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What camera to buy for observing DSO's?

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#1 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 04:26 PM

Hi,

 

I am new to Cloudy Nights but having been following EAA for sometime and I now feel that I am ready to pull the plug. I want to get a decent quality camera for EAA and I want to observe DSO's in fast or short exposure for that more near real feeling. I have no intentions to do any astrophotography but I want some decent quality observing sessions. I currently own a AP 1200 mount, C11 Edge (with Hyperstar) and an 80 mm Stellavue Apo triplet refractor. As you can see I do own decent quality equipment and I want my camera to follow that same direction that I was fortunately able to obtain. I have been watching Night Skies Network (NSN) with great interest and have received some great suggestions, but heard that this is the place to come where many our into this part of the hobby. I have been super impressed with the broadcasters using the Mallincam Exterminator video camera. I really do not care if the stars are not perfect photo quality but do care to see the DSO as clean as possible using very short exposures and if necessary a few stacks.

 

My questions are what other options do I have (budget up to 3,000) to fulfill my expectations and make observing seem like fun? I am not looking for a sensor any larger than 1" due to vignetting issues. Basically I am looking at replacing my eyepieces with a camera to observe from my light polluted backyard.

 

Thank you for any help! 



#2 Dwight J

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 05:12 PM

The Exterminator would be a great choice.  Great sensitivity in short exposures and the 1/2" chip will help you get down to faster F ratios as aberrations caused by focal reducers will be largely outside the field.  In an observatory, the two live outputs of the camera come into play.  One output to a TV monitor and one to the computer.  Our club setup has a monitor in the dome and a computer in an adjacent warm room.  The monitor facilitates focusing and aligning mount as well as jaw dropping views on the screen.  We use an AP1200 with a C14, almost the same as yours.  At home I use a C11 on a Tak EM200.   With the 1200 you won't need to guide for longer integrations or stacking.  The "square" star thing is overblown.  Using advanced pixel control and a scope with generous focal length yields round stars.  



#3 Don Rudny

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 06:02 PM

I would suggest that you consider the SX Lodestar or Ultrastar, perhaps even both.  They will work well with your C11 and Hyperstar.  The sensor size difference will give you different image scales, and both will be really fast with your setup.  Here is a link to a recent post comparing the two cams with a C14 Edge and HS.  The color difference is due to the type of Bayer mask used.  The LS uses complementary colors and the US uses a primary RGB mask.  The US will give better resolution, but at the cost of speed, but with Hyperstar, it's not a big deal.

 

http://www.cloudynig...-x2s/?p=6968830

 

Both cameras run off a single wire USB connection and are controlled with one of the best software programs around called Starlight Live developed by Paul Shears in the UK.  It's freeware available for both Mac and Windows.


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#4 Astrojedi

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 06:57 PM

Given your setup I would recommend the Ultrastar color for EAA for the following reasons:

 

- It is a high resolution very high sensitivity color sensor which is also very clean in terms of noise i.e. very little dark current accumulation for <2min exposures - so no cooling required

- The 11mm diagonal is perfect for framing larger nebulae or going after smaller galaxies

- Using a C11 Hyperstar image acquisition will be fast. You will not require sub exposures longer than 30s with max stack of 5 images to clean up noise

- A single USB cable transfers data and powers the camera - much more convenient for use with a hyperstar

- The primary bayer matrix produces better colors than some other sensors

 

The MC Exterminator is also a good choice but in my view the Ultrastar is better suited to a Hyperstar setup.



#5 Alien Observatory

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 08:26 PM

I recently sold my C11 Hyperstar in search of a larger FOV and now have an Edge C8.  After a few years of using various cams I can give you my own opinion.  I started with a brand O CCD Cam, but soon learned it did not have enough sensitivity and was very limited in the exposure time and to be truthful very limited in what it could do despite the pretty advertisement pictures.

 

Next up was a 8300 Color CCD cam.  It had the wide FOV and sensitivity was good, but I lost interest in making 20 subs and stacking the next day to see what I had (not very real time), but I did get 92 of 110 Messier objects with it over a years time. Then I found NSN and started watching and Learning about Video Cams.

 

A Jr Pro EXHad Color video cam was next.  Learned about Hot/Warm pixels, amp glow, Miloslick SW, stacking and real time / near real time viewing and broadcasting on NSN.  Then a 1080P SDI, a cooled Xterminator and a SRAG for the 50 mm guide scope.

 

Currently have a loaner SRDS Color and purchased a used Nikon 5100 to test with the C8 at F7, F5, F3.5 and Hyperstar F2. All the cams have served me well in my learning experience with EAA.  

 

What have I learned????

 

1).  Having a wide range of Focal Reducers and a Barlow with a 8 to 11 inch scope seems to work well for almost everything you would want to looks at.  F10 to F15 for planets, F10 for close up pics of the Moons Craters and Sun Spots, F5 to F8 for Planetary Nebula's, F3 to F5 for most Galaxies and Clusters and F2 for the large objects (Sun, Moon, M42, M31...).

 

2).  It is hard for one cam to work for everything.  A Small sensor (1/3) at 1080P  works very well for close up views on the Moon and Planets.  A Medium sensor (1/2) at 640 x 480 works well till you get into the F4 range as the resolution gets out of an acceptable range with the larger FOV.  A Large mega pixel sensor (2/3 up to APC size) in the F2 to F7 range allows a FOV to get the really big objects with great resolution.  Most full frame cams will have vignetting to some degree and produce really large files that can slow down a medium speed computer quickly.

 

3).  A good computer is necessary for most USB cams and USB 3 port for the newer high resolution cams.  Video cams will work most of the time without a computer if needed (when out in the field), but a 12V monitor is nice to have.  Most of the SW packages require some learning and sometimes 2 or more SW programs are needed to get everything working.

 

So in the end I would just recommend watching NSN for the various cams in action and ask questions or even better if you can visit someone with a cam you are interested in and see it in person.  The more you learn before you buy the happier you will be with your selection(s).  

 

For now I am in the 3 cam mode, waiting for the perfect astro cam to be made that can do everything (may be sooner than later as things are changing very fast these days).

 

Cheers and Clear Skies


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#6 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 08:33 PM

The Exterminator would be a great choice.  Great sensitivity in short exposures and the 1/2" chip will help you get down to faster F ratios as aberrations caused by focal reducers will be largely outside the field.  In an observatory, the two live outputs of the camera come into play.  One output to a TV monitor and one to the computer.  Our club setup has a monitor in the dome and a computer in an adjacent warm room.  The monitor facilitates focusing and aligning mount as well as jaw dropping views on the screen.  We use an AP1200 with a C14, almost the same as yours.  At home I use a C11 on a Tak EM200.   With the 1200 you won't need to guide for longer integrations or stacking.  The "square" star thing is overblown.  Using advanced pixel control and a scope with generous focal length yields round stars.  

Thank you very much Dwight for the very helpful information. I will be using a computer most of the time but having a direct connection to a monitor without the need to use a computer sounds intriguing. It is great hear from someone who has similar equipment and does use one of these Exterminators. I have been reading comments regarding square blocky stars and I have seen good stars on NSN using this camera so I guess they had match their telescopes to the sensor for proper sampling. As I mentioned that I am not interested in obtaining those picture perfect colorful stars as long as what I am interested in viewing is clear and detectable.  



#7 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 08:43 PM

I would suggest that you consider the SX Lodestar or Ultrastar, perhaps even both.  They will work well with your C11 and Hyperstar.  The sensor size difference will give you different image scales, and both will be really fast with your setup.  Here is a link to a recent post comparing the two cams with a C14 Edge and HS.  The color difference is due to the type of Bayer mask used.  The LS uses complementary colors and the US uses a primary RGB mask.  The US will give better resolution, but at the cost of speed, but with Hyperstar, it's not a big deal.

 

http://www.cloudynig...-x2s/?p=6968830

 

Both cameras run off a single wire USB connection and are controlled with one of the best software programs around called Starlight Live developed by Paul Shears in the UK.  It's freeware available for both Mac and Windows.

Thank you very much Don for the helpful information. For me I like the thought of the SX Lodestar with it's CMYG over the RGB for that little extra sensitivity. I am interested in color over black and white but I am not looking at getting into a mono ccd camera like the previous mentioned ASI174 and using RGB filters as IMHO this is not fast near real-time observing. I should have mentioned that my list of importance is speed/sensitive, built quality & reliability, color rendition followed by resolution. For me I feel that DSO's do not require that super high resolution for observing like imaging requires esp. when one want to blow up their images for large prints. How is the built quality of the SX Lodestar? Thank you.



#8 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 08:51 PM

Given your setup I would recommend the Ultrastar color for EAA for the following reasons:

 

- It is a high resolution very high sensitivity color sensor which is also very clean in terms of noise i.e. very little dark current accumulation for <2min exposures - so no cooling required

- The 11mm diagonal is perfect for framing larger nebulae or going after smaller galaxies

- Using a C11 Hyperstar image acquisition will be fast. You will not require sub exposures longer than 30s with max stack of 5 images to clean up noise

- A single USB cable transfers data and powers the camera - much more convenient for use with a hyperstar

- The primary bayer matrix produces better colors than some other sensors

 

The MC Exterminator is also a good choice but in my view the Ultrastar is better suited to a Hyperstar setup.

Thank you Astrojedi but I do plan on using also my 80 mm triplet for observing sometimes and for me speed is more important over resolution. I am trying to get my exposures when observing between 10 to 30 seconds as I have witnessed this live on NSN by someone using an Xterminator with amazing results. For me less than 2 minutes is too much time to spend and I want to view multiple objects during every session since our clear skies are limited here. I am pretty good at cable management so requiring a single USB cable is not too important for me. I am just looking for a well built quality camera that is fast, produces nice details & colors and does not require multiple software programs to achieve this since I want to have fun and not be stressed out during the evening. 



#9 Dwight J

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 08:58 PM

 

The Exterminator would be a great choice.  Great sensitivity in short exposures and the 1/2" chip will help you get down to faster F ratios as aberrations caused by focal reducers will be largely outside the field.  In an observatory, the two live outputs of the camera come into play.  One output to a TV monitor and one to the computer.  Our club setup has a monitor in the dome and a computer in an adjacent warm room.  The monitor facilitates focusing and aligning mount as well as jaw dropping views on the screen.  We use an AP1200 with a C14, almost the same as yours.  At home I use a C11 on a Tak EM200.   With the 1200 you won't need to guide for longer integrations or stacking.  The "square" star thing is overblown.  Using advanced pixel control and a scope with generous focal length yields round stars.  

Thank you very much Dwight for the very helpful information. I will be using a computer most of the time but having a direct connection to a monitor without the need to use a computer sounds intriguing. It is great hear from someone who has similar equipment and does use one of these Exterminators. I have been reading comments regarding square blocky stars and I have seen good stars on NSN using this camera so I guess they had match their telescopes to the sensor for proper sampling. As I mentioned that I am not interested in obtaining those picture perfect colorful stars as long as what I am interested in viewing is clear and detectable.  

 

 

To minimize cable fuss, get the all-in-one cable from Zengineering, then your astrovideo camera has only one cable to wrangle.  I don't worry about too many cables anyway.  If you have CCD imaged, there are a lot of cables and you just need to manage them.  Even with a DSLR there is quite a few.  If you like wider field stuff, take a look at the Mallincam Universe - a cooled 6.3 megapixel camera that has video output.  I know Jack H. who is the US dealer for Mallincam uses one with a C11 Hyperstar.   It is within your budget too.  Downside is it is not as sensitive as the Exterminator and there is only one software choice so far.  Jack does broadcast on NSN so you may catch it in action.  M51 is really tiny at F2 with the Universe.



#10 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 08:59 PM

I recently sold my C11 Hyperstar in search of a larger FOV and now have an Edge C8.  After a few years of using various cams I can give you my own opinion.  I started with a brand O CCD Cam, but soon learned it did not have enough sensitivity and was very limited in the exposure time and to be truthful very limited in what it could do despite the pretty advertisement pictures.

 

Next up was a 8300 Color CCD cam.  It had the wide FOV and sensitivity was good, but I lost interest in making 20 subs and stacking the next day to see what I had (not very real time), but I did get 92 of 110 Messier objects with it over a years time. Then I found NSN and started watching and Learning about Video Cams.

 

A Jr Pro EXHad Color video cam was next.  Learned about Hot/Warm pixels, amp glow, Miloslick SW, stacking and real time / near real time viewing and broadcasting on NSN.  Then a 1080P SDI, a cooled Xterminator and a SRAG for the 50 mm guide scope.

 

Currently have a loaner SRDS Color and purchased a used Nikon 5100 to test with the C8 at F7, F5, F3.5 and Hyperstar F2. All the cams have served me well in my learning experience with EAA.  

 

What have I learned????

 

1).  Having a wide range of Focal Reducers and a Barlow with a 8 to 11 inch scope seems to work well for almost everything you would want to looks at.  F10 to F15 for planets, F10 for close up pics of the Moons Craters and Sun Spots, F5 to F8 for Planetary Nebula's, F3 to F5 for most Galaxies and Clusters and F2 for the large objects (Sun, Moon, M42, M31...).

 

2).  It is hard for one cam to work for everything.  A Small sensor (1/3) at 1080P  works very well for close up views on the Moon and Planets.  A Medium sensor (1/2) at 640 x 480 works well till you get into the F4 range as the resolution gets out of an acceptable range with the larger FOV.  A Large mega pixel sensor (2/3 up to APC size) in the F2 to F7 range allows a FOV to get the really big objects with great resolution.  Most full frame cams will have vignetting to some degree and produce really large files that can slow down a medium speed computer quickly.

 

3).  A good computer is necessary for most USB cams and USB 3 port for the newer high resolution cams.  Video cams will work most of the time without a computer if needed (when out in the field), but a 12V monitor is nice to have.  Most of the SW packages require some learning and sometimes 2 or more SW programs are needed to get everything working.

 

So in the end I would just recommend watching NSN for the various cams in action and ask questions or even better if you can visit someone with a cam you are interested in and see it in person.  The more you learn before you buy the happier you will be with your selection(s).  

 

For now I am in the 3 cam mode, waiting for the perfect astro cam to be made that can do everything (may be sooner than later as things are changing very fast these days).

 

Cheers and Clear Skies

Thank you so much for the helpful advice and I will take my time more and continue to watch NSN. I am 100% a DSO observer that is why I go be DSO_Viewer :) so speed is top priority for me followed by built quality. I was considering a modified DSLR but their sensitivity still seems slow compared to the Xterminator. Oh so confusing but I am sure everything will eventually fall into place.



#11 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 09:03 PM

 

 

The Exterminator would be a great choice.  Great sensitivity in short exposures and the 1/2" chip will help you get down to faster F ratios as aberrations caused by focal reducers will be largely outside the field.  In an observatory, the two live outputs of the camera come into play.  One output to a TV monitor and one to the computer.  Our club setup has a monitor in the dome and a computer in an adjacent warm room.  The monitor facilitates focusing and aligning mount as well as jaw dropping views on the screen.  We use an AP1200 with a C14, almost the same as yours.  At home I use a C11 on a Tak EM200.   With the 1200 you won't need to guide for longer integrations or stacking.  The "square" star thing is overblown.  Using advanced pixel control and a scope with generous focal length yields round stars.  

Thank you very much Dwight for the very helpful information. I will be using a computer most of the time but having a direct connection to a monitor without the need to use a computer sounds intriguing. It is great hear from someone who has similar equipment and does use one of these Exterminators. I have been reading comments regarding square blocky stars and I have seen good stars on NSN using this camera so I guess they had match their telescopes to the sensor for proper sampling. As I mentioned that I am not interested in obtaining those picture perfect colorful stars as long as what I am interested in viewing is clear and detectable.  

 

 

To minimize cable fuss, get the all-in-one cable from Zengineering, then your astrovideo camera has only one cable to wrangle.  I don't worry about too many cables anyway.  If you have CCD imaged, there are a lot of cables and you just need to manage them.  Even with a DSLR there is quite a few.  If you like wider field stuff, take a look at the Mallincam Universe - a cooled 6.3 megapixel camera that has video output.  I know Jack H. who is the US dealer for Mallincam uses one with a C11 Hyperstar.   It is within your budget too.  Downside is it is not as sensitive as the Exterminator and there is only one software choice so far.  Jack does broadcast on NSN so you may catch it in action.  M51 is really tiny at F2 with the Universe.

 

Yes Dwight I think cable management is not hard to achieve. I am not interested in a sensor more then 1" and to be honest from watching NSN broadcasts it seems that the 1/2" sensor fits nicely most of the DSO's in our Northern Hemisphere.



#12 Don Rudny

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:01 AM

Regarding your question of build quality of the Lodestar, I believe it is excellent.  It is a compact 1.25" aluminum cylinder about three inches long with the USB and guide port connectors at the end.  There was a problem with the USB jack, but SX has fixed that.  You might want to consider a mono one as well as the color.  At about $600 each you could get both for the price of an Xterminator with cash to spare.  They both use the same sensor.  With mono you can get great views of emmision nebulae using a narrow band Ha filter.  My favorite viewing is of very large emmision nebulae like North America and Eta Carina using a simple 50mm mini guide scope.  Here an example:

 

image.jpg


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#13 Relativist

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:19 AM

Hi,

 

I am new to Cloudy Nights but having been following EAA for sometime and I now feel that I am ready to pull the plug. I want to get a decent quality camera for EAA and I want to observe DSO's in fast or short exposure for that more near real feeling. I have no intentions to do any astrophotography but I want some decent quality observing sessions. I currently own a AP 1200 mount, C11 Edge (with Hyperstar) and an 80 mm Stellavue Apo triplet refractor. As you can see I do own decent quality equipment and I want my camera to follow that same direction that I was fortunately able to obtain. I have been watching Night Skies Network (NSN) with great interest and have received some great suggestions, but heard that this is the place to come where many our into this part of the hobby. I have been super impressed with the broadcasters using the Mallincam Exterminator video camera. I really do not care if the stars are not perfect photo quality but do care to see the DSO as clean as possible using very short exposures and if necessary a few stacks.

 

My questions are what other options do I have (budget up to 3,000) to fulfill my expectations and make observing seem like fun? I am not looking for a sensor any larger than 1" due to vignetting issues. Basically I am looking at replacing my eyepieces with a camera to observe from my light polluted backyard.

 

Thank you for any help! 

 

I'd look seriously at the A7s at that budget. Mark does really well with it and his 11" RASA, which your 11" Edge with Hyperstar will have comparable aperture & focal length. In addition the A7r II does well also.

 

Don't worry about vignetting as you can always crop the center and you will have plenty of resolution to do so!



#14 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:52 AM

Regarding your question of build quality of the Lodestar, I believe it is excellent.  It is a compact 1.25" aluminum cylinder about three inches long with the USB and guide port connectors at the end.  There was a problem with the USB jack, but SX has fixed that.  You might want to consider a mono one as well as the color.  At about $600 each you could get both for the price of an Xterminator with cash to spare.  They both use the same sensor.  With mono you can get great views of emmision nebulae using a narrow band Ha filter.  My favorite viewing is of very large emmision nebulae like North America and Eta Carina using a simple 50mm mini guide scope.  Here an example:

 

attachicon.gifimage.jpg

Thank you Don and that is a very nice image with not a lot of time invested at 10 x 45 sec using Ha. I was considering a mono in the future to use an Ha filter and this looks very promising. Is the Lodestar a cooled camera or not being only a single USB cable? The built quality sounds good.



#15 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:56 AM

 

Hi,

 

I am new to Cloudy Nights but having been following EAA for sometime and I now feel that I am ready to pull the plug. I want to get a decent quality camera for EAA and I want to observe DSO's in fast or short exposure for that more near real feeling. I have no intentions to do any astrophotography but I want some decent quality observing sessions. I currently own a AP 1200 mount, C11 Edge (with Hyperstar) and an 80 mm Stellavue Apo triplet refractor. As you can see I do own decent quality equipment and I want my camera to follow that same direction that I was fortunately able to obtain. I have been watching Night Skies Network (NSN) with great interest and have received some great suggestions, but heard that this is the place to come where many our into this part of the hobby. I have been super impressed with the broadcasters using the Mallincam Exterminator video camera. I really do not care if the stars are not perfect photo quality but do care to see the DSO as clean as possible using very short exposures and if necessary a few stacks.

 

My questions are what other options do I have (budget up to 3,000) to fulfill my expectations and make observing seem like fun? I am not looking for a sensor any larger than 1" due to vignetting issues. Basically I am looking at replacing my eyepieces with a camera to observe from my light polluted backyard.

 

Thank you for any help! 

 

I'd look seriously at the A7s at that budget. Mark does really well with it and his 11" RASA, which your 11" Edge with Hyperstar will have comparable aperture & focal length. In addition the A7r II does well also.

 

Don't worry about vignetting as you can always crop the center and you will have plenty of resolution to do so!

 

Thank you very much but I think having a full frame camera like the A7S and severely cropping it is defeating the purpose to take advantage of the huge FOV. This is why I would prefer to stay away from full frame or even APS-C frame sensors. I think a 1"sensor is more then enough for most DSO's



#16 Relativist

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 03:21 AM

 

 

Hi,

 

I am new to Cloudy Nights but having been following EAA for sometime and I now feel that I am ready to pull the plug. I want to get a decent quality camera for EAA and I want to observe DSO's in fast or short exposure for that more near real feeling. I have no intentions to do any astrophotography but I want some decent quality observing sessions. I currently own a AP 1200 mount, C11 Edge (with Hyperstar) and an 80 mm Stellavue Apo triplet refractor. As you can see I do own decent quality equipment and I want my camera to follow that same direction that I was fortunately able to obtain. I have been watching Night Skies Network (NSN) with great interest and have received some great suggestions, but heard that this is the place to come where many our into this part of the hobby. I have been super impressed with the broadcasters using the Mallincam Exterminator video camera. I really do not care if the stars are not perfect photo quality but do care to see the DSO as clean as possible using very short exposures and if necessary a few stacks.

 

My questions are what other options do I have (budget up to 3,000) to fulfill my expectations and make observing seem like fun? I am not looking for a sensor any larger than 1" due to vignetting issues. Basically I am looking at replacing my eyepieces with a camera to observe from my light polluted backyard.

 

Thank you for any help! 

 

I'd look seriously at the A7s at that budget. Mark does really well with it and his 11" RASA, which your 11" Edge with Hyperstar will have comparable aperture & focal length. In addition the A7r II does well also.

 

Don't worry about vignetting as you can always crop the center and you will have plenty of resolution to do so!

 

Thank you very much but I think having a full frame camera like the A7S and severely cropping it is defeating the purpose to take advantage of the huge FOV. This is why I would prefer to stay away from full frame or even APS-C frame sensors. I think a 1"sensor is more then enough for most DSO's

 

 

Catch a b-cast or two with one, you'll see why it's ok that the chip is bigger than most scopes can handle.



#17 OleCuss

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 06:08 AM

If you want to go relatively wide-field then you probably should consider using that Hyperstar with something like the Mallincam Universe or (for less diffraction) get something like a cylindrical Atik or QHY camera.  IIRC the image circle of the Hyperstar for the C11 is likely around 27mm so any sensor up to about that diagonal size will have relatively little vignetting.  For this system I'd favor the somewhat smaller pixels in order to reduce under-sampling and with those F/2 optics you'd still be getting short subs and superb imagery.  With the C11 I would expect you to be able to use a regular DSLR with really good results with short subs.

 

If you use a video camera with a small sensor and rather large pixels you will be picking up only a small amount of the light you have gathered with the Hyperstarred system and an under-sampled and unnecessarily narrow FOV.  I don't like that.

 

If you want to neglect the Hyperstar and use a focal reducer I'd be curious as to which you would be using?  The Optec Lepus unit for that scope would give you 0.62x and an un-vignetted 22mm image circle (28mm with some vignetting) which means a small sensor will again be wasting much of your gathered light with a relatively narrow FOV.  An APS-C sized sensor might have a little vignetting but if you did a little stacking with a flat-field you'd correct that nicely - a good Canon or the MC Universe would work nicely with such a system.

 

If you really must use a video camera I'd seriously consider getting one of the HD versions.  The Atik Infinity and the cooled ZWO 174 camera are available now and would give you good resolution.  There should soon be some IMX185-based cameras available and especially with cooling they should be good performers.

 

You could also check to see whether the AVS F/1.8 reducer ( http://www.astro-vid...ll-systems.html ) is currently available and would fit that scope.  I am not sure what kind of image circle that thing has but you might find it suitable to a video camera's sensor if that is the way you want to go.

 

Fortunately, you have a lot of options.



#18 biomedchad

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 07:35 AM

hard to break through everyones personal love for certain brands and experiences but in my 5 years i have only owned maillincams.  they have never let me down and are just amazing.  i am sure other cameras out there can do some of the same things faster or cheaper or slightly better or whatever.  currently, i have the xt428 mallincam which is almost an xterminator except the 428 ex view had chip.  just one mans opinion but you need to decide what side you fall on..seeing things fast and sacrificing some detail or imaging.  as above, you may end up needing a few cameras :)



#19 Dragon Man

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 10:09 AM

. . . .  I have been reading comments regarding square blocky stars and I have seen good stars on NSN using this camera so I guess they had match their telescopes to the sensor for proper sampling. As I mentioned that I am not interested in obtaining those picture perfect colorful stars as long as what I am interested in viewing is clear and detectable.  

 

 

A tip you might want to consider is getting whichever camera you choose in PAL version instead of NTSC version.

PAL sensors have squarer pixels than an NTSC which have rectangular pixels.

 

I broadcast on NSN using an NTSC Mallincam Xtreme, a PAL Xterminator, a PAL Samsung SCB-4000, and a PAL LN-300, and the difference between the PAL and the NTSC is very noticeable in star shape.

As much as I love the results with myXtreme I have to use the Pixel Correction to reduce the pixels Vertically to clean up the stars to get near the quality of the PAL stars, and even then they still look better in the PAL cameras. PAL requires no Pixel Correction.

The PAL also has more Pixels giving somewhere about 60,000 more pixels which gives a slight increase in Resolution without any increase in exposure times (similar size pixels, just more of them). 

 

Your only problem then would be obtaining a PAL Monitor if you are located in North America. But when running through a computer, PAL is fine   :waytogo:

Computers accept NTSC and PAL.

I think some modern Monitors do now too. I know many new TV's do.

 

Just something to think about  :)



#20 mclewis1

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 10:39 AM

In general it's the analogue products and in particular the older NTSC CRT monitors that won't handle PAL video (or vice versa). Anything that is digital (LCDs, DVRs, USB frame grabbers, etc.) and some high end CRTs seem to be just fine with PAL formatted video.



#21 Don Rudny

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 11:44 AM

 

Regarding your question of build quality of the Lodestar, I believe it is excellent.  It is a compact 1.25" aluminum cylinder about three inches long with the USB and guide port connectors at the end.  There was a problem with the USB jack, but SX has fixed that.  You might want to consider a mono one as well as the color.  At about $600 each you could get both for the price of an Xterminator with cash to spare.  They both use the same sensor.  With mono you can get great views of emmision nebulae using a narrow band Ha filter.  My favorite viewing is of very large emmision nebulae like North America and Eta Carina using a simple 50mm mini guide scope.  Here an example:

 

attachicon.gifimage.jpg

Thank you Don and that is a very nice image with not a lot of time invested at 10 x 45 sec using Ha. I was considering a mono in the future to use an Ha filter and this looks very promising. Is the Lodestar a cooled camera or not being only a single USB cable? The built quality sounds good.

 

Neither the Lodestar nor Ultrastar are cooled.  To remove hot pixels you need to take dark frames at the exposure you are using.  The Starlight Live software applies the darks on the fly as you are viewing.  Paul Shears is presently working on a means to remove hot pixels without taking darks.



#22 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:21 PM

 

 

 

Hi,

 

I am new to Cloudy Nights but having been following EAA for sometime and I now feel that I am ready to pull the plug. I want to get a decent quality camera for EAA and I want to observe DSO's in fast or short exposure for that more near real feeling. I have no intentions to do any astrophotography but I want some decent quality observing sessions. I currently own a AP 1200 mount, C11 Edge (with Hyperstar) and an 80 mm Stellavue Apo triplet refractor. As you can see I do own decent quality equipment and I want my camera to follow that same direction that I was fortunately able to obtain. I have been watching Night Skies Network (NSN) with great interest and have received some great suggestions, but heard that this is the place to come where many our into this part of the hobby. I have been super impressed with the broadcasters using the Mallincam Exterminator video camera. I really do not care if the stars are not perfect photo quality but do care to see the DSO as clean as possible using very short exposures and if necessary a few stacks.

 

My questions are what other options do I have (budget up to 3,000) to fulfill my expectations and make observing seem like fun? I am not looking for a sensor any larger than 1" due to vignetting issues. Basically I am looking at replacing my eyepieces with a camera to observe from my light polluted backyard.

 

Thank you for any help! 

 

I'd look seriously at the A7s at that budget. Mark does really well with it and his 11" RASA, which your 11" Edge with Hyperstar will have comparable aperture & focal length. In addition the A7r II does well also.

 

Don't worry about vignetting as you can always crop the center and you will have plenty of resolution to do so!

 

Thank you very much but I think having a full frame camera like the A7S and severely cropping it is defeating the purpose to take advantage of the huge FOV. This is why I would prefer to stay away from full frame or even APS-C frame sensors. I think a 1"sensor is more then enough for most DSO's

 

 

Catch a b-cast or two with one, you'll see why it's ok that the chip is bigger than most scopes can handle.

 

Thank you very much Relativist for your help but I have watched several times TemeculaObservatory (Mark in Ventura) broadcasts. They are very nice but it is a shame IMHO that 80% of the sensor is cropped out and to me I would only buy a large sensor for those huge objects or multiple objects spread over the FOV. Also I have heard the frustration in Marks voice during his broadcast regarding the vignetting issues and even he admitted liking his 414 Atik (smaller sensor) over the other larger sensor due to the complications. Again it is a nice camera if you can use the whole or most of the sensors real-estate but that requires top quality scopes and flat field correction lenses.



#23 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:40 PM

If you want to go relatively wide-field then you probably should consider using that Hyperstar with something like the Mallincam Universe or (for less diffraction) get something like a cylindrical Atik or QHY camera.  IIRC the image circle of the Hyperstar for the C11 is likely around 27mm so any sensor up to about that diagonal size will have relatively little vignetting.  For this system I'd favor the somewhat smaller pixels in order to reduce under-sampling and with those F/2 optics you'd still be getting short subs and superb imagery.  With the C11 I would expect you to be able to use a regular DSLR with really good results with short subs.

 

If you use a video camera with a small sensor and rather large pixels you will be picking up only a small amount of the light you have gathered with the Hyperstarred system and an under-sampled and unnecessarily narrow FOV.  I don't like that.

 

If you want to neglect the Hyperstar and use a focal reducer I'd be curious as to which you would be using?  The Optec Lepus unit for that scope would give you 0.62x and an un-vignetted 22mm image circle (28mm with some vignetting) which means a small sensor will again be wasting much of your gathered light with a relatively narrow FOV.  An APS-C sized sensor might have a little vignetting but if you did a little stacking with a flat-field you'd correct that nicely - a good Canon or the MC Universe would work nicely with such a system.

 

If you really must use a video camera I'd seriously consider getting one of the HD versions.  The Atik Infinity and the cooled ZWO 174 camera are available now and would give you good resolution.  There should soon be some IMX185-based cameras available and especially with cooling they should be good performers.

 

You could also check to see whether the AVS F/1.8 reducer ( http://www.astro-vid...ll-systems.html ) is currently available and would fit that scope.  I am not sure what kind of image circle that thing has but you might find it suitable to a video camera's sensor if that is the way you want to go.

 

Fortunately, you have a lot of options.

Thank you very much OleCuss for bringing up the part to neglect the Hyperstar since I am very much considering selling my Hyperstar. I say this because it is a big hassle to switch compared to the rear-end style mounting of a SCT. I am planning on using  either my Celestron 6.3 or buy a Mallincam MFR-5 for even more focal reduction. This will bring my C11 down to about f/4 and I know a lot slower than my Hyperstar but way easier to setup since I am not getting any younger at 69 years old. This is another reason why I was considering a camera with 1" or less size sensor and it must be sensitive as top priority. I do not need the more then 1" size sensor since I find the majority of the object fit the FOV for sensors 1/2 to 1" diagonal with less headaches. I was also thinking of using my 80 mm refractor for those wide field in which I have seen many do on NSN with great results. 

 

** I am very confused now because I have never though of the Atik or ZWO cameras as video cameras? Sorry I still get the whole video thing as confusing or complicated. The ZWO 174 is nice but for my liking requires way too many stacks using several programs and I am trying to keep it simple. The Atik Infinity is very nice with it's excellent software but it still is no where near as sensitive as an Exterminator and this is my # 1 need for that as close to real live feeling as possible.


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#24 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:43 PM

hard to break through everyones personal love for certain brands and experiences but in my 5 years i have only owned maillincams.  they have never let me down and are just amazing.  i am sure other cameras out there can do some of the same things faster or cheaper or slightly better or whatever.  currently, i have the xt428 mallincam which is almost an xterminator except the 428 ex view had chip.  just one mans opinion but you need to decide what side you fall on..seeing things fast and sacrificing some detail or imaging.  as above, you may end up needing a few cameras :)

Thank you very much Chad and this is one part that I was looking for which is a very good track record and reliability. I am 69 years old and IMHO you just cannot get the quality like we used to. It is nice to have that support and conference.



#25 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 12:55 PM

 

. . . .  I have been reading comments regarding square blocky stars and I have seen good stars on NSN using this camera so I guess they had match their telescopes to the sensor for proper sampling. As I mentioned that I am not interested in obtaining those picture perfect colorful stars as long as what I am interested in viewing is clear and detectable.  

 

 

A tip you might want to consider is getting whichever camera you choose in PAL version instead of NTSC version.

PAL sensors have squarer pixels than an NTSC which have rectangular pixels.

 

I broadcast on NSN using an NTSC Mallincam Xtreme, a PAL Xterminator, a PAL Samsung SCB-4000, and a PAL LN-300, and the difference between the PAL and the NTSC is very noticeable in star shape.

As much as I love the results with myXtreme I have to use the Pixel Correction to reduce the pixels Vertically to clean up the stars to get near the quality of the PAL stars, and even then they still look better in the PAL cameras. PAL requires no Pixel Correction.

The PAL also has more Pixels giving somewhere about 60,000 more pixels which gives a slight increase in Resolution without any increase in exposure times (similar size pixels, just more of them). 

 

Your only problem then would be obtaining a PAL Monitor if you are located in North America. But when running through a computer, PAL is fine   :waytogo:

Computers accept NTSC and PAL.

I think some modern Monitors do now too. I know many new TV's do.

 

Just something to think about  :)

 

Thank you for the help but I am in the US and I have a good quality Sony CRT monitor with component and s-video inputs that perhaps I will use one day if I do buy an Exterminator so PAL is out for me. I find many are fixated too much on the stars. If I was strictly observing open & globular clusters all night that would make a difference for me, but I am mainly observing nebula's and galaxies. I have seen broadcasts on NSN that have had decent looking stars (yes not as pretty as a DSLR) that were not square but were round and tight. I was talking to someone and he said that you can achieve this if you match your focal length properly to your size pixels so you are not under sampling and have a good tracking mount.

 

** Again for me I am not looking for ccd quality pictures. If I was, I would not be involved with EAA but would join a ccd imaging forum and start taking long multiple images and post process them ;)


Edited by DSO_Viewer, 06 January 2016 - 01:07 PM.



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