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RisingCam (ToupTek/Altair) IMX571 SharpCap sensor analysis

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#1 Cbaxter

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Posted 25 December 2020 - 02:05 PM

Hello and Happy Holidays to all,

This post is for information about the ToupTek IMX571 thermoelectric cooled astro camera sold by RisingCam (Manufactured by ToupTek) direct from China for ~$1282.50.

Worst case scenario is that I am out ~$1300.00 and the community gains valuable information that will help others researching cameras before making a purchase decision. I am completely ok with that outcome.

Altair has performance charts for their variant of the ToupTek IMX571 based camera, the Altair Hypercam 26c, and those charts are identical to the specs and performance claims of the RisingCam branded version. I am open to running tests for the community, just let me know what you are looking for and I will attempt to perform the tests.

So far I have only done indoor tests due to cloudy skies, not the new gear curse, just western Washington eternal rain and overcast skies.

The camera has two gain modes, Low Conversion Gain (LCG) and High Conversion Gain (HCG), as well as what the manufacture calls "a special ultra low noise mode."

I am using the ASCOM driver for the camera and it has so far worked perfectly without issues in SharpCap and APT. In the driver settings there are options to set it to LCG mode, HCG mode, a checkbox for the "ultra low noise" mode that can be enabled for both LCG and HCG modes, setting the gain, offset/black point, and the anti-dew heater level. The gain, offset, cooler control, etc, can be controlled directly within the controlling software, but the LCG and HCG mode has to be selected in the driver settings. After some research I understand that the gain and LCG/HCG modes are controlled differently than the ASI2600/QHY268. As I understand it the ASI/QHY have a point in the gain setting at which the hardware switches from LCG to HCG, the lower noise and lower FWC mode. In the ToupTek camera the LCG/HCG mode must be explicitly selected, then each mode has a gain scale, which you will see in the below sensor analysis data. My finding so far is that the best balance between full well capacity and read noise is at the lowest gain setting for each mode LCG/HCG.

I ran a 6 hour test on the TE cooler indoors at room temperature, with the target temp of 0 degrees Celsius, -25 degrees Celsius below ambient. I ran a constant loop of 5 minute exposures with no delay between images and the cooler maintained a sensor temperature stability of +- 1.8 degrees Celsius the entire time, with a cooler cooling capacity usage that did not exceed 72% with an average of 57%.

I looked at many of the dark frames taken during that cooler testing period and at +15 exposure in GIMP I did not see any amp glow and the whole frame appeared uniform. Please let me know if anyone wants specific dark frame samples and will attempt to collect them.

The only other testing that I did was SharpCaps Sensor analysis, images below.

SharpCap sensor analysis: Dark room with white translucent lens cap on camera and a diffuse white LED light setup to a constant and specific measured distance/placement for consistency. The LED was turned off and the lens cap replaced with a dark rubber form fitting cap for the dark analysis.

First run: Low Conversion Gain mode, sensor temp 0 degrees Celsius (-25deg below ambient), "ultra low noise" mode disabled.
LCG.JPG

Second run: Low Conversion Gain mode, sensor temp 0 degrees Celsius (-25deg below ambient), "ultra low noise" mode enabled.
LCG-LowNoise.JPG

Third run: High Conversion Gain mode, sensor temp 0 degrees Celsius (-25deg below ambient), "ultra low noise" mode disabled.
HCG.JPG

The above results are very close to the manufacture claimed performance specs and I am looking forward to getting some DSO images as soon as the skies clear up a bit. I have no idea what the "special ultra low noise mode" checkbox is or how it works but since I saw only very minimal difference in LCG mode with it enabled and disabled I will be leaving it unchecked/disabled in the driver settings. Also based on the the analysis results I will be using the lowest gain setting for either LCG or HCG mode to make use of the best combination of full well capacity and read noise each mode offers.

That is all for now.

Clear skies!

Edited by Cbaxter, 25 December 2020 - 02:35 PM.

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#2 Jccarracedom

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Posted 05 January 2021 - 01:54 AM

Hi,

Thank you very much for your post. I'm thinking on buying this cam. Any regrets? Did you have the time to do some DSO images?

Thank you so much.



#3 Cbaxter

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Posted 15 January 2021 - 01:24 AM

Hi,
Thank you very much for your post. I'm thinking on buying this cam. Any regrets? Did you have the time to do some DSO images?
Thank you so much.

I have a couple unprocessed sets of raws but I need a lot more time on these targets before I'll bother processing them. Just can't catch a break with these cloudy skies and endless rain... Also school has been consuming most of my free time. Once I get some finished images I'll share them. Regrets? No, none so far. The camera and all its features have been working like a champ! Cooler works great and is very stable. Adjustable dew heater works fine, no issues. Love the built in usb hub for connecting guide cam and the like. Really can't complain considering ~$1300 for a TE cooled IMX571. Also, when you order you can choose an IR cut window or an AR coated window which lets through a wider portion of the spectrum. I got the AR window because it gives me maximum flexibility.

Regards.

Edited by Cbaxter, 15 January 2021 - 01:24 AM.


#4 nfotis

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 08:36 AM

I'm quite intrigued by this camera, but I hadn't took the plunge yet, due to very few user reports.

What's the sensor distance from the mount? I suppose around 17mm? If I understand correctly, this one has no tilt adapter nor heated sensor window or dessicant place.

N.F.
(maybe this thread should be moved to Experienced imagers?)

#5 Cbaxter

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 09:18 AM

I'm quite intrigued by this camera, but I hadn't took the plunge yet, due to very few user reports.

What's the sensor distance from the mount? I suppose around 17mm? If I understand correctly, this one has no tilt adapter nor heated sensor window or dessicant place.

N.F.
(maybe this thread should be moved to Experienced imagers?)


Hello,

The backfocus distance to the sensor is 17.5mm. Also this camera does in fact have an adjustable heated sensor window. It does not have a tilt adjuster. Specs and features are most similar to the asi2600mc. For the price I am very happy with it so far. If tonight the weather holds true to reports, I'll be imaging the Rosetta nebula with this camera and an L-extreme filter. I hope to get at least 3 hours integration tonight, half of my planned time on this target.

Regards.
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#6 alalal

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 03:03 PM

Hey there I’ve got my camera!

Appalling weather here lately. But I got it out last night for an hour I seem to have the correct spacing

My 294 fan cooled is 12.5mm and the 26C TEC cooled is 17.5mm So I just added a 5mm spacer but getting dark corners. 
it’s not the end of the world as I can take it out with flats but a little bit annoying

 

I’m still a bit confused as to what gain setting I should use in Nina but I think people generally use 100…

 

im in bortle 9! With Altair triband and L Pro Max
 

 

I have seen some people talking about using a large number in the thousands in sharpcap  

 

My processing computer is out of action for two weeks being fixed so I cannot stack and give a proper insight

 

1 light at this link 

https://photos.app.g...msTMuXDWFysNLTA


Edited by alalal, 22 January 2021 - 03:09 PM.


#7 FearL0rd

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 03:50 PM

Any sample photos with this camera?

#8 Cbaxter

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 11:59 PM

Any sample photos with this camera?

Here is a single 600 second exposure from a few minutes ago. Seeing is just average-ish and the moon is up. See link to my Telescopius for largersize, the attached is very compressed. 110/660mm, 0.8x FF/FR, L-Extreme, sensor temp -2 Deg Celsius. 

 

Very brief level adjustments and down sample in GIMP.

Larger size: https://telescopius....-cruiser_baxter

Rosetta_600s_single.jpg


Edited by Cbaxter, 23 January 2021 - 12:00 AM.

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#9 FearL0rd

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 12:08 AM

Here is a single 600 second exposure from a few minutes ago. Seeing is just average-ish and the moon is up. See link to my Telescopius for largersize, the attached is very compressed. 110/660mm, 0.8x FF/FR, L-Extreme, sensor temp -2 Deg Celsius.

Very brief level adjustments and down sample in GIMP.
Larger size: https://telescopius....-cruiser_baxter
attachicon.gifRosetta_600s_single.jpg

Very nice I like what I see. Thanks for sharing

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#10 FearL0rd

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 12:13 AM

Here is a single 600 second exposure from a few minutes ago. Seeing is just average-ish and the moon is up. See link to my Telescopius for largersize, the attached is very compressed. 110/660mm, 0.8x FF/FR, L-Extreme, sensor temp -2 Deg Celsius.

Very brief level adjustments and down sample in GIMP.
Larger size: https://telescopius....-cruiser_baxter
attachicon.gifRosetta_600s_single.jpg

More one question. Do you have the AR version or IR?

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#11 Cbaxter

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 12:49 AM

More one question. Do you have the AR version or IR?

Sent from my SM-G781U1 using Tapatalk


I have the AR version. I wanted maximum flexibility and options. I know that means I need a IR/UV cut most of the time, but I would rather have the choice in any case.

Regards.

#12 TareqPhoto

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Posted 27 January 2021 - 06:44 PM

I saw a version of this camera sensor as a 3rd party but i wasn't sure about the design quality or even the image quality, and also about drivers to operate the camera, but for that price i really can't resist, i just don't want to regret paying almost $1300 to find out issues are waiting me with the camera.



#13 Cbaxter

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Posted 27 January 2021 - 08:47 PM

I saw a version of this camera sensor as a 3rd party but i wasn't sure about the design quality or even the image quality, and also about drivers to operate the camera, but for that price i really can't resist, i just don't want to regret paying almost $1300 to find out issues are waiting me with the camera.


Hi TareqPhoto,

I am not sure what you mean by a version of this camera as a 3rd party. Are you talking about the ToupTek manufactured IMX571? I am sure it is sold under several brand names but if it is ToupTek then the quality should be the same, with the biggest differences being brand support. I have the RisingCam branded version, and there is also the Altair 26c which is also manufactured by the same manufacturer. If you are concerned about quality then I think you may want to be looking at QHY or ZWO with the same sensor, as these brands have proven records, for your peice of mind. If you are comfortable with the ToupTek manufactured variants then the biggest question to ask yourself is, are you willing to pay an additional ~$400 more for the Altair branded one, and have the Altair brand reputation behind it. My version that cost me less than $1300 has performed like a champ for me. The cooler has also performed very well for me, even more stable in practice than my initial indoor tests. Also, the sensor analysis shows that the ToupTek manufactured IMX571 fully lives up to it's advertised specs.

With all that said. Only you can know if the risks of a smaller less proven brand name are worth the cost savings to you personally. For many people it is well worth paying the $1700 for Altair brand, vs $1300 for the RisingCam, even though ToupTek manufacturers both of them, because many people trust Altair and don't really know RisingCam. Reputation is hard to build and easy to break. The ASI2600mc has nearly identical specs and almost the same features as the ToupTek but the ZWO cost about $2k right now. Is it worth it? Depends on who you ask. ZWO is trusted by a great many people, and there are good reasons for that. Brand Reputation indeed adds value to a product. If that matters or not and how much $ that reputation is worth, is up to each individual.

Regards

#14 FearL0rd

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Posted 27 January 2021 - 09:27 PM

I have other risingcam with IMX178 and the camera is amazing. I just bought this one also. Thanks for the review.
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#15 TareqPhoto

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Posted 27 January 2021 - 09:29 PM

Hi TareqPhoto,

I am not sure what you mean by a version of this camera as a 3rd party. Are you talking about the ToupTek manufactured IMX571? I am sure it is sold under several brand names but if it is ToupTek then the quality should be the same, with the biggest differences being brand support. I have the RisingCam branded version, and there is also the Altair 26c which is also manufactured by the same manufacturer. If you are concerned about quality then I think you may want to be looking at QHY or ZWO with the same sensor, as these brands have proven records, for your peice of mind. If you are comfortable with the ToupTek manufactured variants then the biggest question to ask yourself is, are you willing to pay an additional ~$400 more for the Altair branded one, and have the Altair brand reputation behind it. My version that cost me less than $1300 has performed like a champ for me. The cooler has also performed very well for me, even more stable in practice than my initial indoor tests. Also, the sensor analysis shows that the ToupTek manufactured IMX571 fully lives up to it's advertised specs.

With all that said. Only you can know if the risks of a smaller less proven brand name are worth the cost savings to you personally. For many people it is well worth paying the $1700 for Altair brand, vs $1300 for the RisingCam, even though ToupTek manufacturers both of them, because many people trust Altair and don't really know RisingCam. Reputation is hard to build and easy to break. The ASI2600mc has nearly identical specs and almost the same features as the ToupTek but the ZWO cost about $2k right now. Is it worth it? Depends on who you ask. ZWO is trusted by a great many people, and there are good reasons for that. Brand Reputation indeed adds value to a product. If that matters or not and how much $ that reputation is worth, is up to each individual.

Regards

Your answer is what i needed to hear or read actually, wanted to know if others are taking these kind of decisions or risks, many times i ask myself should i pay always and only for reputation? Didn't i used/tested those unknown reputation items before and it worked?!!! So i am really willing, sometimes reputations won't do me any favor at all at all, i have one ZWO planetary camera that was damaged accidentally and until today over 3 years it is dead in the box, ZWO can't do anything free even that time when i bought it because the damage is out of their guarantee, and i have QHY163M working like a horse for over 3 years without asking for service even once, my mount Skywatcher damaged and i had to pay extra to replace the motherboard, so all that showed me that reputation isn't always the case, for you maybe yes, but for me here, just a grain of salt.

 

At the end i have to ask, because if the camera is good with one or two it can be good wit more, if it is really bad then i will read more bad reviews and that is enough for me, it is no good that we become blind always for others reviews and experiences, many people have hands on items i never hear about it or don't know about, good to see others turn, then we can decide if yes or no, reputation is coming from a lot of great reviews and trust, that is from customers/users, so we need that to learn also, if you and three telling me that the camera is more than fine with you then that is enough for me to trust and go buy it, if i had bad experience with it i won't blame anyone, but it might be that i got the bad copy, and if it is a great copy then i am a winner in this case as i saved money also.

 

Bear in mind that i still consider myself as new and beginner even after 4 years, i learn new things everyday, and when i listen to others suggestions or recommendations or impression and it matches my expectations then that is all what matter, i don't have to just always following big names reputations blindly, for example i asked about one scope from Takahashi, i was believing that ALL of their scopes are just top high end quality no matter what, i had been corrected by some, and good i didn't live in that blind faith completely, i might regret doing it, so, if i ask so many questions i hope people to understand that i want to leanr from experinces of people more than from reputations, and sometimes less reputation doesn't mean bad quality, correct me if i am wrong.

 

It is from RisingCam brand, i saw them around for a while now, and if they brought those new sensor in production it means they are also working and no joke, the maker or manufacturer will not keep going if there are no good sales or no custmers and no buyers, so i saw this company first in 2018, but i didn't trust them that time, and the time just passed and we are in 2021 and the name is still there with the new models, that is something.



#16 Cbaxter

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Posted 28 January 2021 - 12:10 AM

Your answer is what i needed to hear or read actually, wanted to know if others are taking these kind of decisions or risks, many times i ask myself should i pay always and only for reputation? Didn't i used/tested those unknown reputation items before and it worked?!!! So i am really willing, sometimes reputations won't do me any favor at all at all, i have one ZWO planetary camera that was damaged accidentally and until today over 3 years it is dead in the box, ZWO can't do anything free even that time when i bought it because the damage is out of their guarantee, and i have QHY163M working like a horse for over 3 years without asking for service even once, my mount Skywatcher damaged and i had to pay extra to replace the motherboard, so all that showed me that reputation isn't always the case, for you maybe yes, but for me here, just a grain of salt.

At the end i have to ask, because if the camera is good with one or two it can be good wit more, if it is really bad then i will read more bad reviews and that is enough for me, it is no good that we become blind always for others reviews and experiences, many people have hands on items i never hear about it or don't know about, good to see others turn, then we can decide if yes or no, reputation is coming from a lot of great reviews and trust, that is from customers/users, so we need that to learn also, if you and three telling me that the camera is more than fine with you then that is enough for me to trust and go buy it, if i had bad experience with it i won't blame anyone, but it might be that i got the bad copy, and if it is a great copy then i am a winner in this case as i saved money also.

Bear in mind that i still consider myself as new and beginner even after 4 years, i learn new things everyday, and when i listen to others suggestions or recommendations or impression and it matches my expectations then that is all what matter, i don't have to just always following big names reputations blindly, for example i asked about one scope from Takahashi, i was believing that ALL of their scopes are just top high end quality no matter what, i had been corrected by some, and good i didn't live in that blind faith completely, i might regret doing it, so, if i ask so many questions i hope people to understand that i want to leanr from experinces of people more than from reputations, and sometimes less reputation doesn't mean bad quality, correct me if i am wrong.

It is from RisingCam brand, i saw them around for a while now, and if they brought those new sensor in production it means they are also working and no joke, the maker or manufacturer will not keep going if there are no good sales or no custmers and no buyers, so i saw this company first in 2018, but i didn't trust them that time, and the time just passed and we are in 2021 and the name is still there with the new models, that is something.


I enjoy giving the small new companies a chance. If no one ever gives them a chance then they will never gain reputation from the market community. I am glad I gave RisingCam a chance because I saved a lot of $ on a very nice camera with an awesome sensor.

Regards.
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#17 TareqPhoto

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Posted 28 January 2021 - 08:37 AM

I enjoy giving the small new companies a chance. If no one ever gives them a chance then they will never gain reputation from the market community. I am glad I gave RisingCam a chance because I saved a lot of $ on a very nice camera with an awesome sensor.

Regards.

That is great to hear and read, i think i will give them a chance also, that is what i need, thank you very much

 

Regards



#18 FearL0rd

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Posted 29 January 2021 - 12:43 AM

What's the gain did you use?

#19 Cbaxter

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Posted 29 January 2021 - 01:58 AM

What's the gain did you use?


I always use the lowest gain setting, so 0 for me in APT.

I used APT for acquisition. Like the ASI and QHY this camera has two gain modes, Low Conversion Gain (LCG) mode and High Conversion Gain (HCG) mode. For narrowband like the L-extreme Rosetta image above I used HCG mode, and for broadband imaging I use LCG mode for max full well capacity. I use the lowest gain setting for any given mode, because that gives the best dynamic range vs read noise for either mode. With the ASI and QHY the LCG and HCG are triggered automatically depending on the gain setting, while the RisingCam, Altair, ToupTek you must specifically select the gain conversion mode, then gain setting for that mode. If you look at the analysis charts in the original post you will notice that in each mode the best dynamic range and full well capacity is at the lowest gain (0 or 100 gain, depending on the software you use) and higher gain settings in each mode rapidly reduce dynamic range and full well, with only very minor drops in read noise. In either conversion gain mode the sensor has such low read noise that there isn't much benefit to higher gain settings. So basically if you are doing long exposures that are several minutes or more then you would use the LCG mode and the lowest gain setting to get the max full well and dynamic range, with still very low read noise. If you want to do faster exposures that may not swamp read noise on the low setting, then you would use HCG mode, with the lowest gain for max full well and dynamic range for that mode. I essentially never touch the gain setting. HCG has extremely low read noise, as shown in the first post charts.

Regards.
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#20 FearL0rd

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Posted 29 January 2021 - 08:39 AM

I always use the lowest gain setting, so 0 for me in APT.

I used APT for acquisition. Like the ASI and QHY this camera has two gain modes, Low Conversion Gain (LCG) mode and High Conversion Gain (HCG) mode. For narrowband like the L-extreme Rosetta image above I used HCG mode, and for broadband imaging I use LCG mode for max full well capacity. I use the lowest gain setting for any given mode, because that gives the best dynamic range vs read noise for either mode. With the ASI and QHY the LCG and HCG are triggered automatically depending on the gain setting, while the RisingCam, Altair, ToupTek you must specifically select the gain conversion mode, then gain setting for that mode. If you look at the analysis charts in the original post you will notice that in each mode the best dynamic range and full well capacity is at the lowest gain (0 or 100 gain, depending on the software you use) and higher gain settings in each mode rapidly reduce dynamic range and full well, with only very minor drops in read noise. In either conversion gain mode the sensor has such low read noise that there isn't much benefit to higher gain settings. So basically if you are doing long exposures that are several minutes or more then you would use the LCG mode and the lowest gain setting to get the max full well and dynamic range, with still very low read noise. If you want to do faster exposures that may not swamp read noise on the low setting, then you would use HCG mode, with the lowest gain for max full well and dynamic range for that mode. I essentially never touch the gain setting. HCG has extremely low read noise, as shown in the first post charts.

Regards.

Thanks for the tips. Im waiting for mine arrive

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#21 Prudentis

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 03:20 PM

If only there was an M version in the RisingCam branding ... The Altair one is 2,600 EUR bawling.gif

I also "love" it, how in the initial announcement by QHY both versions of the 571 sensore vere priced at about 2000 and now the mono version costs 600 more than the C version in every brand 



#22 Dulinor

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 03:24 PM

The RisingCam people said they were working on one.

If only there was an M version in the RisingCam branding ... The Altair one is 2,600 EUR bawling.gif
I also "love" it, how in the initial announcement by QHY both versions of the 571 sensore vere priced at about 2000 and now the mono version costs 600 more than the C version in every brand


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#23 TareqPhoto

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Posted 17 April 2021 - 03:34 PM

If only there was an M version in the RisingCam branding ... The Altair one is 2,600 EUR bawling.gif

I also "love" it, how in the initial announcement by QHY both versions of the 571 sensore vere priced at about 2000 and now the mono version costs 600 more than the C version in every brand 

Th at is why i am planning to get this RisingCam camera of IMX571 in color, i am not planning to buy any more mono now, and in future if i want to go mono again then it will be available cheaper.


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#24 Prudentis

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Posted 22 April 2021 - 09:17 AM

Th at is why i am planning to get this RisingCam camera of IMX571 in color, i am not planning to buy any more mono now, and in future if i want to go mono again then it will be available cheaper.

I will probably do that myself.

I love mono imaging and actually never imaged in OSC lol.gif

So might actually try color imaging, especially, when the RisingCam is such a bargain. I need two cameras anyway since my 1600MM is borrowed and I will need to give it back to the observatory after Covid ... so buying this one now and a mono version later seems like the way to go for me


Edited by Prudentis, 22 April 2021 - 09:17 AM.


#25 TareqPhoto

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Posted 22 April 2021 - 11:34 AM

I will probably do that myself.

I love mono imaging and actually never imaged in OSC lol.gif

So might actually try color imaging, especially, when the RisingCam is such a bargain. I need two cameras anyway since my 1600MM is borrowed and I will need to give it back to the observatory after Covid ... so buying this one now and a mono version later seems like the way to go for me

The mono is always a nightmare as i must buy more extras with it, mainly larger filters, and that will cost also, in this case i better go with OSC and live with it for a while until i feel i need to go mono again in larger sensors or i can afford larger filters, if i go with APS-C mono then next year i want to go full frame mono, and then what else?




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