Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

EAA camera decision - who can help?

beginner EAA SCT equipment
  • Please log in to reply
40 replies to this topic

#1 GazingOli

GazingOli

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Stuttgart GERMANY

Posted 07 April 2020 - 02:44 AM

Morning!

 

I find it quite hard to get a propper idea about the right camera to start with. Big pixels, small pixels, how much resolution ist required? How about color or bw, are bw cameras more sensitive in general?

 

My goal is to make galaxies and nebulae more visible, not astrophotogray. Equipment ist CPC 800 with a Skywatcher ST80 riding on top. So I can use both teleskopes parallel - the ST80 for wider field, gazing through the C8 at the same time or using the C8 for smaller objects.

 

As far as I figured out the following 3 cameras could be fitting for me:

- ATIK Infinity (which I actually borrowed from a friend for testing)

- ZWO ASI174 Mini (bw = more sensitive? double image size)

- Altair GPCAM3 385C (less expensive but how about sensitivity compared to the other two?)

 

All cameras would fit for the C8 with about the same 'field of view'

 

I could keep the Infinity in exchange of 500 EUR which is a fair price I asume. However the ASI174 would have double resolution and the question is, if it is more sensitive and thus the better choice for about the same price (new).

 

Can the Altair 385 compete with the other two for EAA? It would be the most economic choice with even doubel resolution to the Infinity.

 

Who can advise me what to do?

 

CS.Oli


Edited by GazingOli, 07 April 2020 - 02:44 AM.


#2 eyeoftexas

eyeoftexas

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 446
  • Joined: 01 Mar 2019

Posted 07 April 2020 - 04:41 AM

Don’t know what your budget is, but another option is the Atik Horizon II. Larger field of view than the Infinity, and can be operated by the same great Infinity software with stacking.

#3 GazingOli

GazingOli

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Stuttgart GERMANY

Posted 07 April 2020 - 04:53 AM

Horizon II is out of my budget and also IMHO no need for such a resolution for EAA.

 

I would prefer to limit the budget to about 500 EUR for the camera for a start.



#4 Noah4x4

Noah4x4

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,430
  • Joined: 07 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Colchester UK

Posted 07 April 2020 - 04:57 AM

You have stated your aim is "making objects visible" rather than Astrophotography. Hence, EAA is more your bag. 

 

One joy of the Atik Infinity is its dedicated EAA software. You will be enjoying great results at first light, but I guess you have seen that already. I own the Atik Horizon, but my pals all tend to own Atik Infinitys. UK brand, UK quality control, assembled in the European Union. As a resident of Germany, I think this might appeal?

 

I personally don't like Sharpcap favoured by ZWO owners. It has a very steep learning curve because it supports a global range of manufacturers. Atik Infinity (free) software supports only Atik cameras; is developed by Atik's own employees and has control functions dedicated to Atik cameras like easy to use gain presets that are directly coded into the software. You do not have to self-calculate the applicable gain (albeit you can in custom mode). 

 

The Atik infinity has a CCD sensor dedicated to (quote) "video astronomy". You will repeatedly read reports of CCD being superior to CMOS (but I don't want to start that debate!). It retails at £899 new. If you Google it you will see used models more typically seeking £700. Hence, €500 (£442) if in good order is a true bargain.

 

I am not saying that the ZWO 174 or Altair 385 are bad cameras, and good value for their price (new), but one should enquire how the Atik remains popular at £899 which is double their price? The fact the Atik Infinity is standing the test of time, is CCD and still attracting high second hand values suggest many positives. If it is out of warranty, that is a negative (reflected in price), but I have experienced Atik repair support and in Europe it is  great.


  • Maryland Mike and Gary Z like this

#5 GazingOli

GazingOli

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Stuttgart GERMANY

Posted 07 April 2020 - 05:30 AM

Thanks Noah! The ATIK Infinity is as good as new and I am using it already. So the question is indeed whether to buy something unknown instead of something I already have on hand.

 

I understand that you recommend to keep the ATIK and maybe thats a good idea. The main appeal of the alternatives for me was the idea of having a little bit more resolution.



#6 Noah4x4

Noah4x4

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,430
  • Joined: 07 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Colchester UK

Posted 07 April 2020 - 06:28 AM

Thanks Noah! The ATIK Infinity is as good as new and I am using it already. So the question is indeed whether to buy something unknown instead of something I already have on hand.

 

I understand that you recommend to keep the ATIK and maybe thats a good idea. The main appeal of the alternatives for me was the idea of having a little bit more resolution.

I have the (original) Atik Horizon with 16 megapixels. Where that works great is with Hyperstar. Removal of one's secondary mirror means an increase in FOV, but a reduction in magnification. For (perceived) small objects the extra pixels mean I can zoom deeper.  However, if I am brutally honest, there isn't a fat lot of difference between viewing at 4K UHD or at 1080p HD on most popular DSO targets! That is why within your budget I think that the Infinity might well suit you given it is a dedicated EAA camera, and you already know it's capabilities.

 

The trend towards double digit megapixel CMOS cameras does seems to be driven by trends in  terrestrial CMOS cameras rather than any particular need in the astro-market.  A Horizon II plus Hyperstar would also cost you €2,000 and you have already stated that's not within your plans. Frankly, I reckon the ZWO ASI174's (CMOS) at 1,936 x 1,216 won't reveal any more than the Atik Infinity's (CCD), 1,392 x 1,040. Quantum efficiency  and frame rate is more important to (near) live viewing. CCD is generally argued to be more sensitive, and the difference in resolution is trivial (e.g. when compared to the step up to Horizon or ZWO ASI294 or ASI600, where the leap is significant). 

 

Binning (combining adjacent pixels) is also commonly employed to improve signal to noise ratio and the ability to increase frame rate (important for EAA), at the expense of spatial resolution. But frankly, a star comprising ten pixel diameter doesn't look much different from one with three pixels until you apply zoom. Both are just a point of light. When looking at nebula, FOV is often more desirable than resolution. There is an argument that CCD with larger pixels is best. Whilst I have chased resolution and am pleased with its results, I am not convinced resolution offers as much in benefits as it might suggest. Cooling is far more significant, and none of your options are cooled. In summary, the Infinity at €500 looks like a bargain, and the devil you know and are probably already loving. 


  • GazingOli likes this

#7 39.1N84.5W

39.1N84.5W

    He asked for it

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,097
  • Joined: 24 Oct 2006
  • Loc: cincinnati

Posted 12 April 2020 - 09:28 PM

I owned an Atik Infinity and enjoyed it. The software is easy.
However I quickly sold it for the asi294mc and buckled down to learn Sharpcap. It was a steeper learning curve... and it was worth it. The techniques learned I soon transferred to another mono asi1600mm camera and now I can do full moon EAA with a 7nm h-alpha filter.
If you are patient I'd skip the Atik. Just my two pence opinion.
  • Rickster, DSO_Viewer and hbrunet181 like this

#8 GazingOli

GazingOli

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Stuttgart GERMANY

Posted 13 April 2020 - 03:14 AM

I must admit that I was zigzagging for a while what exactly to do.

 

Then I got the chance to buy an ASI120 for a good price, which would give me a very economic start. According to the formula: Image Scale = Pixel Size / Focal Length * 206 this camera should fit the 80/400 very well with a value of 1.93. As recomended range for the Image Scale is between 1 to 2 it should be ok with a slight tendency of undersampling.

 

The first light with the "new" camera was not too bad. Now I have get through the learning process of using SharpCap and how to produce satifying results.


Edited by GazingOli, 13 April 2020 - 03:19 AM.


#9 GazingOli

GazingOli

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Stuttgart GERMANY

Posted 13 April 2020 - 03:18 AM

Here a pic of the setup and two images acquired two nights ago

 

20200411_214406k.jpg

CPC 800 with SkyWatcher 80/400 ontop

 

M104.jpg

M104

 

M057.jpg

M57


Edited by GazingOli, 13 April 2020 - 03:19 AM.

  • Starman27, eros312, roelb and 2 others like this

#10 elrico

elrico

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 175
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2016
  • Loc: West Yorkshire UK

Posted 18 April 2020 - 04:03 AM

I have just replaced my Atik Infinity after approx 3yr use,it is a great Video Astro camera with simple UI & software.

Moved on now to the ZWO asi 533 pro osc using the new ASI studio software which is similar to infinty software in its ease of use, sources from ZWO have indicated that the mentioned studio software will be further developed over time.

Although Sharpcap is a tried and tested software it is not at all easy to master {especially out in the field} and can cause frustration in particular with its stacking glitches, good yes, can be annoying yes also.

eric



#11 39.1N84.5W

39.1N84.5W

    He asked for it

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,097
  • Joined: 24 Oct 2006
  • Loc: cincinnati

Posted 18 April 2020 - 07:14 AM

So the ASI studio software does live stacking?

#12 alphatripleplus

alphatripleplus

    World Controller

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 111,057
  • Joined: 09 Mar 2012
  • Loc: Georgia

Posted 18 April 2020 - 09:00 AM

So the ASI studio software does live stacking?

ASI Studio includes 3 packages - including ASILive for EAA which does livestacking. I have been using this with my ASI290MM mini since the beta version, and the current version of ASILive is 1.0.1. It reminds me a lot of Starlight Live for SX cameras, which is the simplest EAA software I have used. ASILive is not as flexible as SharpCap, but it is very intuitive and easy to start with. 

 

Here are a couple of threads on the software:

 

ASI Studio SW

 

ASILive - new EAA software

 

For anyone starting EAA with a ZWO camera, ASILive is an easy way to go. 


  • eros312, roelb and Noah4x4 like this

#13 GazingOli

GazingOli

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Stuttgart GERMANY

Posted 18 April 2020 - 02:26 PM

I must say that after some nights with SharpCap I prefer it to the Infinity Software. For one I have more oveview about the settings and for two when saving an image SharpCap save the informations on the settings and also date and time which I find very helpful



#14 Stargazer3236

Stargazer3236

    Skylab

  • ****-
  • Posts: 4,266
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Waltham, MA

Posted 18 April 2020 - 09:17 PM

SharpCap 3.2 Pro is a god send! It took me a while to get the full understanding of it, but after a time, I got used to using it and like the way it performs with my ASI294MC camera. I once tried a QHY 224MC camera with it, but I did not like the way the gain worked with the camera, so I sold it about a week later. I am a ZWO aficionado for life! Now to buy a new camera...


  • roelb likes this

#15 GazingOli

GazingOli

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Stuttgart GERMANY

Posted 19 April 2020 - 12:03 AM

I am aiming for a ASI294 and a 600 mm ED refractor. Seems to be a good choice.
  • ForgotMeHuh likes this

#16 GroupJ

GroupJ

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 46
  • Joined: 02 Apr 2020

Posted 30 April 2020 - 01:39 AM

GazingOli

 

Did you get your set up and are you happy? - I'm in same boat

 

thanks



#17 Noah4x4

Noah4x4

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,430
  • Joined: 07 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Colchester UK

Posted 30 April 2020 - 02:18 AM

ASI Studio includes 3 packages - including ASILive for EAA which does livestacking. I have been using this with my ASI290MM mini since the beta version, and the current version of ASILive is 1.0.1. It reminds me a lot of Starlight Live for SX cameras, which is the simplest EAA software I have used. ASILive is not as flexible as SharpCap, but it is very intuitive and easy to start with. 

 

Here are a couple of threads on the software:

 

ASI Studio SW

 

ASILive - new EAA software

 

For anyone starting EAA with a ZWO camera, ASILive is an easy way to go. 

After three years of using Atik's easy to use  Infinity software I bought a ZWO ASI294 and immediately struggled with SharpCap. So switched to ASIStudio,  life became easy again!

 

However, having used ASIStudio on a few occasions to become familiar with the camera, I am now finding Sharpcap makes complete sense. I am not sure which I will ultimately take forward, but Sharpcap could benefit from a "lite" version for first time users. Instead, it has become feature rich to the point where it has become bewildering, like Sequence Generator Pro, ideal for experts that need control over multiple devices. But it's basics (for EAA) could be explained far more simply.

 

How the penny dropped for me was studying the Sharpcap Captures folder, understanding its contents, and working backwards to discover what function produces what type of output. The 157 manual is far too complex. For example, it took me about half an hour to discover that in Preview although it might say "150 exposures" it is not saving them. With hindsight, it's obvious.. But this should be the first item described in the manual after connect camera. But once in the Sharpcap Captures file you have to drill deep to understand what has been saved and why. Sharpcap is actually quite simple once you identify and ignore all the stuff that you don't need at first light. Another issue is about versions. I got confused as hell because different cameras seem to produce different user interfaces dependent. I was watching videos showing functions and layouts that didn't mirror my screen. But I think I have cracked it now. 



#18 roelb

roelb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,499
  • Joined: 21 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Belgium, Antwerp

Posted 30 April 2020 - 05:05 PM

After three years of using Atik's easy to use  Infinity software I bought a ZWO ASI294 and immediately struggled with SharpCap. So switched to ASIStudio,  life became easy again!

 

However, having used ASIStudio on a few occasions to become familiar with the camera, I am now finding Sharpcap makes complete sense. I am not sure which I will ultimately take forward, but Sharpcap could benefit from a "lite" version for first time users. Instead, it has become feature rich to the point where it has become bewildering, like Sequence Generator Pro, ideal for experts that need control over multiple devices. But it's basics (for EAA) could be explained far more simply.

 

How the penny dropped for me was studying the Sharpcap Captures folder, understanding its contents, and working backwards to discover what function produces what type of output. The 157 manual is far too complex. For example, it took me about half an hour to discover that in Preview although it might say "150 exposures" it is not saving them. With hindsight, it's obvious.. But this should be the first item described in the manual after connect camera. But once in the Sharpcap Captures file you have to drill deep to understand what has been saved and why. Sharpcap is actually quite simple once you identify and ignore all the stuff that you don't need at first light. Another issue is about versions. I got confused as hell because different cameras seem to produce different user interfaces dependent. I was watching videos showing functions and layouts that didn't mirror my screen. But I think I have cracked it now. 

progressive insight?tongue2.gif



#19 alphatripleplus

alphatripleplus

    World Controller

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 111,057
  • Joined: 09 Mar 2012
  • Loc: Georgia

Posted 01 May 2020 - 07:50 AM

I think it has been recommended on this Forum before, but for anyone new to SharpCap it is worth taking a look at Astrojedi's unofficial guide to SharpCap. A lot of people have found that helpful, as it is brief and touches on the important features of SharpCap.


  • Starman27, eros312, DSO_Viewer and 1 other like this

#20 39.1N84.5W

39.1N84.5W

    He asked for it

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,097
  • Joined: 24 Oct 2006
  • Loc: cincinnati

Posted 01 May 2020 - 01:47 PM

Ironically I found that guide to not be helpful. YMMV
  • Noah4x4 likes this

#21 GazingOli

GazingOli

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 13 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Stuttgart GERMANY

Posted 02 May 2020 - 02:05 AM

GazingOli

 

Did you get your set up and are you happy? - I'm in same boat

 

thanks

If you mean the purchase of the 294 - no! Not yet. I got a 100/600 refractor two days ago which I have to modify a little bit and get it on top of my CPC. Then I will go on learning how to use EAA with my ASI120 mono camera before I decide whether or not to purchase the ASI294.

 

So far I found the unofficial guide quite helpful and also the video which they refer to in the SharpCap manual / livestacking section.

 

@Noah4x4

I think everybody has his own approach in learning a software or handling equipment, in so far it is hard to determine which is the best way for writing a manual. It depends on where you come from and what you target at.

My first experiance was an ATIK Infinity with the Infinity software and I was not really happy with it. Then I got the ASI120 and tried with SharpCap - and it was like: this is it! This is my type of software. First I did not even realize but when I looked back at the results of my first night with the Infinity and compare it to my first night with the ASI120 / SharpCap the results with SharpCap were much better!

I also had a look at ASI Live and do not really like it.
 


Edited by GazingOli, 02 May 2020 - 09:19 AM.

  • Rickster, roelb and DSO_Viewer like this

#22 DSO_Viewer

DSO_Viewer

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,072
  • Joined: 03 Jan 2016

Posted 02 May 2020 - 11:52 AM

If you mean the purchase of the 294 - no! Not yet. I got a 100/600 refractor two days ago which I have to modify a little bit and get it on top of my CPC. Then I will go on learning how to use EAA with my ASI120 mono camera before I decide whether or not to purchase the ASI294.

 

So far I found the unofficial guide quite helpful and also the video which they refer to in the SharpCap manual / livestacking section.

 

@Noah4x4

I think everybody has his own approach in learning a software or handling equipment, in so far it is hard to determine which is the best way for writing a manual. It depends on where you come from and what you target at.

My first experiance was an ATIK Infinity with the Infinity software and I was not really happy with it. Then I got the ASI120 and tried with SharpCap - and it was like: this is it! This is my type of software. First I did not even realize but when I looked back at the results of my first night with the Infinity and compare it to my first night with the ASI120 / SharpCap the results with SharpCap were much better!

I also had a look at ASI Live and do not really like it.
 

Yes I totally agree with you and Atik did not even put dark and flat subtraction into their Infinity software even after multiple requests by many loyal customers. I tried the latest ASILive software v 1.1 and the dark, flat and bias does not work at all. Yes Sharpcap is way superior to both of these software's if you are looking for the best EAA results.

 

Steve


  • roelb likes this

#23 GroupJ

GroupJ

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 46
  • Joined: 02 Apr 2020

Posted 02 May 2020 - 03:03 PM

If you mean the purchase of the 294 - no! Not yet. I got a 100/600 refractor two days ago which I have to modify a little bit and get it on top of my CPC. Then I will go on learning how to use EAA with my ASI120 mono camera before I decide whether or not to purchase the ASI294.

 

 

 

GrazingOli - with your new purchase you are right where I am - an F6 refractor (mine is 105/650), and here is my dilemma.  Using round numbers for seeing of 3: star size= 3*600/200= approx 9 microm, and we want pixel size to be 1/3 star size = 3 microm. The ASI294 camera doesn't meet this criteria (4.6microm).  The ASI 183 does at 2.4 and the 290 does at 2.9.  If seeing improves the pixel size drops, so I am thinking for 600mm fl we need as small a pixel size as possible (offered).

 

I understand small pixel size means less sensitivity and for EAA I suppose that means longer sampling times for frames.  For me that would not be an issue as I'm not in a race - I'd rather wait a bit if I can resolve more detail in the assisted observation.

 

thoughts?



#24 rnyboy

rnyboy

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 323
  • Joined: 29 Oct 2019
  • Loc: Rochester, NY

Posted 02 May 2020 - 03:25 PM

Here's three links to images of M104, the sombrero galaxy, M82, the cigar-galaxy, and M5, the rose cluster that I captured last night using SharpCap Pro and then today I did the processing of the fits files in DeepSky Stacker and post processing in Photoshop.  I also did some live stacking as well for these three objects.  They were taken on my 6SE using a ZWO asi385mc imager and at ~f/3.2 using f/6.3 and 0.5x reducers in series.  I also had a moon and sky glow filter in the train because there was a bright half moon out last night.

 

 M104...   https://www.cloudyni...-f63-05x-combo/

 

M82...   https://www.cloudyni...-f63-05x-combo/

 

M5...  https://www.cloudyni...-f63-05x-combo/


Edited by rnyboy, 02 May 2020 - 03:30 PM.

  • Broglock likes this

#25 GroupJ

GroupJ

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 46
  • Joined: 02 Apr 2020

Posted 02 May 2020 - 04:20 PM

rnyboy - how many subs did you stack for each final image (also more info like length of sub would be nice).  To get your scope to f6.x I assume you replaced your secondary mirror with the camera/reducer.  According to the above formulas you are undersampling, suggesting that a smaller pixel size would get even more out of your scope.  It would be interesting to compare you results with other cameras on the same scope.




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: beginner, EAA, SCT, equipment



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics