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Upgrade Camera or Scope?

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#1 fearoflightning

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 04:30 PM

As the title says, I am looking to upgrade my astrophotography rig to maximize my image quality. My current setup is an Apertura 60EDR, orion skyglow filter, and nikon D5600. Guiding with a 30mm zwo scope and an asi120mm-s. I just switched mounts from a skyguider pro to an EQ6-R pro, but I haven't gotten to use it much yet due to rain. I've been able to get some pretty good pictures (in my mind), but I really want to take things up a notch (or several) as the summer continues.

I have a budget of about $2000 over the next month or two, and was wondering where it could best be spent. I primarily image in a bortle 4-5, so narrowband is the end goal, but I already have a DSLR and am pleased with Pixinsight's ability to remove LP gradients from those images, so would a scope be a better upgrade than a camera in the immediate term? Also, feel free to suggest other things as well!

I've been eying the asi1600mm pro, Espirit 100, and edge HD 800. Would love some thoughts on all of these!

#2 pinnacle90

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 05:06 PM

Late last year I was in a similar boat (WO Z73 and Nikon D5300). Narrowband wasn't an immediate goal of mine, but the cooled cameras were. I personally went with the ASI533MC and have been very pleased with the upgrade. Less noise and easier matching darks were well worth it. I think you'd be pleased with the camera upgrade. That is, assuming you are pleased with the wide field of view. I'm now getting an Edge HD 8, but my focus for that upgrade is visual and planetary (sure, DSO's down the road).

 

I think it really just depends on what you're looking for. If it's narrowband and you are pleased with the FoV, I would go with the asi1600mm path.



#3 scottsdalejohn

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 05:33 PM

I think you answered your own question!

 

It appears you: are happy with the results with the existing camera; have a new EQ6-R pro mount; have a good guide scope; you have Pixinsight doing what you want it do <SO> about the only thing left is a new scope - if you think that is the limiting factor in you astrophotography endeavor.

 

BTW, based upon many years of experience: there is no upper limit on the amount of money needed to spend to maximize image quality / <whatever else you want to achieve>.

 

John


Edited by scottsdalejohn, 05 June 2020 - 05:34 PM.

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#4 drd715

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 05:59 PM

Stepping up to a new camera has different pathways to follow. The major reason to get a dedicated astro camera is the cooling of the sensor to get a fixed regulated temperature that has much lower noise in the image.

If you are used to a larger dslr chip format like aps-c (or full frame) then you are looking in the higher cost region of equipment.

The big question is whether to go two steps up and go to mono imaging or to go with a color imaging chip. While mono has advantages in resolution and optimizing each individual color frequency band (focus, exposure saturation) it comes with some challenges in 3 to 5 separate imaging channels, each a separate series of exposure sets and the time plus setup for each filtered set. Also a filter wheel and somewhat expensive filters add to the cost.

Color imaging is getting pretty good (not as good as mono, but quite pleasing results are possible).

The big difference currently is the advanced nature of the color sensors over the lack of newer mono sensors. The best technology at present seems to be the back illuminated sensors with no noticeable amp glow and deep well high bit depth pixels producing more dynamic range in the image. The most popular mono chip being the 1600, while quite capable of producing excellent images, it seems to have a few issues such as micro lensing.

I would wait a little more time before purchasing a mono camera as there should be a newer back illuminated mono chip not to distant in the future. There certainly is a unfulfilled demand for a new chip.

In the OSC imaging, a chip such as the asi2600 is a nice Aps-c imager. The asi533 is a good choice for a price conscious purchase and also is back illuminated newer technology - but the 533 is smaller - if matched to the right size scope the image arc second size could be a viable option. All depends upon what you are imaging and what you will use as a scope.

I can recommend the asi2600 as a pleasure to use and to get good clean subs worthy of processing.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk

#5 kisstek

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 08:27 PM

For your budget, you can get the ASI1600mm Pro with the ZWO 8 slot EFW with the LRGB and narrow band filters. That will give you a lot of flexibility on what kind of targets and images you want to pursue. Then get the EdgeHD 800 next time.


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#6 Kevin Ross

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 08:41 PM

You say narrowband is the end goal. That means new camera gear. The ASI1600MM Pro kit is a great value.


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#7 drd715

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 09:34 PM

Or you can get a new scope. Maybe a nice 80mm triplet F-6 ish that (as a triplet)  can be reduced to  F-5 ish and be a good wide view scope. Or a 102ed F-7 FPL-53 such as the new AT-102EDL which could  give you a mid focal length scope to frame the mid smallerish subjects. 



#8 bobzeq25

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Posted 05 June 2020 - 10:38 PM

Mono camera plus filters.  You can start narrowband with just an Ha.  It's really easy (now that you have the new mount) and you can make lovely B&W.  Great targets are coming up pretty shortly.


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#9 the Elf

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 01:52 PM

It would help a lot if you post links to recent images. Let us know what you dislike or would like to be better. Bortle 4 is not a huge light pollution. I take images with an unmodded DSLR under Bortle 4 skies and get positive feedback. Imho that is not a situation that cries for NB.



#10 Stelios

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 03:46 PM

I would upgrade the camera. I noticed huge benefits from upgrading my camera from a DSLR to the ASI1600MM-Pro kit, and the one available now is better than the one I had. Get the one with the 8-pos FW and 1.25" filters.

 

The Edge HD is a great telescope, but to make it work to full potential you need:

 

1) 0.7x reducer ($300). Practically a necessity unless you live in Chile or the Canary Islands. Even then, cuts imaging time in half.

2) Crayford focuser ($850 for the Moonlite CHL 2.5" + motor + controller for autofocus). You can live without it, but I wouldn't call it "living." :)

3) Hyperstar ($999) ... and you still need a dedicated astro-camera to use Hyperstar as the DSLR is too big for the 8" and 9.25" versions. If that camera is a mono, add a filter slider :(

 

It's interesting you mention the Esprit 100 (a 500mm triplet) and the Edge (1430mm with the reducer) as alternatives. IMO, they are more like opposites. Which makes me think that what you really want is something like the AT115EDT. With an 0.8x reducer it gives you 644 F/5.6 and 805mm F/7 alternatives, drawing smaller objects closer (and if eventually you get an ASI183MM-Pro, the scope becomes a galaxy killer). 

 

But I'd still get the camera. Once you go mono, you don't look back. 



#11 Huangdi

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 03:53 PM

It would help a lot if you post links to recent images. Let us know what you dislike or would like to be better. Bortle 4 is not a huge light pollution. I take images with an unmodded DSLR under Bortle 4 skies and get positive feedback. Imho that is not a situation that cries for NB.


Bear in mind that even in the darkest skies on the planet, you won't be able to replicate narrowband results with unfiltered imaging.

To OP: I believe that you should compare getting more data vs getting higher quality data and which ultimately results in better images.

If you have 10 hours of clear skies every week, go with the camera.

If clear nights are rare, I'd rather get more aperture and a faster system, to collect more data.

#12 Ryou

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 07:42 PM

I'd personally go with the camera if only for the ability to cool the chip and better sensitivity over a DSLR (doubly so if stock). Plus I've heard that even color images built from a mono camera have better resolution overall than those from a DSLR. Not had a chance to test myself first hand though.

 

Either way for 2k(ish) you can get a Mono ASI1600 (or 183), the 8-slot EFW, and a good set of a LRGB filters. Possibly add on an Ha and you can do HaRGB right now, or be set down the road for when you buy the full SHO setup and already have the mono cam which is technically better than OSC. (Not to say that OSC can't be used and doesn't work for narrowband of course)



#13 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 06 June 2020 - 10:06 PM

If the current camera isn't modified, I would think an astro-capable anything would be my first priority, to open up a whole part of the spectrum that should be barely visible now.  Not having sensitivity to Ha is my current biggest limiter.



#14 fearoflightning

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Posted 07 June 2020 - 02:04 AM

Thanks for the replies!

 

Here is a link to what is probably my best image by far.  Wanted to get more time on it, but it has been cloudy for nearly a month here! (SE US).

 

https://www.astrobin.com/c32ese/

 

I'm still rather torn between a camera or scope, but I am leaning towards a mono camera simply because it changes the game so much.  The advantages of a larger scope are still very notable though.  Stelios pointed out that I mentioned two scopes that were opposite, and that was on purpose, as I am very undecided on which focal length I would enjoy more!

 

Also, my camera is unmodded, so as TelescopeGreg said, it might pay me well to open up the rest of the spectrum!


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#15 the Elf

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Posted 07 June 2020 - 03:20 AM

Wow! That is on a high level! I wish my Trifid/Lagoon was like that. At my loc it is only 10° above the horizon. Now that I have seen your image I agree, go for an astro camer first.

I don't want to talk down the ZWO 1600 as may people are very happy with it but I would like to inform you about one issue that the sensor has.

https://youtu.be/Z7bSooiHRSo?t=387

That square pattern on Alnitak in the right image is caused by the micro lenses. It only occurs on very bright stars. Just want to inform you. Apart from that it is a good camera as far as I can tell. I have processed a few data sets from others but I do not own one.

A friend who is using it as well asked me which filter set I recommend. At the time the ZWO RGB filter set was designed in a way that O-III ended up in the green (if I recall correctly) while Baader designed the set in a manner that blue and green overlap exactly at O-III so that you have a teal color for O-III in RGB images. This may have changed meanwhile or be irrelevant if you image NB anyway and add it to RGB in processing.



#16 the Elf

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Posted 07 June 2020 - 03:26 AM

Here is the ZWO design:

https://astronomy-im...timised-asi1600

 

and this is the Baader:

https://www.baader-p..._j_schedler.pdf

 

"They are showing steep rise on both ends, the blue and green filters both utilize the O-III wavelenght to full extend."



#17 Ryou

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Posted 07 June 2020 - 07:29 PM

Thanks for the replies!

 

Here is a link to what is probably my best image by far.  Wanted to get more time on it, but it has been cloudy for nearly a month here! (SE US).

 

https://www.astrobin.com/c32ese/

 

I'm still rather torn between a camera or scope, but I am leaning towards a mono camera simply because it changes the game so much.  The advantages of a larger scope are still very notable though.  Stelios pointed out that I mentioned two scopes that were opposite, and that was on purpose, as I am very undecided on which focal length I would enjoy more!

 

Also, my camera is unmodded, so as TelescopeGreg said, it might pay me well to open up the rest of the spectrum!

I have to say for an unmodded camera that is fairly impressive in my book. Must have a relatively good (for astrophotography) IR Cut filter in that model.

 

That said though, I think it also would more firmly place a lot of people in the upgrade camera camp, especially if you plan on going mono.

 

While a larger scope is definitely nice, do also keep in mind your FoV is going to change slightly with the dedicated camera as at your budget you are looking at the 1" or Micro 4/3rd sensor which is smaller. Either the 183 or the 1600 would be a great fit pixel scale wise (slight edge to the 183 at 360mm focal length, starts dropping around 500 where the 1600 would be better, and at about 800+ the 1600 is definitely winning) and you can see a comparison of their FoVs below thanks to https://astronomy.to.../field_of_view/ (note that I did use the D5500 however it seems like it has the same sensor, or at least sensor/pixel size, as the 5600)

 

astronomy_tools_fov.png

Bonus, I used Lagoon Nebula as the target.


Edited by Ryou, 07 June 2020 - 07:31 PM.



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