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Considering taking the plunge - obligatory "which camera should I get" post

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#1 Scott Mitchell

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 08:57 PM

OK, I'm finally considering picking up a cooled camera as I can hardly stand the idea of another summer with the Canon and all its noise. 

 

While I'd love to pick up an ASI2600 with all its goodness, I can't afford the camera, and much less the knock-on costs such as a new processing laptop that that camera would require.

 

So, equipment-wise, I'll be pairing the camera with the following optics:

- 8" LX200 ACF

- AT65EDQ

- 135mm/90mm camera lenses for widefield (Canon EOS mount)

 

I shoot both nebula and galaxies, and have started dipping my toes into planetary (with my ASI120MM for now). 

 

Cameras I'm considering:

- QHY163C

- ASI294MC

- ASI071MC

 

None of these are perfect, they all have their warts. I'm aware of the background mottling risk of the 294, the potential cooling issues with the 071. I don't know a ton about the 163, but it concerns me that ZWO stopped shipping that chip for some reason. However, they each have unique, nice features as well. 

 

So, thoughts??? Others you think I should consider given my setup and the desire to keep it around 1K (which I know makes the 071 a stretch)?



#2 ChrisWhite

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:08 PM

Zwo still uses that Panasonic chip in their moni cameras. They dropped the color version as they believe the 294 is a better camera.

One more for your list is the 533. Its the smallest sensor, but is very clean. Low noise, zero zmoglow. Very nice data. (I've owned the asi 1600mc as well as the 071 for osc) The 533 is a great choice if the sensor size is not a turn-off for you.
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#3 Cfreerksen

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:08 PM

I love my 071. Great camera. As far as cooling problems I have had none but take precautions. Cool slowly to 0C and never look back.

 

As far as your budget. I guess you might find a used one near your target. New, budget +48%.

 

I would never think about using for planetary. Frame rate is not near fast enough.

 

Chris


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#4 ChrisWhite

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:09 PM

Regarding framerate, all of these cameras support ROI, which should give adequate framerate for planetary.

#5 Scott Mitchell

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:13 PM

Zwo still uses that Panasonic chip in their moni cameras. They dropped the color version as they believe the 294 is a better camera.

One more for your list is the 533. Its the smallest sensor, but is very clean. Low noise, zero zmoglow. Very nice data. (I've owned the asi 1600mc as well as the 071 for osc) The 533 is a great choice if the sensor size is not a turn-off for you.

Chris, like I mentioned, I'd love the 2600 for the reasons you mention, but I have a really hard time thinking about going to something with a field of view less than 1/3 of my current APS-C chip. I have a hard enough time getting sufficient imaging time right now, so mosaics aren't real tempting.



#6 ChrisWhite

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:15 PM

Chris, like I mentioned, I'd love the 2600 for the reasons you mention, but I have a really hard time thinking about going to something with a field of view less than 1/3 of my current APS-C chip. I have a hard enough time getting sufficient imaging time right now, so mosaics aren't real tempting.


Yup, that's the downside. Its a very small sensor.
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#7 klaussius

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:15 PM


Cameras I'm considering:

- QHY163C

- ASI294MC

- ASI071MC

 

None of these are perfect, they all have their warts. I'm aware of the background mottling risk of the 294, the potential cooling issues with the 071. I don't know a ton about the 163, but it concerns me that ZWO stopped shipping that chip for some reason. However, they each have unique, nice features as well. 

 

So, thoughts??? Others you think I should consider given my setup and the desire to keep it around 1K (which I know makes the 071 a stretch)?

 

From my research, there's nothing official, but contrary to what the name would have you believe the QHY163 isn't using an IMX163, but instead the same MN34230 of the ZWO ASI1600.

 

So the QHY163C should be similar to a color version of the ASI1600 with all its goodies as well as its warts, including the microlensing issues, which a quick trip to astrobin can confirm (take a look at pictures taken with it, and you'll see the microlensing).

 

It's a bit older than the 294, with a shallower FWC and lower dynamic range, but perhaps less serious warts (ie: the background patterning can be a killer if you try to use a multi-nb filter, I've heard of no such issues with the panasonic sensor). Think hard about the ASI533. It looks squaky clean even if it's a bit smaller and squarer.

 

Edit: oh, I see you've given the 533 some thought already. Ok.


Edited by klaussius, 02 June 2020 - 09:16 PM.


#8 cuivienor

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:16 PM

I loved my 071 - but I really love my 533 as well. The 533 is such a docile, easy to handle camera. It's basically a mini 2600. I have my impressions of it here: https://youtu.be/lfQ_tPoPaLk

 

The 071 was also very clean and docile, but not quite as sensitive as the 533.

 

The 294 is that wild and willful kid, who can amaze one moment and frustrate to no end the next. I had a love-hate relationship with mine, and ended up selling it. It's just too hard to use in my light polluted conditions.

 

Another thing is, are you sure about going the OSC way? If yes, my choice would be either 071 or 533. Most likely 533, as the smaller sensor will be easier to handle, optics wise (especially with the Meade SCT!).

 

Good luck!


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#9 Scott Mitchell

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:28 PM

From my research, there's nothing official, but contrary to what the name would have you believe the QHY163 isn't using an IMX163, but instead the same MN34230 of the ZWO ASI1600.

 

So the QHY163C should be similar to a color version of the ASI1600 with all its goodies as well as its warts, including the microlensing issues, which a quick trip to astrobin can confirm (take a look at pictures taken with it, and you'll see the microlensing).

 

It's a bit older than the 294, with a shallower FWC and lower dynamic range, but perhaps less serious warts (ie: the background patterning can be a killer if you try to use a multi-nb filter, I've heard of no such issues with the panasonic sensor). Think hard about the ASI533. It looks squaky clean even if it's a bit smaller and squarer.

 

Edit: oh, I see you've given the 533 some thought already. Ok.

Oh, you bring up something relevant... I *do* shoot with a dual band filter (STC Duo), which I love. I had forgotten about some of the reported issues with the 294 and those types of filters. 

 

Oh, and yep, I was aware of the 163 using the Panasonic chip. Microlens issues would likely be frustrating, but lots of people certainly have produced lots of nice results with the ASI1600MM.



#10 Scott Mitchell

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:31 PM

I loved my 071 - but I really love my 533 as well. The 533 is such a docile, easy to handle camera. It's basically a mini 2600. I have my impressions of it here: https://youtu.be/lfQ_tPoPaLk

 

The 071 was also very clean and docile, but not quite as sensitive as the 533.

 

The 294 is that wild and willful kid, who can amaze one moment and frustrate to no end the next. I had a love-hate relationship with mine, and ended up selling it. It's just too hard to use in my light polluted conditions.

 

Another thing is, are you sure about going the OSC way? If yes, my choice would be either 071 or 533. Most likely 533, as the smaller sensor will be easier to handle, optics wise (especially with the Meade SCT!).

 

Good luck!

OSC vs. Mono is a great question, of course. For now I think I want to try to stick with OSC, but at some point I admit I'll likely have to make the leap to mono. I do live in a place with horrible light pollution. However, I've been OSC all along. So... ‍♂

 

I've gotten the APS-C chip working with the Meade and OAG. It wasn't easy, but now that I've got it that doesn't scare me. Maybe I'm just naive though. 



#11 cuivienor

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:32 PM

Oh, you bring up something relevant... I *do* shoot with a dual band filter (STC Duo), which I love. I had forgotten about some of the reported issues with the 294 and those types of filters. 

Yep. I was the first one to find that out, report it to ZWO, and provide them with a protocol to reproduce. In my own tests, you needed a very tight bandbass in a red frequency to display the issue. Note that ZWO replied that the 294 had the issue, but the 1600MC also did, and to an even greater extent. 

 

https://www.cloudyni...pt-triad-and-nb



#12 bobzeq25

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:34 PM

Sign in an automotive speedshop.  "Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?"

 

I understand this one is outside your budget, but I'm setting the stage.  <smile>   I processed some data from a 2600 for someone.  It was superb.  Clear first choice in my opinion.

 

The 533 also seems to put out excellent data, and it's cheap.  The tradeoff is the small chip.

 

The 071 is a good compromise.

 

The 294 and the 163 don't compare to those, in my opinion.  Too many issues.


Edited by bobzeq25, 02 June 2020 - 09:37 PM.

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#13 Scott Mitchell

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:35 PM

Yep. I was the first one to find that out, report it to ZWO, and provide them with a protocol to reproduce. In my own tests, you needed a very tight bandbass in a red frequency to display the issue. Note that ZWO replied that the 294 had the issue, but the 1600MC also did, and to an even greater extent. 

 

https://www.cloudyni...pt-triad-and-nb

Oh, yuck. So the 163 would likely run into this too. Gonna go reread your thread to catch up on the particulars. And, of course, I'll have to pick up a new filter to work with the selected camera no matter what. So, maybe there's a dual band filter that does OK?



#14 cuivienor

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:37 PM

OSC vs. Mono is a great question, of course. For now I think I want to try to stick with OSC, but at some point I admit I'll likely have to make the leap to mono. I do live in a place with horrible light pollution. However, I've been OSC all along. So... ‍♂

 

I've gotten the APS-C chip working with the Meade and OAG. It wasn't easy, but now that I've got it that doesn't scare me. Maybe I'm just naive though. 

You will want mono before long :) I'm in Tokyo (so yes, Bortle8-9), but have taken some really good galaxy pictures with my 8 inch newt and the 533 this past season. That being said, with the nebula season coming, you'll want to try out real narrowband - e.g. monochrome with very tight bandbass filters (cheapest tight bandpass at this stage seem to be the Baader ultra NB and these from a newer manufacturer, it seems? http://www.antlia-filters.com/

 

I did try the OPT Triad Ultra with the 071 - the 071 is fine and does not show the issue that the 294 (and reportedly the 1600MC) does. I will be testing the ZWO duo with the 533 as soon as the rainy season ends. Initial tests shows it does not have the calibration issue that the 294 did.



#15 cuivienor

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:40 PM

Oh, yuck. So the 163 would likely run into this too. Gonna go reread your thread to catch up on the particulars. And, of course, I'll have to pick up a new filter to work with the selected camera no matter what. So, maybe there's a dual band filter that does OK?

The Sightron Quad BP filter (unique to Japan) is not narrow at all, and didn't exhibit the issue with my 294. I cannot say anything about other filters, although others have reported success with the Optolong L-Enhance.

 

Still, as Bob mentions, I'd stay away from the 294 and the 1600MC (or 163), just in case. Plus from my experience with the 294, it is generally a pain to work with.



#16 Scott Mitchell

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:51 PM

The Sightron Quad BP filter (unique to Japan) is not narrow at all, and didn't exhibit the issue with my 294. I cannot say anything about other filters, although others have reported success with the Optolong L-Enhance.

 

Still, as Bob mentions, I'd stay away from the 294 and the 1600MC (or 163), just in case. Plus from my experience with the 294, it is generally a pain to work with.

Yeah, I'm starting to lean more towards the 071 as this conversation plays out. The 294 seems tempting from the perspective of being a more modern sensor with much better sensitivity, read noise, etc. I guess the sensitivity really might not be that big of an issue given that it will suck down the light pollution just as fast as the signal. 

 

So. Many. Factors...

 

Oh, and I do get to run away to dark skies occasionally as well. So, I'm not entirely crazy going for OSC... Right?

 

Even if I said I wanted to go mono, could I practically do that for around $1K when you take filters and filter wheel into consideration?



#17 bobzeq25

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 09:55 PM

Yeah, I'm starting to lean more towards the 071 as this conversation plays out. The 294 seems tempting from the perspective of being a more modern sensor with much better sensitivity, read noise, etc. I guess the sensitivity really might not be that big of an issue given that it will suck down the light pollution just as fast as the signal. 

 

So. Many. Factors...

 

Oh, and I do get to run away to dark skies occasionally as well. So, I'm not entirely crazy going for OSC... Right?

 

Even if I said I wanted to go mono, could I practically do that for around $1K when you take filters and filter wheel into consideration?

No.  THE drawback of mono plus LRGB is cost.

 

Also beyond your budget, but informative re your comment on the 294.

 

I image in Bortle 7.  It became obvious to me that, even with LRGB (whose virtue is faster data capture), I was looking at long total imaging times to make progress.   So I got an F2 C8 RASA.  After some work to solve a tilt issue, I'm really pleased.

 

Here's the thing.  More data is always better in light pollution.  Even if you also get more light pollution, overall, it's a win.


Edited by bobzeq25, 02 June 2020 - 10:00 PM.

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#18 Scott Mitchell

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Posted 02 June 2020 - 10:05 PM

No.  THE drawback of mono plus LRGB is cost.

 

Also beyond your budget, but informative re your comment on the 294.

 

I image in Bortle 7.  It became obvious to me that, even with LRGB (whose virtue is faster data capture), I was looking at long total imaging times to make progress.   So I got an F2 C8 RASA.  After some work to solve a tilt issue, I'm really pleased.

 

Here's the thing.  More data is always better in light pollution.  Even if you also get more light pollution, overall, it's a win.

Thanks Bob, that's what I was afraid of. So, definitely sticking with OSC for now. 

 

I'm also upgrading my mount, so a RASA wouldn't be totally out of the question in the future. smile.gif (and I know that's not exactly your point, but...)


Edited by Scott Mitchell, 02 June 2020 - 10:05 PM.


#19 Scott Mitchell

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 07:06 PM

Just thought I'd close the loop here. I took the plunge. The winning camera? None of the above!

 

I went for a QHY168C. The QHY version of the ASI071MC. My hope is that this will avoid the possibility of cooling issues that I've seen reported about the ASI071. Honestly, I had forgotten about this model until one came up in the classifieds the other data, and that brought it back into my thinking. 

 

I'm looking forward to all the new learning that will now ensue! 


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