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Rate my camera. Can I do better? (Odd (NV) application)

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#1 Not Frogman Ladue

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 09:40 PM

Hello everyone...

 

I have a ongoing rainy day project I've been working on the last 2+ years (as money comes around). It's more of a Night Vision project than actual astronomy project. You guys certainly have more complex cameras than I have. I was hoping for some opinions that may help the performance of my project.

 

Back in the day, I took great pleasure in laying down in the desert with a pair of PVS-14s on, and just staring off into the skies an watching space junk float by, until my eyes burned, and it was time to sleep. I'd like to emulate that with a digital setup, not to mention the added benefit of taking a few still shots or videos of what I see.

 

I currently have a 100% analog 750 setup. My cam specs are as follows;

 

I'm running a Sony Effio-E CXD4140GG cam chip and D5148GG processor on a 1/3" imager. I'm running MTV mount 2.1 MEGA/IR lenses ranging from 12mm, 16mm, and 25mm in handfuls of different apertures. I wanted to stay with low mag/high FOV to emulate the human eye, rather than go for big, big optics that let me see the rings of Saturn. I realize I need to take the jump to C or CS mount lenses, where I can get mechanical apertures and electronic focus.

 

More specs...

 

Signal System  NTSC
Image Sensor  1/3” 960H SONY EXview HAD CCD II
Scanning System  2:1 Interlace
Horizontal Resolution  750TV Lines
Scanning Frequency (H)  15.734 KHz
Scanning Frequency (V)  59.94 Hz
Total Pixels (H x V)  1020 x 508
Effective Pixels (H x V)  976 x 494
Synchronization  Internal
S/N  More than 50dB (AGC: Off)
Gamma  r = 0.45
Min. Illumination  0.1 Lux
Shutter Speed  1/60 ~ 1/100,000sec
Day & Night  Digital Day & Night (Optional)
Day & Night Function  Auto, Color, B/W
Video Output Level  1 Vp-p Composite (75 Ω)
On-Screen Display (OSD)  Built-in (Inner Key / Joystick)
BLC  Off, BLC, HLC
DNR  2D DNR
ATR  On / Off (Level Adjustable)
White Balance  ATW, Push, User1, User2, Anti CR, Manual, Push-lock
Privacy Masking  4 Zones
Mirror  On / Off
Motion Detection  4 Zones
Other Function  Brightness, Contrast, Sharpness, HUE, Gain
Language Option  English, Japanese, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese
Operating Temperature  14 °F ~ 122 °F (-10 °C ~ 50 °C)
Storage Temperature  -4 °F ~ 140 °F  (-20 °C ~ 60 °C)
Humidity  Less than 80% RH
Power Supply  DC 12V (±10%), Max. 70mA
Dimension  1.2 x 1.2 inch (30 x 30 mm)
Weight  0.2 lbs (81 g)

 

I currently have the cam hard wired to a 5" 720, TFT screen, that I was hoping to do a "google cardboard" conversion to. I originally choose this specific camera as it's considered a benchmark cam for NV projects in the Maker world. I'm at the point where I've ran out of resolution on a composite video feed. I'm also getting noise. I need to step up to SDI or HDMI to get in to the nicer cams. The cam has an internal OSD that can be ran through USB, on an RS-485 emulator that allows me to make all the frame rate, and pic adjustments as needed. The RS-485 emulator allow me to control any focus/zoom/aperture controls.

 

In my application, the big difference from you guys is, I'm concerned about live video. You're obviously stacking stills through software. I need to stick to CCD and away from CMOS to avoid "jello picture". From what I understand, I'm at the point where I'm stretching Sony's 1/3" CCD chip to it's maximum. In the Maker/kit basher world, the next step up is the Watec 901/902 series, running on 1/2" CMOS..which has bigger pixel size that grabs more light, but I lose resolution, gain noise, and jello pic.

 

Do you guys have anything else available in your world that would be an upgrade to my setup? I'd like to keep the budget below $600. I don't need color filters, or fancy software, as it's not applicable to my situation.

 

I don't know if this can be done with an astro cam, but in my "less-than-highly-educated-on-the-technology" mind's eye is saying; obtain nice astro cam with better performance that what I have. Machine ocular housing to accept C/CS mount lenses. Set-and-forget software settings via PC, plumb HDMI thru USB feed into a nice pair of personal video googles/tablet/Rasberry Pi. Hook to 12VDC and enjoy.

 

I'm really new at this....how far off am I?

 

I see that Doug Culberston brought up a similar idea here...

 

http://www.cloudynig...-4#entry7324252

 

...I'm trying to avoid the inclusion of a $3000+ PVS unit.



#2 t_image

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 03:20 AM

I think with your limited information you are being tossed about by information that doesn't apply to your situation.

 

I'm running MTV mount 2.1 MEGA/IR lenses ranging from 12mm, 16mm, and 25mm in handfuls of different apertures. I wanted to stay with low mag/high FOV to emulate the human eye, rather than go for big, big optics that let me see the rings of Saturn
I need to stick to CCD and away from CMOS to avoid "jello picture".

What are you shooting? If just the sky or a little of the landscape and sky,
with wide FOV lenses on a tripod you are not going to have to worry about "jello effect."
If you are trying to motorbike offroad through the wilderness in the dark, you may see issues with the rolling shutter of CMOS.
Good filmmakers know how to operate cameras and shoot subjects to avoid the limitations of the equipment.

Forget needing electronic focus for lenses. If you are only looking at the sky, you will need to focus maybe once.

Anyway, it is easy enough to manually adjust in less you are setting up a remote system.

 

I've ran out of resolution on a composite video feed.

I'd like to keep the budget below $600.

 

I'm trying to avoid the inclusion of a $3000+ PVS unit.

 

Your expectations and requirements together are a mismatch.

There are necessarily trade-offs you will have to make to get some of what you want.

CMOS is a way to get sensitive and better resolution on the cheap.

Going to better resolution will quickly exceed your budget.

You best investment will be in the quality of your optics aperture.
Can you specify the aperture of your lenses? f1.8 or brighter?
You took the time to share the camera specs?
The fact you didn't share lens aperture specs probably indicates you aren't aware how important this is in the entire system.
Remember the smaller the aperture(larger f/ value), the more sensitive your camera will have to be.
However, that blows your budget quickly.
Realize that a lens at f/2 is letting in half of the light a lens at f/ 1.4 is letting in. To get the same effect your camera sensor needs to be twice as sensitive with a smaller aperture....
and thus 2.8 is half the light of f/2.0, f/4 is half the light as f/2.8 etc., etc......

You will have more distortion (edges) using lenses wide-open, but to be able to see realtime is a good trade-off.

A dilemma you did not mention is that the larger the sensor pixel, the more sensitive which helps,
but the large pixel can quickly become a resolution mismatch as you use large FOV optics which causes undersampling....

 

If for the most part you are using the system real-time, many of the defects of rolling shutter, resolution mismatch, wide open lens distortion on edges will be less of an issue than if you were trying to produce a professional piece of work.

 

Again, if people could do such for under $600, don't you think a lot more people would be doing it?

How many realtime (24fps or faster) videos of camera (without image intensifier NV) do you see on youtube of the night sky?

-if you do, it's probably the a7s.

 

When all is said and done, start by throttling back your expectations and saving up $$.

 

Cheers!


Edited by t_image, 23 July 2016 - 03:23 AM.

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#3 OleCuss

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 05:34 AM

There are governmental agencies (with lots of taxpayer money) which would really, really like to have a surveillance system which would give them really good low-light video at 24fps or 30fps.

 

To my knowledge they don't yet have that although I've seen an inkling that maybe there is one system which will.  If that system will actually do that, then just the sensor is going to cost about what some of us might pay for a car (and maybe more) - and then you have to get optics to match and that may cost as much or more.

 

On the amateur astronomy side I'd agree that the a7S probably comes the closest to doing what you want.  I'd really like to have one but the cost is a significant deterrent and I don't like that it has star-eater technology.



#4 A. Viegas

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 06:12 AM

I would suggest you prioritize you needs.   If you are looking to continue to do very wide field analog imaging you are just not going to be able to get away from the basic 960H type 1/3" chips, if you move up to a 1/2" ccd chip like the old Mallincam venerable imx418 you are still limited to basically 640x480.   The only way to get more pixels is to go CMOS... and if you go CMOS you will need a computer...

 

But the good news is this, you can get I think what you want if you go CMOS and use a cheap laptop, and you can probably do this for under your budget of $600..   Matter of fact here is an example of someone else doing exactly I think what you are looking to do with a raspberry pi and CMOS camera (under $600 all in!)

https://www.youtube....h?v=9loeOtrx34Y

 

Good luck!
Al



#5 t_image

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 12:32 PM

FWIW here's some realtime 30fps video of meteors I caught the other night with Sony a7s and 85mm f/1.5 lens.

ISO around 20000 and SLOG2. Maxed contrast and tweaked brightness to colorgrade back from SLOG2.

No computer. Just external recording monitor and 32" 4K display.

My recorder constantly records (and saves from 4 seconds previous-when I hit the record button)

So I wait and hit record when I see something cool.

Cheap goto alt-az mount. You can see I was moving the mount in 3 of the times not expecting them!

 

click to enlarge and ctrl + to zoom.

filmed in 4K, cropped to region of interest and 50% reduced for upload

animated GIF of 30fps frames:

mtrs1

Edited by t_image, 23 July 2016 - 12:37 PM.

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#6 Not Frogman Ladue

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Posted 23 July 2016 - 01:16 PM

What are you shooting? If just the sky or a little of the landscape and sky,
with wide FOV lenses on a tripod you are not going to have to worry about "jello effect."
If you are trying to motorbike offroad through the wilderness in the dark, you may see issues with the rolling shutter of CMOS.
Good filmmakers know how to operate cameras and shoot subjects to avoid the limitations of the equipment.

Forget needing electronic focus for lenses. If you are only looking at the sky, you will need to focus maybe once.

Anyway, it is easy enough to manually adjust in less you are setting up a remote system.

 

..a little of both. More sky than landscape.

 

I'm not going to be using a tripod. And, I'm not looking to do motocross anytime soon. :) At best, I'm looking to do a head mount or a hand-held, pistol grip mount. (I'm just trying to emulate the PVS.)  I agree, manual adjustment is easier. I may have the ability for Pi/Android/iOS controlled lens adjustment later in the project. But, it's all hearsay now. I need to figure out the camera situation first, before I start building custom monitor platforms.
 

 

Your expectations and requirements together are a mismatch.

There are necessarily trade-offs you will have to make to get some of what you want.

CMOS is a way to get sensitive and better resolution on the cheap.

Going to better resolution will quickly exceed your budget.

You best investment will be in the quality of your optics aperture.
Can you specify the aperture of your lenses? f1.8 or brighter?
You took the time to share the camera specs?
The fact you didn't share lens aperture specs probably indicates you aren't aware how important this is in the entire system.
Remember the smaller the aperture(larger f/ value), the more sensitive your camera will have to be.
However, that blows your budget quickly.
Realize that a lens at f/2 is letting in half of the light a lens at f/ 1.4 is letting in. To get the same effect your camera sensor needs to be twice as sensitive with a smaller aperture....
and thus 2.8 is half the light of f/2.0, f/4 is half the light as f/2.8 etc., etc......

You will have more distortion (edges) using lenses wide-open, but to be able to see realtime is a good trade-off.

A dilemma you did not mention is that the larger the sensor pixel, the more sensitive which helps,
but the large pixel can quickly become a resolution mismatch as you use large FOV optics which causes undersampling...

 

 

As for the lenses, which I have determined that I followed the failure train, I was running MTV lenses sizes (12mm f/1.4, f/1.6, f/1.8), (16mm f/1.0, f/1.4, f/1.8, f/2.0), and (25mm f/1.4, f/1.8). I was trying to emulate the human eye, and avoid higher magnification....thus the small sizes. (Hey,....it's just a project, experimenting is half the fun.) I found very quickly that MTV is not the way to go. Lens changes include a .2mm grub screw and some fine focusing. It's just a bad platform, and I'm making changes on the next project incarnation. Out of the gate, I could see stars. The moon always seemed white washed. The amount of noise artifacts, prevented me from seeing anything "cool". This was all with the IR filter removed.

 

Again, if people could do such for under $600, don't you think a lot more people would be doing it?

How many realtime (24fps or faster) videos of camera (without image intensifier NV) do you see on youtube of the night sky?

-if you do, it's probably the a7s.

 

Let me rephrase that. $600 is the budget on the camera. I haven't a clue what I'm going to do for a monitor yet. It all depends on the camera variable.

 

As for what I'm seeing on youtube...I couldn't tell you what I'm looking at. I'm new to this. I came from the world of spreadsheets of image sensor specs and reviews. If you wanted something better, you bought the base image sensor/DSP board, added a software or OSD board as needed, and took your choice of lens mounts. CNC'ed or printed a custom housing. Now that I'm looking at finished product astro cams...I'm out of my element. I haven't a clue what to buy, and manufacturers don't necessarily tell you specs on the guts they put in the cams. 



#7 Gvs

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 02:41 AM

Look into Starvis (rolling shutter) or Pregius (global shutter). There maybe other manufactures with similar technology. These are back illuminated sensors. You just might find what you're looking for with them.


Edited by Gvs, 24 July 2016 - 02:42 AM.


#8 t_image

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 12:46 PM

But the good news is this, you can get I think what you want if you go CMOS and use a cheap laptop, and you can probably do this for under your budget of $600.. Matter of fact here is an example of someone else doing exactly I think what you are looking to do with a raspberry pi and CMOS camera (under $600 all in!) https://www.youtube....h?v=9loeOtrx34Y

Except the video is not close to 24fps, which to me reveals that it won't meet low light expectations since to get the the shots in the video stacking and long exposures need to be had.

 

Look into Starvis (rolling shutter) or Pregius (global shutter). There maybe other manufactures with similar technology. These are back illuminated sensors. You just might find what you're looking for with them.

 

yes sensors are out there and closing the gap with the ideal of smaller pixels, low noise, high sensitivity, higher resolutions and global shutter......

 

However if you are looking into a "camera package":

1. budget blown.

2. mostly found in machine imagining applications and to achieve any resolution beyond standard video, you are going to need a system with enough processing and throughput [to achieve at least 30 frames per second] that will take the data and get you a video signal that is portable.......

I'd be impressed if you can do this with a raspberry pi or other home brewed circuitry......

 

There's a bit of a difference between what you were doing with a ccd to standard definition analog video and moving up to higher definition with sensors not packaged into consumer products with friendly output signals. Kindof like hang gliding and rocketry.

 

https://www.raspberr...hp?f=48&t=43141

-question is is anyone doing realtime (30fps or higher video with this?) and with the sensitive sensors?

 

I can imagine some are trying to hack some working proof of concept,

but at the moment you've got your work cut out for you.

 

I would also imagine you would find higher def consumer friendly (for ease of mobility) packages more in the security camera realm,

but for the most part security cameras solve low light issues with fixed lighting (sometimes NIR illumination) or lower framerates.....

 

Maybe meteor hunters:

http://www.amsmeteors.org/cameras/

 

the other two groups that you would expect to be retooling sensitive video cameras for low light work on the cheap are ufo hunters and ghost hunters....

I've no connections here but I haven't wandered upon any applications in that world that are using such that would be comparable for your purposes (as their work would quickly be posted to youtube).....They either have IR illumined shots or use image intensifier night vision.......

 

there is a reason this camera(only 1080HD) cost $30,000 barebones:

https://www.youtube....h?v=yBvKGnr3B1U

https://www.youtube....h?v=7HslR6sljco

 

Here's a quick shot of what I could do with a camera I bought open box at bestbuy for $250 and filter removal modded myself and a T1.5 (read f/1.4) lens:

https://www.youtube....h?v=KJ89rp-TKyA

 

 

HD quality low light is coming.....

I reckon in a few years you'll have it on your cell phone and can just put your cam in your VR viewer headset and have the night sky with and without augmented reality.

 

 

If you find a sweet sensor and hack it for mobility let us know!!!

 

Again the easiest first hacks to seeing the night sky in video is:

find:

a dark sky...

use a lens really, really fast like these:

http://www.slrmagic....-cine-lens.html



#9 Gvs

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 06:27 PM

An ASI290MC (US400),  uv-ir cut filter (< US25),  And a guidescope (<US120) and a laptop that supports USB3.  Will let you see color in the dark at over 60fps.



#10 Not Frogman Ladue

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 07:28 PM

Look into Starvis (rolling shutter) or Pregius (global shutter). There maybe other manufactures with similar technology. These are back illuminated sensors. You just might find what you're looking for with them.

I found Pregius sensors in Basler Ace Python series cams. They appear to cost around $250 USD, and come in a ridiculous amount of options regarding C/BW, Image Sensor, Network Standard. All utilizing Sony's IMX174, IMX249, IMX250, IMX264, IMX252 and IMX265 sensors. Some CMOS, some CCD. I'm still looking for some real life performance comparisons of those sensors.



#11 Not Frogman Ladue

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Posted 25 July 2016 - 08:40 PM

    But the good news is this, you can get I think what you want if you go CMOS and use a cheap laptop, and you can probably do this for under your budget of $600.. Matter of fact here is an example of someone else doing exactly I think what you are looking to do with a raspberry pi and CMOS camera (under $600 all in!) https://www.youtube....h?v=9loeOtrx34Y

 

Except the video is not close to 24fps, which to me reveals that it won't meet low light expectations since to get the the shots in the video stacking and long exposures need to be had.

 

Sorry, I don't know how to multi-quote yet on IP.Boards. Got a better link for that? I can't click it on my end.

 

However if you are looking into a "camera package":

1. budget blown.

2. mostly found in machine imagining applications and to achieve any resolution beyond standard video, you are going to need a system with enough processing and throughput [to achieve at least 30 frames per second] that will take the data and get you a video signal that is portable.......

I'd be impressed if you can do this with a raspberry pi or other home brewed circuitry......

 

I'm staying away from building a pre-existing kit package. The Ras cam is nothing special at all. It's simply an electro-tinkeror's "Lego block add-on" for RasPi. The Ras cam is a toy at best. Even in a RC, FPV application, it's junk.

 

I'm keeping an eye on the Pi base as an option just based on standard stuff comes with HDMI, IP, IPTV, USB, and composite hookups. Add on modules are available for HTMI, and USB3. Stack on processors are available to handle high network speeds. Granted, I'm not trying to make a home built laptop/tablet off of RasPi..but, I'm keeping the technology in the back of my head for the moment. Too boot, the Ras touch screen isn't the greatest (when comparing to a smart phone or tablet), but it does offer extensively more software options.

 

I've been watching a number of other world tinkeror's doing similar stuff. In regards of trying to dump cam feeds into tablet or phone devices. I've seen proof of concepts or built, blue tooth, micro WiFi, and RC, FPV RF based RX/TX stuff. All have latency issues and signal degration. I think I own one of everything EzCap TV makes, hacked and modded, sitting in a cigar box, collecting dust on the shelf. Nothing beats an network quite like a few pieces of wire between the cam and monitor.

 

I'm looking at the feasibility of iOS/Android smart phone, and tablet based hookup. The guys in the NV world, the RC Airplane FPV world say it won't work based on lack of video input drivers. In the year, a number of apps came out that will support web cam input. The Drone FPV guys seem to really be pushing the tech the hardest. Allegedly, a number of the "Art Tablets" that support a stylus out put (USB, HDMI) are capable of handling higher-po camera input feeds, and have the processor capacity to handle it. 

 

Pipe dream proof of concept at this point is "B-list" astro cam, good tablet, and a cord between the two. Set cam settings on laptop, save. Enjoy cam, cable, tablet in field application. Throw a beach chair, a stiff Long-Island Ice Tea, and some Pink Floyd into the equation, and I gots me a nice evening in the back yard.

 

There's a bit of a difference between what you were doing with a ccd to standard definition analog video and moving up to higher definition with sensors not packaged into consumer products with friendly output signals. Kindof like hang gliding and rocketry.

https://www.raspberr...hp?f=48&t=43141
-question is is anyone doing realtime (30fps or higher video with this?) and with the sensitive sensors?

 

 

Agreed, analog and HD are apples to oranges. It was convenient in my early experiments to run a high quality "dumb analog" cam, strait into a high quality "dumb analog" monitor, hook up a 9v and start looking at stuff in the dark.

 

 

 

I can imagine some are trying to hack some working proof of concept,

but at the moment you've got your work cut out for you.

 

Yes'sir....that's why I'm here.

 

 

I would also imagine you would find higher def consumer friendly (for ease of mobility) packages more in the security camera realm,

but for the most part security cameras solve low light issues with fixed lighting (sometimes NIR illumination) or lower framerates.....

 

That's where I started. I got into the Hi-po analog stuff and dropped dead on performance. There is certainly some "technology iron wall" between true 720 analog and true 1080 HD.

 

the other two groups that you would expect to be retooling sensitive video cameras for low light work on the cheap are ufo hunters and ghost hunters....

I've no connections here but I haven't wandered upon any applications in that world that are using such that would be comparable for your purposes (as their work would quickly be posted to youtube).....They either have IR illumined shots or use image intensifier night vision.......

 

I currently have the ghost hunter's "Rolls-Royce" of cameras. It's ridiculous sensitive in the 800-900nm spectrum, and drops dead beyond 1000nm. Call me greedy, but I want better.

 

there is a reason this camera(only 1080HD) cost $30,000 barebones:

https://www.youtube....h?v=yBvKGnr3B1U

https://www.youtube....h?v=7HslR6sljco

 

Here's the "Panty Dropper" the digital NV world is drooling over...

SPI X27

Broad Spectrum Thin Film Array Sensor

http://www.x20.org/w...on_brochure.pdf

https://www.youtube....h?v=hsRkm-YhJGM

 

 

If you find a sweet sensor and hack it for mobility let us know!!!

 

 

If you got a sub $500 budget for a HD TV glasses based, walk around inna woods mobile set up....even better, I got a parts list. :waytogo:



#12 Gvs

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Posted 26 July 2016 - 07:16 AM

Seems that a camera with IMX253LLR/LQR or IMX255LLR/LQR type cmos, will provide better images than the X27, at higher resolutions, faster fps, better ISO equivalent, don't know about how far into the mid infrared it would go. Though at a higher price range than 600.

#13 Not Frogman Ladue

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Posted 26 July 2016 - 07:21 PM

Seems that a camera with IMX253LLR/LQR or IMX255LLR/LQR type cmos, will provide better images than the X27, at higher resolutions, faster fps, better ISO equivalent, don't know about how far into the mid infrared it would go. Though at a higher price range than 600.

 

 

I took a look at those units. What turns me away is the ultra fine pixel size. I've learned with hacking cams for NV purposes, bug sensors with big pixels are better. A larger pixel grabs more light.

 

And, that x27 video was shot at night. The closest equivalent out there for color NV video is using SLR stills and running them through software to create time lapse. Granted, it looks cool. But I need live video which predicates a low light sensitive imager, with a low frame rate that doesn't streak or jello effect. 

 

Got any links for an actually "for sale" camera with the IMX253LLR/LQR or IMX255LLR/LQR sensors?


Edited by Not Frogman Ladue, 26 July 2016 - 07:39 PM.

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#14 t_image

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 01:39 AM

SPI X27 Broad Spectrum Thin Film Array Sensor

http://www.x20.org/w...on_brochure.pdf

https://www.youtube....h?v=hsRkm-YhJGM

Interesting video and camera.

This video:

https://www.youtube....h?v=e5ZQd11z_3Q

gives the same shots as your link but describes the environment settings (ie full Moon on the road in NV with mountains in background)..

I wondered what the Moon conditions were. I went back and looked for shadows (yep) before I found this better detailed info version of the video.

Full Moon=not as impressive.......

No doubt it's nice,

but the Sony a7s can do just as much with a f/.9-f/1.2 lens and high ISO.

No info but it doesn't look like x27 has a global shutter?

A lightning storm would betray either way........

 

Nice that sensors are getting better!

 

Until HDR video is a reality with HDR displays that leverage such,

there gets to be a threshold for low-light where everything gets blown out from the brightest source and the intensification isn't useful anymore except for New Moon starlight only applications (narrow requirement).

I hope this doesn't limit the further development and diversified delivery in the future......

Hopefully ISO highest value terms won't be abused in the consumer level like "digital zoom" on point-and-shoots have become (without labeling the zoom as digital zoom and trying to pass it off as optical by implication)....

example: Nikon D5 high ISO claim:

https://www.youtube....h?v=9JjP7LlMZq0

^ note the a7rii is not the light sensitive version of the Sony (a7s and a7sII are).........

 

Keep us updated!




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