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Old 02-02-2012, 08:14 PM
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Oscar in Bin (John)
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STF 8300 M Comments

I am getting sick of noisy DSLRs during summer so going to bite the bullet and buy a CCD. Looking at an STF 8300 M that would hang off a Takahashi NS 130. This is f/7.7 but also want the ability to have a 0.8 reducer and a 1.6x extender. Does anyone have experience with the STF 8300 M and does the mathematics of this camera make sense with my OTA.
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Old 02-02-2012, 09:16 PM
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I have a FLI Microline 8300 and the chip is the same. The 8300 is an extremely popular choice and for good reason. 8.6 megapixels, high sensitivity (around 60% efficiency), low noise, good resolution with its small pixels.
The ST8300M is good value. The ST8300 latest model with the off axis guider would be a lot better. Both would be good but the later model has autoguiding taken care of which is a major plus.

When you say Tak NS130 do you mean Tak TOA130? There is no Tak NS scope. There is a TOA 130 and a TSA 120.

If you mean the refractor then yes it would be an excellent match as the small pixels would match the refractor very well and the smallish chip will mean smaller objects will fill the frame and not be far off objects in the image.

You would have a large range of objects to image with that setup and they potentially could be very very good images.

As long as your mount is also excellent. It all starts with the mount and the first milestone is to get round stars at 10 minute exposures or longer.

Once that is achieved the sky is your oyster so to speak!

Greg.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:53 PM
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John,

I'll assume the scope you refer to is the Tak TOA130NS with the small focus tube.

But in any event the image scale is probably reasonably well suited to an f7.7 especially if you get the 1.6x and 0.66x adapters - I'll assume they wont vignette.

That will give you images scales of 0.7, 1.1 (native) to 1.7 arc secs per pixel - so you have a few bases covered but probably oversampling for suburban skies !
Depends a lot on whether you think you want to do a lot of widefield imaging or spend more time on distant DSO's - from suburban skies the widefield is probably going to be more productive

If you went to the bigger brother STL11000 then your image scales would be 1.1, 1.9 (native) and 2.8 as/p
Which is probably an even better match and covers everything nicely, not sure how the 1.6x and small reducer will illuminate the larger chip area.
Not sure how well the STF and STL is supported with the 1.6x adapter ?
Worth checking and also for backfocus

The new ST8300 can facilitate guiding by adding in extra gear - but by the time you add in the SBIG 8300 OAG, the STi Guider (and 5 pos FW) you are up over $4000US on current specials, closer to $5000US at normal prices.

The STL11000M isnt that much more ! and has all of that built in and the advantage of greater dynamic range with ideal image scale which tends to be one of the not so strong points of the KAF8300 chip.
But at least the 36mm filters are cheaper than 50mm filters !

The EM200 should manage all of that OK.

Cheers
Rally
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:43 PM
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Stf 8300 m

Thanks for the feedback. The scope is the refractor with the smaller focus tube. I do my imaging from a semi/dark site. How does that influence recommendations?
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:40 PM
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An STL11 won't work on a 2.7 inch Tak focuser. It will vignette. Been there done that. Only 4 inch focuser works with STL11 sized sensors and beyond.

The larger field of view you get with an STL11 does suit many objects but I personally feel the smaller pixels of the 8300 are a better match for the TOA130 than the larger pixels of the STL11. Is not a huge difference
but you can see it in the images sometimes where the image tends to sparkle a tad more with the smaller pixels. These suit these shorter focal length refractors given average seeing. STL11 gives a nice broad field of view.

Also off axis guiding is way superior to self guide. It is not affected by filters. Self guide is handy at times though if you limit the images to LRGB.

But unless you upgrade to the 4 inch focuser all that is academic and you are limited to APS sized sensors (aqbout 24mm x 16mm), Beyond that you get vignettting and problems without the 4 inch focuser and flatteners.

So you have to add that to the cost to compare the 2 cameras.

Greg.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:25 AM
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STF 8300 M Comments

Thanks for that guidance Greg. Don't want to get in to changing focus tubes at this stage so the 8300 it is. Now just a matter of choosing between SBIG and FLI.
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscar in Bin View Post
Thanks for that guidance Greg. Don't want to get in to changing focus tubes at this stage so the 8300 it is. Now just a matter of choosing between SBIG and FLI.

FLI MIcroline is a very good camera. The main thing about it really is the powerful cooling.

The SBIG STF seems on paper to have narrowed the gap between FLI and SBIG cameras.

The main plus is the built in off axis guider. The SBIG has firmware permanently loaded in the camera, lower noise, faster downloads so I'd say it mostly now boils down to the guiding.

The 8300 chip does not need as heavy cooling as perhaps some other chips do. -25C should be fine. My Microline does -35C routinely and -40C in cooler times.

FLI filter wheels may be more expensive. Build quality of the Microline is very high. There is also a no cover slip option which raises QE by 1 or 2% and is supposed to reduce very minor halos on bright stars. I haven't really noticed that as an issue with others' cameras though. It has a nice antireflection coating on the CCD window. You may want to check out what the SBIG has. The QSI583WSG model was weak in this regard and it can cause issues with very fast optics.

Greg.
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:58 AM
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I dont own FLI gear, and Greg has had both so he has experience at least with older model SBIG

The new STF is a hard package to beat.

http://www.sbig.com/STF-8300-Pro-Plus-Package.html

Package includes the STF-8300M camera, FW8 filter wheel, off-axis guider, St-i Mono Autoguider and Planetary Imager and 36mm LRGB, 36mm Clear H-alpha, O-III, and SII Filter Sets.


Price all that up after you buy an FLI and you wont even be close.


Nice thing about the OAG with sbig is it has a built in Focal reducer as well so you get a wider field with guider.


I ordered this exact package a while back from Peter Ward. Shoudl arive in a week or two so will update then.


Either way you cant go wrong.
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Old 06-02-2012, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscar in Bin View Post
Thanks for that guidance Greg. Don't want to get in to changing focus tubes at this stage so the 8300 it is. Now just a matter of choosing between SBIG and FLI.
I am a fan of FLI but if it were my decision I'd go the SBIG as guiding is a big deal in imaging and you can't compromise with autoguiding in the slightest if you want the top images.

Unfortunately FLI do not offer any guiding solutions and in that regard they are heavily lacking in an overall package. You can add on a MOAG off axis guider and a guide camera. But as Chris pointed out once you add all that together it would be a lot more expensive. Also I am not that impressed with FLI filter wheels. They are expensive and the front cover is too weak. The thread depth for adapters is too shallow, they flex under load and adapters thread need to be very short otherwise they clip the filter screws. But they work fine and are reliable and are repeatable.

Some of these issues have been addressed with newer models but not price. The Apogee filter wheel is a lot nicer. SBIG filter wheels I have had were fine.

Greg.

Last edited by gregbradley; 06-02-2012 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 06-02-2012, 12:52 PM
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Don't forget QSI either. Good cooling now, with smaller filters and filter wheel incorporated into the WS series. Fast down load too. Even the 583 models are pretty darn nice. Only a couple of nights a year it struggles with cooling.

In terms of the STL I have a 3" focusor and it does not appear to vignette, but it does on a 2.7" focusor.
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