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Switching from dSLR to mono camera -what CCD camera?

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#1 IR656nm

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 03:52 PM

Hi Cloudy nights,

 

I have done some basic DSO imaging about 3 years ago and have waited to improve my processing/general astronomy knowledge, as well as waiting for a time when I have enough time and energy (now have more time as working less) to consider switching to DSO.

I have looked on this forum occasionally, and found a few images striking. For example, KathyAstro has done amazing DSO images including this:

 

https://www.cloudyni.../#entry11417364

 

I have a 150mm PDS Newtonian reflector (Skywatcher), but not had the chance to image with it much. I have HEQ5 PRo (quite new) and a 120mm-S guiding camera, ED70mm F6 refractor, some dSLR (1 H-alpha modified). I want to try for images like Kathy but cannot afford an ATIK 383L plus camera which costs about 2000 pounds , and the expensive RGB or narrowband filters.

 

1) What kind of CCD mono camera (cooled) can I get which is a bit less expensive (say sub 1000 pounds)?

2) Can I get basic filters which can give a reasonable result?

 

I really don't want to spend 10 years finding I cannot get anything like KathyAstro images.

 

Do you need to be in a dark site to get those or can you get them in Bortle 8 or 7 locations ? (I am imaging in the suburbs of Greater London).

 

Many thanks.

 

Apologies if this has been discussed before, but I could not trawl through thousands of posts tonight...

 

 

Magnus


Edited by IR656nm, 21 October 2021 - 03:54 PM.


#2 Ryou

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Posted 21 October 2021 - 04:23 PM

I live in a bortle 7/8 sky and narrowband really works wonders, though even LRGB on a mono is quite nice so far.

 

That said it is probably the priciest option out there since you need 7 filters, and even though cheaper ones will work, they can pose problems. Buy once cry once is very very true sadly. Your ED70mm F6 is super similar to my 80mm F6 and I'm super happy with the FoV and Resolution of my ASI183. It's a CMOS chip and not a CCD so I don't know if you're "stuck" on CCD, however it was right around the price you're looking at (think I paid right around 1k USD) and gives great results. The worse thing about it is really the Amp Glow, but it calibrates out fine as you can see above.

 

Not sure about any newer cameras that may replace/augment it, but on the whole it's really great for me and the 480mm and 250mm FL I image at.



#3 Alex McConahay

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 09:05 AM

>>>>>>1) What kind of CCD mono camera (cooled) can I get which is a bit less expensive (say sub 1000 pounds)?

 

You are right to want a MONO Camera, and one that is cooled. 

These will, in the long run, produce the best pictures. They have the highest top end. 

 

However, you may have inadvertently put the term "CCD" in there. A few years ago, that might have made sense. However, the CMOS cameras have progressed to the point that you should be open to them, not just CCD. Is there a reason you prefer CCD? Or was it just something you happened to say thinking that was your only real choice?

 

And, I do not think you will be able to get the camera, filter wheel, and filters in at less than 1000 pounds. 

 

 

>>>>>>>>2) Can I get basic filters which can give a reasonable result?

 

Yes. The basic filters will give you reasonable results. It is always nicest to have the finest. They have less chance of reflection, haloes, and all that. But, the inexpensive filters will do well.

 

>>>>>>>>>I really don't want to spend 10 years finding I cannot get anything like KathyAstro images

 

The learning curve is not as steep as it once was. However, some people get it right very quickly. Many others (like myself) never master it.

 

>>>>>>>>>>Do you need to be in a dark site to get those or can you get them in Bortle 8 or 7 locations ? (I am imaging in the suburbs of Greater London).

 

It is tougher to get good images without dark skies. So, yes, you need to get to good skies if you want good pictures reliably. That does not mean you cannot use tricks to get images in light polluted conditions. It just takes so much longer, and there are so many things that have to be fixed to do it. 

 

Alex


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#4 jonnybravo0311

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 09:40 AM

Your budget of £1000... is that for ONLY the camera? If so, then you should be able to get into the ZWO ASI183MM Pro. If your budget is for the camera, filters, wheel? Well... you're not getting into mono imaging, unless you find someone who's having a fire sale and practically giving their equipment away.

 

One other thing. It's nice to look at someone else's work and set yourself a goal to create images like theirs. However, realize you will not be producing that level of work at first. Since you pointed out Kathy's work, I feel it only fair to mention that Kathy has a permanent observatory setup and she's been doing astrophotography for quite a while. She produces lovely work, but I'm sure she'll also be the first to tell you that when she was just starting out, her images didn't look quite as nice as they do now :)



#5 Jared

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Posted 22 October 2021 - 10:00 AM

Both the QHY183 and ZWO ASI183 are within your budget for a camera (though that is without the filter wheel and filters). The sensor is excellent, if a little on the small side. Still, small sensors at your focal length are not a huge handicap, and smaller sensors don't need large filters, so that will keep the price down. The pixel size is perhaps a bit small for a 700mm scope, but that just means everything will be a bit finicky with regard to tracking, collimation, and so on. As your skills improve, the camera should reward your hard work.

 

As to whether images like KathyAstro's are possible within Bortle 7 or Bortle 8 skies? Possible, but don't expect to see them immediately. The only true way to address light pollution with broadband imaging is with lots and lots and lots of integration time. For every hour of integration time under, say, Bortle 4 skies you would need sixteen hours of integration under Bortle 7 to get an equivalent result. Plus, Bortle 7 tends to come with nasty light pollution gradients that require some practice to address. Also, I believe KathyAstro uses an 8" scope and yours is a 6" so you also need to account for that when you calibrate your expectations. In with good skills you can get really nice results--even exceptional results--on showcase objects under light polluted skies, but don't expect to go super deep. This paragraph is in reference to LRGB only. For narrowband, light pollution has a much, much smaller impact.

 

If your budget was for camera, filter wheel, and filters together, I'd probably stick with OSC. May not be what you wanted to hear, but that would be my recommendation. That or wait till you can afford to spend a touch more.


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#6 IR656nm

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 07:06 AM

I live in a bortle 7/8 sky and narrowband really works wonders, though even LRGB on a mono is quite nice so far.

 

That said it is probably the priciest option out there since you need 7 filters, and even though cheaper ones will work, they can pose problems. Buy once cry once is very very true sadly. Your ED70mm F6 is super similar to my 80mm F6 and I'm super happy with the FoV and Resolution of my ASI183. It's a CMOS chip and not a CCD so I don't know if you're "stuck" on CCD, however it was right around the price you're looking at (think I paid right around 1k USD) and gives great results. The worse thing about it is really the Amp Glow, but it calibrates out fine as you can see above.Hi

 

Not sure about any newer cameras that may replace/augment it, but on the whole it's really great for me and the 480mm and 250mm FL I image at.

Hi Ryou,

Thank you for your comments and advice.

I cannot rule out a CMOS camera at this stage, I know the ATIK 383L plus and similar cameras are usually over 2000 pounds, even small sizes ! So the ASI 183mm is a possibility, although the ASI1600 pro is a bit more expensive, around 1600 pounds.

 

So its nice to know that narrowband can work, and I could go straight to the good filters! (or just test things out on secondhand cheap filters !).

 

Magnus



#7 IR656nm

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 07:10 AM


 


>>>>>>>>>>Do you need to be in a dark site to get those or can you get them in Bortle 8 or 7 locations ? (I am imaging in the suburbs of Greater London).

 

It is tougher to get good images without dark skies. So, yes, you need to get to good skies if you want good pictures reliably. That does not mean you cannot use tricks to get images in light polluted conditions. It just takes so much longer, and there are so many things that have to be fixed to do it. 

 

Alex

 

Hi Alex,

 

I think I meant I was looking at 1000 pounds for a camera itself. I know filters and other stuff can be quite expensive and add to the total cost...

I seem to come up to a barrier at around 1000 pounds, I have never spent more than that for a camera, although 1 lens I bought cost a bit more than 1000 pounds.

Still, if I was making good progress, spending >1000 pounds could be a possibility.

I thought about going to Dark skies for special  nights, need to ensure good weather and clear skies and good seeing though once at the dark sky site.

So I did not realise the time factor was x16, that is a big hurdle to overcome...

 

Thank you.

Magnus

 



#8 IR656nm

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 07:14 AM

Both the QHY183 and ZWO ASI183 are within your budget for a camera (though that is without the filter wheel and filters). The sensor is excellent, if a little on the small side. Still, small sensors at your focal length are not a huge handicap, and smaller sensors don't need large filters, so that will keep the price down. The pixel size is perhaps a bit small for a 700mm scope, but that just means everything will be a bit finicky with regard to tracking, collimation, and so on. As your skills improve, the camera should reward your hard work.

 

As to whether images like KathyAstro's are possible within Bortle 7 or Bortle 8 skies? Possible, but don't expect to see them immediately. The only true way to address light pollution with broadband imaging is with lots and lots and lots of integration time. For every hour of integration time under, say, Bortle 4 skies you would need sixteen hours of integration under Bortle 7 to get an equivalent result. Plus, Bortle 7 tends to come with nasty light pollution gradients that require some practice to address. Also, I believe KathyAstro uses an 8" scope and yours is a 6" so you also need to account for that when you calibrate your expectations. In with good skills you can get really nice results--even exceptional results--on showcase objects under light polluted skies, but don't expect to go super deep. This paragraph is in reference to LRGB only. For narrowband, light pollution has a much, much smaller impact.

 

If your budget was for camera, filter wheel, and filters together, I'd probably stick with OSC. May not be what you wanted to hear, but that would be my recommendation. That or wait till you can afford to spend a touch more.

Thanks Jared,

 

So grateful for your helpful advice and wisdom.

Gradients and light pollution in a Bortle 7 or 8 ! Yes, I will take this into account when trying to image. I know that it is not realistic to get images like KathyAstro!

 

I have got a 7nm H-alpha 2 inch filter, so will try and make some tentative first steps soon...

 

Now need lots of cold clear winter skies, and lots of time to image !!

 

Magnus



#9 gordoabc

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 08:25 AM

Another option to consider is the ASI533MC Pro combined with a dual wavelength narrow band filter like the Optolong L-extreme or the IDAS NBZ.  It is cheaper as you only have one filter (really two since you need a UV/IR filter for colour) and a filter drawer.  The ASI533 is slightly cheaper than the ASI183 and has no amp glow, the framing is a little different since it is square.  There are some nice images with this combination.

 

It is true that mono plus filter wheel/narrowband will outperform colour plus dual band and while it doesn’t save you money in the end you can start with LRGB and Ha and find lots of targets and add O and S later.  This is the path I have taken.


Edited by gordoabc, 23 October 2021 - 08:37 AM.

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#10 Ryou

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 09:49 PM

It is true that mono plus filter wheel/narrowband will outperform colour plus dual band

While I will not argue that from a scientific standpoint this is true, the bayer matrix limits pixels for sure, from a practical standpoint I'm not as convinced here. Even in light polluted areas I think that there are some amazing OSC images, especially with the duo-bands. I mean Cuiv (who posts here randomly and has a good youtube channel) is in TOKYO for crying out loud, yet at the end of a recent-ish video shows a stunning IC1396 image with a OSC and Duoband. I also believe Trevor Jones (Astrobackyard) does a lot of OSC atm and is still producing great results. Not sure about the current sky class he's in, though I want to say it's around 6 (website says 7 but I think that may be outdated).

 

Now we can argue all day about the most effective method and tech specs, but again in practice it's probably not a big difference.


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#11 mayhem13

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 11:09 PM

Honestly everything is choices and compromise with most obstacles being overcome with different approaches but primarily either money or effort........a challenge into itself.

 

So Dark skies......faster capture, cheaper gear, better contrast, easier processing......takes effort......you have to plan, travel and setup and tear down at a moment’s notice

 

Pollutes skies......short exposures and lots of em with slow optics....larger apertures and fast systems do better here. Mono and narrowband will give you he best chance for success.......

 

Personally?.....I’ve been traveling......1.5-2hrs to Bortle 2-3. It’s part of the experience for me....while I’m imaging, I take advantage of the amazing drk skies for visual with a second scope or binoculars.....some headphones....a little ELP, Floyd,Rush or Classical.......colder nights a little Makers Mark takes off the chill......again....for me, it’s gotta be fun the whole way......

 

Now you can also choose targets higher in altitude or near zenith.....you’re pointing near straight up so the effects of light pollution drop.....Andromeda is such a Target right now

 

And There’s the pre owned market......the 1600 comes up often as it’s an entry level and gets shed to an upgrade all the time.....I see them for $750 US used all the time. You have a pretty fast scope combined with proper collimation and a 1600 pro and a coma corrector, you should be able to produce some amazing images in your light polluted skies in no time.....M42 would be a great one to start with as it’s high up and bright.....a nice frame at 700mm with a 4/3 sensor.


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#12 IR656nm

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 10:05 AM

Another option to consider is the ASI533MC Pro combined with a dual wavelength narrow band filter like the Optolong L-extreme or the IDAS NBZ.  It is cheaper as you only have one filter (really two since you need a UV/IR filter for colour) and a filter drawer.  The ASI533 is slightly cheaper than the ASI183 and has no amp glow, the framing is a little different since it is square.  There are some nice images with this combination.

 

It is true that mono plus filter wheel/narrowband will outperform colour plus dual band and while it doesn’t save you money in the end you can start with LRGB and Ha and find lots of targets and add O and S later.  This is the path I have taken.

Thanks Gordoabc,

I did not know about the ASI 533 MC Pro (cooled, no amp glow) - that is amazing ! Never knew CMOS cameras had no amp glow. Will check out the pixel size to see if I have any suitable telescopes/focal range.

 

This looks promising...

 

Magnus



#13 Ryou

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 02:55 PM

Thanks Gordoabc,

I did not know about the ASI 533 MC Pro (cooled, no amp glow) - that is amazing ! Never knew CMOS cameras had no amp glow. Will check out the pixel size to see if I have any suitable telescopes/focal range.

 

This looks promising...

 

Magnus

Any particular reason you're "against" amp glow? Yes the 183 has pretty significant amp glow, however it easily calibrates out and I've never noticed any determent to the image due to it. I suppose from a purely technical level maybe there is lost data there, however all the same can you spot the amp glow here?



#14 IR656nm

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Posted 25 October 2021 - 04:01 PM

Any particular reason you're "against" amp glow? Yes the 183 has pretty significant amp glow, however it easily calibrates out and I've never noticed any determent to the image due to it. I suppose from a purely technical level maybe there is lost data there, however all the same can you spot the amp glow here?

Hi, Ryou,

No I don't really have anything against amp glow as such. Its nice to know that one can calibrate out the amp glow with dark frames.

I actually have a dSLR that is said to be noisy (the Canon 100D), and my ASI 174mm which I use for solar, I have checked and it has some amp glow as well. I was thinking maybe it could be used for DSO imaging (ASI174mm).

 

Well I will have a check.

I would prefer one without amp glow, but that is my preference.

 

Many thanks, Ryou.




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