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EAA Best Camera Option For Long Focal Length Scopes

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#1 gsm026

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 09:47 PM

Hello,

 

I have been using a MallenCam DS287C for my club's outreach program.  We started doing EAA due to COVID, but I've discovered that it's quite a bit easier to show the public DSO's on a monitor screen than in the eyepiece, especially for younger children that have a really hard time with faint fuzzy objects.  From the semi-dark areas we use for summer outreach, I've been able to show the public dozens of DSOs and details like the spiral structure in M57, the eye holes in M97, the colors in M27 and M57, dust lanes in the Trifid, detailed structure in M17, etc. A lot more than they could ever see through an eyepiece.  Plus you can point out details on the screen.

 

The MallenCam has been a good match to the 10" LX200 ACF I use for outreach (1575 mm with reducer).  The only negative on the MallenCam is low resolution and a relatively tiny sensor.  I would like to get something with a larger chip and higher resolution.  I'd rather not spend too much over $1K on the camera.  I have a laptop with USB 3.1.

 

What would you recommend for my situation?  I want to keep using the LX200 because it has good aperture for DSOs and the GOTO is accurate enough to consistently place objects on the chip.  Priority is of course on ease of use in real time/video mode, along with (hopefully) a larger sensor and higher resolution.  

 

Thanks,
Greg


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#2 Rac19

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 10:10 PM

I find that a relatively large sensor with Region of Interest (ROI) works well. The full sensor makes it easier to initially acquire the target for long focal lengths (up to 5000 mm) then ROI can be used to narrow the FOV.

 

My current camera is the ZWO ASI 1600 MC which has a 4/3" sensor (4656×3520 pixels). Originally, I used the ASI 120 MC (1280x960 pixels) and it was a real challenge to find the target at long focal lengths. I now use this camera on a much shorter focal length (120 mm) finder/guide scope.



#3 alphatripleplus

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 09:17 AM

One alternative to perhaps consider - Keep the LX200  and piggyback a shorter focal length refractor (something like an Astro-Tech AT60ED or AT72EDII) with a small sensor and small pixel camera, for example a IMX224 or IMX385 sensor. That scope and camera could come in under $1,000 and give you the option of showing targets simultaneously at two focal lengths - a widefield with the short refractor and zoomed in view with the LX200.



#4 davidparks

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 10:08 AM

Like Richard, a relatively large sensor would work great...  though I would recommend the ZWO ASI294MC Pro.  First, because it is OSC  (Color), and then because of it's well documented EAA performance.  It's HCG mode will reduce noise at higher gains, and with 3 x the full well as the 1600 you won't suffer from as much loss of dynamic range as the 1600.  It does have slightly larger pixels but this too will work in your favor for quickly acquiring a stunning image for outreach.

 

In any case, and whatever cam you choose, I would consider a 4/3rds or larger OSC, and stop using small cam designed for guiding/planetary.


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#5 gsm026

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 07:55 PM

Thanks for the advice guys.  The MallenCam is not mine actually - borrowed from an local educational observatory that was shut down due to COVID (they use it on a C14).  I will have to give it back this spring as they plan to use it for distanced programs at the observatory.  My thought was the same as David's originally (looks and smells like a OSC planetary camera), but I was actually impressed by the job it would do under dark skies.  Actually more impressed with its performance on DSOs than on planets.

 

So - I do want to continue using the LX200 with the camera.  AS1294 looks pretty ideal but it is 4.6 microns I think.  I also will use it with my 5" APO which is 910mm FL, however for outreach I find the LX200's fast set up and GoTo performance to be ideal.

 

Any concerns about the 4.6mm pixels with 910 - 1575mm focal length?

 

Thanks,
Greg



#6 gsm026

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Posted 29 October 2020 - 08:57 PM

After further research here, I have a 294 Pro on order.  Considered some of the more available Zwo cameras but I like the larger pixels given my focal lengths.

 

Thanks,
Greg


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#7 raylinds

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 09:04 AM

After further research here, I have a 294 Pro on order.  Considered some of the more available Zwo cameras but I like the larger pixels given my focal lengths.

 

Thanks,
Greg

Good choice.  I have one and it works great on my Celestron 9.25.


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#8 alphatripleplus

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Posted 30 October 2020 - 04:02 PM

After further research here, I have a 294 Pro on order.  Considered some of the more available Zwo cameras but I like the larger pixels given my focal lengths.

 

Thanks,
Greg

Congratulations. Please let us all know how it works out for you. 



#9 Bob_Stan

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Posted 04 November 2020 - 11:48 AM

Really like my 294MC Pro with my C-11! I'm sure you'll be happy.




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