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Has the $1200 large chipped ASI 1600 made existing modestly priced CCDs obsolete?

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#1 bobzeq25

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 11:27 AM

Check out this thread, starting with Jon's first post.  Look at the numbers, post #17 is excellent.  Forget about updating, I'm talking new purchase.

 

http://www.cloudynig...r/#entry7193926

 

Assume the production cameras meet the specs.

 

Can anyone come up with reasons to recommend 8300s or 694s to new imagers any more?  Or is the answer to "help me choose my first CCD" threads now clear?  Is the "CMOS revolution" here?


Edited by bobzeq25, 02 May 2016 - 05:31 PM.

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#2 Goofi

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 11:35 AM

I think the CMOS revolution is here ... Sony's switched over to CMOS fabrication and is quiting CCD. CCDs have developed about as far as they can, while CMOS development is just taking off.

 

This said, I think there's still a good reason to purchase a CCD over this particular CMOS.  For traditional LRGB imaging the ASI 1600 is probably a good value in an entry camera; but for narrowband I'd still rather have the Sony 694 sensor.  ASI's camera is limited to 2000 second subs; but (in theory) I could take several hour subs with my 694.  I have gone after extremely faint images using 3600 second subs .. something the ASI 1600 can't do.  

 

So, my response will continue to be, "it depends, what are your interests?"


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#3 josh smith

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 11:51 AM

There is a big lack of quality results to draw any conclusions on so far.  There aren't any integrated packages.  The amp glow is a real issue that will need to be sorted out to be a true competitor.  The price isn't actually much better than an 8300 and is quite a bit more than many of the used 8300's from proven products...  

 

I think that the CMOS change (revolution) is starting now, but isn't there yet.  The fact that Sony moved away from CCD's should tell you that.  For the 1600, you have one company with mediocre engineering and no integrated package.  You still aren't beating the Sony specs on QE or read noise when using a realistic gain, but you are getting a larger field.  It is all looking promising, but I think the 1600 would be recommended to someone trying to save a buck, beta test, figure things out for that company, and experiment with new kinds of imaging, not someone trying to get the best results possible or have the most reliable gear.  I never really understand why beta tests and examples always focus on single subs of 30 seconds vs 180 seconds and the like.  I'd like to see someone shoot a dim target that takes 10+ hours of data to get and show a very clean high resolution final picture.  That's the kind of results that will make you stop and say it's here!

 

It's coming, but has a little ways to go first.  Maybe this camera will be it when it has users showing great results, but you can't recommend a camera without those results and reliability to someone looking to buy new yet. 


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#4 Raginar

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 12:57 PM

What Josh said. It's not significantly cheaper and it's unproven.

Lots of hype like there is with tons of new astro products. Guess we'll see what turns up; my guess is amp glow won't be as easy to process and the data won't be as solid.

#5 nmoushon

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 01:00 PM

I agree with both Josh and Goofi. The 1600 is the start of the new CMOS trend but it still does not beat out most of the CCDs out there now. Even in price if you buy second hand. Give it 5 years or so and I think you will really see some good CMOS chips come out that will be all but the high end CCDs. And by 10 years I think they will beat all but the professional grade cameras that cost more than most of our entire kits combined. 

Where I think these new CMOS camera get an advantage over CCD is that they make the TOTAL cost of your imagine setup cheaper. By this I mean that you dont have to spend the money on a premium mount and other equipment to be able to image at long focal lengths because you dont need the ability to guide for 30min exposures at 3m of FL. I think these are great cameras for people who arent looking to produce the best of the best and get an APOD or two but just trying to achieve great looking images without the expense. They are not up to par to match the end results of CCDs but they are on their way. As long as you are willing to except those limitations then I think they are worth considering. 

 

With that said though they are really new and there still needs to be a lot of user testing in different scenarios and combinations to get a true feel of where these cameras sit and where their strengths and weaknesses are. I'm considering one but dont think Ill make a purchase anytime soon on one. I dont have the cash to gamble on unproven equipment.  And that nothing against ZWO or the cameras themselves. They are just new. Thats all. 


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#6 Joe G

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 01:32 PM

Bob, I was just about to start a similar thread.  Great idea. :grin:

 

There are now several threads about these "new" cmos cameras and it does seem that things are starting to change which has implications for choice of telescope, mount, etc.

 

On the Beginner and Intermediate Imaging forum there is a very long thread on the ASI 1600MM Cool.  There are some great early images from matejmihelcic which have very short integration times.  See his Pinwheel Galaxy at post 559:

 

http://www.cloudynig...23#entry7191548

 

Jon Rista does a great job explaining how this 12 bit camera still can capture a lot of information relative to the 8300 cameras because of the very low read noise.  It seems that early images with all these ZWO cameras illustrate their sensitivity.

 

For instance look at some of the images james7ca has posted in his threads and are on his flickr site here:

 

https://www.flickr.c...th/21681169003/

 

His Ring Nebula is beautiful and his second Orion Nebula is stunning.  These are with the ZWO ASI 174MM with very short integration times from his light polluted driveway.

 

Or what about Stephane's (exaxe) image of NGC 6543 taken with an ASI224MC using 400ms subs here:

 

http://www.cloudynig...c/#entry7193028

 

And Campos has some nice shots of M51 and M66 using 5 second subs here (ASI 120MM):

 

http://www.cloudynig...m/#entry7194119

 

In the DSLR Imaging Forum Jon Rista suggested in a thread that maybe we should forget about thinking about low cost DSLRs and instead think about the ASI 1600 cameras.

 

http://www.cloudynig...r/#entry7192145

 

Obviously it is too early to judge the performance of the ZWO 1600 camera.  But based upon the performance of these other cameras, it looks encouraging.  If I was thinking about a much more expensive CCD camera I surely would hold off purchasing one as the capabilities of the ASI 1600 become clear.  Honestly, I would be very nervous that these very expensive CCD based cameras are going to become very expensive door stops in the next couple of years.  I may be exaggerating a little bit but look at how the price of most electronic gadgets plummet in price.  How about that $10,000 Plasma TV from ten years ago?

 

At any rate, I think it would be great if this thread could be used for CN's members to point out the pros and cons of how these cameras perform.  To further detail the math that Jon has pointed out in various threads.  To further aid understanding of how these seemingly short integration times might change how we look at imaging.  How do some of these small pixel cameras affect sensitivity and how we choose telescopes and mounts, whether we guide or not, etc.

 

Very interesting stuff indeed.


Edited by Joe G, 02 May 2016 - 01:34 PM.

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#7 Gucky

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 01:57 PM

Thanks Joe, for this fine collection!



#8 josh smith

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 02:23 PM

Bob, I was just about to start a similar thread.  Great idea. :grin:

 

There are now several threads about these "new" cmos cameras and it does seem that things are starting to change which has implications for choice of telescope, mount, etc.

 

On the Beginner and Intermediate Imaging forum there is a very long thread on the ASI 1600MM Cool.  There are some great early images from matejmihelcic which have very short integration times.  See his Pinwheel Galaxy at post 559:

 

http://www.cloudynig...23#entry7191548

 

Jon Rista does a great job explaining how this 12 bit camera still can capture a lot of information relative to the 8300 cameras because of the very low read noise.  It seems that early images with all these ZWO cameras illustrate their sensitivity.

 

For instance look at some of the images james7ca has posted in his threads and are on his flickr site here:

 

https://www.flickr.c...th/21681169003/

 

His Ring Nebula is beautiful and his second Orion Nebula is stunning.  These are with the ZWO ASI 174MM with very short integration times from his light polluted driveway.

 

Or what about Stephane's (exaxe) image of NGC 6543 taken with an ASI224MC using 400ms subs here:

 

http://www.cloudynig...c/#entry7193028

 

And Campos has some nice shots of M51 and M66 using 5 second subs here (ASI 120MM):

 

http://www.cloudynig...m/#entry7194119

 

In the DSLR Imaging Forum Jon Rista suggested in a thread that maybe we should forget about thinking about low cost DSLRs and instead think about the ASI 1600 cameras.

 

http://www.cloudynig...r/#entry7192145

 

Obviously it is too early to judge the performance of the ZWO 1600 camera.  But based upon the performance of these other cameras, it looks encouraging.  If I was thinking about a much more expensive CCD camera I surely would hold off purchasing one as the capabilities of the ASI 1600 become clear.  Honestly, I would be very nervous that these very expensive CCD based cameras are going to become very expensive door stops in the next couple of years.  I may be exaggerating a little bit but look at how the price of most electronic gadgets plummet in price.  How about that $10,000 Plasma TV from ten years ago?

 

At any rate, I think it would be great if this thread could be used for CN's members to point out the pros and cons of how these cameras perform.  To further detail the math that Jon has pointed out in various threads.  To further aid understanding of how these seemingly short integration times might change how we look at imaging.  How do some of these small pixel cameras affect sensitivity and how we choose telescopes and mounts, whether we guide or not, etc.

 

Very interesting stuff indeed.

 

I like the point about the DSLR's maybe being replaced by these for astronomy, but keep in mind the QHY8's have been well under $1000 used for a long time, have a larger chip, and very low noise.  

 

We still need better examples of images.  All of the examples of pictures you've linked are of extremely bright targets that would look good if taken with a webcam.  M42 and the core of planetary nebulae don't tell you anything about the performance of the cameras.  

 

I'd be interested to see what further could be brought up beyond those threads and if the conversations can remain civil.  The part about short exposure stuff without guiding and how to stack and calibrate is a particularly interesting topic.  Is there a real way to calibrate and stack many hours of 1-2 second subs.  

 

I wouldn't worry about anything becoming an inexpensive doorstop, but might be hesitant to buy an 8300 camera new for $3500 at this point.  If you already bought something in the last few months or year, your gear is still very close to if not better than anything offered now, the 1600 included.  I don't agree the better performing stuff is 5-10 years off, but it also isn't quite now.  


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#9 Coliwabl

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 02:29 PM

Not so sure about making the modestly priced, i.e., $2000 and up, obsolete. However, if the question is applied to the DSLR, then the answer is a definite yes. The only difference is that with a ZWO, you can't use the camera for landscapes, portraits, etc. For that, I'd prefer a modestly priced, i.e. $3500 and above dedicated DSLR. 



#10 ben2112

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 02:43 PM

As a person that has been shopping around for a nice mono AP camera, you can't beat the pricing of the CMOS cameras. Are they new? Yes. Will there be bugs and issues? More then likely. But after a year, I think a lot of the CMOS AP cameras are going to compete against middle of the road CCD cameras. 


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#11 Joe G

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 02:56 PM

The great thing about competition is choice.

 

I would imagine that if these Micro 4/3 sized ZWO cameras work reasonably, that would at the least put pressure on the APS sized modded DSLRs.  The ZWO ASI 1600 color cameras are $700-$980.  Older modded Canon DSLRs are already in the $300-$500 range.  This might knock another $100 off them in the used market which is great for someone on a budget buying used.

 

I originally had a Canon 20Da many years ago purchased new.  I sold it after a couple of years and bought the CCD Labs version of the QHY8.  I thought that was a huge improvement because of the cooling.  Still it was $2000 new back then.  The trade-off in resolution wasn't huge going from 8 MP to 6MP.  QHY8s are less than a $1000 used now (I just bought one a few weeks ago for $700) and still produce nice images.  But you have the bayer filter and a lack of resolution.  Obviously that led to the success that the 8300 series cameras enjoyed.

 

Now you have a Micro 4/3 sized CMOS choice.  I ordered one of the ASI 1600 mono cooled cameras and can't wait to use it.  The price is right.  Early results look promising.  Maybe the amp noise will be an issue but if I remember correctly the 20Da had oodles of it. 

 

I look forward to further improvements in these cameras over time.  I would think that the dedicated astro CCD companies will have to make a competitive response if they are going to stay relevant.  I have no idea about the various size of the 8300 market versus the more expensive/larger format CCDs, but imagine the market for over $5000 cameras is small.  The great thing about these low priced cameras is it seems they will expand the market.  That's gotta be good.

 

I have a Nikon D600.  Love that camera (despite the dust).  It gives nice FF images for AP too as long as the temperature isn't too hot.  But I have a FSQ 106 which can take advantage of full frame.  I would think it is likely that the amount of telescopes that can fully utilize a FF chip is somewhat small.  That doesn't mean I wouldn't want a ZWO FF mono cmos camera at a great price in a couple of years.  Hopefully that happens.

 

But these Micro 4/3 sized sensors/cameras make a lot of sense for a huge portion of the AP market that doesn't have oodles to spend on the fancy toys.  Hopefully these cameras perform.


Edited by Joe G, 03 May 2016 - 12:27 AM.

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#12 nmoushon

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 04:00 PM

Not so sure about making the modestly priced, i.e., $2000 and up, obsolete. However, if the question is applied to the DSLR, then the answer is a definite yes. The only difference is that with a ZWO, you can't use the camera for landscapes, portraits, etc. For that, I'd prefer a modestly priced, i.e. $3500 and above dedicated DSLR. 

I'm sorry but unless I was a professional photographer, and in the market for a new camera, I would never buy a DSLR over a cooled CMOS or CCD camera for AP. Either OSC or mono. Especially if I had $3500+ to spend. The only advantage I see of a DSLR is that you dont need a laptop to run it. Other than that I just dont see the appeal. 


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#13 Goofi

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 04:12 PM

The OP was looking at the new CMOS cameras as a replacement for CCDs, not DSLRs.  I probably agree they are better all around compared to a DSLRs (modded or not), but the question is will they replace CCDs.  Given the choice of an ASI 1600 or SBiG 8300, which would you prefer?

 

Sure, the 8300 is old technology ... but it works. Their price is about the same, but I see the 8300 as being more versatile for astrophotography today.  Plus, as Josh mentioned, how will the CMOS sensors work on the full range of targets .. even dim ones.

 

An image of M42 or the Crescent Nebula doesn't really impress me; show me how it handles the faint nebulosity of the Veil Nebula, or dim PNs like Jones-Emberson 1, or some of the small but interesting galaxies like those in Leo.  I'm not saying it can't image them, but those are a better test (to me) of a sensor's performance.

 

My fear is this is a $1200 entry camera that you'll outgrow in a year, and find yourself selling to upgrade to a 'real' CCD ... 


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#14 gregj888

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 05:56 PM

Some interesting comparisons and expectation here: new product vs used, 16Mp vs 6MP or less... 30% lower price is not "significant"... ;-)

 

Anyway, my 2 cents...  "real" CCDs have 2-5 years then the "hot" cameras will be CMOS. 

 

I've been testing small planetary cameras for double star work for a couple of years.  As near as I can tell CMOS hit parity in that application about 2 years ago (QHY5LiiM, Skyris 618m).  CMOS is close to or at Parity  with the lower end EMCCDs this month (no typo... ASI290m vs several EMCCD cameras with TI sensors).  These are small, typically uncooled, high frame rate CMOS cameras...

 

The biggest change will be in how you use the cameras. 

1) With 80% plus QE and < 1e read noise, you don't need 2 hour subs... you are effectively photon

     counting...  Lot's of shorter subs will also cover the lesser well depth and fewer ADC bits.

2) Binning is always done in Software for CMOS... auxiliary optics, like stronger reducers will be the order of the day

3) CMOS sensors do a self calibration.  the new sensors do a pretty good job of it too, so darks and flats are likely to

      go away (maybe).  You may have to do darks and flats with every image in critical applications since the internal calibration

      can't generally be controlled.  The single biggest discussion point for us with CMOS, BTW.

4) We don't have CMOS specific software yet, that too is needed.  Many CMOS chips have a number of "modes"-- low light,

     High conversion, high dynamic range, calibration control...  AFAIK, there isn't any software that knows about any of this.

5) New techniques...  New tools can almost always do things the old tools can't.  Of course they often don't do

     some thing the old ones did or do them in a different way.  CMOS is a new tool... and it's different.

6) New image processing routines-  I haven't looked at the deep sky processing lately, planetary folks are doing a lot of high end math on the images with great effect.  We do a lot of Fourier on the doubles (Speckle) and Bi-spectrum/triple correlation is coming on-line. Bi-spectrum should work on deepsky images too.

 

Bob, as a first camera, I don't see how you can go wrong with either choice. I was looking real hard at the ATIK414ex-m to use both on-Sky and with a spectrometer.  I went with the cooled ASI290m because I know it would work for doubles, what I do most. I'll have to learn how to use it for spectroscopy, but that's half the fun.  I'm sure it won't be the last camera (CMOS?) I buy, not even part of the discussion.

 

I just got my CAM84 board going (CCD, ATM forum) and am waiting to hear my Cooled ASI290m has shipped... good time to be doing AP.


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#15 vpcirc

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 08:46 PM

I think this is advertising hype. yes the market is moving to CMOS, but not for imagers, it's for the mobile cell phone market. Where the promise lies currently is in guide cameras and planetary. Chip makers don't give a hoot about astro-imaging, that's a tiny segment of the market. Cell phones and tablets a totally different story and these chips are being designed for that market. We are a specialty market and just like radiology there's a price to pay for the chips we currently need. Hopefully, just like with ccd we will benefit in the future, but not from tiny chips that fit in cell phones.  



#16 pbunn

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 09:44 PM

The 1600 isn't a that tiny of a chip. Almost as big as the 8300.

 

When QSI, SBIG and others start using the CMOS chips - Then the market will turn. Technology will mature and as it does, the companies that engineer the top of the line cameras will make the change.

 

Until then, Comparing my QSI 683 series to a cheaply engineered ZWO 1600 is not much of a comparison in my opinion. 


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#17 A. Viegas

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 09:58 PM

s

The 1600 isn't a that tiny of a chip. Almost as big as the 8300.

 

When QSI, SBIG and others start using the CMOS chips - Then the market will turn. Technology will mature and as it does, the companies that engineer the top of the line cameras will make the change.

 

Until then, Comparing my QSI 683 series to a cheaply engineered ZWO 1600 is not much of a comparison in my opinion. 

 

The ASI1600 is a new camera at a price point 1/3rd the QSI.  Let's give it a few more months as cameras get into the hands of expert APers and then we can be in a position to better judge the price-to-value ratio.  Technology and innovation in CMOS is moving very rapid.  The 8300 is proven sensor but it's old technology.  If the new ASI lives up to the promise your QSI and other 8300 based CCDs will all be on the used market for 25% of 2015 list price.  :lol:


Edited by A. Viegas, 02 May 2016 - 09:59 PM.

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#18 MikeMiller

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 10:05 PM

I think this is advertising hype. yes the market is moving to CMOS, but not for imagers, it's for the mobile cell phone market. Where the promise lies currently is in guide cameras and planetary. Chip makers don't give a hoot about astro-imaging, that's a tiny segment of the market. Cell phones and tablets a totally different story and these chips are being designed for that market. We are a specialty market and just like radiology there's a price to pay for the chips we currently need. Hopefully, just like with ccd we will benefit in the future, but not from tiny chips that fit in cell phones.


Every DSLR on the market is CMOS. CMOS is not just for phones. Sony is getting out of making CCD chips entirely. I'd love to have a mono sensor similar to the A7s in price and performance.
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#19 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 10:19 PM

As an "old school" SBIG and a QSI owner, I'll be interested to see how "cheaply engineered" the ASI1600 actually is. I'm among the minority willing to pay for elegant design and nice fit & finish, but this may turn out to be a disruptive product. 

 

At the going price, aesthetic compromises will be acceptable if it delivers the electrons.


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#20 Joe G

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 10:37 PM

Sometimes this stuff cracks me up.  As Mike Miller just said, almost all current state-of-the-art DSLRs use CMOS sensors.  I can't imagine why I would want to trade my Nikon D600 for my old Nikon D100.  Wow, larger pixels versus 24 megapixels that are far better.  The dynamic range of the Sony sensors used in the current Nikon DSLRs rock, and that is with tiny, tiny pixels.  Canon, for the most part, still lags, yet is the favorite of the modded astro crowd, largely for historical reasons (and yes I understand there are differences between the two in how raw files are treated).

 

Pat, it is also funny that you can call the camera "cheaply engineered" without seeing that specific camera.  Obviously, as your sig details, you own a ZWO camera.  I remember you not liking your iOptron ZEQ 25 too.  Maybe a little bit of an anti-China bias?  Yet it seems ZWO is pioneering this part of the market.  And really, what do QSI, SBIG and the others do?  Seems like they buy old, off the shelf technology and package it with some electronics and a TEC.  And for that they charge a fortune.  Starlight Xpress still sells their version of the QHY8 for $3,349.  Talk about a great business model.

 

The chip (Panasonic) used in the AS1600MM cameras is the same one used in the Olympus OM-D E-M1 cameras which reportedly has very good image quality.  See here:

 

http://www.dpreview....ympus-om-d-e-m1

 

Kodak used to be top-of-the-line in photograhy.  Didn't quite make the transition to digital despite the effort. 

 

I can't really say yet whether this camera will be better, worse, or similar to current mid-sized chip CCD cameras.  I think we should reserve judgement until it comes out which is very soon.

 

From what I have observed so far is that the planetary guys have completely migrated to these ZWO cameras in a very short time period.  Can the same not happen in deep sky?

 

Also, I think it is important to realize that the overall DSLR and mirror-less market is struggling in terms of unit volume and pricing.  I understand that the astro market is a drop in the bucket in terms of unit volume.  Yet Panasonic must have made a decision to sell their cmos sensor without a bayer matrix.  Maybe that happens with the low noise Sony sensors in a couple of years.

 

Personally, I'll take current technology over old technology any day of the week when it comes to electronics.

 

I can't wait to see what people do with these cameras.


Edited by Joe G, 03 May 2016 - 10:39 AM.

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#21 Thirteen

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Posted 02 May 2016 - 10:54 PM

There are some strong opinions on this topic.   I've been imaging with a ZWO cooled CMOS camera (ASI174MM-Cool) for 6 months now and can say its well put together, well thought out, and just works night after night.   IMX174 sensor itself has a few shortcomings and a few strong points. 

 

I think the results are excellent and expect the same from the ASI1600.   I'm actually very surprised that all the astro camera manufacturers are letting ZWO charge ahead without any competition into this market.   QHY is just releasing a first generation as ZWO releases a second, no one else is even on the radar.   


Edited by Thirteen, 02 May 2016 - 10:55 PM.

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#22 vdb

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 01:06 AM

There are some strong opinions on this topic.   I've been imaging with a ZWO cooled CMOS camera (ASI174MM-Cool) for 6 months now and can say its well put together, well thought out, and just works night after night.   IMX174 sensor itself has a few shortcomings and a few strong points. 

 

I think the results are excellent and expect the same from the ASI1600.   I'm actually very surprised that all the astro camera manufacturers are letting ZWO charge ahead without any competition into this market.   QHY is just releasing a first generation as ZWO releases a second, no one else is even on the radar.   

 

Just checked out your astrobin pages, I think you make it clear ZWO is actually on par or better, it's just that up until now no serious AP imagers have used this camera ... you have proven these cmos camera's are on par ...

What kind of site where the pictures taken, my guess it's pretty dark ...

/Yves



#23 Joe G

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 01:09 AM

Not that this is completely relevant, but I will point out how businesses work, invest and prosper.  And how this relates to product development and marketing.

 

Consider SBIG, a company many here revere.  I am not trying to disparage the company.  Obviously it has had a huge impact on astrophotography.  Again, I am not trying to minimize the importance of the company.

 

But SBIG was sold to a biotech startup in 2011 named Aplegen.  Supposedly Aplegen was going to use SBIG's technology for gel document readers.  Not sure if anything came of this, but Aplegen sold SBIG to Diffraction Limited in 2014.  Diffraction Limited is the owner of Maxim DL.  It is fairly rare for a software company to buy a hardware company.  The margins in software usually are much higher and less capital intensive.  But that's what happened.

 

Consider Kodak and film.  Kodak realized that their film business was going to be impacted by digital cameras.  So they started a digital division to develop CCDs to help transition to the digital age.  It is very rare for companies to successfully manage these types of transitions, largely because they are tied to their legacy cash cow businesses.  So Kodak tried to manage their film business by keeping prices high which did nothing but further the transition to digital.  Wall Street recognized this.  Many analysts' thought that Kodak and Fuji could maintain profitability for some time as the transition took effect.  In reality, once the tipping point was hit it happened very quickly.

 

But Kodak had their sensor business which many thought was worth a decent amount of money.  After the bankruptcy, Kodak sold their sensor business to Platinum Equity in 2011 for an undisclosed price.  Platinum Equity is a private equity firm that buys distressed companies to fix and flip.  My guess is that they are not focused on product development. 

 

I think Platinum equity renamed the business Truesense.  Truesense's revenues in 2013 were approximately $73 million.  In 2014, On Semiconductor purchased Truesense for approximately $92 million in cash.

 

I point this out because I think it sheds light on how these companies think and compete in this market.  My guess (again a guess, I know nothing specific) is that SBIG read the writing on the wall and realized that their market niche is small and was under attack.  Likely the company was shopped around and sold as described.  Usually under these situations, R&D is not a top priority.  Often, companies in these situations will try to milk their current business and are not interested in developing new products that will cannibalize their existing businesses.

 

Likewise, Kodak's sensor business was small and flipped to parties that might not have had R&D as their top priority.

 

So, given this, it seems to me that it is not surprising that ZWO has been at the forefront of disrupting this market.  They are new and have nothing to lose by disrupting the margins of the established players.  It is entirely predictable that the established players have not wanted to cannibalize their higher margined legacy products.

 

Just something to think about when you think that the "established" companies are here to develop and prosper.


Edited by Joe G, 03 May 2016 - 01:20 AM.

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#24 A. Viegas

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 07:56 AM

A good example of disruptive pricing and technology just happened in video astronomy about 18 months ago...

 

Prior to 2014, there was a dominant player in video astronomy.  A small company with a very good brand image that had pioneered the conversion of a security camera to the top-of-the-line astronomy video camera.  Nobody knows the margins, but it was probably 100% or more for this company. For over five years nobody competed much with them and they prospered but really did not innovate much.  Then a small startup came, with a cheapo chinese import security camera that was retofitted for video astronomy.  The price differential was 10:1   yes...   it was 10% of the price of the former super-star product.  At this low price many of us jumped on the bandwagon and sure enough it brought out off the woodwork plenty of new innovation across not just new hardware vendors jumping into video (now called "EAA" astronomy) but even more importantly it spurred a massive wave of software innovation.  This did not require hundreds of developers or new companies.. nope... just a few... less than a dozen.   And today, we are choosing from not just one vendor, but over a dozen.  We have better equipment at lower prices with greater reach and results than ever before.   All it takes sometimes is a new disrupter to come into the market...  and then  *bam!*  and its a Brave New World!  

Al


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#25 pbunn

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Posted 03 May 2016 - 09:40 AM

"If the new ASI lives up to the promise your QSI and other 8300 based CCDs will all be on the used market for 25% of 2015 list price.  :lol:"

 

Sure it will if that happens. That's technology. But the ZWO 1600 won't put it there. It will be the new QSI or SBIG or Moravian CMOS based camera. If you really think that ZWO will take over the astronomy camera business, because of this new camera - then you are a bit star struck with ZWO.

 

ZWO has a  a market in making cheapl small chip guiding and planetary cameras. They have a niche. They used Sony small chips that perform well. They are not a company that will take over the market now held by the quality camera manufacturers. The quality builders almost certainly have the 1600 chip in prototypes in the lab now. They will take the new technology as it comes and make great cameras with it that have superior software and cooling just like they do now. They are not married to CCD.

 

I really don't see what all the hoopla is all about - The new technology is a Masushita breakthrough - certainly not a  ZWO break through.  They have just jumped into making a 1600 product. If it turns out that the present 1600 technology is not as good as reported with amp glow and other problems then Masushita or Sony will make a better product in the future. 

 

Disruptive pricing?  short lived - And can be fatal. Let someone take the new chip and put it out there for testing. If it is a hit - package it better and write better software and use your hard earned trademark and reputation to build a sucessful product. If it fails  - do something else better. 

 

A new chip is released for anyone to build a product with it.  No chip is engineered or released for the astrophotography  community. Chips are released and targeted for DSLRs for the most part and scientific imaging. The astro manufacturing community takes what will work for them. The quality of the product is in packaging of what works and making it usable. The innovation is done by the chip manufacturers. Camera manufacturers are packagers and software writers.


Edited by pbunn, 03 May 2016 - 09:50 AM.



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