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Atik Infinity Color Camera - Initial Impressions

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#26 A. Viegas

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Posted 28 December 2015 - 10:08 PM

Hi Al,

 

maybe be I misunderstood you, but Lodestar Live is now called Starlight Live and works with all the SX cams.  It competes with the Atik Infinity when used with the Ultrastar.  I have an Ultrastar C now and will be posting results and impressions soon, similar to Hiten with the Infinity.

 

Paul has just released Starlight Live v2.0 and it can be found on a thread I just started today in the EAA forum.

 

Don

 

Just had a thought that you might have meant SX cameras instead of Lodestar cameras.

 

Hi Don

Yes, I was referring to Paul's software which until you corrected me, I understood was called Lodestar Live.


As I said, software is going to be the most important aspect in choosing camera hardware and Paul has certainly proven to be among the best software developers out there for EAA.  If he is locked into SX with a non competition agreement, then that is going to be a distinct plus for SX to tout vis-a-vis the competition...

Al


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#27 Astrojedi

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Posted 28 December 2015 - 10:25 PM

Hiten, what a fantastic post, thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and views of this camera and software. I am seriously looking at the Ultrastar or Infinity so am watching closely. 

 

One question, with the larger chip, the vignetting becomes more apparent, do you feel the need for some 'flats' type functionality in the software?

 

Rob

 

Thanks Rob. You bring up an excellent point. I do feel the need for flats but after tasting the convenience of not using darks I would prefer an automated approach to flats (not sure if this is even possible... Maybe using gradient detection algorithms) or a one time setup. 


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#28 KGoodwin

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 09:30 AM

 

Hiten, what a fantastic post, thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and views of this camera and software. I am seriously looking at the Ultrastar or Infinity so am watching closely. 

 

One question, with the larger chip, the vignetting becomes more apparent, do you feel the need for some 'flats' type functionality in the software?

 

Rob

 

Thanks Rob. You bring up an excellent point. I do feel the need for flats but after tasting the convenience of not using darks I would prefer an automated approach to flats (not sure if this is even possible... Maybe using gradient detection algorithms) or a one time setup. 

 

 

This is definitely possible.  Just for an interesting thought experiment for anyone who owns PixInsight, try applying the dynamic gradient background removal to an EAA image you have saved (ideally one saved with something that can save TIFF or FIT rather than a JPEG).  This is actually exactly the experiment which initially inspired me to start work on AstroLive USB since I wanted to have that ability (to correct for vignetting, light pollution gradients, moonlight gradients, etc.) in real time.


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#29 Astrojedi

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 11:29 AM

 

 

Hiten, what a fantastic post, thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and views of this camera and software. I am seriously looking at the Ultrastar or Infinity so am watching closely. 

 

One question, with the larger chip, the vignetting becomes more apparent, do you feel the need for some 'flats' type functionality in the software?

 

Rob

 

Thanks Rob. You bring up an excellent point. I do feel the need for flats but after tasting the convenience of not using darks I would prefer an automated approach to flats (not sure if this is even possible... Maybe using gradient detection algorithms) or a one time setup. 

 

 

This is definitely possible.  Just for an interesting thought experiment for anyone who owns PixInsight, try applying the dynamic gradient background removal to an EAA image you have saved (ideally one saved with something that can save TIFF or FIT rather than a JPEG).  This is actually exactly the experiment which initially inspired me to start work on AstroLive USB since I wanted to have that ability (to correct for vignetting, light pollution gradients, moonlight gradients, etc.) in real time.

 

 

Would be pretty awesome if you can get it to work.


Edited by Astrojedi, 29 December 2015 - 06:06 PM.


#30 DonBoy

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 04:25 PM

 

I think the Infinity and the 414EX are two completely different products. The user experience of the Infinity is completely different from any imaging CCD I have used and it is purpose built for Live Imaging/EAA. While you can use the 414EX for EAA and it may work for you, you will just not get that seamless user experience with the 414EX.

 

 

 

But in summary, I think the Infinity is the first integrated seamless EAA/Imaging user experience which addresses both the inexperienced user as well as an experienced imager looking for a more casual experience. The little details make a big difference and that is very true for the Infinity. Atik has really thought through the design and the hardware and software together deliver a very seamless experience with unparalleled ease of use (i.e. until Paul adds hot pixel removal to Starlight Live : ) ). The software is very stable and the performance is excellent. Unfortunately, you will not get this same user experience with the 414EX until Atik decides to support other cameras with the Infinity Software.

 

I'm still having difficulty in determining whether the user experience with the Infinity software is enough to out way the results that are obtained with the same sensor in a different configuration and being used for EAA.   I wish I had more time to have tested the Atik 414 but the images I did collect were not that difficult to obtain.  It did require AstroToaster for stacking and the speed of the processing does not compare to what the Infinity software accomplishes and there is a steeper learning curve in using the Atik for EAA, but once learned the process flowed smoothly.  

 

I was very excited to read this report from Hiten and I commend him for his effort and his commitment to EAA.   What causes my uncertainty whether the Infinity would the right decision for me is from an image comparison of the Infinity and the Atik 414.   I only have one object in my Atik 414 album that is the same as what has been presented here and that is NGC 7635 the Bubble.  Interesting the total exposure times for the Infinity obtained image and my Atik 414 image were almost the same.   The Infinity image exposure was at 30sec for 16 stacks while the Atik 414 was 5 stacks at 150sec a total of 480sec to 450sec.  I am assuming that the Atik 414 could have achieved similar image results compared to it's longer exposure image if it was exposed at 30sec and 15stacks.  Comparing these two images the Atik 414 appears to have more exposure (I believe it was slightly over exposed) and more contrast and more color saturation; yet it was taken with a scope of the same size but the focal ratio was different where the Infinity obtained image was at f3.7 and the Atik 414 was at f5.6, thus there is a 2 to 1 exposure advantage to the Infinity image yet this doesn't equate in the image results or total exposure collection time.   Now this all could be condition differences,  they both are taken in a red zone but one cannot account for there being equal transparency.  

 

For me what is needed are more image results from the Infinity under similar exposure conditions to convince me that the Infinity is the way to go.  I do have to admit that on the surface the Infinity appears to be a great EAA tool and would work well for streaming.  Ideally a side by side comparison would help me decide which would be the camera of choice.   And again thanks Hiten for all the time and effort you have put into this report and I'm looking forward to more of what you have to present and hopefully it will help clarify, atleast for me, which way to go.

 

Infnity image 16x30sec with 8" at f3.7

post-243927-0-18671100-1451337360_thumb.jpg

 

Atik 414 image 5x150sec with 8" at f5.6

19542580731_640ebc28ff_oa.jpg

 

 

Atik Album:

https://www.flickr.c...157654256664726


Edited by DonBoy, 29 December 2015 - 04:30 PM.

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#31 Astrojedi

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 06:05 PM

Don,

 

My image does not do justice to the Infinity. As I mentioned the seeing and transparency were very poor. Actually in 3-4 frames from the stack I can see the light layer of clouds passing by. Tonight is expected to be clear so I will give it another go with special attention to the Bubble. 

 

I rarely go above 60s exposures as it loses the live feel for me but I will post whatever results I get. I think if one prefers > 2 min sub exposures then cooling also potentially starts to come into play. At less than 2min subs results should be similar at least in theory given it is the same sensor albeit with slightly (1e) higher read noise.

 

Edit: I also find that the image processing controls in Astrotoaster are much better. The Infinity is more basic and more geared towards ease of use. Makes a significant difference to the end image.

 

Also note that when you mean stack individual shorter exposure subs then the total exposure time is mathematically not equivalent to a single long exposure sub i.e. you will not get the same brightness levels.


Edited by Astrojedi, 29 December 2015 - 06:28 PM.

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#32 DonBoy

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 07:38 PM

Hiten,

 

I think I should have waited until you had generated a larger library of images with the Infinity before I compared.  I've been tossing around which way to go and looking for the answer for quite a long while and am anxious to make an informative decision.   If the Infinity software would also accommodate the Atik 414 there would be no question which way I would go.  

 

The longer exposures I used with Atik 414 were based on a guess that the 414 would have similar sensitivity to my work horse the Xtreme X2 that is fitted with a ICX418.  What i found was that single frames from the Atik 414 didn't quite come across noise free and stacking was needed so I limited stacks to 5 frames and figured longer exposure was appropriate.  It appears that the Atik is a little more sensitive than my Xtreme (at my typical AGC level), but has more noise and I could have probably used less exposure for some of the objects when stacking.   My Xtreme benefits from longer exposures for dimmer objects especially when not stacking so it was natural for me to follow that trend with the Atik 414.  It sure would be helpful if these two cameras could go head to head.  Thankfully you have the desire and opportunity to show us what the Infinity can do.  So I'll be waiting for your next slew of images and hopefully taken under better sky conditions.



#33 Astrojedi

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Posted 30 December 2015 - 06:30 PM

Hiten,

 

I think I should have waited until you had generated a larger library of images with the Infinity before I compared.  I've been tossing around which way to go and looking for the answer for quite a long while and am anxious to make an informative decision.   If the Infinity software would also accommodate the Atik 414 there would be no question which way I would go.  

 

The longer exposures I used with Atik 414 were based on a guess that the 414 would have similar sensitivity to my work horse the Xtreme X2 that is fitted with a ICX418.  What i found was that single frames from the Atik 414 didn't quite come across noise free and stacking was needed so I limited stacks to 5 frames and figured longer exposure was appropriate.  It appears that the Atik is a little more sensitive than my Xtreme (at my typical AGC level), but has more noise and I could have probably used less exposure for some of the objects when stacking.   My Xtreme benefits from longer exposures for dimmer objects especially when not stacking so it was natural for me to follow that trend with the Atik 414.  It sure would be helpful if these two cameras could go head to head.  Thankfully you have the desire and opportunity to show us what the Infinity can do.  So I'll be waiting for your next slew of images and hopefully taken under better sky conditions.

 

Don,

Here is another image of the Bubble 5x60s. Unfortunately, I was only able to setup late in the evening and it was pretty low by then ~20deg above the horizon. So double whammy from LP and atmospheric extinction.

 

The camera has exceed my expectations (agree that they were not very high to begin with). My feeling is that at equal sub exposure time it will provide comparable results to the 414ex. What I am really liking is the overall user experience which only a purpose designed and built product can provide.

 

I have attached a few more captures from the night in the next post.

 

Hiten

Attached Thumbnails

  • Bubble 5x60s.jpg

Edited by Astrojedi, 30 December 2015 - 06:35 PM.

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#34 Astrojedi

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Posted 30 December 2015 - 06:40 PM

More captures from last night.

 

Horsehead 6x60s

Horsehead 6x60s.jpg

 

NGC 891 5x60s

Ngc891 5x60s.jpg

 

M82 6x20s

m82 6x20s.jpg

 

M81 5x60s

M81 5x60.jpg

 

Also revisited the M33. 6x60s. Much better result than the previous night.

M33 6x60s.jpg

 


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#35 DonBoy

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Posted 30 December 2015 - 08:40 PM

Hiten,

 

Thanks for taking the time to take these images.  They are very impressive, especially since you kept stacks to 5.

 

Have you tried running the camera with AstroLive?  It doesn't handle warm pixel removal but from what Kyle has told me it will do most everything the Infinity software will do and the next iteration of AstroLive it should handle everything and more and should benefit the Atik 414 for EAA imaging.



#36 kuba_mysluk

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 12:34 AM

Big thanks for both of you for such informative thread.

Choice: Infinity/414EX/Ultrastar is my dilemma.

Hiten,
can You check the Infinity with other software? I'm not interesting in picture quality and details, just curious will it run with the Infinity or not? Will it make exposures >2 min ?

#37 Astrojedi

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 02:35 AM

Don,

I don't have a copy of Astrolive. I tried the trail version of Astrolive with ASI224 a few months back but stacking did not work. 

 

Kuba,

I have used the Inifinity with Atik's capture software and it supports exposures > 2 min. But without cooling it is difficult to control noise in very long exposures.



#38 KGoodwin

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 08:19 AM

Don,

I don't have a copy of Astrolive. I tried the trail version of Astrolive with ASI224 a few months back but stacking did not work. 

 

Kuba,

I have used the Inifinity with Atik's capture software and it supports exposures > 2 min. But without cooling it is difficult to control noise in very long exposures.

 

Were you using aligned stacking with alt-az?  There are issues with that on the current AstroLive.  The stacking alignment algorithm on AstroLive USB is completely different and won't suffer from those problems.



#39 kuba_mysluk

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 10:45 AM

Kuba,
I have used the Inifinity with Atik's capture software and it supports exposures > 2 min. But without cooling it is difficult to control noise in very long exposures.


Hi, thanks for answer.
I downloaded latest infinity software for some play (no camera decided yet), but can set exposure only for 120 sec.

I know about reasons for this limit, even generally agree it, but I guess can go longer in could winter night with -15C, without bigger problems with pic quality.

I will wait with my purchase till will see photos from Infiniti and 414 taken in more less same conditions.

For now its look like Don's 414EX show more details on slower system. Thats suprised me a little. Maybe it is benefit of cooling, maybe Don had better sky condition... I had similar discussion in local forum regarding Infinity/414EX mono versions, and also results was similar: more details on 414EX.

Anyway Infinity is the great camera for EAA.

#40 Astrojedi

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 05:56 PM

 

Kuba,
I have used the Inifinity with Atik's capture software and it supports exposures > 2 min. But without cooling it is difficult to control noise in very long exposures.


Hi, thanks for answer.
I downloaded latest infinity software for some play (no camera decided yet), but can set exposure only for 120 sec.

I know about reasons for this limit, even generally agree it, but I guess can go longer in could winter night with -15C, without bigger problems with pic quality.

I will wait with my purchase till will see photos from Infiniti and 414 taken in more less same conditions.

For now its look like Don's 414EX show more details on slower system. Thats suprised me a little. Maybe it is benefit of cooling, maybe Don had better sky condition... I had similar discussion in local forum regarding Infinity/414EX mono versions, and also results was similar: more details on 414EX.

Anyway Infinity is the great camera for EAA.

 

 

Don't judge a camera by just one picture alone. Don used much longer exposures and I imaged Bubble very low just above the horizon. Also difference in sky conditions make a very big difference. Take your time researching the camera..

 

In my view if you want to use the camera for long exposure imaging (i.e. >4-5min individual subs) then go with the 414ex as cooling is required to control thermal noise. If you are planning to use subs <2min then in my view there will be no difference between the results produced cameras but Infinity has a better interface. You can still do >2min exposures with the same SW you will use for the 414ex.



#41 Astrojedi

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 05:57 PM

 

Don,

I don't have a copy of Astrolive. I tried the trail version of Astrolive with ASI224 a few months back but stacking did not work. 

 

Kuba,

I have used the Inifinity with Atik's capture software and it supports exposures > 2 min. But without cooling it is difficult to control noise in very long exposures.

 

Were you using aligned stacking with alt-az?  There are issues with that on the current AstroLive.  The stacking alignment algorithm on AstroLive USB is completely different and won't suffer from those problems.

 

 

Yes, the images were taken on an Alt Az mount. Looking forward to the next version.



#42 DonBoy

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 06:10 PM

Yes don't judge my 414 images until we get many more Infinity images especially under more ideal conditions.  Some of the images I took were over exposed.  I had a very limited window since the camera was on loan and so not much chance to experiment.  

 

From what I've seen so far coming from uncooled 825 cameras is very encouraging and I believe one can't go wrong with the Infinity.  In the future I believe the Atik 414 will provide more capability when more advanced software becomes available.



#43 Astrojedi

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 06:23 PM

Some longer exposure stacks with the Atik Infinity Color. I consider these an example of "Casual Astro-photography/EAA".

 

Although these are longer exposures than what I prefer for EAA they were quite a lot of fun. Given family commitments finding time for AP is hard (collecting and processing hours of data is very time consuming) which is why I don't do a lot of AP these days. I also really enjoy observing and the "at the scope feeling" of EAA. Casual Astro-photography" with the Infinity provides both and fills this gap. All these images were taken and processed in just over 2 hours of observing time.

 

Images were taken with a AT72ED 72mm at f4.5 with a Focal reducer/flattener, Orion LP filter, Evolution Alt Az mount and the Atik Infinity color from a red LP zone.

 

Rosette 12x90s

Rosette 12x90s f4.5 at72.jpg

 

North America Nebula 11x60s

n7000 11x60s f4.5 at72.jpg

 

Horsehead and Flame 12x60s

horsehead 12x60s f4.5 at72.jpg


Edited by Astrojedi, 31 December 2015 - 06:24 PM.

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#44 Astrojedi

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 06:28 PM

Continued from prior post...

 

California Nebula 8x90s

California Neb 8x90s f4.5 AT72.jpg

 

Cone Nebula 9x90s

Cone 9x90s f4.5 at72.jpg

 

M31 14x60s

M31 14x60s f4.5 at72.jpg


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#45 A. Viegas

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 06:37 PM

I think this question may have been asked...  but I do not recall an answer...

414ex - Infinity...   software inoperability?     Can you use the 414ex software (for longer exposures) with the Infinity?  And can you use the infinity software optimized for EAA with the cooled 414ex?

Al



#46 Astrojedi

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 06:45 PM

I think this question may have been asked...  but I do not recall an answer...

414ex - Infinity...   software inoperability?     Can you use the 414ex software (for longer exposures) with the Infinity?  And can you use the infinity software optimized for EAA with the cooled 414ex?

Al

 

Yes and no.



#47 A. Viegas

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Posted 31 December 2015 - 10:26 PM

Thanks Hiten.   Why do you think Atik does not allow you to use the infinity software with the 414ex?   That is too bad, also I never liked that they limited the exposure length of the Infinity software to 2 mins.   When the camera was first released back in November I brought this fact up as a non-starter for me on the ATIK forum.   I get annoyed when the manufacturer tells me how to use the camera and limits is usefulness just because they think they know better.  

 

Al


Edited by A. Viegas, 31 December 2015 - 10:26 PM.


#48 Astrojedi

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Posted 01 January 2016 - 09:59 AM

Al,

I cannot speak for Atik and I don't know all the technical details but after using the camera I have come to appreciate some of the design and technical choices Atik made to create a purpose built camera.

 

One guess is that due to the slower readout speed of the 414 and without other potential optimizations Atik may not have been able to deliver the user experience they were aiming for.

 

Maybe they will support other cameras in the future. But I would say this is a good start.

 

Happy new year!


Edited by Astrojedi, 01 January 2016 - 09:59 AM.


#49 kuba_mysluk

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Posted 01 January 2016 - 02:29 PM

Don, Hiten,
Thanks again,

I've SCT 9.25 on EVO. Great scope, but slow one.

One question more:
I need focal reducer/flattener for EAA with 825 based camera. Initially I can go with stock Celestron, but how about finally setup? As Hyperstar cost around 1000$, maybe should be better use small APO here? Maybe just better reducer will enough (Optec, Alan Gee)?

#50 DonBoy

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Posted 01 January 2016 - 02:46 PM

 

One question more:
I need focal reducer/flattener for EAA with 825 based camera. Initially I can go with stock Celestron, but how about finally setup? As Hyperstar cost around 1000$, maybe should be better use small APO here? Maybe just better reducer will enough (Optec, Alan Gee)?

When I took the Atik 414 images I used an Antares .5x FR that yielded f5.6 and it provided acceptable results from my point of view.

 

I never tested it with my Optec NexGen .33x FR.    The 825 chip is 11.2mm diagonally and I believe the Optec NexGen is rated for 9mm diameter coverage at .33x.  And I suspect that one would use the Optec not at .33x but at f4 or f4+ to provide a larger diameter coverage.




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