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ZWO 178 Cooled Monochrome Camera- Fact Finding Mission

ccd astrophotography imaging
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#26 sprinklestudios

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 11:52 AM

That's some good info Greg! Thank you for sharing! I will see what I can test on this.



#27 sprinklestudios

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 03:29 PM

Got to shoot some more last night. I am still impressed with this little camera. Since the exposure times are so short, I decided to get a net mount setup for it. My end goal is to be able to take this guy with me on trips that my big setup is just too heavy or too cumbersome to worry about. I picked up a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer. This thing is tiny! It handled 60s shots with the same setup as I have listed above (minus the losmandy plate... used a vixen instead) with no problems at all. Though wind will mess up your shots big time on it since it is so light weight. I lost 7 Ha images because of the wind.

Here is my image (it has been cropped because of star alignment):

(93) 60s 1x1 Ha

(50) 60s 1x1 R

(50) 60s 1x1 G

(40) 60s 1x1 B - Went behind the trees before I could finish the last 10.

(100) Darks

(162) Bias

No flats

 

Rosette_ZWO_HaRGB_edit_FB_zpssy2uymom.jp

 

 

 

Here is the setup on the tripod:

 

2016-02-05%2006.28.07_zpsbsdeow3i.jpg

 

2016-02-05%2006.28.00_zpsyczxtxcq.jpg

 

It is so light weight you can pick up the entire setup with one hand easily. This is going to be a lot of fun!



#28 sprinklestudios

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 03:41 PM

Now there is quite a bit of noise in the corner where the darks/bias corrected the amp glow. This wasn't as noticeable in my Flaming Star image. But that could be because my images were shifted quite a bit and it got cropped out. Here is an un-cropped stacked Ha image and below is a 100% crop from the bottom left corner.

 

Full view:

Rosette_ZWO_light_FILTER_Ha_BINNING_1_in

 

 

100% crop from the bottom left corner:

Crop-Rosette_ZWO_light_FILTER_Ha_BINNING

 

 

There may be a way to deal with this better. But honestly I am still fairly new to PixInsight and it is beyond my skill level right now.


Edited by sprinklestudios, 05 February 2016 - 03:41 PM.


#29 nmoushon

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 05:03 PM

I'm very interested in seeing where this tech goes and how this little camera does. Thanks for posting your info.

 

I do wonder how well it works on galaxies. Both with a wider fov (300-500mm the avg small frac) and a narrow fov in long fl scopes. Really interested in seeing the pixel ratio with different setups and see where its pros and cons are. 

 

I've been eyeing these cameras for the oppossite setup you two are using. Same short exposures but LONG focal lengths (2000mm+). It has smaller pixels than the normal CCDs used so I wonder how it handles. Either of you dont by chance have a long FL setup do you?  :grin:



#30 sprinklestudios

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 05:15 PM

I've been eyeing these cameras for the oppossite setup you two are using. Same short exposures but LONG focal lengths (2000mm+). It has smaller pixels than the normal CCDs used so I wonder how it handles. Either of you dont by chance have a long FL setup do you?  :grin:

 

As a matter of fact I do! I have the Celeston 8" Edge HD. I plan on shooting with it as well to test the same thing you are interested in. I plan on hitting M51 and a few others very soon and seeing how well it will do. I will post on here when I get a chance to shoot it. (darn clouds)



#31 gregj888

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 06:59 PM

nmoushon,

 

We've been using the CMOS cameras at f/32 on 8" and 11" and 1.6m scopes for double stars :-).  We haven't tried the 178 but would expect it to do very well.  With the small pixels f/12 would be roughly equivalent and f/18 is probably as far as I would push it accept of solar or planets (empty mag at that point).

 

If doing large stacks, cooling should help.  Doesn't matter much to us as we stack Fourier's not image intensity.  I'm still planning on cooled when I purchase my next camera though, I want to explore some other areas beyond the double stars we are doing now.

 

With the 178 and an 11" scope at f/12, 40ms, no filter you should be well into 11th mag and stack of 1000 maybe 14th mag.  I'm thinking these are pretty conservative numbers BTW, but someone can give it a try.  I too would be interested in the answer.  f/10 to /15 preferred, wouldn't argue with f/20 ...



#32 james7ca

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 07:08 PM

I would think that for an SCT that the ASI174 would be a better choice because of the resultant pixel sampling (at least on DSOs, for planetary work the ASI178 is about "right"). However, I recently posted a shot of M106 that was done in monochrome with my ASI178MM on a Tele Vue NP127is (127mm aperture refractor at f/5.2, 660mm focal length, 0.74 arc seconds per pixel with the ASI178). Below is the link to the image. Also, if you search CN you'll find some images taken with SCTs that were done with the ZWO cameras.

 

  http://www.cloudynig...l/#entry7027509


Edited by james7ca, 05 February 2016 - 07:09 PM.


#33 gregj888

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 07:57 PM

James,

 

Really depends on what you are imaging.  I agree that for many applications the 174 is a very good fit to an f/10 scope. 

 

The 174 has a global shutter, a good thing, but is also thought to have lower QE and quite a bit more TD noise than the 178.  For most application you'll never see any of these and the bigger pixels will be a plus.

 

The 178 also goes to 14 bit... again, many will probably never shoot in this mode.

 

I'm currently using a Skyris 618m with the 5.6um pixels, and use it at about f/28 for the double star work shooting 12 bit data, I'm weird.  I'll get either a cooled 178m or a cooled 290m, at least that's the plan,.  BTW, there is little difference between them, mostly NIR sensitivity.  I do not expect this to be my last camera purchase, we are still early in CMOS sensor development.  The Skyris lasted 2 years, this one probably about the same.

 

If I were doing occultation, satellite tracking or meteor work, I would prefer the ASI174 (or the new QHY version with GPS timing) hands down.  For spectroscopy or photometry maybe an ATIK 414ex mono...

 

All are good and useful cameras, some do better than others for a specific task. 



#34 james7ca

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 09:28 PM

I have both an uncooled ASI174MM and the ASI178MM-Cool. The major difference (besides the sensor size) is that the ASI174 has a lot more of a problem with pattern noise, but it also has a significant sensitivity advantage because of its much larger pixels (forget about the small differences in QE, the ASI174 has pixels that are larger in area -- i.e. photon gathering per pixel -- by a factor of 6).

 

If you can overlook the pattern noise (which some may not be able to do) and the differences in the sampling size, then it really comes down to the field coverage (better with the larger sensor size of the ASI174) and how quickly you want to record your DSO subjects (again, most likely favoring the ASI174).

 

However, for DSO work I would not recommend the ASI174 for very short focal length systems (undersampled) just as I would not recommend the ASI178 for long focal length systems (oversampled). Of course, you could bin the ASI178 and increase its photon gathering per effective pixel, but binning on these CMOS sensors is just a software resampling so it's not as good of an option as on CCD cameras. Besides, once you bin the ASI178 you have both a smaller sensor (field coverage) and fewer pixels than on the unbinned ASI174.

 

Basically, there is no easy choice unless you restrict the use to a particular (narrow?) type of work. As we know, one camera can't really do it all.


Edited by james7ca, 05 February 2016 - 10:22 PM.


#35 gregj888

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Posted 05 February 2016 - 10:51 PM

Basically, there is no easy choice unless you restrict the use to a particular (narrow?) type of work.

 

James, I agree, having a specific application really helps with camera selection.

 

You've limited the choice by saying you can't scale the image, I don't agree with that.  If you scale the image to the same arc-sec/pixel, QE and "Read Noise" tell the tail and the 178 should out perform the 174 on SNR.  Specifying "no scaling" is perfectly reasonable BTW, no issues, but it is a "requirement" not something fundamental in the sensor system, IMHO.  In this case the largest pixel to your resolution requirement will generally win.

 

Not trying to cause trouble here.  I've spent a lot of time the last couple of years testing cameras and trying to optimize the system for various targets and what we are trying to capture.  Since we scale it just matters how much...  I also have applications where scaling isn't wanted or can't be done so do understand what you are saying.



#36 sprinklestudios

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 11:41 AM

Here is a shot I did recently with the ZWO ASI178MM-cooled with my Celestron 8" Edge with the 0.7x reducer:

M51%20-%20Whirlpool%20Galaxy_ASI178_8Edg

 

It has been slightly dropped. My red channel did not turn out well at all. I will probably redo it and see if it helps out.



#37 josh smith

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 12:05 PM

Here is a shot I did recently with the ZWO ASI178MM-cooled with my Celestron 8" Edge with the 0.7x reducer:

M51%20-%20Whirlpool%20Galaxy_ASI178_8Edg

It has been slightly dropped. My red channel did not turn out well at all. I will probably redo it and see if it helps out.


A lot of your work with this setup looks fantastic, but is hard to evaluate at this scale. Do you have any links to larger images?

#38 sprinklestudios

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 01:23 PM

Thank you very much! Unfortunately I do not have a link to larger images. I do not post my full sized shots.

 

This is a fun little camera to play with. I think this technology is going to be something we see a lot of in the future. This of course is still early tech and doesn't quite compare to a camera with say a KAF-8300 sensor like my ATIK 383L. But the ATIK cannot capture detail like this in only 60s shots.



#39 gregj888

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 03:21 PM

sprinklestudios,

 

Nice shot... 

 

I am curious about you comment--  "This of course is still early tech and doesn't quite compare to a camera with say a KAF-8300 sensor like my ATIK 383L."

 

Can you elaborate?  I agree we are early and not challenging your statement, just wondering where you find the differences?

 

Thx,



#40 sprinklestudios

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 04:17 PM

sprinklestudios,

 

Nice shot... 

 

I am curious about you comment--  "This of course is still early tech and doesn't quite compare to a camera with say a KAF-8300 sensor like my ATIK 383L."

 

Can you elaborate?  I agree we are early and not challenging your statement, just wondering where you find the differences?

 

Thx,

 

Thanks Greg! I am still trying to get the most out of editing the data.

I mainly just meant the sensor and pixel size of the 178 compared to the 8300 sensor. Once we start seeing these new cooled CMOS chips in a larger format, and maybe a deeper well capacity, I think we will see some great quality stuff. And hopefully they can work on the amp glow issues as well.



#41 gregj888

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 04:21 PM

sprinklestudios,

 

Thanks, trying to track this stuff. 



#42 sprinklestudios

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 04:32 PM

sprinklestudios,

 

Thanks, trying to track this stuff. 

 

 

You're welcome Greg! I am not an expert with this stuff by any stretch of the imagination. I am a photographer that happens to like space and hopes to get some good images. Just trying to share what I find out on this camera since it is still so new. When it all comes down to it... I just want "pretty" pictures LOL.



#43 Mitchell Duke

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 01:08 PM

I was thinking about getting the Qhy 174mm due to the amp glow issue being reduced. What image capture software is everyone using with this type cam? Qsy is supposedly having issues with firecapture.

#44 rkayakr

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Posted 26 March 2016 - 01:46 PM

I'm using Imagesplus Camera Capture for longer exposures with my ASI178mc.  Fire capture is a great tool but I find it difficult to use for subs of a minute or longer.



#45 p.v.

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 05:52 AM

I'm using PG Fly Cap2 program with Flea3 3.2mb b/w camera. After some experiences  with it I had found that there are no adequate software to calibrate and to combine images from it. Camera is not cooled and with 1-2sec. or more exposures I've got a lot of noise and a lot of hot pixels. DSS can't make with them anything. AS!2 too. So, I had wrote my own software to align and calibrate .pgm, .fits, .tiff, etc. images from PG cameras. I think it is usable with any type of camera operating in such formats. This software not uses any darks or bias files for calibration and operates with images pairs of 'lights' only. The results are great. No noise, no hot pixels, more accurate images fits, very high SNR.
I can't describe here all it possibilities, but you can read more about usage of a new calibration method here (in Russian only) http://prozarium.ru/...spx?TextID=2542 , about the PGMania program (with my fine English, excuse me) http://prozarium.ru/...spx?TextID=2413 , and download it from here https://sourceforge....ojects/pgmania/
It is a special software for that kind of cameras and astro images.
Enjoy PGMania.

 

Here is one of 32 sec. exposure typical PG Flea 3 image example. No combine or image stacking or post processing used. Only calibration. Image is taken at St.Petersburg (Red zone) SQM ~19..

 

0_1b70f4_e385d572_orig.jpg


Edited by p.v., 31 March 2016 - 06:06 AM.


#46 CosmicWreckingBall

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Posted 11 May 2016 - 02:05 PM

I'm back with new info.

After waiting a few months on my 178 to return as I received a faulty one initially, I'm happy to report my new 178MM Cooled is flawless. I have been using it with my WO 132 FLT Refractor and .08 reducer on the tiny galaxies.  All of the below images are 100 frames (each channel) LRGB images taken at 60 seconds each.  I did cut the data short in M63 because of clouds, but I wanted to reveal my findings.  I'm very happy with the results:

26923090356_f7861220b2_c.jpg

 

I missed some of the better nebula this year, but I'll be back at it this coming fall.  In the mean time, I'm happy to report the 178MM Cool is a wonderful little camera for those tiny galaxies most refractor guys miss.  While I'm on a 5.5 inch refractor, I'd expect a 4 inch refractor to do equally as good!  I was able to use a library of 100 darks and bias frames to calibrate all the files. 

Clear Skies All!


Edited by StarFood, 12 May 2016 - 12:46 PM.


#47 HxPI

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 08:18 AM

I have yet to seriously try deep sky imaging with my 178MC. I did a few quick snaps to see what it would produce and the resulting image was quite grainy. It didn't really stack into anything to write home about! Do you think it has the potential to perform well with a 5" refractor for deep sky imaging, not as good as the 178MM Cool of course but presentable? I'm thinking about getting the 1600MM Cool as my monochrome cooled imaging camera!

 

Nice collection and all the best with clear skies.

 

Ciao,

Mel


Edited by HxPI, 16 May 2016 - 08:23 AM.


#48 HxPI

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 08:29 AM

I'm using Imagesplus Camera Capture for longer exposures with my ASI178mc.  Fire capture is a great tool but I find it difficult to use for subs of a minute or longer.

 

Agreed about FC and long exposures. I thought something was malfunctioning when I first tried to use long exposure on my ASI cameras. Then I realized the counter and it was in the middle of an exposure! Another snag was the settings are retained after closing the program. So when it was reopened, it had the same long exposure settings, and it wouldn't change until the exposure was complete! Quite a mess!!

 

I'll look into ImagePlus. Thanks for sharing.

 

Ciao,

Mel


Edited by HxPI, 16 May 2016 - 08:33 AM.


#49 riverpoet

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 10:01 AM

Hi all,

 

just got this camera, still waiting for real first light, working out capture issues (fps) and checking out darks.

 

All my darks >30s, cooled or not, have this weird bunch of hot pixels (this is a crop of unstretched 5-min dark):

dark.jpg

 

FIT of this 5min dark at -10C, unity gain setting:

https://dl.dropboxus...-5min-unity.fit

 

I tried putting the camera in a dark box and it made no difference.

 

Any ideas?

 

Peter



#50 james7ca

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 10:40 AM

Peter, are you suggesting that there shouldn't be any hot pixel defects? I think every camera is going to have hot pixel artifacts (some even have complete rows of defective pixels). This is why you need to use darks and calibration files, or use something like PixInsight's cosmetic correction, or use dithering and pixel rejection during the stacking process.


Edited by james7ca, 16 May 2016 - 10:42 AM.



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