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Unmodified Canon 60D compared to ASI224MC

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#1 garyhawkins

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 11:38 AM

Hi all,

 

As some of you may know I've been building a budget EAA system.  My current setup consists of secondhand AVX mount and ES AR102, Optilong CCD-CLS filter (knocks down the light population and halo'ing with bright stars), unmodified Canon 60D (driven by BackyardEOS), Celestron CPWI, All Sky Plate Solver and Sharpcap Pro.  An i3 laptop deals with the processing, and I have two screens, one for me and one for the audience.  I had the 60D, and the rest has come together for a little over $1000.  Results seems pretty good, but if this setup could be improved at little cost I'd love to hear your thoughts.  

 

One thought I had was using a dedicated imager like a ASI224MC with a cheap focal reducer.  Would this significantly improve the EAA displayed image for compared exposure times?

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary

 



#2 randcpoll

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 12:42 PM

It depends on what you are after. You will gain a lot in object brightness since the QE will be much higher. But you will lose a major amount in terms of field of view. Keep in mind the size of the APS-C sensor is about TWENTY TIMES the size of the 224 chip. So even with a focal reducer your field of view will be quite small compared to what you are used to at present.



#3 SDTopensied

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 12:45 PM

A consideration in addition to the sensor size...

 

A full spectrum camera will always display more than an unmodified DSLR. 

 

Of course, this is an oversimplification of camera comparisons.  But, for this comparison to be valid, I think you should be starting out with a full spectrum modified DSLR if it's within your means.

 

-Steve


Edited by SDTopensied, 18 November 2019 - 12:46 PM.


#4 Rickster

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 06:30 PM

Even though the 224 will give up a lot of field of view to the 60D, you will have enough FOV with the 224 at your focal length (660mm), especially if you use a focal reducer.  I think the main improvement you will get with the 224 is the ability to stream short exposures (0.5 to 2 seconds).  Your audience will like that. At the current prices, I would say that adding a 224 is a no brainer. 



#5 garyhawkins

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 08:12 PM

Thanks for your comments.

 

Regarding FOV, I think the reduction is acceptable for most targets.  Also, using CPWI and plate solving, I'm confident set-up time should be similar even with the reduced FOV.

 

My goal is to display objects with more contrast and signal-to-noise ratio.  If this is possible by going to the ASI224, then as Rickster said, this might be a no brainer.  While it would be nice to have a modified DSLR, I don't see doing the mod myself, and either having it done, or buying a mod'ed DSLR is likely more expensive than the 224. Plus, I use the 60D as a regular camera so I have to think of that as well.

 

Rickster, I was interested in your comment about really short exposures. Currently, I typically use 10sec x 20 subs stacked in SharpCap when talking with the public and the delay, or time taken, doesn't seem to be an issue.  If I can achieve 5-10sec exposures with the 224, won't this allow me to see even more detail in targets?

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary



#6 Howie1

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 09:24 PM

Hi Gary .... you said at little cost ... so buy a second hand 224 and reducer and give it a try. If you see worse images than with the Canon then you should be able to resell at the same price as what you bought it for. If it works out better than the Canon, then either keep using the second hand 224, or sell it to fund a new beaut cooled or whatever ZWO.

 

BTW, this comes in handy ...  the quick way to see the diff in FOV and/or mag with sensors is to simply look up the H (bigger) dimension in mm of the sensor itself.

 

EG ...

224 sensor = 4.8 x 3.6mm ------> take the big number ... 5mm.

Canon sensor = 22.3 x 14.9mm ------> take the big number .... 22mm.

As 22 / 5 is tough to mentally work out (LOL) -----> take 20 / 5 which is 4.

The FOV of the canon is 4 times bigger than the 224 FOV. And the magnification of the cannon is 4 times less than the mag of the 224. 

If you wanted to use a calculator then its 22.3 / 4.8 = 4.65 bigger FOV for the Canon. Or 4.65 times less magnification for the Canon compared to the 224. Still pretty close and the abbreviated one still allows you to work out what the effect will be switching to the 224, and what size reducer might work with it. 

 

Or just use a online FOV calculator to work it all out :)

 

Lastly, re getting modded DSLR ... I've used both for years. Yes, you'll get some more H nebulosity showing .... but you'll introduce a bunch more tweaking of the RBG sliders. Do you want to have to do that tweaking when you are doing your outreach?. Everything in a modded camera image is red-green! At night its like a monochrome image except red-green. EG I've seen heaps of red Tarantula Neb shots by modded camera users thinking it should be red as it's a nebula, but in fact it has heaps of blue-green in it. Do you want to be tweaking the color balance to what you know it should be while your audience waits around? Luckily (for me) DSS has a checkbox to accept the cameras custom white balance (if one is set), so I shoot a digital grey card to set a custom balance and so AstroToaster/DSS images from my modded camera are automatically and beautifully set for me. But I don't know if SC has that ability?

 

And there's many AP'ers who have won awards using unmodded cameras.

 

If you get modded, I think I can quote rick correctly here when in a post I saw him say he bought a box of old second hand DSLR's for cheap. If his shutter breaks or he mods one or gets some  other person to try that online how-to-mod resource and it stuffs up .... meh, it cost peanuts and he grabs another from his bucket of old cheap DSLR's. Something like that! 

 

cheers and best wishes Gary

H



#7 garyhawkins

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Posted 18 November 2019 - 10:17 PM

Hi Gary .... you said at little cost ... so buy a second hand 224 and reducer and give it a try. If you see worse images than with the Canon then you should be able to resell at the same price as what you bought it for. If it works out better than the Canon, then either keep using the second hand 224, or sell it to fund a new beaut cooled or whatever ZWO.

 

BTW, this comes in handy ...  the quick way to see the diff in FOV and/or mag with sensors is to simply look up the H (bigger) dimension in mm of the sensor itself.

 

EG ...

224 sensor = 4.8 x 3.6mm ------> take the big number ... 5mm.

Canon sensor = 22.3 x 14.9mm ------> take the big number .... 22mm.

As 22 / 5 is tough to mentally work out (LOL) -----> take 20 / 5 which is 4.

The FOV of the canon is 4 times bigger than the 224 FOV. And the magnification of the cannon is 4 times less than the mag of the 224. 

If you wanted to use a calculator then its 22.3 / 4.8 = 4.65 bigger FOV for the Canon. Or 4.65 times less magnification for the Canon compared to the 224. Still pretty close and the abbreviated one still allows you to work out what the effect will be switching to the 224, and what size reducer might work with it. 

 

Or just use a online FOV calculator to work it all out smile.gif

 

Lastly, re getting modded DSLR ... I've used both for years. Yes, you'll get some more H nebulosity showing .... but you'll introduce a bunch more tweaking of the RBG sliders. Do you want to have to do that tweaking when you are doing your outreach?. Everything in a modded camera image is red-green! At night its like a monochrome image except red-green. EG I've seen heaps of red Tarantula Neb shots by modded camera users thinking it should be red as it's a nebula, but in fact it has heaps of blue-green in it. Do you want to be tweaking the color balance to what you know it should be while your audience waits around? Luckily (for me) DSS has a checkbox to accept the cameras custom white balance (if one is set), so I shoot a digital grey card to set a custom balance and so AstroToaster/DSS images from my modded camera are automatically and beautifully set for me. But I don't know if SC has that ability?

 

And there's many AP'ers who have won awards using unmodded cameras.

 

If you get modded, I think I can quote rick correctly here when in a post I saw him say he bought a box of old second hand DSLR's for cheap. If his shutter breaks or he mods one or gets some  other person to try that online how-to-mod resource and it stuffs up .... meh, it cost peanuts and he grabs another from his bucket of old cheap DSLR's. Something like that! 

 

cheers and best wishes Gary

H

I browsed your profile after I read your comments, your EAA shots are, quite frankly, outstanding.  That's exactly what I'm trying to achieve. The veil shot with your portable setup is 2 orders of magnitude better than what I achieved with 10 sec subs, stacking 20 or so images.  Yes, I could see the shape but in a bunch of noise, nothing even to compare with your shot.  Looking at my setup (above) what do you think is the missing piece(s)?   Or do I just need more practice with the tools.


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#8 Rickster

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:03 AM

Rickster, I was interested in your comment about really short exposures. Currently, I typically use 10sec x 20 subs stacked in SharpCap when talking with the public and the delay, or time taken, doesn't seem to be an issue.  If I can achieve 5-10sec exposures with the 224, won't this allow me to see even more detail in targets?

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary

I was in a hurry, so that wasn't real clear.  What I was trying to say was that streaming short sub-exposures is great when you are slewing from one object to the next.  It gives a sense of sky travel, which reinforces that what you are doing is different than merely looking up images on the internet or bringing them up from file storage.  It isn't a big deal or necessary.  But I have found that people like it.  After you get to the target you can quickly reset the sub-exposure length to 5 or ten seconds, or whatever you find works best for stacking.  I think you will find that the 224 will work better with shorter exposures than you typically use for your DSLR.

 

As usual, I am in complete agreement with Howie.  We both still like to use DSLRs (modded and unmodded).  As he pointed out, the modded DSLRs only have an advantage for H-alpha nebula (and it is a substantial improvement, btw).  But for most shots, an unmodded DSLR is better.  And he is right, I bought a big box of Canon T3s (1100Ds) for cheap.  IMO, out of fashion DSLRs provide the best bang for the buck.  I love it when good stuff goes out of fashion.  At the price I paid, they are essentially disposable and yet they work great.   Which is a good thing in that although there are great instructions online for modifying them, I did accidentally brick one of mine.  So far be it from me to discourage anyone from getting a second, modded, DSLR.  What-the-heck.  Get both, the 224 and the DSLR.


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#9 Howie1

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 08:02 AM

Thanks for the compliment Gary.

 

I think experience plays a big role. I'm retired and took it up as a hobby to keep the brain working ... so can get out anytime without worrying about work the next day. Plus, I use AstroToaster which allows me to copy the untouched original as-shot frames off to replay at any time. So, I can try out a whole bunch of new workflows and sliders at any time .... I learnt heaps (underline heaps) doing that. But ... I am not suggesting you get astrotoaster (as there's not a lot of help for it), but I am suggesting that you investigate if you can do the same with SharpCap. As it is with most things, the more time you can practise the better. Re-play allows you to practise even when it's cloudy, or daytime.

 

Cheers


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#10 garyhawkins

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 11:59 AM

I was in a hurry, so that wasn't real clear.  What I was trying to say was that streaming short sub-exposures is great when you are slewing from one object to the next.  It gives a sense of sky travel, which reinforces that what you are doing is different than merely looking up images on the internet or bringing them up from file storage.  It isn't a big deal or necessary.  But I have found that people like it.  After you get to the target you can quickly reset the sub-exposure length to 5 or ten seconds, or whatever you find works best for stacking.  I think you will find that the 224 will work better with shorter exposures than you typically use for your DSLR.

Hi Rickster,

 

Now I see what you were getting at about people enjoying the sensation of moving across the sky.

 

In fact, it made me think I could just leave the camera imaging away all the time.  People hear it clicking so know it's imaging, I would get star trails on certain images when slewing between targets, I'd capture many more images of targets as I'm talking to the audience, and further, a quick reset of the stack in SharpCap allows me to start forming the image of the new target once the mount has settled.  The only real inconvenience would be sorting the images afterwards since I typical keep my all image runs.

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary



#11 garyhawkins

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 12:05 PM

Thanks for the compliment Gary.

 

I think experience plays a big role. I'm retired and took it up as a hobby to keep the brain working ... so can get out anytime without worrying about work the next day. Plus, I use AstroToaster which allows me to copy the untouched original as-shot frames off to replay at any time. So, I can try out a whole bunch of new workflows and sliders at any time .... I learnt heaps (underline heaps) doing that. But ... I am not suggesting you get astrotoaster (as there's not a lot of help for it), but I am suggesting that you investigate if you can do the same with SharpCap. As it is with most things, the more time you can practise the better. Re-play allows you to practise even when it's cloudy, or daytime.

 

Cheers

So do you think it's familiarity with the software rather than equipment upgrade that would give me the biggest improvement in image quality?  I have tried Astrotoaster but have struggled with it, compared to the relative simplicity of Sharpcap.  Perhaps, I need to try again LOL.  And, as you said, buying a secondhand 224 and selling it is a low risk option.  These devices seem to find new owners pretty quickly.

 

Another upgrade path might be to replace my AR102 with a 6 inch imaging newt.  This would certainly capture more light.



#12 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 12:15 PM

I browsed your profile after I read your comments, your EAA shots are, quite frankly, outstanding.  That's exactly what I'm trying to achieve. The veil shot with your portable setup is 2 orders of magnitude better than what I achieved with 10 sec subs, stacking 20 or so images.  Yes, I could see the shape but in a bunch of noise, nothing even to compare with your shot.  Looking at my setup (above) what do you think is the missing piece(s)?   Or do I just need more practice with the tools.

As they say Gary "location,location,location". You cannot compare San Diego to Howies Australian dark skies.

 

Steve 



#13 garyhawkins

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:59 PM

Good point, Steve.  I should get the equipment out to the dark sky area two hours east of us to see what difference it makes.

 

As they say Gary "location,location,location". You cannot compare San Diego to Howies Australian dark skies.

 

Steve 


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#14 Howie1

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 07:22 PM

San Diego! .... that's tiny mate!  LOL

 

No offense intended .... Just like you guys, we don't all live in outback dark areas. I'm in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast 140 x 70 mile area. Total population 3.32 million with an annual 17.4 million tourists. I can see zero stars from my 144 townhouse complex just 18km from Brisbane city centre. But EAA is doable from there. See link below to 5 min video ... a single 30 sec frame of Eta Carina which I wasn't happy with (due the LP showing up). I try a blanket between scope and one of the nearby streetlights to minimise that light, and at the end I disconnect the Canon and pan it around my place. Still, Eta Carina came up nicely with that single 30 sec shot. You can see the toaster and camera settings in that vid, but sorry I did not show me adjusting it all from the original dark frame as it came from the camera. 

 

Now, while it was a nice image .... my first shots I ever tried at home were absolute garbage. As per the video I was still experimenting years later with techniques. That was my point earlier Gary ... practising over and over with whatever you'll see huge differences. I see you have tried toaster and had issue. Yup, that's why I say stick with SharpCap and push hard with the Canon or a 224 if you get one. Hopefully there's a replay option.

 

BTW .... great idea Rick and Gary, to leave it snapping frames while slewing so streaks appear and show the movement to the outreach public. We never stop learning hey guys.

 

Link to 5 minute video ... showing me trying that blanket technique for single 30 sec frame. There were no LP filters on the camera BTW.

https://youtu.be/x22Y4gXqdU0

 

LP map of my "dark Aussie skies" LOL ... !!

BrissieLP

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#15 garyhawkins

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 12:27 PM

Hi Howie,

 

We were in your area about 12 years ago - greatly enjoyed our visit.

 

So it's clearly not sky darkness that is the difference, as you indicated most likely tool usage.  I'm saving all my images so I'll go back and practice on them.

 

By the way, I've already watched some of your videos on Youtube.  Thanks for taking the time to show us what you're doing.

 

If you have any other wisdom you can share that would be great.

 

Best regards,

 

Gary

 

San Diego! .... that's tiny mate!  LOL

 

No offense intended .... Just like you guys, we don't all live in outback dark areas. I'm in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast 140 x 70 mile area. Total population 3.32 million with an annual 17.4 million tourists. I can see zero stars from my 144 townhouse complex just 18km from Brisbane city centre. But EAA is doable from there. See link below to 5 min video ... a single 30 sec frame of Eta Carina which I wasn't happy with (due the LP showing up). I try a blanket between scope and one of the nearby streetlights to minimise that light, and at the end I disconnect the Canon and pan it around my place. Still, Eta Carina came up nicely with that single 30 sec shot. You can see the toaster and camera settings in that vid, but sorry I did not show me adjusting it all from the original dark frame as it came from the camera. 

 

Now, while it was a nice image .... my first shots I ever tried at home were absolute garbage. As per the video I was still experimenting years later with techniques. That was my point earlier Gary ... practising over and over with whatever you'll see huge differences. I see you have tried toaster and had issue. Yup, that's why I say stick with SharpCap and push hard with the Canon or a 224 if you get one. Hopefully there's a replay option.

 

BTW .... great idea Rick and Gary, to leave it snapping frames while slewing so streaks appear and show the movement to the outreach public. We never stop learning hey guys.

 

Link to 5 minute video ... showing me trying that blanket technique for single 30 sec frame. There were no LP filters on the camera BTW.

https://youtu.be/x22Y4gXqdU0

 

LP map of my "dark Aussie skies" LOL ... !!


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#16 Howie1

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 09:44 PM

Cheers Gary. 

 

And I visited San Diego about 18 years ago. Back then, one could go onto ships as visitors at the Naval base. But I kinda doubt that's possible now! Although wife and I got in trouble sleeping in the camper overnight in some big carpark overlooking the docks area ... LOL! We drove from Kamloops in Canada right down the West coast, then from San Diego turned East to El Paso, then back North to Nebraska, then hung a left through up badlands and dinosaur country of Wyoming and Montana, and finally flew from Seattle back to San Fransisco then back home to Oz. Somewhere in that trip (it's a bit of a fuzzy memory) we partook in much wine country in Cali. LOL. Loved the trip.

 

regards

H



#17 garyhawkins

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 10:53 AM

Hi Howie,

 

No, the naval base is off limits but you can visit the aircraft carrier, Midway, downtown.

 

Do you save images in RAW, JPEG or some other format?  I'm currently using JPEG small (approx 2500 x 1800) to save storage space. I'm wondering if not using RAW, or similar, is affecting my ability to get better processed images?

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary



#18 garyhawkins

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Posted 23 November 2019 - 01:39 PM

Hi Howie,

 

I've been experimenting with Astrotoaster, and now I've got to grips with the workflow and basic adjustments I'm really pleased with the results.  It's beating what I can achieve with SharpCap hands down.  I'm guessing if I get some good darks and flats, the results are going to be even better.

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary


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#19 Rickster

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Posted 23 November 2019 - 02:22 PM

Hi Howie,

 

I've been experimenting with Astrotoaster, and now I've got to grips with the workflow and basic adjustments I'm really pleased with the results.  It's beating what I can achieve with SharpCap hands down.  I'm guessing if I get some good darks and flats, the results are going to be even better.

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary

I am with you Gary.  Everything I learned about Astrotoaster stemmed from Howie.  (well, almost everything)  Lately I have been spending most of my time with an ASI183MM (mono) because it is my newest toy.  But on those occasions that I have gone back to Astrotoaster, I have gotten a renewed appreciation for it and the workflow outlined by Howie in his videos.  Funny thing is, although he and I both have experimented with, and discussed, other workflows for Astrotoaster, I keep coming back to the original way that he taught me. 

 

For most targets I have found that 30 sec subs, ISO 1600 to 6400 (usually 3200) and small/fine jpg only need gentle  adjustments in AT give very nice stacks with little effort.  And then, on those targets that are difficult, assorted adjustments are available in AT to bring out additional detail.

 

The setup I currently like the most is to have a DSLR/AT stacking subs from the main scope, and an ASI290MM/SC streaming wide field images from a small piggyback scope.  The sensitivity of the mono 290 is amazing.  And I also keep Cartes du Ciel up at the same time.  (Yes, this takes 3 screens, or one very large screen.)  This is an entertaining setup, both for me and for onlookers, because it gives a sense of travel and anticipation as the scope marker (bullseye) travels across the CdC planetarium screen, stars wiz by on the SC widefield screen, the scope stops, a far away image of the target almost immediately appears on the SC screen, and then an up close color image appears on the AT screen after a short delay.  Basically, I am trying to emulate the type of screens that I would want if I were a space pilot.  Yeah, that's me.  Rick the space pilot.  (Well, in my dreams anyway.  Maybe I watched too much Star Trek)


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#20 garyhawkins

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Posted 23 November 2019 - 06:36 PM

Hi Rick,

 

I need to work on my polar alignment to get to 30 sec subs - currently I'm using 10 sec.  I'm using CPWI and CdC in parallel but when I'm imaging from home CPWI ASPA is difficult as I can only see about 90 degrees of the sky.  It's only when I'm in the field with wider horizons will I be able to try ASPA, and hence longer subs.  

 

Clear Skies,

 

Gary

 

 

I am with you Gary.  Everything I learned about Astrotoaster stemmed from Howie.  (well, almost everything)  Lately I have been spending most of my time with an ASI183MM (mono) because it is my newest toy.  But on those occasions that I have gone back to Astrotoaster, I have gotten a renewed appreciation for it and the workflow outlined by Howie in his videos.  Funny thing is, although he and I both have experimented with, and discussed, other workflows for Astrotoaster, I keep coming back to the original way that he taught me. 

 

For most targets I have found that 30 sec subs, ISO 1600 to 6400 (usually 3200) and small/fine jpg only need gentle  adjustments in AT give very nice stacks with little effort.  And then, on those targets that are difficult, assorted adjustments are available in AT to bring out additional detail.

 

The setup I currently like the most is to have a DSLR/AT stacking subs from the main scope, and an ASI290MM/SC streaming wide field images from a small piggyback scope.  The sensitivity of the mono 290 is amazing.  And I also keep Cartes du Ciel up at the same time.  (Yes, this takes 3 screens, or one very large screen.)  This is an entertaining setup, both for me and for onlookers, because it gives a sense of travel and anticipation as the scope marker (bullseye) travels across the CdC planetarium screen, stars wiz by on the SC widefield screen, the scope stops, a far away image of the target almost immediately appears on the SC screen, and then an up close color image appears on the AT screen after a short delay.  Basically, I am trying to emulate the type of screens that I would want if I were a space pilot.  Yeah, that's me.  Rick the space pilot.  (Well, in my dreams anyway.  Maybe I watched too much Star Trek)



#21 garyhawkins

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 12:22 PM

So I tried using Astrotoaster 'live' last night for the first time.  Everything I've done so far has been on already collected images.

 

One thing I noticed was that somethings when I went into 'Full' the image covers the entire screen but unfortunately sometimes I loose the control bar, although color adjustment controls are still there.  The only way I could find last night to get control back was to bring up the Task Manager and delete the running script.  Any thoughts on I can bring this out of Full screen more elegantly?

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary



#22 Rickster

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 01:25 PM

Hi Gary,

I do my polar alignment using Sharpcap with the piggyback 290.  I think you would like a piggyback (290 or 224).  It is very handy for locating targets, polar alignment, plate solving and wide field streaming.  It saves a lot of time. 

 

I haven't used AT live or CWPI, so I am no help there.


Edited by Rickster, 24 November 2019 - 01:25 PM.


#23 Howie1

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 09:13 PM

Hi again Gary, sorry I've been helping someone move house so havent been on the forum. 

 

Glad to hear you're getting good results with your Canon and toaster. Everyones different with some finding it easy with toaster and hard with sharpcap, and other are vice versa.

 

*1 After you packup your nights viewing, always copy the frames in the toaster Monitor folder to another place. Not all the frames ... just the original jpg or cr4 frames from your camera. Then at any time in the future you can start up a new toaster session and copy and paste them into the Monitor folder and practise reprocessing them as many times as you want to learn and hone your settings and use. Very handy to try out different things and learn. Dont drag and drop them into the monitor folder as it will create all the temp files back in your "historic" folder. But by copying and then navigating to the Monitor folder where you paste ... it creates all the temp files in the Monitor folder which is where it should have those temp files.

*2 darks flats etc ... they'll only work in toaster if you shoot RAW. To do them there's a few ways but the best (IMO) is to do the following. EG to do darks (repeat this workflow to do flats, bias, etc)... Set EOS Utilities to save the dark in a folder NOT monitored by toaster. Then drag and drop them into toaster. On dropping them, it will ask if they are darks, bias, flats, etc select darks. You will see them in toasters filelist marked as darks. Check one of the darks as a light, then highlight them all (all darks and the one light) and in the filelist window press the Recalibrate darks button. Even though it says darks, the same button will process bias and flats if you are doing them. Anyway, on pressing it will create a Master dark/flat/bias back in the folder where you saved them from the camera. It will name the Master as Master_Dark_ISO1600_30 or whatever you shoot them at (IE iso1600 30 second) ... think the temp is in that name too (cannot recall). To use that darkframe (bias, flat etc) you simply drag it into the filelist next time you are out in the dark shooting at that iso and secs exposure and it will apply it. To save having to take heaps of darks, the filelist widow also has a Dark Frame Factor setting which is initially 1 ... ie use that darkframe as it was shot. But you can change that 1 to higher or lower numbers to increase/decrease its affect ... so if you find the temp changes during the night vastly different to when you shot them (with our uncooled Canons) you can compensate somewhat by mucking around with the setting until the warm pixels disappear (of most of them). So that saves having to shoot darks at 5 degree temp diffs.

*3 darks - addendum, depending on your model of Canon, Clarkvision says when you see warm pixels appearing do NOT turn the camera off, go into the camera menu and find sensor clean and activate it. It remaps the current bad pixel map marking the new warm pixels from shooting long exp. Do NOT turn of after doing that .... just start shooting again immediately. As if you turn off the camera it resets the bad pixel map back to factory.

*4 flats - the color adjustments window has a Lens gradient slider which does a great job of reducing vignetting. All three gradient sliders (Expand, Lens and Sky) you MUST click the Apply E/G button everytime you make and adjustment. If shooting jpegs though it sometimes blows the image out to look like way over exposed. It isn't and is easy to get around by when you see that effect just reduce the Brightness slider down heaps. It often actually leads to better images when it has the "blown out" moment compared to what you can achieve when it was still unblown. ;)

*5 RAW processing is really easy to do using what I mentioned in *4 above. Namely, when you shoot RAW (ie CR2 for Canon) the first thing you should do is press Auto Expand button in the colour adj window. Boom, you'll see a similarly overblown kind of image. No worries, it is the best way to see vignetting so next just adjust the Lens Grad until you see a evenly grey image instead of the vignetted image. Then, same as I said in *4 above, reduce the brightness slider way down. The image should look pretty darn good right at that point. Further tweakage is up to you. Contrast slider adds heaps of noise so often reducing contrast and then adjust brightess helps reduce noise. And reducing the Exp Grad by just 1 often makes the background darker. And increasing by just 1 makes it brighter but also brings out more details. It is for these few very simple adjustments I have described in this *5 tip for RAW proccessing that I said in *4 tip about the lens gradient often blowing out jpegs .... can actually be a good (bug) .... and why it sometimes leads to better jpegs images than you first got. Because when/if the jpeg blows out, the blown image makes it easy to adjust the lens grad to get rid of vignetting, then drop the brightness, drop contrast and raise brightness correspondingly, then increase or decrease Expand Grad to bring out more detail or darken background. 

*6 Dont forget as above ... if you have copied your raw frames to a historic folder then you can try all the above over and over to test and refine your processing skills at any time. 

 

Oh yeah ... Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic SLR's all have a built in jpeg (ONLY - unfortunately!) MSNR multishot noise reduction setting. Pro photographers use this feature INSTEAD of using the normal noise reduction settings in SLR cameras. Why do they use MSNR? Because it turns off all normal NR settings and actually reduces noise by taking 4 images and stacking them in-camera. It correctly overlays detail on top of the same detail in all frames and as it can actually work hand-held it has very good capability to handle image shifts and derotation etc. It obviously means a 30 sec frame will take 2 minutes before it actually finishes in-camera and sends the single stacked frame to toasters monitor folder ... but it takes only a second or two to do the stacking. IE you can stack jpegs in toaster BTW! So on my system it takes about a minute to process each frame when stacking. So to stack 4 frames it will take 4 minutes just to stack individually using toaster, but MSNR will stack 4 almost instantly. IE 8 frames in toaster with jpegs = 8 minutes to stack, 8 frame with MSNR 1 minute (to stack the second image as first image is effectively stack of 4 and second image also a stack of 4). Faster

 

cheers    



#24 garyhawkins

garyhawkins

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 02:03 PM

Hi Howie,

 

Thanks for your detailed response - no problem on delay.

 

Yes, I keep a record of all my runs.  Not only to practice reprocessing but it also allows me to 'fake' an imaging run if we're doing outreach indoors or I get a mount issue and I've got too many people to talk to while resolving the problem.  I don't like 'faking' a run but it's better than not having anything to show.

 

An unsuccessful afternoon playing with jpg Darks and Flats was kind of leading me to the same conclusion - thanks for confirming this.  And as you said, the Lens Gradient slider does a good job of removing the need for flats.  Thanks for the tip relating to sensor cleaning - I'll try this and see if it works for the 60D.

 

All look into MSNR on the 60D.  Stacking in Astrotoaster is pretty quick for me so long as I shot in small images (~2500 x 1900).  It seemed to get bogged down for large images (~5200 x 3200) the one time I've tried it.  MSNR sounds like it might work well for true 'one shot' (well at least delivered to the laptop) imaging.

 

Clear skies,

 

Gary


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