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Old 08-05-2013, 07:50 AM
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C8er (Chris)
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Options for a CCD cam, Cooled. One shot colour.

Hi All,

An imaging beginner here (imaging for last few months done with a Canon 60D DSLR) confused by the range of options on offer, looking for thoughts/options for a suitable mid range, one shot colour, cooled CCD cam for deep space imaging that would be suitable to use through a range of scopes, primarily on an 8 inch SCT (F10/2032mm focal length, and with reducer at f6.3), but also at times for wider angle imaging on a 5.1 inch reflector (F5, 650mm focal length) and perhaps with 80mm refractors (from F4 - F7). I would be using it on a Celestron CG5-GT goto Eq mount with an Orion SSAG autoguider, so it probably can't be too big and heavy.

If it was suitable for use with Hyperstar on the SCT at some stage if I went that way that would be great too.

My main targets for the device would be nebulae and galaxies I think, as my DSLR does a pretty decent job on Star clusters.

Currently I use DSS for stacking etc of my DSLR images, which works just fine, but if any of the brands of CCD cams come with exceptionally good, easy to use image processing software then that could be a factor in what I buy.

I have a ZWO Optical CMOS camera for solar system imaging, and also a modified Samsung SCB-2000 for video/several seconds integration viewing and imaging.

I think my price range (excluding shipping costs, import taxes etc) is in the USD $1200 - $2000 range and I am happy to buy from outside my own country (NZ) where there is a very limited range of astronomy dealers, to get the best price.

So far some of the options I can see seem to be the ones below, but there are so many choices I have no idea which might be better/most easy to use/ most suitable for my particular scopes and mount. (Prices below I have found are in USD, mostly from US dealer websites)

ATIK. (314L+ at $1628 or 383L+ at $1790)

Celestron. Nightscape or Nightscape 8300.

QHY. 8L, 8Pro, or 9C.

Tucsen. 6MP cooled TCC-6.1ICE. Sseems unproven and only 12 bit, but very cheap direct from Tucsen.

Opticstar. DS-616C XL (I think possibly a rebadged Tucsen?)

SBIG. STF-8300C (on special at $1795 currently)

Starlight Express. SXVR-H9.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on advantages/disadvantages of those and other options for use with the scopes I have.

Also, I see Atik and others suggest on their websites that their latest CCD cams, even just mid range ones, remove the need for taking dark frames in most situations. Is that really true?

Cheers and Thanks.
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Old 15-02-2015, 01:04 PM
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NorthernLight (Max)
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Hi Chris,

I just found this via search and wonder: did you ever get a response?
Would be interested to see a review on the Celestron Nightscape 8300.

Cheers,
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Old 15-02-2015, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernLight View Post
Hi Chris,

I just found this via search and wonder: did you ever get a response?
Would be interested to see a review on the Celestron Nightscape 8300.

Cheers,
Hi Northernlight.

I bought a Celestron Nightscape (the model with the KAI-10100 sensor, not the 8300), and I am very happy with it so far. It suits my mix of OTAs with the longest being an 8 inch SCT. The colour binning of that version of the Nightscape camera (which is a very rare feature in a one shot colour camera) is great for the SCT using the 2x2 binning, and unbinned for shorter focal length OTAs. It suited me because the price was very reasonable for a large sensor CCD, and so far it has worked faultlessly for me. I also like the AstroFX capture software it comes with. People criticise the camera for what they say is poor sensitivity/QE, not much better than a DSLR, but with no DSLR IR filter in the way it is a lot better in the Ha region, has the 2x2 binning which shortens exposure times significantly, and has -20 C below ambient cooling, so it still has big advantages over my Canon 60D DSLR.

For me it has been a great answer at a sensible price. I haven't done mucb imaging with it in recent months as I have been exploring near real time video astronomy with an Astro-Video systems Advanced MkIV camera, and doing a lot of volunteer firmware beta testing for Celestron which has taken up most of my astro time, but the images I have got with the Nightscape i am happy with, especially as I am still a beginner in many ways.

Below is a link to an online album of a few images I have taken with the Nightscape so far.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1119242...eat=directlink

Cheers,
Chris M
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Old 15-02-2015, 07:54 PM
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Finding a camera that will suit all your scopes can be tough.

Start with the lowest common denominator in terms of field. Your SC 8 inch. I think my money is on a KAF8300 chip that will provide the largest field of view for you. So my money is on the QHY8 camera.

Celestrons don't have a great reputation I'm afraid and the lack of great images on the net is testament to this.

It's best to work out the CCD that you need/want first, and then track back to the camera manufacturers.

So KAF8300 for me - QHY or even a second hand SBIG unit.

Also - why are you looking to upgrade from the 60D so quickly? Have you thought about simply getting this modified first and mastering this? You might be surprised with the results. I went through the same motions, and decided to get my ageing 400D modified. Next step will be to get it cooled. Then in another year will maybe go mono and keep my DSLR for OSC. See some results here as you may be surprised with what a modified DSLR (mod cost me around $200) can do:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnka...ream/lightbox/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnka...ream/lightbox/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnka...ream/lightbox/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnka...ream/lightbox/

As well, you might find that using CCD software harder to use and the camera harder to focus etc. than a DSLR with Backyard EOS for capture etc and also more expensive.

Good luck and let us know.
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  #5  
Old 16-02-2015, 08:11 AM
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A cooled spectral sensitive osc is in my opinion a far easier camera to control and you'll get consistant year round temperature on the ccd. This combined with pc/mac laptop control would send me looking for a decent 2nd hand SBIG/Atik/QHY or known brand.

I ran a 2nd hand 3 y/o SBIG st8300c for a year and was overall very pleased with it. Most AP's trade up when the're ready and so look after their stuff. It's a small community so we tend to look after one another and do the right thing when we sell.

The build quality of SBIG is reknown.
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