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Which of these Mono USB Cameras for narrowband?

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#1 RafaelP

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 09:37 PM

 I have really been enjoying my ASI224.  But now I have a new mount which will allow my do much longer exposures(a used Avalon M-Zero, I know, I know, totally overkill, but it had everything I wanted and it was a good price...plus it is red, which makes it work better right?)  

 

I am starting to look at Mono cams for narrowband .  I want a camera that will straddle the line between EAA and imaging.I currently use a C5 scope but am looking at getting a C6  or C8 in the future.  I also sometimes use a small 50mm refractor for wider fields.

 

 A few that I have seen below:

 

Starlight Lodestar II  mono- Large pixels, lower resolution, decent results

Starlight Ultrastar - on the expensive side, but great results(from Hiten/Astrojedi)

ASI174mm cool or not- larger chip, not possible to use 3.3 reducer?

 

How about the new yet to be released ASI178mm?  It has a small chip, high resolution, but very tiny pixels.  Perhaps binning would help out? The sensor is small enough to be able to use the Meade 3.3 reducer(smaller than 11mm diagonal). Some clipped info below from ZWO website:

 

ASI178MM

 6.4M pixels sensor IMX178 with SONY STARVIS and Exmor R Technology.

Extremely low read noise(2.2 e) *from the ZWO graph it goes down to 1.36e @ 350 gain

Sensor: 1/1.8” CMOS IMX178
Resolution: 6.4 Mega Pixels 3096*2080
Pixel Size: 2.4µm
Sensor Size: 7.4mm*5mm
Diagonal: 8.92mm
Exposure Range: 32µs-1000s
Focus Distance to Sensor: 12.5mm
Shutter Type: Rolling Shutter
Protect window: AR clear window
Bit rate: 14bit output(14bit ADC)
 

 

Here is the link:  http://astronomy-ima...asi-178mm-cool/

 

Any thoughts or other new cameras/sensors to look out for?

 

~Rafael

 

 

 

 



#2 ccs_hello

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 10:24 PM

IMX178 due to its tiny pixel pitch (even it uses BSI: Exmor-R), is not a great fit for EAA on dim DSO.

 

Another point: a lot of pixels needs time to move each image out of the image sensor.  This is inconvenient for high frame rate solar system lucky imaging.

 

Both points showed I am not a fan of mega pixel race.

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello 


Edited by ccs_hello, 17 December 2015 - 10:24 PM.


#3 A. Viegas

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 07:43 AM

Sam from ASI suggests the 174MM-COOL  for DSO imaging.  

 

Look here:

https://www.facebook...tronomyCameras/

 

also look here:

http://www.cloudynig...-asi174mm-cool/

 

 

Al



#4 Astrojedi

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 01:17 PM

If you are ok with lower resolution I would recommend the Lodestar X2 mono.

 

Image acquisition is incredibly quick even with H Alpha. You can also use the Starlight Live software which I have found to be very good at stacking short exposure H Alpha frames which have very muted stars.

 

See a very unscientific comparison between the X2 & Ultrastar here: http://www.cloudynig...-do-you-prefer/


Edited by Astrojedi, 18 December 2015 - 01:17 PM.

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#5 RafaelP

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 01:56 PM

You have really nice results with the Lodestar 2, but now that I have a taste of the higher resolution of the ASI224, I don't know if I can handle the blocky stars!

#6 Astrojedi

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 02:27 PM

I think a 178 mono using x2 binning would be a very interesting option to explore. With x2 binning you will get 4.4 micron pixels and still get a 1548 x 1040 resolution which is higher than the Ultrastar Mono, but with very low read noise of just 2.2e.

 

If you wanted even more sensitivity you could do x3 binning to get 6.6 micron pixels and a 1032 x 693 pixels which is still more resolution than the LX2.

 

But I do see a couple of problems. The camera has a IR cut window which is not an issue for Nebulae but will impact galaxies as they are very strong in IR. The second is that I don't see the relative response curve for the mono camera. The color camera's response (red) around the H Alpha wavelength is ~80%. I like for this to be 90% or higher. May work out ok but needs further investigation.

 

Very interesting indeed...



#7 A. Viegas

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 02:40 PM

This is a nice very large FOV Ha capture using the 174MM Cool

 

http://space-drift.o...GC2244_ED70.jpg

It was 30 300s frames -  there was some stretching and post processing, so the image looks much better than otherwise, 70mm ED refractor at 0.6x reducer, so close to the FOV of you 50mm Rafael...   Anyhow this is more AP than EAA... but shows the potential of these low-cost cameras!   :grin: 

Al



#8 RafaelP

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 02:57 PM

Hopefully they will release some response curves for the asi178 soon. I saw that it has an AR window, is the IR filter on the CMOS itself? If the window is IR -ut think they sell AR windows to replace it with. Maybe I will send them an email.

#9 A. Viegas

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 03:41 PM

Check out this post. Discusses replacing the IR window

http://zwoug.org/vie....php?f=8&t=2196

Al

#10 Relativist

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 04:40 PM

is the 178 capable of hardware binning?



#11 jimthompson

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 05:40 PM

Hi Rafael,

 

I think the answer depends on what you want to image.  I say imaging because for all the CMOS based cameras you mentioned and the Ultrastar, that is what you will be doing:  stacking multiple frames and stretching the histogram of the resulting image.  As long as you can come to terms with this, then there is no reason for you not to consider imaging cameras proper as well.  If you are looking for a good responsive camera that can give a usable image in a single frame (no stacking), then the only one in your list that can do that is the Lodestar X2C.  If you want to image relatively dim objects with narrowband filters, again I think you are limited to using the Lodestar X2C.  The sensitivity of the CMOS cameras is not there yet in my opinion for really dim targets (eg. Sharpless nebulae, galaxies < MAG 12, Palomar g.c.'s).  I have not seen enough evidence yet for the Ultrastar to confirm if it is up to the task of dim objects, at least in a semi-live situation.  If imaging proper using the Ultrastar with flats, darks, etc. it is likely possible with the associated post processing.  I have seen some impressive stuff from the SX 414 mono, narrowband filters stacking with cumulative time 3min or less on NSN so perhaps something similar is achievable using the Ultrastar?

 

Best Regards,

 

Jim T.



#12 DarkRise

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 08:10 PM

I'm also interested in the 178. In my case I would like to use the camera with a f2.8 300mm lense. Apparently the asi178mm has the least amount of amp glow so you might not have to take darks. However, i'm not really sure how sensitive the camera is compared to the asi224. From the sony website, the imx178 sensor is only 425 mV compared to 2350 mV for the imx224...


Edited by DarkRise, 18 December 2015 - 08:38 PM.


#13 ccs_hello

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 08:21 PM

Binning: in my book, it only means charge-domain binning (just like CCD based image sensor does.)  It gives you the best S/N.

 

CMOS image sensor rarely -- closed to none that can do like-color binning.

Very limited CMOS image sensor can do binning, when it is the monochrome type.  Basically, the demand is not there.

 

There are a few CMOS image sensor mfgs that perform digital summing.

SONY EXMOR is one of them.  It just add the digital value together inside the chip, subject to not exceeding the max # of bits that can represent.

In this fashion, one might just as well add the value yourself in the PC software.  There is no S/N benefit since it is just summing few numbers arithmetically.

<-- Tiny pixel becomes disadvantage since in dim light, there simply ain't enough photons gathered, thus low "S" term. This is the fundamental issue, unless "N" is so low that it becomes negligible (not really yet.)

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#14 Astrojedi

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 08:43 PM

Hi Rafael,

 

I think the answer depends on what you want to image.  I say imaging because for all the CMOS based cameras you mentioned and the Ultrastar, that is what you will be doing:  stacking multiple frames and stretching the histogram of the resulting image.  As long as you can come to terms with this, then there is no reason for you not to consider imaging cameras proper as well.  If you are looking for a good responsive camera that can give a usable image in a single frame (no stacking), then the only one in your list that can do that is the Lodestar X2C.  If you want to image relatively dim objects with narrowband filters, again I think you are limited to using the Lodestar X2C.  The sensitivity of the CMOS cameras is not there yet in my opinion for really dim targets (eg. Sharpless nebulae, galaxies < MAG 12, Palomar g.c.'s).  I have not seen enough evidence yet for the Ultrastar to confirm if it is up to the task of dim objects, at least in a semi-live situation.  If imaging proper using the Ultrastar with flats, darks, etc. it is likely possible with the associated post processing.  I have seen some impressive stuff from the SX 414 mono, narrowband filters stacking with cumulative time 3min or less on NSN so perhaps something similar is achievable using the Ultrastar?

 

Best Regards,

 

Jim T.

 

Jim,

 

The L2C is definitely very capable but I believe the op is looking for a higher resolution mono camera for narrowband imaging. And he seems to be ok with stacking.

 

In a side by side h alpha comparison I have found the X2 mono and the Ultrastar mono to be pretty comparable. It was hard for me to pick one over the other. So I don't think the difference is that great. Can't see how the L2C with a color matrix can be any better than mono.



#15 Astrojedi

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 08:44 PM

Binning: in my book, it only means charge-domain binning (just like CCD based image sensor does.)  It gives you the best S/N.

 

CMOS image sensor rarely -- closed to none that can do like-color binning.

Very limited CMOS image sensor can do binning, when it is the monochrome type.  Basically, the demand is not there.

 

There are a few CMOS image sensor mfgs that perform digital summing.

SONY EXMOR is one of them.  It just add the digital value together inside the chip, subject to not exceeding the max # of bits that can represent.

In this fashion, one might just as well add the value yourself in the PC software.  There is no S/N benefit since it is just summing few numbers arithmetically.

<-- Tiny pixel becomes disadvantage since in dim light, there simply ain't enough photons gathered, thus low "S" term. This is the fundamental issue, unless "N" is so low that it becomes negligible (not really yet.)

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello

 

Yes, need to confirm whether 178 mono supports hardware binning. Unclear from the specs.


Edited by Astrojedi, 18 December 2015 - 08:53 PM.


#16 Richard Whalen

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 09:11 PM

You have really nice results with the Lodestar 2, but now that I have a taste of the higher resolution of the ASI224, I don't know if I can handle the blocky stars!

Never got blocky stars using my X2? A lot depend on what focal length scope you are using it in. I would go with the X2 from 750 to 1200mm fl, the 825 above 1200mm.



#17 jimthompson

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 11:39 PM

Sorry I meant Lodestar X2M in my post not the colour version, although the colour version is what I have and it is very capable.

 

regards,

 

Jim T.



#18 RafaelP

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 01:27 PM

I have no problem using stacking software, as I use Astrotoaster all the time with the ASI224.

 

Here is the response curve for the asi178 from ZWO.  It can do both hardware and software binning, but they recommend software for some reason.  Also, its window is anti-reflective and not IR cut.

ASI178MM-QE.jpg

 

The Atik SX414 looks nice but at $1500 is a little more than I wanted to spend.



#19 A. Viegas

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 04:56 PM

Cone Nebula -   4 x 40s   shot through C80ED refractor  (F7.5 - 600mm)    65x40 FOV  2''/pixel according to Astrometry

Stacked in Astrotoaster.   ZWO  174MM COOL  - MONO Camera

 

Al

 

ngc2264 cone

 

 

 

Oh  and here it is LRGB and stretched a littled in CS2

 

Cone RGB

Edited by A. Viegas, 20 December 2015 - 08:33 PM.


#20 RafaelP

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 08:20 PM

Thanks for the update on the asi174 Al! How does it feel using it so far?

Anyone have any thoughts on the response curve for the ASI178 posted above? I don't know how read it to see if it would be good for EAA...

#21 A. Viegas

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 08:43 PM

Thanks for the update on the asi174 Al! How does it feel using it so far?

Anyone have any thoughts on the response curve for the ASI178 posted above? I don't know how read it to see if it would be good for EAA...

 

So far I am really happy with this camera.  I think its very versatile.  So far everyone has been talking about DSO imaging... but a big part of EAA is also planets and the moon.  Often when the moon is full when you go on NSN everyone is showcasing the moon.   And I can tell you the Moon in HDMI quality resolution is revolutionary for those stuck in 640x480 mode!!

Here is Copernicus from last night's NSN broadcast...   Oh also on NSN I was broadcasting in HiDef, HDMI quality as well!

Al

 

Copernicus MOON

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#22 ccs_hello

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 10:30 PM

re:
Anyone have any thoughts on the response curve for the ASI178 posted above? I don't know how read it to see if it would be good for EAA...

 

Nothing unusual.  Fairly common.   BTW, it is using the relative scale.

 

Clear Skies!

 

ccs_hello



#23 wenjha

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 01:54 AM

ASI178 provide hardware binning, but 10bit ADC only

so software binning is better, you SNR will increase 2X with software bin2

you can treat 178 as a such camera when enable software bin2:

 

pixel size: 4.8um

resolution:1548X1040

read noise:4.4e - 2.7e 

 

still very good compare with most CCD cameras! expecially the amp-glow is the lowest amoung these camera

so it would be a very good choice for EAA, you may don't need subtract dark for short exposure below 60s after cooling



#24 ippiu

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 02:09 AM

And ASI224 cooled? Is it the best choice for EEA?

Or for the same price is it better to buy ASI174??


Edited by ippiu, 22 December 2015 - 02:09 AM.


#25 A. Viegas

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Posted 22 December 2015 - 08:33 AM

Hi Ippiu

 

Donboy has posted a review of the ASI224 Cooled and compared it with his existing non cooled 224.  The conclusion of the review was that he could not see that much benefit using the cooled 224 vs. the ordinary one.  I have the 174MM COOL and I think its a great camera, but if you are thinking of getting the color version (174MC) then from what I have seen the ASI 224 in color is a better bet/value.  Also it depends on what kind of telescope you are using.  If you are using a fast refractor then you can get away with the larger sensor 174, but if you have a SCT and to apply extreme focal reduction to under F4  (look at Astrojedi posts/pictures) then the ASI 224 may be a better option.    If you don't mind MONO and are happy to later stack and combine images to LRGB, then I would recommend the 174MM MONO.

Al




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