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OSC ZWO ASI Camera Choice

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#1 ScuseMeWhileIKissTheSky

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 09:13 PM

Hello Community,

 

This is my first post (be gentle), and thank you all for the wealth of information I have found here as I begin my astrophotography journey!

 

I have been shooting with an older, unmodified DSLR and am ready to go with a dedicated, cooled astro camera.  I would prefer to stick with a ZWO ASI and am only interested in OSC.  Most imaging will be from my Bortle 7 backyard.  My goal is to produce some print-quality images.

 

My current gear:

Sky-Watcher 120 APO Doublet, 900mm FL at f 7.5

EQ6-R Mount

240mm FL Guidescope with ZWO ASI120 MM Mini

 

Questions:

1. Your recommendation between ASI 294, ASI 071, and ASI 2600?

2. Should I be using a FF/FR, and if so, do I need the official Sky-Watcher one?

3. What filters, if any, would you pair with the camera?  I am intrigued by the L-eXtreme for nebulae.

 

Thank you all for your help and knowledge!

 

Paul


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#2 17.5Dob

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 10:09 PM

Hello Community,

 

This is my first post (be gentle), and thank you all for the wealth of information I have found here as I begin my astrophotography journey!

 

I have been shooting with an older, unmodified DSLR and am ready to go with a dedicated, cooled astro camera.  I would prefer to stick with a ZWO ASI and am only interested in OSC.  Most imaging will be from my Bortle 7 backyard.  My goal is to produce some print-quality images.

 

My current gear:

Sky-Watcher 120 APO Doublet, 900mm FL at f 7.5

EQ6-R Mount

240mm FL Guidescope with ZWO ASI120 MM Mini

 

Questions:

1. Your recommendation between ASI 294, ASI 071, and ASI 2600?

2. Should I be using a FF/FR, and if so, do I need the official Sky-Watcher one?

3. What filters, if any, would you pair with the camera?  I am intrigued by the L-eXtreme for nebulae.

 

Thank you all for your help and knowledge!

 

Paul

If you want "Print Quality" images, you need to reexamine you dSLR images...

Unless you're shooting in 90F+++ nights, the noise difference between a modern dSLR and cooled color astrocam is not as large as you think...

What is wrong with your current photos that makes you want to think about a change,,,



#3 bjulihn

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 10:22 PM

Hey Paul;

 

Welcome to CN. You have some good equipment to work with. Here are my thoughts. You haven't said what your budget is, but the choices you listed are $1500 to $2000. The 294 and the 071 are 14bit and the 2600 is 16bit. The 16 bit gives you a little greater dynamic range. Practically, I don't really know how much difference that will make in your images. If your goal is print quality images, then it's always best to start with the best data. But I suspect your post-processing skills over time will have a much greater impact on the final results. I believe the 2600 is the newest of those cameras and so has a little better "future-proofing" to it.

 

All these camera are a good match for your telescope in pixel scale. Yes, you will want a flattener. Otherwise the stars toward the edges will be oblong. If it were me, I would definitely want a FF/FR as well. This would give you the flexibility to also get a wider field of view for larger targets. But let me say that even with a reducer, you will probably not be able to shoot many of the classic targets without doing a mosaic. For example, M31-the Andromeda Galaxy, North America Nebula, Pelican Nebula, Veil Nebula, Heart Nebula, Elephant Trunk Nebula, Rosette Nebula are all quite large. You will either have to master building mosaic images or buy a shorter focal length scope for those.

 

I hear good things about the L-extreme filter but have no experience with it. I am using the Radian Triad filter from pretty heavily light polluted skies and had great success on emission nebula.

Good Luck!

Brad



#4 SilverLitz

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Posted 25 September 2020 - 10:28 PM

2600 seems to be the King of the APS-C size cams.  I want it in mono.  A new sensor, almost no amp glow, deep well, 16-bit, good DR, and good resolution.  


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#5 sn2006gy

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 10:36 AM

I love the 2600. I shared some data you can mess around with and see if its a sensor size you want.

 

https://www.cloudyni...oad-have-at-it/

 

Beyond what Mark mentioned above, other nice things the 2600 has is an adjustable tilt plate and more importantly for this time of year is a heated dew shield on the window so no frosting over or dew.



#6 Peregrinatum

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 12:14 PM

can't go wrong with the ASI071MC



#7 ScuseMeWhileIKissTheSky

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 05:07 PM

Thank you all for the quick responses.

 

Dave, you ask a valid question about DSLR vs. dedicated astro camera.  My reasoning to switch has been:  I'm using an older Nikon D700 at 12 mp and 8.45 um pixel size.  I can't use software to go beyond 30 sec.  Currently using an intervelometer and a side program to dither on every exposure when a file is written to the hard drive.  This is a procedural annoyance, but I can deal with it.

 

The main areas I am hoping improve on: better resolution, less noise, no hot/cold pixels, and full spectrum imaging (my DSLR is unmodified).  I have mostly worked around walking noise with dithering, and calibration frames have taken out a lot of the bad pixels.  Do you feel that a camera like the ASI071 or ASI2600 would give me a significant increase in the areas I mention?

 

I am between the 071 and 2600 and leaning toward 2600 just because it is the latest and greatest, and I am hoping it will last me a while.  It is of course a decent price tag and at the top of my budget.

 

Since I am not currently using any filters or a FF/FR, would you recommend I get those first and try out with my DSLR to see what kind of improvement I get?



#8 Stelios

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 05:16 PM

You should definitely get a reducer with a 900mm scope and F/7.5. 

 

If you can afford the ASI2600MC-Pro, get it. If not, get the ASI071MC-Pro. If you can't afford that, get the ASI294MC-Pro. If that's too much, get the ASI533MC-Pro. 

 

Filters will only help with some nebulae. That would be the last thing I would buy. 

 

Despite your avowal that you're only interested in OSC, from a Bortle 7 area, the new ASI294MM-Pro is the outstanding choice for you. You'll need a FW and filters of course, but you won't be limited in choice of subjects. I don't know why you don't want mono, if you think that it will take longer that's an old wives' tale. 


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#9 ScuseMeWhileIKissTheSky

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 05:24 PM

Hi Stelios,

 

Thanks for your input.  My thought about Mono has been, yes, much more capture time, post-processing time, and time spent learning the new skillset.  Do you feel this is overstated vs OSC?  I do recognize that mono is my best bet for the highest quality images.

 

I suppose with a motorized FW I could program APT to fire off the whole sequence while I drink beer / sleep.  Whole setup cost for a mono 294 with FW and filters probably about the same as just the OSC 2600, right?



#10 SilverLitz

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 07:15 PM

I went straight to mono, ASI183mm-Pro, after about 3mos of AP using my 7Dmk2 DSLR.  I want a larger sensor camera for my EdgeHD 925 SCT, but I will wait for a mono APS-C.

 

Mono is NOT difficult, it actually is probably more straight forward to process than OSC, as with OSC it is best to split into separate RGB and process the individual channels before combining them.  It does NOT take more time capturing the subs (even in RGB) as the lack of the Bayer matrix means you are using every photon that hits the sensor.  Then there is the major advantage for NB.  Even for RGB, you can maximize your dark sky time by using your darkest skies for L and B, less dark for G then R and Oiii, and your worst skies for Ha and Sii.



#11 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 07:34 PM

What Stelios said.

 

I would add that I just got the 2600, and so far it's been a great improvement over the Nikon DSLR that I was using, for all the reasons you mentioned, and one in addition... Nikons are really bad at Hydrogen-alpha, and I was tired of fighting the lack of sensitivity to most things Nebulae.  The cooling and computer control are gravy after that.



#12 idclimber

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Posted 26 September 2020 - 08:15 PM

Hi Stelios,

 

Thanks for your input.  My thought about Mono has been, yes, much more capture time, post-processing time, and time spent learning the new skillset.  Do you feel this is overstated vs OSC?  I do recognize that mono is my best bet for the highest quality images.

 

I suppose with a motorized FW I could program APT to fire off the whole sequence while I drink beer / sleep.  Whole setup cost for a mono 294 with FW and filters probably about the same as just the OSC 2600, right?

Before deciding on mono vs OSC I asked if integration time was more for mono. I was told by many here it was actually slightly less. 8hrs of OSC vs 2hrs of each LRGB and the LRGB should have a higher signal to noise level. This does depend on the actual sensors though. Comparing a new efficient and more expensive camera like the 2600 to an older camera like the 1600mm will definitely change that difference. Regardless, mono simply does not take 3 times longer to image like I had first assumed. 

 

Pre processing LRGB or Ha, SII, OIII is actually pretty easy. 


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#13 ScuseMeWhileIKissTheSky

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 05:34 PM

Thanks again for the input.  You guys just might have converted me to mono and I think the 294MM would be a good fit.

 

If I go that route, do you have suggestions on filters and a wheel?  I can start a new post if that makes more sense.  My questions would be:

 

1. 1.25" or 2" filters?

2. Do I use LRGB vs. Ha, OIII, SII narrowband?  I'm thinking narrowband for my light-polluted skies, but this is new to me.

3. Is the ZWO brand ok for these or do I need something higher-end?



#14 SilverLitz

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 05:51 PM

The size of your filters should be determined by the size of your camera sensor and speed of your scope.  Larger sensors and faster optics (low f/) need larger filters.  There is no disadvantage to larger filters, EXCEPT for price.

 

You want your filters to be large enough to NOT vignet the light cone.  The needed size gets larger: as sensor diagonal increases, the distance between the sensor and filter increases, and the f/ratio of the light cone is faster (lower f/).

 

31mm or 1.25" filters are generally good for up to micro 4/3 size sensors (e.g. 1600, 294)

 

36mm filters are generally good for up to APS-C sensors with f/3 or slower systems.

 

2" filters will be needed for full-frame sensors or APS-C sensors with systems faster than f/3 (or unusually long distances to the filters)

 

Get a 7 or 8 position filterwheel, for LRGB, Ha, Oiii, and Sii.  You will want both LRGB and NB.  Galaxies and Globular Clusters will be RGB, with some galaxies adding a little Ha for the red star forming regions.  Nebulas will be heavily NB, though M42 seems better in RGB.  Some nebulas look very good RGB, but using Ha instead of Lum, such as M16 and Elephant Trunk.

 

NB filters seem to benefit more from the higher price filters.  The best filters seem to be: 1) AD & Chroma; 2) Astronomik and Baader; 3) others.  There is a newer entrant, Antila, which also could be in the 2nd tier.  I have only used Baader for NB and ZWO's newer Premium version for LRGB.   I was told be HPS, that ZWO's newer Premium filters were noticeably better than their lower priced filters.  These were all my 1st filters to use with my 1st astrocam, ASI183mm-Pro.  I went with 36mm filters, as I anticipate getting an APS-C mono in the future (mono 2600???). 


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#15 Stelios

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 05:52 PM

Here's a filter size calculator.  You do NOT need 2" filters with your scope. But there's intermediate sizes: 1.25", 31mm unmounted (slightly larger than the 1.25"), 36mm and then 50mm round and 50mm square. Play with the calculator. With a ZWO mono camera and filter wheel, the distance of filter to sensor is 10mm. There's no brownie points for buying larger than you need!

 

I would get the ZWO filter wheel (either the 7" or the 8"). As for filters, here are the quality levels:

 

ZWO (Optolong is roughly same quality). These should be OK to start with. They are not bad, but they are wider bandwidth (for narrowband) and will have more halo effects on bright stars. As you become expert, you will probably replace them. 

Baader or Astronomik (Astronomik might be *slightly* better).

Chroma or Astrodon (Astrodon is widely acknowledged as the best, but Chroma is comparable but cheaper in some sizes).

 

You will need LRGB *and* Narrowband eventually. LRGB is much less expensive. Narrowband cost depends a lot on bandwidth (the narrower the better normally). 

 

There's some benefit in buying filters all from the same manufacturer, as (especially the pricey ones) they tend to be parfocal and of the same thickness. But mixing thickness is OK unless you have an OAG for guiding *and* the differences are severe. 



#16 ScuseMeWhileIKissTheSky

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 05:59 PM

Mark and Stelios, you guys rock!  Thank you very much for all the info.  And you even seem to be in agreement, so no internet fights are breaking out! lol.gif

 

I will do a little more research, see what I can afford, and then wait impatiently since everything is backordered.

 

Clear skies!

 

- Paul




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