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Thread: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

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    Default Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!



    That's right, it's bargain day!!

    I'm looking for an electronic camera (not DSLR) for my 10" f3.9 reflector, and I'm seeing "Solar System Camera" as well as "Deep Sky Camera" and as a photographer myself, I'm curious about the difference.

    Once resolved, my goal is to produce colour shots rather than BW. I've read a number of threads on the subject, but I wonder if they were tempered by the technology of the time. Any thoughts that could be shared?

    Finally, if anyone would like to post a link to a recommended camera, I'd appreciate it along with any guidance.

    Best regards,

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    A solar system camera is optimized for taking lots of short-exposure frames. Essentially, it is shooting video. You take several thousand frames in a few minutes and let stacking software sort them out. The sensor is small in order to increase the image scale.

    A deep sky camera is optimized for taking long-exposure frames with minimal noise. You still use software to stack multiple frames, but dozens of frames instead of thousands. The sensor tends to be larger, both because the objects tend to be bigger and because larger pixels produce less noise.

    If you are looking for a single camera to do both, a DSLR that has a good video mode can do the job.

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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    ZWO has a new CMOS camera out that might be worth a closer look as an alternative to a DSLR.

    ZWO USB 3.0 Color Astronomy Camera [ASI224MC]
    David aka Shelldrake
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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    I asked this same question some time back. If I get time I will edit in the thread

    Explain to me please the difference..

    But I can tell you from personal experience, the solar system camera is good for .. well solar system planets & the moon and nothing else. The longest exposure it can muster is just over 3 seconds. A blink of the eye in AP terms. I have done some experiments with pushing the planetary camera to its extremes trying to capture even the slightest hint of nebulosity etc. with absolutely no luck.

    The moon shots on the other hand are awesome!

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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    Before I read the link you posted, I just have to say how impressed I am with your moon shot. Just nothing short of beautiful! It appears the day will come where I want one of each

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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    There is a considerable price difference between the two.

    Before you consider the more expensive one, take a long thought about your mount and its capabilities.

    That moon shot is from an alt az mount dobsonian with limited tracking abilities. Even then I spent more time refining the alignment than I did on the image. Due to the short exposures (think those were 20-120 ms) the tracking is not a real issue.

    For deep sky imaging with exposures into the minutes you will need a good mount that is well aligned.
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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by UlteriorModem View Post
    There is a considerable price difference between the two.

    Before you consider the more expensive one, take a long thought about your mount and its capabilities.

    That moon shot is from an alt az mount dobsonian with limited tracking abilities. Even then I spent more time refining the alignment than I did on the image. Due to the short exposures (think those were 20-120 ms) the tracking is not a real issue.

    For deep sky imaging with exposures into the minutes you will need a good mount that is well aligned.
    To add to this is something I learned recently: just *why* you need an equatorial mount for AP, if a alt-azm can track objects, why do you need a GEM to do longer exposure photography?

    Since the scope is aligned to the rotation of the earth, the field of view stays in the same orientation (from the camera's point of view). With an alt-azm mount, the field of view rotates (especially evident around Polaris), so that creates a lot of issues when processing the image(s). I always kind of knew this, but it just (embarrassingly recently) clicked.

    So, if you want to do deep sky photography, you'll need an equatorial mount and an adequate scope. Some scopes, like my Celestron Edge HD has a flat field of view (specifically designed for AP), so that the entire image is in focus - something you don't notice when looking thru the eyepiece because your eye refocuses automatically when scanning around the FOV, something a camera can't do. For many scopes you need some sort of flattener. Certainly not a deal breaker, though.

    As for the cameras, since it sounds like you probably already have a DSLR (you said you're a photographer), I would start with that, if you haven't already. Cut your teeth with what you already have. You'd be amazed the planetary shots you can get even with a cheap webcam and free processing software. As others have said, a dslr can do both planetary (with video), and deep sky (long exposure), and do it quite well, especially for just starting out. If after learning how to work the dslr, and you're still not happy with the quality, then you'll need to start looking at dropping more serious coin on the dedicated ccds. Judging by the shots taken with dslr's, I think you'd be hard pressed to find yourself unhappy with what a DSLR can do.

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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    Thanks for the great replies - to touch on the mount, I have a Skywatcher EQ6 (GEM).. I have a crop and full frame DSLR but I'm slightly resistent to using them a) for the added weight on an already taxed payload and b) because I would prefer to have them doing their own terrestrial night sky shooting while a dedicated (and lighter) camera has only one purpose.

    I'm curious about the difference in quality of images between high end full frame DSLR and a CCD. If there's one thing I've come to learn about cameras, its that it doesn't take long before significantly more money equals only millimeters of improvement, rather than great strides.

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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    The astrophotography thread is taking off.. no need to have two running parallel on the same topic.. I'll keep my eye there to save duplicate questions and answers

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    Default Re: Two Questions in One! What a Deal!!!

    I have found myself with several different cameras. A modified DSLR, a DSLR, a dedicated autoguider, and a now a monochrome planetary/autoguider camera which allows "long" exposures, no cooling though. This allows me to guide on both EQ mounts I have or do planetary, or image the sun in Ha with my solar scope. I don't think just one of anything works.

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