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What USB Camera Do You Use and Why?

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#1 gravy11

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 10:08 PM

I posted this is another forum and got bumped over, which makes sense. I see a lot of cameras online. What does everyone use primarily and why? Neximage? Svbony? ZWO? I’m not looking for any DSLR examples. Thinking, simple and good for people who are starting out and want to see and stack images. I’ve learned so much over the past week thanks to this board and YouTube.

Also, If you get a USB camera it means you have to have your laptop with you at all times In order to take shots, correct?

 

Purpose: The a moon and Planets
Budget: $250

Thanks everyone! 😀



#2 bobzeq25

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 10:57 PM

You'll get much better answers on the Solar System Imaging forum, BII is almost entirely about DSOs.

 

I do a little planetary.  Use a ZWO 290MC, works well.  $300

 

https://astronomy-im...asi-290mc-color

 

The chip is small, so you'd only get a pretty small piece of the Moon.  But bigger chips are outside your budget.  For lunar I use a QHY174 to get more of the Moon.  But it's $600.  Just a fact of life.  Bigger chip = more money.

 

ZWO and QHY are the two most popular inexpensive astro cameras.  You can get a lot of help here from people who have them.  Not true of NexImage or Svbony.

 

Astro cameras are just a chip and an interface.  All the intelligence about things like exposure and gain come from your computer.  Sharpcap is a popular program.


Edited by bobzeq25, 01 July 2020 - 11:01 PM.

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#3 Jim in PA

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 11:46 PM

I posted this is another forum and got bumped over, which makes sense. I see a lot of cameras online. What does everyone use primarily and why? Neximage? Svbony? ZWO? I’m not looking for any DSLR examples. Thinking, simple and good for people who are starting out and want to see and stack images. I’ve learned so much over the past week thanks to this board and YouTube.

Also, If you get a USB camera it means you have to have your laptop with you at all times In order to take shots, correct?

 

Purpose: The a moon and Planets
Budget: $250

Thanks everyone!

For the moon and planets, and your budget, I would recommend the ASI224MC.  Cost is ~$250, but it might be a pain to find anything from China in stock right now.

 

You can sit by your scope with a laptop to run the camera, or just run it with a headless computer at the mount...due to bugs, that's what I'm doing right now.  I'll just go outside to set up, then go back inside and remote into the mini-PC on the mount from a computer indoors.  Keeps the bug bites down to only a dozen or so.

 

Don't forget a IR Blocking filter, the 224MC doesn't have one.  Your images of the planets can seem hard to process (looks out of focus/not stacked properly) if you don't use one.  This is because the IR light doesn't reach focus at the same point as the visible light does.  I use both an IR blocking filter and a Baader Contrast Booster filter while imaging planets with this camera.  The Contrast Booster isn't really designed for imaging, but it seems to work well even in my SN-4.  Definitely need it with my achromat fracs.

 

I have the SVbony SV305, which uses the same imaging sensor as the ASI290, but I've yet to give it a serious run...I got it because it was dirt cheap and the guys in the EAA thread were getting good results with it...but I'm not doing EAA right now as I'm, chasing planets for AP with the 224...so I can't really say if it works great for planetary, although it SHOULD...but be advised it has only USB 2.0 (might limit you)   wink.gif

 

I also have the ASI290 which has USB 3.0 like the ASI224.  You didn't say what your focal length was, but they have different sized pixels so it makes sense for you to choose your camera based on the focal length achievable in your scope.  The guys in the planetary forum advise a focal length (edit: focal ratio) 5-7 times your pixel size in micrometers...if you have a fast scope, just barlow it to get the focal length (Edit: Focal Ratio, not Focal Length...sorry for the confusion) you need based on the pixel size of whatever camera you get.  Has been working great for me.


Edited by Jim in PA, 02 July 2020 - 03:11 AM.

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#4 Jim Waters

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 12:00 AM

ZWO2600MC Pro - Deep sky imaging.  Good dynamic range, low noise, backlit sensor,  little to no amp glow. TEC cooling is OK but could be better...



#5 james7ca

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 12:07 AM

Bob covered the basics.

 

However, you can do decent planetary imaging with something as "cheap" as the ZWO ASI120MC-S for about $150. Here is a link to an image of Jupiter that was done with one of the original mono ASI120MM cameras (by a talented photographer with a large SCT):

 

  https://www.cloudyni.../#entry10258872

 

Also, the OPT website  is offering several different QHY5III color cameras at an unusually low price -- $150 -- but none are currently in stock. Here are the links to the QHY5III color cameras on OPT (the 290, 224, and 183):

 

  https://optcorp.com/...elescope-camera

 

  https://optcorp.com/...y-5iii-224-cmos

 

  https://optcorp.com/...elescope-camera

 

On the above QHY cameras, I think the website may have the incorrect prices as $150 for a color IMX290 seems highly unlikely.



#6 gravy11

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 06:51 AM

For the moon and planets, and your budget, I would recommend the ASI224MC.  Cost is ~$250, but it might be a pain to find anything from China in stock right now.

 

You can sit by your scope with a laptop to run the camera, or just run it with a headless computer at the mount...due to bugs, that's what I'm doing right now.  I'll just go outside to set up, then go back inside and remote into the mini-PC on the mount from a computer indoors.  Keeps the bug bites down to only a dozen or so.

 

Don't forget a IR Blocking filter, the 224MC doesn't have one.  Your images of the planets can seem hard to process (looks out of focus/not stacked properly) if you don't use one.  This is because the IR light doesn't reach focus at the same point as the visible light does.  I use both an IR blocking filter and a Baader Contrast Booster filter while imaging planets with this camera.  The Contrast Booster isn't really designed for imaging, but it seems to work well even in my SN-4.  Definitely need it with my achromat fracs.

 

I have the SVbony SV305, which uses the same imaging sensor as the ASI290, but I've yet to give it a serious run...I got it because it was dirt cheap and the guys in the EAA thread were getting good results with it...but I'm not doing EAA right now as I'm, chasing planets for AP with the 224...so I can't really say if it works great for planetary, although it SHOULD...but be advised it has only USB 2.0 (might limit you)   wink.gif

 

I also have the ASI290 which has USB 3.0 like the ASI224.  You didn't say what your focal length was, but they have different sized pixels so it makes sense for you to choose your camera based on the focal length achievable in your scope.  The guys in the planetary forum advise a focal length (edit: focal ratio) 5-7 times your pixel size in micrometers...if you have a fast scope, just barlow it to get the focal length (Edit: Focal Ratio, not Focal Length...sorry for the confusion) you need based on the pixel size of whatever camera you get.  Has been working great for me.

Great info. You definitely lost me so I need to Google a few things. I have a Celestron 6SE which is 150mm in Aperture, I believe.


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#7 Jim in PA

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 07:35 AM

Great info. You definitely lost me so I need to Google a few things. I have a Celestron 6SE which is 150mm in Aperture, I believe.

Great scope for starting out in planetary imaging, you should be able to get some good images with that.

 

Your focal ratio is f/10.  Basically your focal ratio is the relationship between your aperture and focal length:  1500mm focal length divided by 150mm aperture = f/10.

 

So let's say you go with the ASI224MC.  It has a pixel size of 3.75 micrometers.  We'll call it 4 micrometers.  Since we want to have a focal ratio 5-7 times that number, you're looking at a range of f/20 to f/28.  Easy-peasy with your scope.  Just use a 2x barlow, and you will be sitting pretty at around f/20. 

 

With our seeing here in the NE PA/NJ region, which is normally pretty bad, your 6SE with a 2x barlow, and the ASI224MC will get you pretty close to the max planetary detail you could expect to get around these parts.  You can get some fairly respectable results with it.  Since Jupiter and Saturn are reaching the meridian earlier in the night this month, you can start to do some good imaging around midnight.  It'll be a decent year for Mars too, so you'll have plenty of targets.  Have fun and good luck!


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