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ASI294MC Pro or ASI1600MM Pro

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#1 Likwid

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 08:37 AM

Hello Everyone,

 

I posted a question about the Orion Starshoot G21 the other day, and since nobody responded to it, I figured even considering that camera was probably a bad idea. Now I am currently in a dilemma where I am unsure if I want to go with an OSC camera, or take the plunge and go Mono. I currently am shooting a T3i when it is cold, and a Rebel XS when it is warm. If my T3i sensor goes over 17C, my images are worthless due to all the noise. It is one of the main reasons that I want to upgrade to a cooled camera, it would allow me to shoot more often. I am using an Orion ED80, and I have a AT73ED II on the way for more widefield shots. I want to make sure the camera that I get will fit those scopes nicely and maybe have a little wiggle room for upgrading the scope next year (Probably in the 800mm range, I am looking at the Orion EON 115mm Triplet). I only shoot DSO's, and mostly nebula from a Bortle 7 location. I did just get access to a dark site/observatory that I will be making use of this year. That being said, I have been looking through these forums for the last few days and my decision is even harder now. I have essentially narrowed it down to the ASI294MC Pro and the ASI1600MM Pro. With my budget, I could get the ASI294MC Pro, and a nice LP filter then slowly start getting some future proof 2" Narrowband filters to be ready for a Mono camera down the road. If I get the ASI1600MM Pro, I would essentially get the cheapest 1.25" LRGB Kit and then slowly start to get Narrowband Filters down the road, but then I have my DSLR's to take OSC images still. I have been looking around Astrobin and forums, and I really like the end results from the ASI1600mm Pro. It seems a little daunting with the amount of work that goes into getting those images, considering how many clear nights we have here. Looking at the ASI294MC Pro on Astrobin, the images are not all that big of an "upgrade" from what I am essentially getting with the T3i and Rebel XS. I know all of this is personal preference, but I was hoping to get some others input that were in the same situation that I am in. Is it really worth the extra work/money to go Mono? Also, has anyone had good results doing Narrowband with the ASI294MC Pro?

 

Thank you!



#2 imtl

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 09:26 AM

If you shoot from b7 and mostly nebulae then why do you want LRGB? Get SHO filters with mono and shoot the stuff you like.

You should consider the 294mm pro instead of the 1600mm


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#3 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 09:56 AM

I recently upgraded my kit from a Lumix G9 to a ZWO ASI 294MM Pro. I went mono because I didn't feel the juice was worth the squeeze going from the G9 to the 294MC Pro. Sure, I would have gained sensitivity in Ha and TEC. However, if I wanted to target any emission nebulae, I'd still need to get a filter (or 2) like the Optolong L-eXtreme or the Radian Triad Ultra. Well, if I needed a filter anyway...

 

If your budget allows for it, the 294MM Pro is a better camera in pretty much every way than the 1600.

 

Filters - getting a matched set will be helpful. That way you're getting parfocal and 1:1:1 (well, close enough). Other than the QC issue I had with the L filter, I like the Antlia. Moderately priced.

 

Oh... if you are going the mono route, I HIGHLY recommend getting an auto-focuser like the ZWO EAF. Otherwise, you'll be babysitting your rig and you'll have to grab the Bahtinov mask and fiddle with things to get the focus right. Even with parfocal filters, no refractor corrects perfectly, so you'll need to adjust focus as you move through the light spectrum.


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#4 Likwid

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 10:50 AM

Thanks for the replies! The problem with the 294MM is that it is basically my entire budget, so I wouldn't able to afford any filters for a while. $1500 for the camera, plus $400 for SHO filters is a little much right now. The annoying thing is that the ASI1600MM Pro is 5 years old now and still $1300. I only have clip in filters for my DSLR currently, which are useless for these cameras. I was thinking LRGB cause it would be cheaper to get those for now in a kit, than getting a whole set of Narrowband filters. The focus thing brings up an interesting point. I kind of envisioned it as me doing one filter per night essentially to get enough data. I figured I would have to adjust focus between filters, but I also figured that they would be on different nights. I have also been reading threads from people having unfinished projects because they don't have enough time to image a specific target in mono, so I am kind of balancing quality vs time.


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#5 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 11:29 AM

Goes to show you the resale value of these things :). The 1600 isn't a bad camera. Plenty of images have been taken with it. Its weakness is the "micro-lensing" effect around bright stars. I put that in quotes because the effect really isn't micro-lensing, but somehow that's the term that stuck and you can find plenty of threads discussing the issue that way.

 

There are complete kits for the 1600 that come with the camera, filter wheel and filters. I assume you're looking at such a solution. You can get the camera/mini-efw/LRGB for under $1500 I think. I would highly recommend you save your pennies for the kit with the 8 position wheel. Otherwise, once you do get your SHO filters... you'll have to play the filter wheel game and exchange some of the LRGB for the SHO and vice-versa.

 

Typical rule of thumb for imaging LRGB is 50% of the time on L, 50% on the RGB. So, if you take 1 hour of L, you would take 20 minutes each of R, G and B. Regarding the focuser, it's not just filter changes that would necessitate re-focusing. Temperature changes throughout the night will have an effect on the optics. The EAF is one of those things that when you get it you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. It allows for near total automation of everything. So, let's say you want to image Markarian's Chain (hey, it's galaxy season :) ). You head outside, setup your rig and polar align. Then you setup your software to slew the mount, plate solve to center the image, and do 4 hours of L, 80 minutes each of R, G and B. You tell the software you want to re-focus on every filter change, and also on any temperature change more than 2 degrees, etc. Everything starts running, you head back inside.

 

With the "one filter a night" approach, you're dependent on having at least 4 clear nights to do an LRGB image. Maybe you get a whole bunch of clear nights, in which case this is a non-issue. The issue, however comes from what I wrote previously about the "rule of thumb" for LRGB imaging. You typically want 50% of your time with L. So, if you're doing a filter a night, let's say on that first night you did 6 hours of L. On the second night, you'd do 2 hours of R. What are you going to do with the rest of the night? Now, obviously you could mitigate this somewhat by having multiple targets on tap... so on night 1 you got 6 hours of L on Markarian's Chain. On night 2 you got 6 hours of L on the Pinwheel. On night 3 you got 6 hours of L on the Whirlpool. Now, on your "color" nights (4, 5 and 6), you would do 2 hours each on Markarian's, Pinwheel and Whirlpool.


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#6 Likwid

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 11:56 AM

Interesting, so really it is only about double the time, rather than 4x the time invested. I am starting to see why a filter wheel comes in handy now lol. Should I invest in 2" filters, or are the 1.25" filters enough? There is so much to consider in this hobby, and even more so when you start thinking into the future for upgrades!



#7 imtl

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 12:12 PM

Interesting, so really it is only about double the time, rather than 4x the time invested. I am starting to see why a filter wheel comes in handy now lol. Should I invest in 2" filters, or are the 1.25" filters enough? There is so much to consider in this hobby, and even more so when you start thinking into the future for upgrades!

What do you mean by doubling the time? Compared to what?

 

If you are going for the 1600 or the 294 there is no need for 2" filters. 1.25" or 31mm is perfectly fine.



#8 Likwid

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 12:14 PM

I guess maybe I read that wrong. I was thinking that the time spent on L would probably equal what I would normally spend on a target, and then the other filters would be 1/3 of that each. That would double the time spent on a target effectively.



#9 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 12:15 PM

The 2" filters are overkill for this setup. They are also priced considerably higher than the smaller variants. I chose 1.25" filters for the convenience of the mounted housing. Threading them into position seemed less daunting than dealing with tiny little screws and nylon washers.

 

Also, you don't need 2x or 4x the time invested. If you're comparing taking an LRGB image to taking an OSC image, you will get a better image in _less_time with mono+LRGB filters than you would from an OSC. The trick is the L filter. That's why you want about 50% of your time on the L. You get more bang for your buck with it. There are a ton of threads where people debate the merits of using L vs just using RGB alone.

 

Point is, I would take an hour of LRGB split into 30 minutes of L and 10 each of RGB over 60 minutes of OSC. 



#10 imtl

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 12:19 PM

Just to add. Equal amount of time spent with LRGB+mono compared to OSC with the same features will yield potentially much better data to work it. What you get in the final image depends heavily also on your image processing skills. It's easier to get a better image with better data. That's the whole story.


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#11 Likwid

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 12:27 PM

Awesome, thank you for all the help and the quick responses! Now to do some shopping and wait a few months cause everything is on backorder lol.



#12 Likwid

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 02:55 PM

Hmmm, I did some more searching around. What about the ASI183MM Pro?



#13 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 02:57 PM

Smaller sensor... more of a "niche" camera... if you haven't already, try out different camera/scope combos and see how they frame your target here: https://telescopius.com/



#14 imtl

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 02:59 PM

I image with it. It's a very good camera. Fits very well with short focal length scopes.

#15 licho52

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 03:16 PM

I would advise against all these cameras as they are in their twilight having been introduced 4-5 years ago.  Unfortunately their pricing doesn't reflect it, in effect you'll end up with an obsolete camera with extreme loss of value in a couple of years.  Saving money by buying old stuff this way will end up biting you.

 

You will not enjoy calibrating either of these, I guarantee, then you'll take a big hit on resale.


Edited by licho52, 18 March 2021 - 03:17 PM.


#16 imtl

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 03:24 PM

I would advise against all these cameras as they are in their twilight having been introduced 4-5 years ago. Unfortunately their pricing doesn't reflect it, in effect you'll end up with an obsolete camera with extreme loss of value in a couple of years. Saving money by buying old stuff this way will end up biting you.

You will not enjoy calibrating either of these, I guarantee, then you'll take a big hit on resale.


If you are talking about the 294mc or the 1600mm then their pricing does not reflect their ''age'' because they are good cameras. It does not matter that they are 4-5 years old. CCDs are older and do great.

Calibration is just fine with these cameras. No need to intimidate.
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#17 licho52

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 03:38 PM

Let's say I respect your enthusiasm and optimism but I don't share it.  None of them is a good buy in 2021, but OP will have to decide.  Their prices aren't lower only because of low volumes and lack of competition in the niche area.  In a normal market both would have to be discounted heavily.  Price notwithstanding, I would never suggest them to a newbie either because of their shortcomings which are painfully obvious when confronted with the newest sensors.


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#18 imtl

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 03:46 PM

Let's say I respect your enthusiasm and optimism but I don't share it.  None of them is a good buy in 2021, but OP will have to decide.  Their prices aren't lower only because of low volumes and lack of competition in the niche area.  In a normal market both would have to be discounted heavily.  Price notwithstanding, I would never suggest them to a newbie either because of their shortcomings which are painfully obvious when confronted with the newest sensors.

Sure, we agree on that. But that was not my point. I'll clarify it.

 

The fact that they are 4-5 year old sensors does not invalidate them. They are good cameras. Plenty of evidence for that around here.

New sensors came out. Also with higher prices (ASI2600) for example. I also suggested the 294mm which is a new camera on the market.

 

The point is that for a beginner with no experience with these cooled cameras and what it takes to handle them and the gear around them, there is nothing wrong with going for one of these on the used market (I would not buy them new) and work with them for a while.



#19 Likwid

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 04:07 PM

The problem at least with me is that I understand the age of a lot of these cameras and the number of sensors and technologies is very daunting to try and start researching. Then to add to it, you have to match the camera to the setup or else you get under/over sampling. With multiple scopes, this becomes even more of a headache. I am not a newbie per se, but I am starting to outgrow my current setup and understand the limitations of it. Essentially, my entire rig needs to be upgraded, but I have to do it in the order of the most impact to the least impact. When I started out, I thought to myself there is no way I'll ever get to the 15lb-ish recommended imaging limit on the Orion Sirius! There is no reason to buy larger than that! Now here I am a few years later looking to upgrade my scope, which I can't do without upgrading my mount. My camera is the biggest bottleneck (That is cheaper than upgrading a scope and mount together) because I lose a lot of imaging time during the summer due to excess heat on my sensor and unbearable noise. Like I said before, if I hit 17C on my T3i sensor, my images are unusable. So now I am trying to "future proof" my rig with essentially outdated technology so I can go out and image more and fix the mistakes that I am making with my imaging. I just don't want to go out and get a camera that will be obsolete next year, but I also don't want to spend more money than I need to, just to enjoy the hobby. I understand that I have a lot to learn, I have "Making Every Photon Count" and "The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer" but they don't really go that in depth on this part of the hobby. OSC is very attractive because I don't need to spend a lot of time to get an image, but I know that I will eventually not be happy with my results and want to go to Mono. The problem with Mono is that it is an expensive upgrade right off the bat after camera, filters and filter drawer/wheel. The other problem is that everything in this hobby is how much improvement is worth X dollars. Sure I can get a great camera for $1000, but for $200 more, I can get a "gold standard" mono camera that is 6 years old, but for $200 more, I can get a newer mono camera that is way better, but then for $200 more I can get an awesome OSC camera that everyone is excited about and it never seems to end. Sorry for the rant, just frustrated lol.



#20 imtl

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 04:19 PM

Unless you're starting to get into small faint fuzzies, over/under sampling is making too many people too worried. 



#21 gdd

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 04:19 PM

Let's say I respect your enthusiasm and optimism but I don't share it.  None of them is a good buy in 2021, but OP will have to decide.  Their prices aren't lower only because of low volumes and lack of competition in the niche area.  In a normal market both would have to be discounted heavily.  Price notwithstanding, I would never suggest them to a newbie either because of their shortcomings which are painfully obvious when confronted with the newest sensors.

The newest sensors will not be available for the dedicated astro market immediately generally speaking. Ccd and cmos sensors are usually several years old by the time the time a dedicated astro camera is ready to go to market.


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#22 Stelios

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 04:44 PM

Undersampling (within reason--say up to 2.5" to 3"/px) is a non-event as long as you dither and drizzle. My best image ever is M31 at 2.33"/px.  Oversampling (up to around 0.5"/px)  is also not much of a concern--if the seeing doesn't justify it, just bin in software afterwards.

 

Here are my seriously considered views:

 

1) Mono just beats OSC. At *best*, under particular conditions, OSC comes close. But OSC can never be better than mono.

2) For the same quality image, mono requires less or equal time than OSC. Mono horror stories you hear are the "sour grapes" kind. 

3) The ASI1600MM is superior to the ASI183MM (I have both cameras). The ASI1600MM has *one* flaw--microlensing on bright stars. Other than that, it's an excellent camera.

4) That said, the ASI294MM is a better camera because of the ability to shoot at 4.6um or 2.3um. In effect, it's an ASI1600MM (with larger pixels and no microlensing effect) *and* an ASI183MM rolled into one. After the pandemic is over I will probably get rid of my two cameras and get an ASI294MM (though I always plan to sell things and almost never follow through...).

5) You will eventually want to upgrade from the cheaper ZWO filters, to at least Astronomik. 

 

Initially, the best bang for the buck is the ASI1600MM-Pro kit (if it's still available). 

But the best purchase you can probably make with a tight budget is:

ASI294MM-Pro

Ha filter (if you can go straight to Astronomik, do it). There are so many objects to shoot in Ha, and even many spiral galaxies have a strong Ha component that you can later use to make LRGBHa images.

Later, with a little more cash, add:

8-pos filter wheel.

Astronomik L-2 or L-3 filter (luminance) 

Astronomik Deep Sky RGB (fantastic filters, well worth the extra money)

Later still add

Astronomik Oiii and Sii

 

Better still than Astronomik are Astrodon and Chroma, but the difference (IMO) is only worth the money when money does not have to be prioritized between purchases. 


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#23 Likwid

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 06:55 PM

Wow, that is some great information, thanks! I was worried about having to get the camera and all the filters at once, which would be a lot of money and a lot of waiting for things to come in stock. That chronological list helps prioritize what I need to start getting. I have Astronomik clip in filters for my DSLR and love them, but they are a PITA to switch out every time. I may end up selling the OIII and SII filters to "trade" them for the 1.25" versions. To me, I really like the crazy contrast of HSO images and I used to not like the false color but it is starting to grow on me, knowing what goes into making them. Hopefully this will be a great next step in my journey. My grand plan is to do a sky survey more or less with a huge mosaic after I learn more about processing. Thank you everyone for the replies and information!


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#24 Likwid

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Posted 19 March 2021 - 09:31 AM

So I ordered an ASI294MM Pro along with 1.25" Astronomik Ha and L2 filters. I was just reading about the L2 filter, and I am thinking maybe I should be using a CLS Filter instead of L2, being in Bortle 7 skies. Is the L2 filter enough light pollution protection, or should I try to cancel it and get a CLS-CCD Filter instead? Thanks!



#25 Likwid

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Posted 19 March 2021 - 10:12 AM

Nevermind, I cancelled the L2 and got the CLS-CCD instead! It seemed like a better fit, and I know it works well cause I have the clip-in version of this filter already. Thanks!


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