Cooled ASI1600 MC Initial Impressions
I have been testing the new Cooled ASI1600 color camera from ZWO for EAA over the last few days. Sam sent me this camera a few weeks back but the weather has not been cooperating so it has taken longer than I wanted to post some images.
The first set of images I am posting today were taken with the cooling off. I will post more images with cooling on in the next few days along with additional thoughts.
I think it is to Sam and ZWO’s credit that they continue to push the boundaries with CMOS and with every new release it seems CMOS becomes a more viable alternative to CCDs.
The cooled version of the camera retails at $1080 and the non-cooled version at $799. ZWO currently has an early bird discount for both. http://astronomy-ima...-3-0/asi1600mc/
In my view the camera is perfectly suited for wide field work. I enjoyed the sensor size much more than I thought I would for EAA but I think the real strength of this camera will be for imaging. Combined with a Hyperstar it should be a fantastic widefield imaging setup.
I was not able to compare the sensitivity directly to other cameras like the ASI224 as I was not able to run the camera at the same F ratio but it does seem very sensitive. One thing to keep in mind is that the camera I received had an IR cut window which impacted galaxy response but made the stars look sharp and colorful. Not sure if ZWO can do one without an IR cut filter.
In short, if you have always wanted a large format CCD for imaging but not had a few thousand dollars to spend, this is a fantastic buy.
This sensor is large… really large by EAA standards. It is a 4/3rd format sensor with a 21mm diagonal. Here are the full specs: http://astronomy-ima...-3-0/asi1600mc/
Pixel Size: 3.75 x 3.75 Microns
Read Noise: 1.2e @ 30db gain
Cooling: 40-45 deg C below ambient
ADC: 12 bit
We are starting to see some of benefits of the manufacturing scale of CMOS. The fact that you can now get a nearly APS-C size sensor at sub $1000 prices is great.
I tested the camera with both SharpCap 2.8 and AstroLive USB beta 6. SharpCap’s stacking was slightly more robust than AstroLive but that is to be expected as AstroLive is still in beta.
Given the size of the sensor they key challenge was how to speed up the optical system for EAA. Hence most of these images have been taken at ~F7 on the Evolution C8 using x3 or x4 binning.
The camera does not seem to support hardware binning as I did not notice a sensitivity increase with binning (i.e. I did not see an increase in magnitude reach) but when using SharpCap I did notice that the image brightened quite a bit with binning selected (but again did not see any improvement in magnitude reach – so it seems the binning was happening in SW).
Edit: I did not notice any 'amp glow' even at high gain which is very promising. Also note that I did not use any darks for any of these captures.
All images taken with the cooled ASI1600MC on my Evolution C8 with the Celestron 6.3 reducer OR with the camera attached to a 50mm F2 lens (as noted).
Edited by Astrojedi, 05 April 2016 - 03:50 PM.