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New Sony 1.4MP CCD sensor (useful?)

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#51 David B in NM

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:04 AM

Al never replied to my post above. I provided links to 5 (did not include a link to NYTECAM's threads) Lodestar users. I posted to show him there were 6 members who posted images with the Lodestar in the Fall of 2013.

In the past, everyone was very interested in the software NYTECAM used. Recently he posted a link to a youtube here on CN and I never saw a post to his thread from the naysayers.

Why should someone post images with a Point Grey camera here only to suffer the wrath that NYTECAM has (and it still continues that some of you say he is imaging).

I dare say that there are many others who lurk in this forum and use MCs along with other cameras for their enjoyment in the field. What matters is they are enjoying themselves, not PROVING themselves or their equipment.

David B in NM
 

#52 A. Viegas

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:20 AM

I appreciate the work Maurice does. And I include the lodestar in a prior post in this thread. I remember the images puckja posted and they were
Interesting also and the work he did with the script to automate the processing. I almost bought a lodestar x2 at NEAF. So I am not anti lodestar. In replying to CCS I am trying to advocate that we need more innovation in video or near real time astro imaging. I am not a DIY'er so
I will never get an IIE unless it's Plug and play. Meanwhile discussing hypothetical merits of new chips without hearing from the
Vendors is not very productive beyond a certain point. Indeed, point grey has some great high end and cheaper cameras but they are not optimized for DSO viewing. Maybe they will work on developing some!!

Al
 

#53 tim53

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 01:12 PM

Milton Aupperle (author of Astro IIDC for Mac uers) has been taking DSO images with Pt Grey cameras (and others) for years.

I've taken a few, but I don't own a Grasshopper camera, and I mostly shoot planets. I like that I can take "video" with exposures up to 60 minutes/frame, and have used that capability to acquire and stack a handful of exposures up to 5 minutes long. Usually, I keep the exposures shorter than that, though.

-Tim.
 

#54 ccs_hello

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:26 PM

Al,

May I suggest think deeper when you hear two different stories and definitely think passing beyond me the person. Treating me as a punchbag or teasing wouldn't hurt me but will hinder your vision.

I hope what I have stated makes sense and the technical information I have pointed to, many are professional first-tier camera manufacturers which produce whitepapers, technical references, and most importantly produce quantifiable result data for evaluation. These firms employ numerous engineers and had established professional credibility.

Regarding me, I refuse to be asked/pushed about to, say "show how knowledgeable I am by showing pictures" is kind of childish. Check my posting this CN forums. Other background credentials I don't need to disclose to you.

I suggest you and many to screenshot some "interesting claims" by me and "others". Then check back occasionally on consistencies (especially check if it's contradictory to the past then probably you should wonder why.)

Regarding remarks on price and capabilities on various devices, I suggest you use this opportunity to take active interest to study and look around, not just by one (any) specific brand. You'll be surprised. That is applicable to analog videocam based (including the "mod friends"), industry cameras, security cameras, and even astroCCDs. This exercise will broaden your view.

Hope you gain something no matter what that is.
A small request, carry over the other discussion group (especially vendor specific ones) here, while you do not fully understand the subject does not help this community. Would you stop it?

Clear Skies!

ccs_hello
 

#55 csa/montana

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 10:31 PM

Would you stop it?



How about if everyone "stops it", and simply concentrate on the equipment rather than individuals? :whistle:
 

#56 David Pavlich

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:02 PM

Ayup....let's discuss equipment. Personal stuff will get this locked quickly.

David
 

#57 RandyC

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:34 PM

ccs, It's so obvious. Pushing the imaging CCD with higher gain. It reminds me of the fastest way we can get to Mars is letting our rocket drift there without any propulsion. VERY INTERESTING little fact that the imaging CCDs are fixed the lowest S/N ratio. FIGURES. Send the people into a long enough boondoggle and they won't see anything unless they have the best mount, etc.

I would definitely be interested in hearing more about your circuit. It would be interesting to see if this sensor can be used as a real-time CCD, similar to video. Thanks for pointing out this revealing fact. It just figures.

You obviously struck a nerve here. Those that understand CCD imaging know exactly what you are talking about.

Clear Skies, RandyC
http://www.flickr.co...s/galaxygardens
 

#58 jimthompson

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 12:40 AM

Sorry for the delay, some work stuff came up I had to deal with.

Alrighty...let's pull back on the reins for a moment. The original topic of this thread was about Sony releasing a new CCD model (the 825) to replace the venerable but still widely used 285. This new chip is marketed much like the 828/829, as a drop in replacement. Drop in replacement means exactly that, you drop it into your existing camera and away you go, more sensitivity. It does not mean the camera manufacturer has to go away and do another development cycle to re-optimize their camera for the new chip...that would defeat the purpose. So going back to the dark frame I posted yesterday (reposted below along with 418 darkframe), that is the result of using the new 829 as it was design by Sony, as a drop in replacement for the 429. The camera used is irrelevant as the same camera is used for both dark frames and the new chip is supposed to be a drop-in replacement - no redevelopment required. Well the new chip does what it is advertised to do, it provides more sensitivity. I only have a comparable dark frame from a 418, but the point I am trying to make is still evident...the 829 image IS brighter but the image quality is much lower. I'm sure that when you use the chip at 1/120th or 1/30th of a second exposure the image is nice, no streaky lines or amp-glow. But for this particular application the new chip does not result in a better image.

I am worried that this result is how things will remain going forward; new more sensitive chips optimized for use at fast exposure rates at the expense of worse performance at long exposure rates. Someday we may get lucky and a sensor will come out that is better at long exposure rates too. I can not however in good conscience ask Matt or Rock to test every new sensor that comes out with the hope of finding "the big one". I would be asking for too much of an investment of their time and money for little or no gain (no pun intended).

Now what about the Lodestar. I agree that on the surface it seems like a conundrum; two cameras using the same sensor but getting very different results. In my opinion continuing to ask that question is like asking why an orange is sweeter than a lemon (they're both citrus fruit!). The Lodestar is simply designed for a different application. Why would you expect a camera designed to be a guider to produce the same image as a camera designed to be an astrovideo camera? The Lodestar is what it is, a guider that can produce some nice still frames of DSO's even using the stock software. Unfortunately we are unable to separate the capabilities of the different softwares from the capabilities of the camera itself, making the discussion that much more indeterminate. I can say with reasonable confidence that the Lodestar is not the camera you want if you are looking to go out into the field with just scope + camera + monitor.

I do have something to say about cooling plastic packaged CCD's, but that...is another story.

Best Regards,

Jim T.

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#59 Dom543

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 02:33 AM

Jim,

The statement that your images are making is not about the sensors but about use of a high gains amplifier that is in the camera and is cranked up to full power.

The high sensitivity sensor does not need 50dB gains and is meant for quality applications aiming at high S/N. If we want to discuss the qualities of the sensor, please ask your source to retake the images with AGC set to OFF.

Thanks,
--Dom
 

#60 Don Rudny

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 04:24 AM

Now what about the Lodestar. I agree that on the surface it seems like a conundrum; two cameras using the same sensor but getting very different results. In my opinion continuing to ask that question is like asking why an orange is sweeter than a lemon (they're both citrus fruit!). The Lodestar is simply designed for a different application. Why would you expect a camera designed to be a guider to produce the same image as a camera designed to be an astrovideo camera? The Lodestar is what it is, a guider that can produce some nice still frames of DSO's even using the stock software. Unfortunately we are unable to separate the capabilities of the different softwares from the capabilities of the camera itself, making the discussion that much more indeterminate. I can say with reasonable confidence that the Lodestar is not the camera you want if you are looking to go out into the field with just scope + camera + monitor.


Hi Jim,

I have read many of your writings in the past and am impressed with your knowledge. I am relatively new to astronomy and VEAA and have learned much from you and others on this forum. I don't understand what you are saying about the Lodestar. I just bought an X2 and am having a lot of fun with it. I mainly use it to assist in viewing, but also have captured some images you can view in the link below. I think it would be a great camera to go out into the field with just a scope and a laptop. There's just one wire between the camera and computer. The images I took were between 3 and 45 seconds. The software I use is Lodestar Live, a freeware developed by Paul in the UK. It's really simple to use and he is presently working on a stacking routine for it. There is no magic post processing for light pollution. The s/w controls exposure, brightness, contrast, black level and white level similar to Miloslick. The image is continually updated until you freeze it. You can subtract dark frames as well.

Even though the Lodestar is designed primarily as a guider, it appears to meet all of the features of a good near real time camera. The X2 has twice the sensitivity of the old Lodestar M. Many Lodestar fans are calling for a color version of the X2.

Here's a link to my captured images:

http://stargazerslou...star-x2-images/
 

#61 RandyC

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 06:44 AM

Jim, I understand your points about the 428/828. But this thread was originally started regarding the 285/825 and whether it could be used for real time imaging. The 285/825 is designed for long exposure imaging. ccs_hello point is the circuity has been fixed at a low gain, optimized for lowest S/N. He is saying a circuit can be made to increase gain and collect the readout sans noise. The point is you can get long exposure, high sensitivity imaging from these CCD chips. You simply need a circuit to drive and read it. Yes, the 428/828 has gone an evolution towards faster exposure times and more noise. But has the 285/825? Or do we now simply need a new circuit. The answer is that the entire CCD industry has been sitting around on slow chips fixed that way. Perhaps Sony is trying to change this despite camera manufacturers keeping gain fixed.
 

#62 Dragon Man

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 06:56 AM


Don, if you read Jims' statement again you will see he is not putting down Lodestar.
His comment is "Lodestar is not the camera you want if you are looking to go out into the field with just scope + camera + monitor."

Nothing more, nothing less.

In other words, to use a Lodestar you MUST have a Computer with you out in the field, whereas Video/CCTV cameras don't.
With Video/CCTV all you need is:
- Scope
- Camera
- Monitor

I regularly read Lodestar aficionados boasting that with a Lodestar you only need a single USB cable.
That's nice. But you also need that Computer.

Video/CCTV doesn't need a computer. Just a little 4 inch reversing camera monitor in your pocket will do.
And Video/CCTV can run cables over 100 feet long.

So, they both have their own good points.

 

#63 David B in NM

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 07:31 AM

And Video/CCTV can run cables over 100 feet long.


Ken,

Using active USB repeater cables, CAT6 cable and WiFi, you can also run extended lengths for the cameras that need a computer to operate.

Added: It is not uncommon for imagers to operate a remote observatory. For example, here's a well known observatory within a few miles of me (NM Skies). There are CN members who image from home outside the State and the US using this facility.

David B in NM
 

#64 nytecam

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 09:04 AM

Don - that's a fabulous set of images via the Lodestar-Mx2, from presumably a fabulous site we'd all like - well done :bow: Here's my 1x60sec worth via the Lodestar-Mx2 from early this morning on Abell GC 2065 with gx in mag 14-16 range at 2BLY+ It was easier to ID the fewer stars [via Sloan DSS] than the numerous gx ;)

Both our Lodestar images are in marked contrast to Jim's dire MCX 829 dark - I don't get any of those artifacts caused by MCX hyper-circuitry. My laptop powers the USB Lodestar for a whole session - what powers source do M users use?? and how do they b-cast NSN without a PC/laptop??

Regarding "disappearing Lodestar members" on this forum - I'll be charitable and put it down to natural wastage. 18 months to 2yrs is probably average for any CN forum members but hassle will speed that up - for some. I've been posting here 6yrs and initially got chastised for exceeding via my Lodestar, the archane Mallincam x256/x512 sensup max. Mallincam's new gismos have let-the-cat-out-of-the-bag and blown 'image manipulation' wide open. Thanks. I'll continued to enjoy and share my hobby as before - peace :rainbow:

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#65 mclewis1

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 09:18 AM

The Lodestar is simply designed for a different application. Why would you expect a camera designed to be a guider to produce the same image as a camera designed to be an astrovideo camera? The Lodestar is what it is, a guider that can produce some nice still frames of DSO's even using the stock software. Unfortunately we are unable to separate the capabilities of the different softwares from the capabilities of the camera itself, making the discussion that much more indeterminate.

Jim, Well I would certainly expect that a full on imaging camera and an astro video camera designed for near live viewing to be quite different BUT a camera designed to be a guider does indeed share positive characteristics with the astro video camera that an imaging specific camera does not. The guider is specifically designed for shorter high gain exposures.

Now I'm not suggesting that all guiders make effective near live viewing cameras ... far from it. But some of the characteristics that make the Lodestar X2 a good guider also help it when it's used for near live viewing (lots of "useful sensitivity" - low noise, high gain).

Yes in the discussion about near live viewing we are assuming a complete system (camera + software), and in that case we are NOT discussing the use of the original SX software. So any comparisons between astro video cameras and a LodeStar with the SX software aren't really relevant (and I fully agree, that combination is IMHO not an effective near live viewing configuration). And to bring this back to the OPs original posting, I think this discussion does have a bearing on the possibility of using a chip like the 825 for near live viewing. With a suitably designed camera (in the same vein as the SX X2) that exhibits useful sensitivity and with suitable "Live" type software it is possible to have an effective near live viewing setup.

I can say with reasonable confidence that the Lodestar is not the camera you want if you are looking to go out into the field with just scope + camera + monitor.

Here I really disagree with your statement if I can offer the following conditions - the Lodestar is the X2 model and the Live software is being used.

Edit: Jim's clarification posting below has caused me to correct my original statement ... my original assumptions about his statement were wrong ... sorry Jim.

I agree that it's an issue for some folks to have a laptop computer in the field but I think for most today it's not a problem, especially using a lower cost model specifically for astro use vs. a desktop like replacement model that someone relies on exclusively. In fact I think it's actually simpler when you consider having to power some video monitors in the field. I too love the relative simplicity of a true video setup (and it's what I continue to use) but I'm really impressed with the capability and simplicity of a USB connected camera and simple laptop combination for near live viewing.

I know we won't be able to properly compare them here, and I like most others would dearly love to see some real side by side comparisons. I'm also not suggesting that one is any better or worse than the other ... just that the combination of the Lodestar X2 and Live software now has capabilities that go well beyond what the original Lodestar and original SX software can do with respect to near live viewing requirements and therefore shouldn't be dismissed outright.
 

#66 mclewis1

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 09:40 AM

Maurice,

As always a very impressive image.

Both our Lodestar images are in marked contrast to Jim's dire MCX 829 dark - I don't get any of those artifacts caused by MCX hyper-circuitry.


You know full well that you can't compare those images ... and that is why when you first started posting the X2 images that I asked you to post a raw unprocessed frame. Only that would be a remotely appropriate comparison with Jim's test image capture.

The Mallincam Hyper circuitry is involved with creating the longer exposures, but it's not the cause of the artifacts in the image (but the additional gain provided by that circuitry may be allowing them to be more clearly seen).

Mallincam's new gismos have let-the-cat-out-of-the-bag and blown 'image manipulation' wide open.

What "new gismos" are you referring to? All the new image manipulation capabilities that I'm familiar with have recently come from the software (like Miloslick) which isn't a Mallincam product. Just like the SX products the image manipulation is primarily coming from the software used to display and capture the images.
 

#67 David B in NM

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 09:46 AM

All the new image manipulation capabilities that I'm familiar with have recently come from the software (like Miloslick) which isn't a Mallincam product. Just like the SX products the image manipulation is primarily coming from the software used to display and capture the images.


And like a ccd camera, they need a COMPUTER to take advantage of it. A simple video monitor is incapable of running software. Right?

David B in NM
 

#68 jimthompson

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 09:53 AM

Hi Don,

Those are some very nice images you have captured, thank you for the link. I am glad to hear that you have found a camera that you like and that you are enjoying using it. That is entirely the point of all this. Why should I care what camera you use as long as you're out there exploring the sky with it.

To clarify my point, I said the Lodestar line of cameras are not what one should choose if you want to go into the field with just scope + camera + monitor, ie. no computer. Bringing your laptop into the field may not seem like a big deal to you, but there are many people who would simply rather not have to deal with all that extra overhead...learning how to keep your computer + software working in addition to all your other equipment. Until you have tried the simplicity of an analog video camera, it is hard to appreciate why many people would want to go that way. The fact that both AVS and Mallincam have analog video cameras as their front line products should be an indication of what people seem to like.

Best Regards,

Jim T.
 

#69 jimthompson

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 10:01 AM

Hi Dom,

Same camera, same amplifiers. The only difference between the two images is the sensor and any other circuitry that is on the die itself (including the read-out amplifier, where the ampglow is born). So you are saying we should reduce the gain on the new more sensitive chip in order to get a cleaner image? Okay, makes sense. That would bring the usage of the chip more inline with how the CCD imaging camera industry use their sensors, less gain for cleaner image. But...isn't the point of the new chip to have MORE sensitivity? What is the point of a new sensor that is 2x more sensitive if I have to use 1/2 or even less of the gain I normally use?

Best Regards,

Jim T.
 

#70 jimthompson

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 10:30 AM

Hi Randy,

I'm not sure you have understood my point. My point was essentially that new more sensitive sensors are not necessarily better for our application because they are not designed for our application. This is true for the 428/828 AND the 285/825...or any other so-called "drop-in" replacement Sony comes out with. How the new sensor will perform in long exposure and high gain applications is simply a crapshoot. I do not understand yours or CCS_HELLO's statement about needing to redesign the readout circuitry to get a clean noise free image using the new chips. The amplifiers add noise to the image, sure, but they add random noise...static. They do not add fixed pattern noise other than indirectly through their heat being observed by the sensor as ampglow. The two patches of glow and the stringy lines in the dark frame I posted has nothing to do with the readout and amplifier circuitry, it has to do with the chip design itself. The high gain of the camera is amplifying the image defects that exist due to the chip, making them more visible. There is nothing you can do to re-optimise your read-out circuitry or gain settings and get the SAME camera sensitivity but without the fixed pattern noise. I don't make this sh$@ up, its just the way it is. If you used this chip in a camera with a mechanical shutter (ie. an imaging camera), the camera could automatically take darks and auto apply them unbeknownst to the user...but that is a whole other ball of wax.

As for whether the 285/825 can be used for video astronomy, the answer is: "why wouldn't it be?" There is no "fixed gain" as far as the camera developer is concerned. Gain is simply a voltage applied to a pin on a chip somewhere in the camera that tells the amplifier how much to amplify. The camera developer can easily add some circuitry and a potentiometer and Bob's your Uncle...manual variable gain. Or you could even tie it into the video processor and write a control algorithm into the camera's firmware so it can be adjusted through the camera OSD. This is what Matt and Rock have been doing all along. It is not sensor specific. In fact I have heard rumours that Rock is investigating a version of his camera that uses the ICX285 chip, the status of which I do not know.

Best Regards,

Jim T.
 

#71 jimthompson

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 10:35 AM

Hi Maurice,

Just to clarify for the viewers, the image artifacts in my dark have nothing to do with the camera's hyper circuitry. The camera is simply amplifying and showing us the image that the chip is generating. This is a fixed pattern, not random noise.

Best Regards,

Jim T.
 

#72 David B in NM

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 10:45 AM

Bringing your laptop into the field may not seem like a big deal to you, but there are many people who would simply rather not have to deal with all that extra overhead...learning how to keep your computer + software working in addition to all your other equipment. Until you have tried the simplicity of an analog video camera, it is hard to appreciate why many people would want to go that way. The fact that both AVS and Mallincam have analog video cameras as their front line products should be an indication of what people seem to like.


Jim,

Perhaps you (and others) may enjoy the simplicity you highlight above. Yet, at the same time it appears as though there are analog users who disagree with you and are not pleased with the images they see.

The interest in Miloslick and AstroLive suggests analog users want something better, and are willing to purchase software to enhance the simple analog views thy once had.

Thus, it appears as though not all analog users share your view and are willing to tote the laptop out in the field.

The current trend in technology is digital. Not too long ago in the US, people receiving Over the Air TV signals were forced to purchase a converter or a new television to convert analog signals to digital signals.

IMHO, "simple" analog video will be a thing of the past and digital technology will replace in in the Astro world too. No matter which type of camera is used (video or ccd), a computer will be in the mix. I know there is one MC user who shares this same opinion and has written a script to maximize his images. He sees the benefit digital technology offers too.

David B in NM
 

#73 BigDob Al

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 11:02 AM

Hi Dom,

Same camera, same amplifiers. The only difference between the two images is the sensor and any other circuitry that is on the die itself (including the read-out amplifier, where the ampglow is born). So you are saying we should reduce the gain on the new more sensitive chip in order to get a cleaner image? Okay, makes sense. That would bring the usage of the chip more inline with how the CCD imaging camera industry use their sensors, less gain for cleaner image. But...isn't the point of the new chip to have MORE sensitivity? What is the point of a new sensor that is 2x more sensitive if I have to use 1/2 or even less of the gain I normally use?

Best Regards,

Jim T.

Why are you assuming that reducing gain is needed to eliminate amp glow ? What data is this assumption based on? I've never seen this before and would like to understand it.

Cear Skies,
Al
 

#74 Don Rudny

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 11:15 AM

Don - that's a fabulous set of images via the Lodestar-Mx2, from presumably a fabulous site we'd all like - well done :bow: Here's my 1x60sec worth via the Lodestar-Mx2 from early this morning on Abell GC 2065 with gx in mag 14-16 range at 2BLY+ It was easier to ID the fewer stars [via Sloan DSS] than the numerous gx ;)

Both our Lodestar images are in marked contrast to Jim's dire MCX 829 dark - I don't get any of those artifacts caused by MCX hyper-circuitry. My laptop powers the USB Lodestar for a whole session - what powers source do M users use?? and how do they b-cast NSN without a PC/laptop??

Regarding "disappearing Lodestar members" on this forum - I'll be charitable and put it down to natural wastage. 18 months to 2yrs is probably average for any CN forum members but hassle will speed that up - for some. I've been posting here 6yrs and initially got chastised for exceeding via my Lodestar, the archane Mallincam x256/x512 sensup max. Mallincam's new gismos have let-the-cat-out-of-the-bag and blown 'image manipulation' wide open. Thanks. I'll continued to enjoy and share my hobby as before - peace :rainbow:


Thanks, Nytecam. Seeing your work convinced me to buy the Lodestar. You are the Lodestar Man!
 

#75 Dwight J

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 11:31 AM

Bringing your laptop into the field may not seem like a big deal to you, but there are many people who would simply rather not have to deal with all that extra overhead...learning how to keep your computer + software working in addition to all your other equipment. Until you have tried the simplicity of an analog video camera, it is hard to appreciate why many people would want to go that way. The fact that both AVS and Mallincam have analog video cameras as their front line products should be an indication of what people seem to like.


Jim,

Perhaps you (and others) may enjoy the simplicity you highlight above. Yet, at the same time it appears as though there are analog users who disagree with you and are not pleased with the images they see.

The interest in Miloslick and AstroLive suggests analog users want something better, and are willing to purchase software to enhance the simple analog views thy once had.

Thus, it appears as though not all analog users share your view and are willing to tote the laptop out in the field.

The current trend in technology is digital. Not too long ago in the US, people receiving Over the Air TV signals were forced to purchase a converter or a new television to convert analog signals to digital signals.

IMHO, "simple" analog video will be a thing of the past and digital technology will replace in in the Astro world too. No matter which type of camera is used (video or ccd), a computer will be in the mix. I know there is one MC user who shares this same opinion and has written a script to maximize his images. He sees the benefit digital technology offers too.

David B in NM


Quite a leap assuming that Mallincam users are dissatisfied with the view and that is driving their purchase of software. As usual, with assumptions that are at best a poor guess. Ever use a Mallincam David? I prefer the view on a TV ( I use an old 13" CRT ) to what I see on the computer screen hands down. I only use a computer when I am broadcasting on NSN or want to grab a frame for posting. Speaking of NSN, Lodestars are absent. My turn for an assumption: too much image manipulation required. Maurice has demurred saying that it was too much trouble to broadcast. Posting images here means little when anything can be done to them prior to putting them up here. I know who has "blown image manipulation wide open."
 


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