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Help Choosing My Next Camera

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#1 Tom Thayer

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:16 PM

Hi All,

 

I have been astro imaging for about three years now.  I currently have a Sky-Watcher Evostar Black Diamond 100mm (4") ED APO Refractor and a Canon T5i.  Using Starry Night Pro, phd2 guiding, Backyard EOS, and Astrotortilla.  I have been getting really nice results but I am now ready to go to the next level.  With that in mind, what camera would you recommend?  Budget is not an issue at this point in time but I don't want to go crazy and spend a stupid amount of money.  I know we get to a point where there is small gains for large bucks.

 

Any input would be appreciated.

 

Cheers



#2 bobzeq25

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:31 PM

Hi All,

 

I have been astro imaging for about three years now.  I currently have a Sky-Watcher Evostar Black Diamond 100mm (4") ED APO Refractor and a Canon T5i.  Using Starry Night Pro, phd2 guiding, Backyard EOS, and Astrotortilla.  I have been getting really nice results but I am now ready to go to the next level.  With that in mind, what camera would you recommend?  Budget is not an issue at this point in time but I don't want to go crazy and spend a stupid amount of money.  I know we get to a point where there is small gains for large bucks.

 

Any input would be appreciated.

 

Cheers

There are three obvious choices.   Listed in increasing degree of improvement.  All pass your test for significant improvement for the money.

 

A Nikon D5300 would be a significant improvement.  More dynamic range, less noise, more sensitivity.

 

The next step up is a cooled CMOS one shot color camera, like an ASI1600MC (there are options).

 

The best quality alternative is a mono camera plus filters.  It gathers data faster because all the pixels are working all the time.  A serious advantage.  It opens up the possibilities of narrowband imaging.  It's expensive (you need filters and a filter wheel), and somewhat complicated.  Still, the clear choice of most of the best imagers.

 

Within the last two categories there are many choices.  It's fairly clear that the D5300 is the best bang for the buck DSLR these days.


Edited by bobzeq25, 13 September 2017 - 05:34 PM.

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#3 SDTopensied

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:39 PM

Another perspective...

 

I had an "astro modified" Canon T3i that I enjoyed imaging with very much.

 

Then I stepped up to a Central DS CD-600 cooled DSLR that I enjoyed even more.

 

Then I stepped up to a ZWO ASI-1600MMC, also cooled and a sensor that's in roughly the same neighborhood, but it's monochrome rather than color, and I'm not enjoying it all that terribly much.  I'm finding that I really don't like narrowband imaging as much as I thought I would.

 

Your next step up might be a cooled DSLR.  Something to consider when weighing your options for an upgrade path.

 

www.centralds.com

 

-Steve


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#4 bobzeq25

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:37 PM

Another perspective...

 

I had an "astro modified" Canon T3i that I enjoyed imaging with very much.

 

Then I stepped up to a Central DS CD-600 cooled DSLR that I enjoyed even more.

 

Then I stepped up to a ZWO ASI-1600MMC, also cooled and a sensor that's in roughly the same neighborhood, but it's monochrome rather than color, and I'm not enjoying it all that terribly much.  I'm finding that I really don't like narrowband imaging as much as I thought I would.

 

Your next step up might be a cooled DSLR.  Something to consider when weighing your options for an upgrade path.

 

www.centralds.com

 

-Steve

Can't imagine why anyone would spend that amount of money for a custom cooled DSLR, when you can get a cooled one shot color CMOS or CCD for less.  APS-C chips are available.  I suppose if you just had to have a full frame chip.


Edited by bobzeq25, 13 September 2017 - 06:39 PM.


#5 donlism

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:47 PM

Pulling the sensor out of the camera, putting it in a cooler, and then hooking it back up to the camera...  is it just me, or does this seem like a lot of work compared to a simple CMOS camera?  It seems like the same essential architecture, plus a bunch of camera goo you probably don't need.  Maybe it's a philosophical difference, so I don't want to seem disrespectful of other's views.

 

And Steve, maybe your dislike for the 1600 has more to do with mono and filters than with the camera itself?  In other words... can you speculate how you might have liked it if it was a one-shot-color camera instead of the mono version?



#6 Tom Thayer

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:40 PM

Wow, thanks all.  You have given me some real food for thought here.  Clearly I need to spend some time researching this.  I like my DSLR because of the simplicity of it but going to something other than a Nikon of Canon would mean I would need to use and learn another piece of software.  This is okay but the only other piece of software I have any experience with is Maxim DL.  I am assuming it will work fine with bot the CMOS and CCD camera's, correct?  Is there other software you would recommend to use should I go the CMOS or CCD route?



#7 SDTopensied

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:56 PM

Pulling the sensor out of the camera, putting it in a cooler, and then hooking it back up to the camera...  is it just me, or does this seem like a lot of work compared to a simple CMOS camera?  It seems like the same essential architecture, plus a bunch of camera goo you probably don't need.  Maybe it's a philosophical difference, so I don't want to seem disrespectful of other's views.

 

And Steve, maybe your dislike for the 1600 has more to do with mono and filters than with the camera itself?  In other words... can you speculate how you might have liked it if it was a one-shot-color camera instead of the mono version?

 

I didn't do any of the work...this is a product produced by Central DS, with, in my case, a T3i as the starting point.  It's a very well done implementation that produces great results out of the box with no tinkering, fiddling, hacking, etc.

 

I'm not crazy about narrowband imaging in general because of the additional hardware and moving parts involved, as well as the additional processing steps involved.  Purely a matter of personal preference.  Kudos to the folks who are doing it.

 

There are also specifics about the 1600 that I dislike. 
Buggy drivers, although much of this has been remedied to date
Doesn't connect to a Mac Virtual Machine (VMWare or Parallels)
SGP - Not a fault of the 1600 entirely but closely related to the drivers.  SGP is the most reliable/comprehensive software out there and it's been a painful road to say the least.
Significantly smaller sensor than my cooled DSLR (CDS 600D) with an APS-C sensor
The onboard USB hub doesn't play well with other USB hubs, requiring a direct connection to my laptop

 

These are my dislikes.  I'm not criticizing the camera or anyone's choice of the camera.  Consider this a list of caveats if you're looking at a 1600 as an upgrade candidate.  Also consider that Sam at ZWO is very responsive.  But, this is not a perfect product and you'll likely do some tinkering for a while.  If you can deal with most of these issues, then you've likely found your camera.

 

This will be my only post specifically about the 1600, to avoid hijacking the OP's thread.

 

I think I'll stick with my cooled DSLR and BackyardEOS.  But...I haven't gotten around to selling my 1600 yet, so I apparently don't dislike it that much! :)

 

-Steve



#8 kyle1234

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:29 PM

I have been using a modified Canon 6D for 2yrs.  I use BackyardEOS for camera control, and PHD for autoguiding.  This setup has worked quite well for me & I'm glad I have it.  The large sensor size of the 6D is advantageous, as well as the pixel size.

 

Going from your T5i to the 6D will be a simple transition to learn - I have a Rebel XT, 6D, 7D, & 5D MkIV and can transition smoothly between them due to similar menu paths and button layouts.

 

As others have mentioned, the ASI 1600 is a good camera.  I have no personal experience with it, so I cannot officially make a recommendation for it.  There are several models, including OSC, Mono, Cooled, & Non-Cooled, so you have several options available to purchase the one that suits your needs.  SGP is supposed to work well, but again I have no personal experience with it so I cannot say for sure.  I am considering selling my 6D to buy an ASI 1600...just need to find a used one in the Classifieds...

 

Also, the 6D has been out for a while, so there are plenty of used ones, and the price is very reasonable.


Edited by kyle1234, 13 September 2017 - 09:05 PM.

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#9 whwang

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:24 PM

Hi,

 

As long as your optics can offer a large flat field, going to a full-frame DSLR is an obvious choice.  Since you say budget is not an issue, I would suggest you to use most of your budget to upgrade your optics, and then get a used 6D or D750 or D810 (depending on which camp you belong to) for astro-modification.  The camera part can be cheap, leaving you sufficient budget for the optics.

 

Unless you usually image in a warm place, cooling may not be the most useful thing.  I typically image in places cooler than 20 degC.  I never cool my DSLRs.  (Check my images to see what uncooled DSLRs can do.)

 

Cheers,

Wei-Hao

 

ps, I know you probably won't like its price tag, but I would still like to say, among all my friends who get a D810A, no one regrets.  It can take decent daylight photos without color-correction filter.


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#10 Darrenlh

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 03:04 PM

For me, I started with a OSC cooled Orion Starshoot Pro camera. After it broke, I went to a Canon DSLR, and now have a Nikon D7200 and have discovered that I really enjoy doing all kinds of photography easily. Aurora's, meteor showers, timelapses and Deep Sky, daytime shots of wildlife and sports and portraits.

 

I really like getting my "money's worth" out of a DSLR. My nighttime temperatures are relatively cool though. I'm really tempted sometimes to purchase a monochrome camera with filters... but it's an awful lot of money to tie up in gear that sees 10 to 30 nights of good seeing every year where I live. I feel like I'm accomplishing more with "less".


Edited by Darrenlh, 14 September 2017 - 03:08 PM.

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#11 jgraham

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 03:19 PM

If you want to stay with a DSLR then a full-frame might be worth considering. Another option to look at is the ZWO ASI071MC. The ZWO uses a cooled, temperature regulated DSLR chip and is a nice progression from a DSLR. I migrated from a full spectrum modified 600D to the ZWO and it was a nice improvement.



#12 jnanof

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 09:50 AM

I just upgraded from the d3200 to the d5300 for a net increase of $205. Just tested a 2 minute dark at 3200 and the result was similar to the darks at ISO 800 plus the noise seems smoother. Now I have the articulating screen, full computer control (though not an issue as I chose to stick with DSLR so I did not have to be tied  to a laptop). I am a beginner but think the quality of my shots is going to improve dramatically. Of course, clouds have moved in for the next week :(


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