enormous sea of applications. I would dare say that the marketing and management types at Sony have probably never even heard of Video Astronomy. We will (probably) forever be limited to table scraps; making do with sensors designed for other applications.

Take for example this new sensor coming out of Sony. No doubt they had a specific market in mind when they selected the design requirements for this new sensor. My guess, based on market share, is that this new sensor is designed for application to industrial machine vision, security cameras, and perhaps scientific imaging (read bio-medical). For these applications you want a sensor with a high sensitivity at a high refresh rate. Resolution is also important. Sounds similar to what we want as Video Astronomers, except the difference is exposure time per frame. Industrial/Security/Scientific applications are looking for exposure times in the 1/120th to 1/30th second range (or in other words 30 to 120 frame refreshes per second). Video astronomers are looking to use the sensor in the 15sec to 60sec per frame refresh range (or even longer!). That is a frame exposure time that is more than 3 orders of magnitude longer than what the sensor was designed for. We should not be surprised then when we see problems with: noise, non-uniformity, amp-glow, poor colour, temperature, etc. when we try to use these new sensors in our Video Astronomy applications.

A final note on resolution. I think we should be careful what we wish for. Sure it would be nice to have the sensitivity of a 1/2" sensor with big fat pixels combined with a higher resolution, but there is a cost involved. Anyone who does CCD imaging or even planetary/lunar imaging with a 1 to 2 MP camera will agree that the extra resolution puts a burden on your equipment: better tracking, better optics, a faster computer, more storage, etc. are all needed to handle the higher resolution and higher data flow. Somewhere there is a happy medium, which is of course different depending on who you talk to!

So my advice is to keep enjoying our table scraps under the stars, and perhaps someday someone will throw us a bone.

Best Regards,

Jim T.

(edit: P.S. Take a look at Sony's own sensor datasheets and you will find that all the performance parameters they quote are evaluated at 1/30th or 1/60th of a second exposure times)
 

#18 nytecam

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 12:50 PM

Jim - it's 'orrible when you expose us to the truth as 'Sony table scraps' but a check of forum use on CN is equally crushing with VEAA way down the list with photo film, variable stars etc whilst OTO - non astro - is the biggest !

So as Masters of the Universe we find ourselves as amoeba in a raindrop but nothing will phase us :-)
 

#19 Relativist

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 02:15 PM

I can tell the reader of this post that until the advent of not having time to use my 10" Dob, I was not interested in VEAA. Now it's all I am interested in because of convenience. What is convenient about VEAA? The fact that to get good views I don't have to sleep in the high desert, I can just hang out in my back yard!

I don't agree that we are limited by the performance of 1.25" focal reducers. That should not be a limiting factor as there are 2" focal reducers IMO. In addition the increase in resolution we all want is not by decreasing the pixel size, that should be kept the same, we want the number of pixels to increase, and with the same pixel size the same the tolerance of the mount and optical train should also be held constant. What is achieved with a larger chip is the ability to increase aperture for the same TFOV. In addition no resolution is lost even if one were to keep the same setup, they would just need to zoom into the center to get the same resolution we had in the past if so desired.
 

#20 chasing photons

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 04:31 PM

The fact that to get good views I don't have to sleep in the high desert, I can just hang out in my back yard!



I guess the perils of light pollution are something I have never had to concern myself with. I live in a small town out in the middle of nowhere. I can walk out on my deck and see the Milky Way, M42 and M31 without even waiting for my eyes to dark adapt. My skies are already dark, but I indeed plan to move southwest to the high desert in the very near future, not just for the very dark skies, but for many reasons.

So from my point of view, I want a near real time observing system that will give me a slightly better and more comfortable view than what I can achieve by peering through a tiny eyepiece with eyesight that never was any good, as I contort my aging body into ridiculous poses! I can currently see all of the faint fuzzies I want through my scopes. It is just annoying as all get-out to bother with! And since I won't be moving for a year or two, I can wait and see what comes in the way of new cameras, scopes, mounts and software.

Now that I think about it, it appears that a large percentage of near real time observers are into this because they must deal with heavy light pollution. Maybe I need to start a ‘near real time observing under dark skies’ group! ;)
 

#21 Chris A

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 05:08 PM

Well put Jim and I completely agree higher resolution is not the one and only answer. With the DSO's that we view sensitivity must be first priority because without the sensitivity what good is having higher resolution. This reminds me of the people who spend megabucks for the best scope but will not invest the top $$ to handle that scope.

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#22 A. Viegas

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 07:28 PM

Chris,

Yes the spec says it's plastic DIP, just like most (edit: changed from all) versions of SuperHAD II and ExviewHAD II generations. The way S can go that path is because its new gen CCD sensors use low-voltage for their operations. Low voltage CCD image sensors consume less power thus less heat generated. This is why S chose to use the less expensive plastic chip carrier, even for continuous readout mode such as 45 frames/sec at 2-channel readout sense-amplifiers (call it as video, if you will.)

Hint: trust SONY engineers, they have more stakes than everyone else.


I don't think we should hang all our hopes on Sony. Last couple of years the imaging products and solutions segment was barely profitable. Sony stock has been a total dog and now activist investors are becoming increasingly active and arguing for a break up of the company. If that happens, I wonder if Sony's imaging business will even survive. Now don't get me wrong, there is definitely demand for imaging sensors, CCDs and CMOS. For the big consumer markets of security cameras and photographic cameras there will be a strong demand, but for what we as astronomers require well that is unfortunately much more of a niche market that requires adaptation by intrepid innovators like Mallincam and AVS as two examples in video astronomy. Unfortunately, there will never be a large enough market for mass produced astronomy products by a major manufacturer, hence we are dependent on these pioneers and innovators. Its nice for us to discuss the merits of cooling ceramic or plastic or discussing how video signals are looped or whatnot, but ultimately its up to the innovators who are trying to make a living and bring products to market that we astro-video enthusiasts will support.

Consequently, when discussing a new potential sensor like this new Sony model I think hearing what Rock from Mallincam or Matt from AVS or Steve from Atik or the people at Lodestar think of the sensor's merits is very important. Ultimately, they are the ones who will make the decision to produce a product we can buy. Sure, our wish lists and hopes are important in determining why they should consider new chip "A" over "B" but discussing all the technical details its moot to me. Its like sports fans complaining about coaching decisions. Sure, its fun to contemplate, but ultimately there is no substitute from hearing from the "Pro" and learning why they substituted a player, or did a trade and what not.

Al
 

#23 PBF

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 07:56 PM

Jim, Words of Wisdom for sure...Thanks for the real story....Pat Utah :foreheadslap:
 

#24 ccs_hello

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 08:47 PM

I should also state that that ICX285 has been used in a few astroCCD imagers (basically, just "imaging head", no complex processing electronics inside, that task is given to PC to complete.) In addition to Artemis (Atik), Meade DSI III and Orion DSCI III also use them. Their price has changed few times mainly in upward direction due to smaller and smaller batch of CCD sensors purchases. The end product is even more expensive than the much larger APS-C sized astroCCD imagers (due to sensor volume production.)

ICX285 Or ICX825 would usually be used in 1280x1024 resolution at 4:3 aspect ratio. This is not in HDTV's 16:9 format, not in interlaced read-out format, and would be a waste if only used in SDTV (NTSC or PAL) thus there is no purpose-built analog NTSC video cams.

On another note:
I personally don't see there is a need to endlessly pursue the best of the best, most optimized solution just for the purpose of near realtime viewing/imaging/observation. Indeed complementary color CMYG is more "transparent" (let more light in) than RGBG primary-color image sensor. Indeed CerDIP has lower package Thermal Resistance than "engineering plastic" used in PDIP. Indeed large pixel has more real estate space to "catch" the photons.
However, there are many other factors to be considered such as total sensor area (if optical system can offer more total photon flux), more pixel count (higher spatial resolution plays magic in human visual system), and most importantly, low readout noise from integrated A/D (e.g., SONY EXMOR) offers much greater opportunity to keep boosting faint signal (photo-electrons.)
Most importantly, sensor price affects everything.
All of the above do not stay as a fixed dividing line. It is time variant (technologies evolve, business climate changes, new deal made, volume purchase done, etc.)

I hope this helps and encourages people to stay flexible and not to stick to just few hand-selected (marketing pushes) parameters.

Clear Skies!

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#25 nytecam

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 04:38 AM

Ccs-hello - t here's no harm discussing new chips etc on CN when its cloudy . You won't find me here when its starry :-)
 


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