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Camera buying advice requested

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#1 JohnWatty

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 06:16 AM

Hi all,

I have an Esprit 100ED, which I currently use with a Canon 5d3.

 

I'd like to get a CMOS/CCD and am totally out of the loop as to what is considered good/current.

 

Ideally I'd like to limit the budget at about £1000.  Less is great and I'd consider more if it got me something worthwhile.  I'd prefer to take colour but not set on it.  

Because the Esprit is very wide angle, and the 5d3 uses the whole frame, I'd quite like something that zooms in a bit more if that's possible, so I can still use the 5d3 for the wider targets such as NGC7000.

 

I'd be really grateful for recommendations or links to relevant threads.  I keep putting this off because of the time needed to research, so it would be awesome to know what you would recommend.   Apart from possibly getting closer on targets, I'd also hope for getting more details and less noise by making this purchase.

 

Thanks in advance :)



#2 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 07:26 AM

ASI533MC Pro or the ASI183MC Pro would be good choices and within your budget.

 

Go to this website and spend a good bit of time playing with the field of view calculator to make your choice.

 

http://astronomy.too.../field_of_view/


Edited by matt_astro_tx, 16 October 2021 - 07:27 AM.

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#3 photobiker

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 07:45 AM

I like a lot of folks here I started with a DLSR.  I have and still use a Canon 7d and 5d and use them with Canon lens as well as a telescope.  When I got a astro camera I got a mono that had a 4/3 sensor instead of a crop sensor, because of cost.  Based on you budget a color would fit right in your budget and it would have a 4/3 sensor that would give you that little extra you are looking for.  As for brands, I think any camera from a reputable dealer would be good.  Personally I use ASI, but no real reason other than maybe they are red.

 

Mono cameras are a little more expensive and the with all the additional items needed like focusfilter wheel and filters you are sneaking up on $2000 and above.  Not knowing where you live and your dedication, mono requires more data collection time for LRGB and if you are collecting Ha, Oiii and Sii even more.


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#4 DJL

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 08:54 AM

When I was choosing my camera I had it narrowed down to 3 - ASI 533MC, 294MC and 071MC. I set them all up with my telescope in the oculars section of the Stellarium app on my Mac. I also made a set of bookmarks for targets of interest.

 

With the Mac connected to the TV, I sat on the sofa with my spouse and did an A, B or C? comparison of all the cameras on all the targets. The 071MC won based on field of view, but the 294 was also good despite its smaller sensor. The 533MC was appealing and I like the square format, but for my telescope the FoV was too restricting.

 

I chose OSC because I have a limited sky view and thought that using narrowband would lead to multi-night projects for every target. I'm still headed that way but want to build experience with OSC first.


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#5 JCDAstro

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 11:01 AM

I think the 533 is the most affordable, best OSC camera that you could buy now and still find uses for it later as you continue to upgrade or get a larger sensor. With that said, as long as you get a cooled camera its night and day compared to the DSLR and almost anything you buy will have a smaller sensor, so it will "zoom." The suggestion to check fov in stellarium is a great one and definitely helped me with my camera choices.

I would have got the 533, but decided to save up for the APSC sensor and got a 268C.
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#6 JohnWatty

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 04:18 PM

Thanks very much for the advice, really appreciated.  I've a bit as well, and now wonder if I ought to go the black and white with filters, so I have much food for thought.  But I will look into the cameras suggested and take the great advice to play around with the field of view for the different cameras to see how they compare :)



#7 ngatel

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 05:02 PM

You may want to go to the Astronomy Tools CCD Suitability Tools to match a camera to your telescope.

https://astronomy.to...ccd_suitability

I have an Esprit 100 too. I use both a ASI071MC Pro and a ASI183MC Pro. Astronomy tools says the 071 under-samples a bit at 1.79”/pixel and the 183 is good at .90”/pixel. However I like the 071 better and use it more often.
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#8 unimatrix0

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 06:00 PM

I own QHY183C and ASI533MC pro. For someone who never used a cooled CMOS,  I would recommend  either the ASI533 which is the budget option, but If I would have some extra cash right now I would go for the newest  out there, I'd get the ASI2600, which is pricey, but no amp glow APS-C sized sensor and true 16bit sensor , unlike the 533 being 14bit and the 183 is only 12bit. 


Edited by unimatrix0, 17 October 2021 - 06:00 PM.

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#9 bobzeq25

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 06:40 PM

Thanks very much for the advice, really appreciated.  I've a bit as well, and now wonder if I ought to go the black and white with filters, so I have much food for thought.  But I will look into the cameras suggested and take the great advice to play around with the field of view for the different cameras to see how they compare smile.gif

533MC if color.  For mono, either the 183 (I have both) or the 294.  But now we're talking a lot of money, all included.  I use both color and mono, as appropriate.

 

The 2600s (I have both) are lovely, but expensive.

 

Note that you don't "zoom in" on anything.  You get different fields of view.  This is not terrestrial photography.


Edited by bobzeq25, 17 October 2021 - 06:42 PM.

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#10 terry59

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 05:37 AM

Image (scale) is everything smile.gif

 

How good is your tracking? The smaller the image scale, the more challenging it will be


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#11 JohnWatty

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 04:51 AM

Everyone's responses have been very helpful and it's given rise to a fundamental question...

 

I live in Norfolk, about 3 miles outside Norwich and the FLO App classifies my skies as Bortle Class 4.  On my standard 5d3, I can take an unguided exposure of 60-70 seconds and that gets me on the first bar of the histogram (which I understand is roughly a correct exposure).  I could go unguided up to 90-120 seconds but this makes the histogram a little hot.

 

With a light pollution filter on the 5d3 I can go to 5 min exposures (guided) to get to the first bar on the histogram.  So I get more detail, but the light pollution filter colours everything blue and it's a nightmare to get the colours right (particularly stars)

 

If I buy something like the 294 (but even hypothetically the 2600) and my new camera gets is much more sensitive, am I just going to run into the light pollution barrier anyway.  So my current 60-70 second unguided exposures, with my new camera will get to the first rung of the histogram after 20-30 seconds due to better sensitivy, but can't go further because of light pollution?  In which case, is it worth upgrading at all? 



#12 matt_astro_tx

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 06:32 AM

I think it's worth upgrading for the reduction in noise alone that a cooled camera gets you.  Furthermore if you go mono/narrowband then light pollution won't be an issue at all.  You can shoot from downtown.

 

That being said, most of us wish we had Bortle 4 skies.  I'm in a 6/7 zone and shoot 180 second exposures with my ASI183MC Pro with only a UV/IR cut filter.  I don't have any complaints about LP from here.


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#13 terry59

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 07:33 AM

Mono is the best solution for mitigating LP so you don't need to deal with as much in processing. Otherwise get really good at working with it


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#14 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 09:11 AM

Everyone's responses have been very helpful and it's given rise to a fundamental question...

 

I live in Norfolk, about 3 miles outside Norwich and the FLO App classifies my skies as Bortle Class 4.  On my standard 5d3, I can take an unguided exposure of 60-70 seconds and that gets me on the first bar of the histogram (which I understand is roughly a correct exposure).  I could go unguided up to 90-120 seconds but this makes the histogram a little hot.

 

With a light pollution filter on the 5d3 I can go to 5 min exposures (guided) to get to the first bar on the histogram.  So I get more detail, but the light pollution filter colours everything blue and it's a nightmare to get the colours right (particularly stars)

 

If I buy something like the 294 (but even hypothetically the 2600) and my new camera gets is much more sensitive, am I just going to run into the light pollution barrier anyway.  So my current 60-70 second unguided exposures, with my new camera will get to the first rung of the histogram after 20-30 seconds due to better sensitivy, but can't go further because of light pollution?  In which case, is it worth upgrading at all? 

Fundamental (very) answer.

 

Absolutely.  You worry about light pollution.  How's Bortle 7 grab you?  <smile>  That's my backyard.

 

Here's my basic path.  In each case the new camera was a significant improvement.

 

Sony NEX 7T.  Nikon D5500.  Atik 460EXM.  ZWO 183 (both).  ZWO 2600 (both).

 

There have been scope changes as well.  You change subexposure time according to your light pollution and your optical speed.  What counts is total imaging time, how many total photons you capture.  How you slice it into subs does not matter so much, you just need to get it about right.  Say within a factor of 2 either way.

 

The basic principal is that signal (what you want) increases linearly with time, but noise (what you don't want) increases more slowly.  More total imaging time is a win.  How's 79 hours grab you?

 

https://www.cloudyni...74-sh2-129-ou4/

 

My general principal.  One hour minimum, two is better, 4 is good.  Don't care much about subexposure.

 

I'll close with an extreme example.  This is F2, and Bortle 7.  662X10".  Yes.  10 seconds.  This look OK to you?  Note that 10 second subs are silly.  _Unless_ you're F2 and Bortle7, shooting broadband.  Then they're pretty good.  Not perfect, but subexposure is relatively unimportant.  People have a hard time with that.  <smile>

 

Better version of that image here, sharper, shows the dim stuff better.

 

https://www.astrobin.com/t5173s/

 

Get subexposure in the ballpark.  Then, shoot more subs.

 

Pleadies 2019 V3 smaller.jpg


Edited by bobzeq25, 19 October 2021 - 09:19 AM.

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#15 JohnWatty

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 09:52 AM

Amazing photo, bobzeq25.

 

I've heard before that it's the total imaging time that matters, rather than the individual sub time, but I always wonder - surely hundreds of short exposures still won't pull the details that a lesser number of longer exposures will?  However, your photo shows how well it can work. 

 

And that makes me prefer to use my 60 sec exposures and not worry about guiding or colour correcting the blue tint of the light pollution filter....  I have found that on more difficult targets I'm (so far) not getting the same details I was with 5min subs, but I definitely prefer the workflow.

 

So far I think I'm edging towards the 294MC-PRO...


Edited by JohnWatty, 19 October 2021 - 09:53 AM.


#16 dx_ron

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 10:06 AM

Don't use a "light-pollution filter". There might be times from Bortle 4 when an OSC plus a duo-narrowband Ha/Oiii (like the L-eXtreme) is useful to highlight emission nebulae.

I drive an hour to get to (upper) Bortle 4, and have quite successfully used unfiltered 5-minute subs with a 183C. Removing the fairly mild light pollution gradients is an easy task for processing software.

 

With either a 294 or 183, you will need to be extra careful about your calibration frames, as both have pretty significant amp glow.But as long as you follow best practices, you won't see it in your final images.


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#17 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 10:14 AM

Don't use a "light-pollution filter". There might be times from Bortle 4 when an OSC plus a duo-narrowband Ha/Oiii (like the L-eXtreme) is useful to highlight emission nebulae.

I drive an hour to get to (upper) Bortle 4, and have quite successfully used unfiltered 5-minute subs with a 183C. Removing the fairly mild light pollution gradients is an easy task for processing software.

 

With either a 294 or 183, you will need to be extra careful about your calibration frames, as both have pretty significant amp glow.But as long as you follow best practices, you won't see it in your final images.

Missed that one.

 

So-called "light pollution" filters don't magically filter out light pollution.  They whack out hunks of the spectrum in the hope that what they whack is mostly light pollution, what they pass is mostly desired signal.  For emission nebulae that can work.  For broadband sources like galaxies - not so much.  They reduce signal and distort color.

 

What you do want to do is gradient reduction in processing.  Not perfect, but, done well, reduces the effect of light pollution, doesn't reduce signal or distort color.  Works on all targets.  Astro Pixel Processor has an excellent GR tool.
 


Edited by bobzeq25, 19 October 2021 - 10:15 AM.

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#18 JohnWatty

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:01 PM

Don't use a "light-pollution filter". There might be times from Bortle 4 when an OSC plus a duo-narrowband Ha/Oiii (like the L-eXtreme) is useful to highlight emission nebulae.

I drive an hour to get to (upper) Bortle 4, and have quite successfully used unfiltered 5-minute subs with a 183C. Removing the fairly mild light pollution gradients is an easy task for processing software.

 

With either a 294 or 183, you will need to be extra careful about your calibration frames, as both have pretty significant amp glow.But as long as you follow best practices, you won't see it in your final images.

Is the 2600 my cheapest 'no amp glow' option?



#19 Signal2Noise

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:15 PM

Is the 2600 my cheapest 'no amp glow' option?

The 533MC is


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#20 ngatel

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:19 PM

I wouldn’t worry about amp glow. I have a 183mc pro and with proper calibration frames (flats, darks, and dark flats) it is a non-issue.

#21 JohnWatty

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:27 PM

The 533MC is

Thanks, that's cheaper than the 294, which I wasn't expecting



#22 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:49 PM

Thanks, that's cheaper than the 294, which I wasn't expecting

The field of view is smaller.  But it's not bad and the camera is significantly easier to live with.


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#23 JCDAstro

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 04:56 PM

So my current 60-70 second unguided exposures, with my new camera will get to the first rung of the histogram after 20-30 seconds due to better sensitivy, but can't go further because of light pollution? In which case, is it worth upgrading at all?


As others have mentioned, the noise reduction from a cooled camera is a significant upgrade in and of itself, however you also receive a significant dynamic range increase (especially with the 16bit sensors) and much better responsivity to Hydrogen Alpha (near IR colors). All in all I would be surprised if you didn't immediately notice improved image quality with your first image.
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#24 17.5Dob

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 05:33 PM

If you are used to the FOV your dSLR gives you using your 100mm, you seriously need to check out the FOV of the 294 and the 533 before you decide. The 533 has a very small FOV. You will have to shoot mosaics of most of the popular nebula. It has less than 1/2 the FOV as your dSLR. The 533 works best with a little 50mm or 60mm with reducer, if widefield is what you want. The 294 is not "too" much smaller than your dSLR, but again, run a simulator on your favorite targets. There are lots of problems trying to get the 294 to calibrate as well.

Attached Thumbnails

  • astronomy_tools_fov.png


#25 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 07:01 PM

 

I've heard before that it's the total imaging time that matters, rather than the individual sub time, but I always wonder - surely hundreds of short exposures still won't pull the details that a lesser number of longer exposures will?

Wonder no more.  Hundreds of short exposures can pull the same detail.  Or even more.

 

You can overdo it.  3600 1 second exposures is unlikely to be as good as 120 30 second exposures.  But probably not for the reason you think.  <smile>

 

Lets get a little more deep into this.

 

If you shoot too many too short exposures, you can lose some dim detail to read noise.  That's noise from the camera that accumulates with each sub.

 

And, if you shoot too few too long exposures you will saturate a lot of the data.  That costs you bright detail, and star color.

 

You need to strike a balance.  How?

 

There are a number of good methods.  Here's one I like, and it's really educational.

 

Look at the average ADU of a frame.  Assuming its a light, correct the ADU by subtracting a bias.  Then, using the gain of the camera convert ADU to electrons.  That's just about the light pollution level. 

 

Then take the read noise in electrons.  Square it.  A good balance is when the first number is 5-10X the second. 

 

5-10X.?  Pretty wide range.  Lets say 5X is 30 seconds and 10X is 60 seconds.  So, which is better?

 

We could argue about that.  Is 120X30" better or worse than 60X60"?

 

It doesn't matter.  What matters is that EITHER 240X30" or 120X60" will beat the whatever out of EITHER of the first two alternatives.  2 hours beats one hour.  The difference between 30" and 60" is, by comparison, insignificant.

 

People have a really hard time wrapping their brain around that one.

 

A lot better explained in this superb book.  I can hardly summarize several pages here.

 

https://www.amazon.c...h/dp/1138055360

 

Warning - math ahead.  <smile>

 

By the way 5-10X read noise squared is how I came up with 10 seconds above.  Actually, above is more like 12 X RN^2.

 

Not that it matters.  <smile>

 

Much lesser point.  The 533 is much easier to use than the 294.  You see a lot of puzzled posts from new 294 owners here.  533s?  Pretty much none at all. 

 

That compensates some for limited field of view.  This is a constant problem with CN advice.  Experienced imagers placing more concern on issues more important to them.

 

But, this also isn't a big deal.  People take nice pictures with both.

 

Provided they do enough total imaging time.  <smile>
 


Edited by bobzeq25, 19 October 2021 - 07:09 PM.

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