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Would you recommend this ASI1600MM Pro package to a beginner?

astrophotography beginner dso equipment imaging CMOS
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#1 Pedram

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 05:15 PM

Hi everyone!

 

I'll get right to the question first! I'm thinking of getting a dedicated camera for DSO astrophotography and ZWO cameras are on sale. I was wondering if you guys would recommend this ZWO kit (which is priced at $1,800 USD):

 

ASI1600MM Pro Astronomy Camera
36mm 7 hole Electronic Filter Wheel
36mm LRGB Filter Set
36mm 7nm Narrowband Filter Ha OIII SII

 

Now to provide a little bit more context, I received my Espirit 100ED, SW EQ6-R, and Orion Magnificent Mini AutoGuider package (StarShoot Autoguider + a 50mm guide scope) last week. I live in central Edmonton with a Bortle class 8-9 sky and I'm hoping to shoot mostly from my balcony. It might be worth mentioning that I have a south-facing apartment with an around 110° (RA) view. My west and east horizons are blocked by buildings to around 15° (DEC) and above that my view expands to around 140°. Because of this situation, I'm not sure how close I can get to an accurate polar alignment using the drift method and I haven't been able to test it as we haven't had a clear night over the past week. So, I'm not sure how long the exposures could be just yet.

 

I don't mind spending more money to be able to do future upgrades. So the filters and the filer wheel seem fine to me. My main question is about the camera. Are there any better alternatives in a similar price range you'd recommend? Are any newer models coming any time soon that might be worth the wait? I have a Canon 40D(unmodified) that I could use for now. Or should I just pull the trigger?

 

Also, has anyone ordered any equipment directly from ZWO's website?

 

Thanks,
Pedram


Edited by Pedram, 08 December 2019 - 07:21 PM.


#2 happylimpet

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 05:22 PM

Ive bought directly from ZWO (am in the UK) with no problems.

 

I dotn think you'll have any problems polar aligning using the drift method.

 

Its a very capable package. Looks like a good choice, though i wouldnt like to say whether its the very best for your scope. I use an ASI1600MM at 1095mm FL with A 12" newt and I am extremely happy. Had the camera since 2016 I think.



#3 Pedram

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 05:42 PM

Ive bought directly from ZWO (am in the UK) with no problems.

 

I dotn think you'll have any problems polar aligning using the drift method.

 

Its a very capable package. Looks like a good choice, though i wouldnt like to say whether its the very best for your scope. I use an ASI1600MM at 1095mm FL with A 12" newt and I am extremely happy. Had the camera since 2016 I think.

 

Thank you! Very reassuring information! I might have to do more research to make sure the camera and my scope are a good match.

 

P.S: lovely gallery by the way!


Edited by Pedram, 08 December 2019 - 05:43 PM.

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#4 J Davis

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 07:03 PM

I use the 1600 with a 102,  I am happy with results.  I am a total newbie but I like how the images are turning out.

M31

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#5 Stelios

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 09:47 PM

The Esprit 100ED has 550mm F/L. That gives you an image scale of 1.42"/px with the ASI1600MM which is a very good match.

 

However--if you are really a beginner, please start with the DSLR. The mono cameras complicate acquisition (because of the multiple filters and required separate flats and refocusing) and processing (need to properly calibrate each filter's lights with its flats, then combine images that may not be a perfect match star-bloat and SNR-wise). At least you will know how to take calibration frames and how to process and stretch. 

 

After you have 5-10 images under your belt with the DSLR, now would be the time to upgrade.


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#6 fewayne

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 10:17 PM

Calculator for image scale is at astronomy.tools if you want to plug in other cameras' specifications. Usually you want something like half the average seeing for your site, so if your seeing averages 3", 1.42"/pixel should be pretty close.

 

Stelios isn't giving you bad advice about starting with a DSLR. At all! I will say that if you're in bright city lights, another really viable option is to start with monochrome H-alpha imaging. The narrow bandpass defeats much of the light pollution, and there's only one color channel to work with. If you go ahead with the ZWO kit, that's what I recommend you start with. Same goal from both our advice: Keep it simple to start, it's challenging enough to begin with even so. (Use darks, flats, and bias or dark flat frames right from the get-go, though. Future You will thank Current You.)

 

This Elephant's Trunk was shot near my house in a red zone, probably Bortle 7, with a ZWO ASI183MM-Pro and their 1.25" 12nm H-a filter.

 

This Veil Nebula was shot under bright parking-lot lights nearby, Bog only knows what Bortle would rate it. Same ZWO filter series, this one included O-III too.

 

Neither is going to be in the running for Astronomy Picture of the Day anytime soon, but both show something of what's achievable by a relative n00b in conditions not too dissimilar to yours, with equipment somewhat like what you're contemplating.

 

(PS: One obvious disadvantage to starting narrowband is the longer sub-exposure times through the dimmer filters require more savvy with your mount, autoguiding, and the like. But don't let that stop you: Both of these images were done with autoguiding broken for my gear, so I was doing 60-seconds subs!)


Edited by fewayne, 08 December 2019 - 10:21 PM.

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#7 NuclearRoy

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 12:52 PM

I started with a DSLR (unmodified) and Nikon lenses on an AstroTrac last April.

Quickly realized the AstroTrac wasn't actually a mount for DSOs.

Added a CEM60.

Then got the same ASI1600MM-PRO kit, you are looking at, to use with 77/300mm and 150/600mm f/4 Nikon lenses. With teleconverters that covers focal lengths from 300mm to 1020mm.

I agree with fewayne, NB imaging from bright suburban skies is amazing. I expect even more helpful from the city. Start with just H-alpha.

 

I found the ZWO filters to be fine, except maybe for the halos from the O-III. Which really didn't bother me much.

For the kit price, they can't be beat.

 

One thing I did find out later is that I didn't need the larger 36mm filters. The very short backfocus of the 1600 doesn't require them. https://astronomy.to...ccd_filter_size

Of course there's nothing 'wrong' with larger filters, except they cost more.

I ordered from HighPoint Scientific.

 

Very happy with the ZWO 1600.


Edited by NuclearRoy, 09 December 2019 - 01:04 PM.

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#8 bobzeq25

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 01:58 PM

I'm going to slightly disagree with my friend Stelios.

 

A great way to start out wold be with that camera, Ha, and black and white.  You can learn a great deal, and add color to your arsenal later.

 

DSLRs are a good low cost way to start, but they are not easier.


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#9 Pedram

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 02:41 PM

I use the 1600 with a 102,  I am happy with results.  I am a total newbie but I like how the images are turning out.

Gorgeous shot!

 

The Esprit 100ED has 550mm F/L. That gives you an image scale of 1.42"/px with the ASI1600MM which is a very good match.

 

However--if you are really a beginner, please start with the DSLR. The mono cameras complicate acquisition (because of the multiple filters and required separate flats and refocusing) and processing (need to properly calibrate each filter's lights with its flats, then combine images that may not be a perfect match star-bloat and SNR-wise). At least you will know how to take calibration frames and how to process and stretch. 

 

After you have 5-10 images under your belt with the DSLR, now would be the time to upgrade.

Thanks for your input. I have a little bit of experience with stacking but I still have a long way to go. The complication is a challenge I'm willing to take on.

 

Calculator for image scale is at astronomy.tools if you want to plug in other cameras' specifications. Usually you want something like half the average seeing for your site, so if your seeing averages 3", 1.42"/pixel should be pretty close.

 

Stelios isn't giving you bad advice about starting with a DSLR. At all! I will say that if you're in bright city lights, another really viable option is to start with monochrome H-alpha imaging. The narrow bandpass defeats much of the light pollution, and there's only one color channel to work with. If you go ahead with the ZWO kit, that's what I recommend you start with. Same goal from both our advice: Keep it simple to start, it's challenging enough to begin with even so. (Use darks, flats, and bias or dark flat frames right from the get-go, though. Future You will thank Current You.)

 

This Elephant's Trunk was shot near my house in a red zone, probably Bortle 7, with a ZWO ASI183MM-Pro and their 1.25" 12nm H-a filter.

 

This Veil Nebula was shot under bright parking-lot lights nearby, Bog only knows what Bortle would rate it. Same ZWO filter series, this one included O-III too.

 

Neither is going to be in the running for Astronomy Picture of the Day anytime soon, but both show something of what's achievable by a relative n00b in conditions not too dissimilar to yours, with equipment somewhat like what you're contemplating.

 

(PS: One obvious disadvantage to starting narrowband is the longer sub-exposure times through the dimmer filters require more savvy with your mount, autoguiding, and the like. But don't let that stop you: Both of these images were done with autoguiding broken for my gear, so I was doing 60-seconds subs!)

Beautiful shots! Starting simple is a really good advice and I like the idea of starting monochrome Ha imaging.

 

I started with a DSLR (unmodified) and Nikon lenses on an AstroTrac last April.

Quickly realized the AstroTrac wasn't actually a mount for DSOs.

Added a CEM60.

Then got the same ASI1600MM-PRO kit, you are looking at, to use with 77/300mm and 150/600mm f/4 Nikon lenses. With teleconverters that covers focal lengths from 300mm to 1020mm.

I agree with fewayne, NB imaging from bright suburban skies is amazing. I expect even more helpful from the city. Start with just H-alpha.

 

I found the ZWO filters to be fine, except maybe for the halos from the O-III. Which really didn't bother me much.

For the kit price, they can't be beat.

 

One thing I did find out later is that I didn't need the larger 36mm filters. The very short backfocus of the 1600 doesn't require them. https://astronomy.to...ccd_filter_size

Of course there's nothing 'wrong' with larger filters, except they cost more.

I ordered from HighPoint Scientific.

 

Very happy with the ZWO 1600.

Thanks for the input. Very reassuring smile.gif (PS: I wish HighPoint Scientific was shipping this to Canada)

 

I'm going to slightly disagree with my friend Stelios.

 

A great way to start out wold be with that camera, Ha, and black and white.  You can learn a great deal, and add color to your arsenal later.

 

DSLRs are a good low cost way to start, but they are not easier.

Thanks! I really like the idea of starting with monochrome.


Edited by Pedram, 09 December 2019 - 02:51 PM.


#10 Pedram

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 02:43 PM

Thanks everyone. Based on the replies, I'm confident this kit is a good choice even though using it would be challenging at the beginning. I decided to make the purchase but unfortunately it's gone out of stock today! frown.gif


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#11 fewayne

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 04:38 PM

Aw MAN! Ain't that the way, though?

 

I've always been very excited at colorful astrophotos and thought of mono Ha as just something I could look at while I was collecting data at other wavelengths to make a color image. And then I looked at it...and looked at it...and pretty soon I was back to my black-and-white photojournalism roots muttering "why'd I ever take up with that color stuff, anyway?" :-)


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#12 Swordfishy

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 04:54 PM

I just went mono. Zero regrets. I am happily snapping away in Ha for now, until the moon goes down and I can try RGB. Ha brings so much detail it is crazy. The images with much less integration time stand on their own.


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#13 fewayne

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 08:48 PM

BTW the way ZWO sets up their cameras, with the parts they deliver you don't even need to have the filter wheel mounted or talking to your computer to get started. You can, if you like, just screw it into a holder that screws onto the camera.

Admittedly, it is harder to focus, find your target (with or without plate solving), and frame it if you've got an H-a filter in the way, since it passes so much less light. But if I can manage all those things, you can too.


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#14 cfosterstars

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 10:55 PM

I'm going to slightly disagree with my friend Stelios.

 

A great way to start out wold be with that camera, Ha, and black and white.  You can learn a great deal, and add color to your arsenal later.

 

DSLRs are a good low cost way to start, but they are not easier.

I have three ASI1600MM-Cool/Pro cameras - needless to say - I like them and I think they are a great value for the money. As Stellos states, multi filter processing is more of a challenge than a DLSR, but not that much. I agree with Bob. You can always learn with mono and Ha. It is really cool.

 

Here is my horsehead/flame nebula in Ha:

 

https://www.astrobin...vdnv3n/?nc=user

 

The other consideration is that at Bortle 8-9, LRGB with any camera it a challenge due to the LP anyway. Nb is the alternative and it is really fun. I am Bortle 5 and still to a lot of narrowband. I think you made a fine choice. If you have processing challenges - and you will - I would be happy to help.


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#15 Pedram

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Posted 11 December 2019 - 03:31 AM

Aw MAN! Ain't that the way, though?

 

I've always been very excited at colorful astrophotos and thought of mono Ha as just something I could look at while I was collecting data at other wavelengths to make a color image. And then I looked at it...and looked at it...and pretty soon I was back to my black-and-white photojournalism roots muttering "why'd I ever take up with that color stuff, anyway?" :-)

 

BTW the way ZWO sets up their cameras, with the parts they deliver you don't even need to have the filter wheel mounted or talking to your computer to get started. You can, if you like, just screw it into a holder that screws onto the camera.

Admittedly, it is harder to focus, find your target (with or without plate solving), and frame it if you've got an H-a filter in the way, since it passes so much less light. But if I can manage all those things, you can too.

 

It'd be an exciting start! Can't wait! Great to know I don't have to setup the filter wheel right off the bat.

 

 

I just went mono. Zero regrets. I am happily snapping away in Ha for now, until the moon goes down and I can try RGB. Ha brings so much detail it is crazy. The images with much less integration time stand on their own.

Can't wait to start doing the same thing!

 

I have three ASI1600MM-Cool/Pro cameras - needless to say - I like them and I think they are a great value for the money. As Stellos states, multi filter processing is more of a challenge than a DLSR, but not that much. I agree with Bob. You can always learn with mono and Ha. It is really cool.

 

Here is my horsehead/flame nebula in Ha:

 

https://www.astrobin...vdnv3n/?nc=user

 

The other consideration is that at Bortle 8-9, LRGB with any camera it a challenge due to the LP anyway. Nb is the alternative and it is really fun. I am Bortle 5 and still to a lot of narrowband. I think you made a fine choice. If you have processing challenges - and you will - I would be happy to help.

Hands down, one of the most beautiful images of horsehead I've ever seen!

 

Starting with mono and Ha is a fantastic idea. I think that's what I'm gonna do. And thank you for offering to help. I'll take you up on that




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