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My New Wide-Field Mono Setup

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#1 james7ca

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 10:36 PM

Okay, in the process of getting a new planetary (lunar) camera I thought it would be interesting to try and configure something that would allow me to use my Nikon lenses in a mono/narrow-band setup. With some good luck (and the necessary outlay of cash) I was able to find the needed parts quickly and from a single source (OPT).

 

So, here is my new wide-field camera setup using a ZWO ASI174MM camera, a TS 1.25"/2" filter drawer, and a QSI Nikon F-mount to t-thread adapter. Interestingly, I was just able to meet the 46.5mm backfocus requirement for the Nikon lenses almost exactly (i.e. the necessary components fit with less than 1mm to spare). Not only will this setup allow me to do wide-field astrophotography but I'll also be able to do some IR landscape photography.

 

I've included a shot of the camera mounted on an L-bracket with a Vixen dovetail and two shots using an Astronomik IR Pro 742nm filter to do some daylight near infrared photography. Both shots were done with a Nikon 18-70mm zoom, both are cropped down from the full 1936x1216 pixel size of the ASI174 camera (but reproduced at a full, 1:1 pixel ratio). The landscape shows the effects of the IR filter (white leaves, dark sky) while the shot of the moon just shows the mild sky darkening (taken during the day) and the image scale with the 70mm lens (i.e. the moon is really small, this is a significant crop from the full frame). I also purchased the 807nm filter which should produce an even stronger effect (for landscape images).

 

Exposure details:

 

Landscape:
Nikon 18-70mm Zoom, 18mm at approx. f/4.9
Astronomik IR Pro 742nm filter
4.5ms, gain=0, gamma 100, 12-bit

 

Moon:
Nikon 18-70mm Zoom, 70mm at approx. f/6.4
Astronomik IR Pro 742nm filter
28ms, gain=0, gamma 100, 12-bit.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Wide Field Mono Camera.jpg
  • Landscape ZWO ASI174 with Astronomik 742nm Filter.jpg
  • Moon ZWO ASI174 with Astronomik 742nm Filter.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 24 June 2015 - 10:48 PM.


#2 josh smith

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 10:42 PM

That is really creative and sweet!  Cool stuff and color me jealous :)



#3 Goofi

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 10:52 PM

Love this!!   :)



#4 anismo

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 11:06 PM

Excellent. Looking forward for more images with this setup.



#5 james7ca

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 11:10 PM

If I'm lucky I may try some wide-field H-alpha shots tonight. But right now I'm going to use the camera for some LRGB and IR shots of the moon with my refractor. With a 5X Powermate and the ASI174MM I can get a 0.20 x 0.12 degree field of view on the moon when working near to the critical sampling for my setup (that configuration gives 0.37 arc seconds per pixel and an effective focal length of 3300mm at f/26).

 

Here is a shot that better illustrates the size of the camera (with the 18-70mm zoom plus lens shade, actually a fairly large lens, this will be really tiny with a 50mm prime).

Attached Thumbnails

  • Widefield Camera.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 24 June 2015 - 11:25 PM.


#6 David Ault

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 11:40 PM

That's really cool James!  I'm looking forward to more images from this setup.

 

Regards,

David



#7 rflinn68

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 12:46 AM

Thats a very neat setup James. Interesting camera too. I cant help but wonder how this camera would do in a guiding setup on an OAG. The sensor is quite large and comes in a tiny package. If it would indeed work, I'd sure have a lot more stars to choose from.  :hmm:



#8 james7ca

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 02:10 AM

So, this wasn't exactly what I promised, but I did a quick (and bad) processing on a 640 x 480 region of interest using a 7nm wide Ha filter on the moon. This was taken with a 4X Powermate on a Tele Vue NP127is using the ZWO ASI174MM camera set to maximum gain. It's from a 6000 frame AVI under not so great seeing conditions. I wanted to see whether I could record Hadley Rille and it looks like I did (not very sharp, but it's there). I also did some full-frame (1936 x 1216) captures using a fairly broad bandbass red filter at a lower gain in 12-bit FITs format. I think those  should be worth processing (as more than just a test). I was nearly able to cover the entire terminator of the moon using just two fields, so the large sensor should really make high resolution lunar work a lot easier (the main reason I got this new camera).

Attached Thumbnails

  • Moon H alpha ASI174MM Max Gain.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 25 June 2015 - 02:13 AM.


#9 Jon Rista

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 02:16 AM

This is awesome stuff, James! It is an incredibly compact setup...about as portable as it gets. I'm curious what mount you are using...something really small, I gather?



#10 james7ca

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 02:24 AM

This is awesome stuff, James! It is an incredibly compact setup...about as portable as it gets. I'm curious what mount you are using...something really small, I gather?

Well, for the Nikon lens setup I'll probably use my AVX. Last night I used my guide camera (ASI120MM) with a 70-300mm Nikon zoom to photograph the moon and M3 and I didn't even polar align the mount. I have some marks made on the concrete and I just set the tripod down on those marks and started taking unguided shots. I was only using 30 second luminance exposures on M3, but below is what I got (this is with the smaller, higher-resolution ASI120MM camera, not the new ASI174MM). In any case, it was a similar setup but with the ASI120MM I have enough backfocus to use a filter wheel rather than the TS filter drawer (the ASI174MM takes an additional 5mm of backfocus, they increased the camera flange to sensor spacing over the 12.5mm that was designed on the ASI120MM).

Attached Thumbnails

  • M3.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 25 June 2015 - 02:48 AM.


#11 james7ca

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 07:32 AM

Okay, this isn't meant to be good, but I was able to get 4 minutes (4 x 1min) of H-alpha exposure on the North America Nebula under very hazy, red zone, and mostly cloudy skies using the ASI174MM, a 7nm Ha filter, and my 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor lens. I did a few DF and bias but this is far from a good calibration. I binned 2x2, used the maximum gain, and left the lens wide-open at f/1.8. With the clouds, short exposure, and rush to finish consider this just a proof of concept.

 

Also, a photo of the camera with the 50mm Nikkor lens (obviously a very small package). This should be fun and I think I'm even more intrigued by the possibility of doing some infrared landscapes during the day.

Attached Thumbnails

  • North America Nebula Adjusted Grayscale.jpg
  • ASI174MM with 50mm Nikkor Lens.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 25 June 2015 - 07:46 AM.


#12 james7ca

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 07:36 AM

And last,  here is a link to a shot of the moon I did tonight using the ASI174MM on my refractor (details in the link):

 

  http://www.cloudynig...-3#entry6649491



#13 Footbag

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 07:42 AM

That looks like an awesome setup!  4m...  Not good?  :p



#14 hytham

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:19 AM

That is so freaking neat.



#15 james7ca

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:13 PM

Here is my first attempt at a "color" IR image. I used a 807nm IR filter for red, a blue filter for the blue channel, and a UV/IR cut filter for green. This was taken with a 50mm Nikkor lens using the setup I previously discussed/showed (nikon lens, filter drawer, ZWO ASI174MM camera). I need to work on the exposure balance and the filter combinations, but I wanted red foliage with a blue sky and that's pretty much what I got with my first try. There was a bit of movement between exposures (wind in the leaves) and the subject isn't that great, but I think it does show some potential.

 

Note, CN seems to be butchering my image uploads (resizes and recompresses the JPEGs even when they are below the maximum size guidelines). The original is very clean looking, the version that CN wants to display looks pretty bad.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Landscape IR Color Large.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 25 June 2015 - 10:17 PM.


#16 james7ca

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:26 PM

And here is the 807nm grayscale channel (IR and used as the red channel in the color image) on its own. This may give a better idea of the true image quality (although CN is still recompressing and resizing my uploads).

Attached Thumbnails

  • 807nm IR Small.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 27 June 2015 - 12:13 AM.


#17 Thirteen

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:34 PM

Very cool.   I want this camera.   Like the idea of the wide and fast camera lenses!   I'll follow your progress.   I really struggle with the thought of adding another uncooled camera to my collection.   I promised myself I wouldn't go through summer ....


Edited by Thirteen, 25 June 2015 - 10:36 PM.


#18 james7ca

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 11:35 PM

Thirteen, just remember that if you want your DSLR lenses to focus to infinity you need to remain under your camera brand's lens flange to sensor distance. For Nikon this is 46.5mm and I was just barely able to get that using the thinnest filter drawer I could find. Also, the QSI Nikon F-mount to t-thread adapter was just 11.2mm thick. Add all of this to the 17.5mm spacing in the ZWO ASI174MM and you get something like:

 

15mm + 11.2mm + 17.5mm = 43.7mm

 

But, you also need to account for the thread spacing requirements when these items are put together and that meant another 2.5mm in my situation so that 43.7mm now becomes 43.7 + 2.5mm = 46.2mm so I was just able to get under the maximum 46.5mm.

 

Canon is a little worse because their lenses require only 44mm, but Teleskop Service makes a Canon lens to t-thread adapter that is SUPPOSED to require only 10mm (TSEOS-T2s) and it's pretty cheap at only 69 Euro. In any case, I don't think QSI still makes the Nikon F-mount adapter that I used, so it may be difficult to find if you are using Nikon lenses.

 

If anyone knows of a source of shorter components than I've listed above I'd like to know since thinner is aways better (you can always add spacers).



#19 james7ca

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 12:08 AM

Still having problems with the weather and clouds, but here is a shot of tonight's moon taken during twilight (before the low clouds move in) using a 70-300mm Nikon Zoom at its 300mm position (working at about f/8). This is with the ZWO ASI174MM camera and an Astronomik Planet IR Pro 642nm BP filter. A crop to 640 x 480 pixels but shown at a 1:1 pixel ratio from the original capture.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Moon with ASI174MM and Nikon 70-300mm Zoom.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 27 June 2015 - 12:09 AM.


#20 james7ca

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 12:51 AM

Here is an IR enhanced image of tonight's sunset. I used the Astronomik Planet IR Pro 642nm BP filter for the red channel and the green and blue channels came from the G and B filters in a ZWO LRBG filter set. Since the three channels weren't taken at the same time there is obvious movement in the clouds, but it makes an interesting picture. Not exactly astronomy related, but since it's an IR-GB image and taken with the ZWO ASI174MM camera it may have its place on CN. This was done with the 50mm Nikon prime at f/5.6 and is nearly full frame (although resized and recompressed to meet the CN guidelines).

Attached Thumbnails

  • Sunset with ZWO ASI174MM and 50mm Nikkor Lens Small.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 27 June 2015 - 12:56 AM.


#21 HxPI

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 07:07 PM

This is awesome! I love finding out new and novel ways of using gear. I just purchased the ASI174MM and plan to use it in different ways. I'm definitely going to look into getting one of those F-mount adapters. Does the QSI F-Mount have a mechanism to set the aperture wide open? I have a bunch of Nikon G lens that would love to be put to good use.

 

So, do you think the ASI174 with the appropriate Nikon lens would work as a guide scope? I don't have a separate guide scope yet but plan to use the ASI174 for guiding at some point. Maybe this is a way to test out guiding!

 

Thanks.

 

Ciao,

Mel

 

 


Edited by HxPI, 27 June 2015 - 07:36 PM.


#22 anismo

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 07:53 PM

look at those clouds!!! good stuff James.

 

@Mel, Yes, the QSI-Nikon adapter comes with a lever to control aperture...  Pricy little adapter though.. I had to get to use it with my QSI CCD. 



#23 james7ca

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 08:21 PM

Mel, as I said earlier, I don't think QSI makes this adapter any more. You may be able to find one used, I think I just got lucky as the one I purchased may have been the last available from OPT (and as Anis noted, this adapter is kind of expensive - $250 U.S.). Also, yes, there is an adjustment for the aperture setting (but on a G-type lens you pretty much have to guess as to what aperture you are using, except when wide open or fully stopped down).

 

As for using a Nikon lens as a guide scope, you COULD do  that but I'd be afraid that there would be too much flexure since lens bayonet mounts are prone to movement and I'm not sure whether you could rely on the focus position remaining unchanged during a long guided exposure. Of course, these same potential issues exist when using a Nikon lens for direct astrophotography, but I think the situation could be even worse if used as a guide scope.



#24 Goofi

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 08:32 PM

I wonder if preciseparts.com can create an adapter for this ... seems like it, it's all standard connections.



#25 james7ca

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Posted 27 June 2015 - 09:21 PM

I wonder if preciseparts.com can create an adapter for this ... seems like it, it's all standard connections.

You can check, however, my contact at OPT said that while Precise Parts (PP) might be able to offer such an adapter it would most likely be quite expensive since they would have to buy the Nikon bayonet from a third-party source because PP has no way to machine such a complex part (or perhaps they have no license that allows them to make a proprietary Nikon mount).

 

Interestingly, Teleskop Service offers a Canon female bayonet to male T-thread adapter that is 10mm thick and it's priced at only 69 Euro, but the only Nikon adapter they seem to offer takes 21mm of back focus which pretty much eliminates the possibility of using a filter drawer or filter wheel between the lens and the sensor.

 

Here is that Canon adapter:

 

 http://www.teleskop-...-mm-length.html

 

and here is the adapter for the Nikon (Nice, but requires too much back focus for my application. It also seems to lack a aperture adjustment for the G-type lenses):

 

http://www.teleskop-...-4--thread.html

 

However, I've often wondered whether it might be easier to just buy a "junk" Nikon camera body and try to use the bayonet from that camera body as a starting point to make your own adapter.


Edited by james7ca, 27 June 2015 - 09:23 PM.



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