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Old 18-10-2012, 11:03 AM
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Iain.k (Iain)
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CCD camera recommendations

I was wondering what peoples thoughts are on which CCD camera is worth investing in, my current budget is around $500 odd. I have been looking into the orion starshoot and other smaller models like that but just thought i would ask around and see what every one else thinks.
Is it worth spending $1000 odd instead of $500 on a camera for the long term?

Cheers
Any suggestions would be great

Iain
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Old 18-10-2012, 11:17 AM
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Hi Iain,

For the price, (now recently lower), I have been keeping my eye on an ATIK 314E CCD camera which, while it only has 1.45 Megapixels, it does have TEC cooling and its read out noise is extremely low.

I read the review for the 314L done in the AS&T magazine a year or so ago, and Dennis Di Cicco raved about that camera and what quality results he could get without needing darks most of the time.

Its effectively the same camera as the 314E, but the 314L has Set point cooling as opposed to just "ON" for the 314E.

For what its worth, due to the fact this camera has a guide port, I am seriously considering it as an addition to my setup either to test it and use it as the prime camera, or as the guide cam when using the DSLR and use its guide port instead of PHD via EQmod. (I use a DBK21AU618.AS as my guide camera at the moment)

Its only $899 and as far as I can tell, probably one of the best sub $1000 NEW cameras out there to get started with in terms of low noise, small pixels, TEC cooling and guide port all in one. From the test report, they are a handsome piece of kit too.

The $899 price is from Andrews Communications, I have no agreement or interest in this company apart from buying stuff from them whenever I can afford (read, the wife's not looking) it.

Worth a look for the reasons I mentioned (prime being the glowing report in AS&T for the 314L).

Cheers

Chris
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Old 18-10-2012, 02:02 PM
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Hi Chris-I have been thinking about the Atik cameras, too. They seem to be popular in England and Europe, and I haven't read any complaints about them. The 314E and 314L are both 1.45 megapixel, but use a different ccd chip, so that the 314L gives a significantly larger field of view. I just can't make up my mind if the 314L is worth an extra $600.00
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Old 18-10-2012, 03:26 PM
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Hey Chris thank you for reply.

I have read some reviews of this model too, so far no complaints about it. For the price it is pretty good considering most others I have been looking at are about an exrta $200-$300 odd more and you dont get a whole lot better performance.

Its definitely one of the better imagers below the $1000 range.

Thanks for the thoughts, much to think about and consider.
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Old 18-10-2012, 04:02 PM
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Ian,
The ATiK 314L+ has become the defacto "weapon of choice" for most of the guys in spectroscopy.
Good performer - just does the job it was designed for and does it well.
Highly recommended.
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Old 18-10-2012, 04:13 PM
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Hi Laurie and Iain,

Yes, one reason why I am looking long and hard at that one, mainly because of its versatility and relatively low price point. Having it double as a guide camera is a bonus.

Next step up I can see is the QHY8L for $1499 or Orion Starshoot V2 Pro for $1499, both 6MP, but as this is a $600 jump, its a little more serious money and if I had that sort of cash, would probably go for the QHY8L.

Thing is, if I was spending $1500 anyway, then a Canon 60Da (18MP)comes into play then and potentially, the Orion Parsec 10100C (10MP) camera for $2100.... along with the QHY9 (8-9MP) colour for only $1650.

One problem I have now is all the complicated bits and pieces I need for my DSLR cooler box, camera power supply, MPCC, Capture program etc, as well as the extra weight of it all. Simplifying the camera to the ATIK (weighs 350grams and has up to 25 deg C temp differential) starts making a LOT of sense!

So, there are a few tiers to consider and therefore, for only $900 and very low power and noise, the ATIK 314E is an interesting and quality place to start for a "proper" CCD Astro camera......

Now I just need the minister for finance, to look away when my next bonus or tax refund comes in......

One last thought, JJJnettie just bought a COOLED and modded 1100D Canon which may be near the price range....she is getting some good results, you might want to drop her a line and find out how much she paid for it....?

Cheers

Chris
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Old 18-10-2012, 04:31 PM
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Yes Chris, I saw JJJ's first shots posted here with that camera, and they were very good. I had a look on Atik's website, and images done with all the 3 series cameras look good, and as you say, $899 for a cooled ccd camera is a great price. The scope I want to use is a Stellarview Nitehawk 80mm ED f7-I just wonder should I spring the extra for the314L to get the wider field. What do you think? A QHY8L would be the same money, but there seems to be some less than satisfactory opinions of it.
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Old 18-10-2012, 06:21 PM
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The difference between a 1/2" chip of the ATIK 314E and the 1.8" chip (from memory) in the QHY8L are massive. The FOV is hugely different.

Using CCDCALC to show you the different FOV and how good a match it is for your particular scopes, it makes for a totally different experience.
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Old 18-10-2012, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poita View Post
The difference between a 1/2" chip of the ATIK 314E and the 1.8" chip (from memory) in the QHY8L are massive. The FOV is hugely different.

Using CCDCALC to show you the different FOV and how good a match it is for your particular scopes, it makes for a totally different experience.
Thanks Peter
I was more comparing the Atik 314E and 314L. The314L has a much larger FOV than the 314E. The 314L with my scope would just squeeze M8 into its FOV while the 314E would show maybe 2/3 of it. As you say, the QHY8L would give a much largerFOV again.
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Old 18-10-2012, 09:40 PM
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Peter gives good advice Laurie, and he is right about the QHY8, from memory, its a similar same size sensor as my Canon 1000D DSLR chip and therefore gives a comparable FOV.

Using the CCD calc, your Stellarvue 80ED will definitely fit more of the Lagoon in the shot, as shown by the two attached pics from the CCD Calc.

Your better bet would therefore be the 314L as you can see in the pics.

The first shot is with the 314E and the second shows what the 314L would show in the FOV.

Maybe the extra dosh is worth your while....

Cheers

Chris
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Old 18-10-2012, 09:44 PM
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Yes Chris, I think either the 314L or a QHY8. Thanks for your advice
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Old 18-10-2012, 09:52 PM
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Yep,

Considering for the same money as an ATIK 314L you could get a QHY8L, I would go with the QHY8L.

From your signature, I see you are already a fan, so due to the fact it has 8 MP compared to the 1.45MP of the ATIK, you will get more value in the deal for the same money.

Arguably, the QHY8L is a damn fine camera, Peter was so kind to lend me his QHY8 (normal one, not the new slimline "red bull can" type one) and this was a doddle to get working and apart from my cruddy MPCC not being in the right spot and too much vignetting my scope introduced, was a lovely bit of gear.

I have also had my eye on the QHY8L and I dont think I could honestly buy the ATIK at the same price and lose out on all those extra pixels and monster FOV advantage....

Good luck and hope to see some pics with the new beast when you decide to get one (whichever you decide)

Cheers

Chris
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Old 18-10-2012, 09:53 PM
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Old 18-10-2012, 09:58 PM
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Hmmm, I just realised you have an F7, not the F6 I put into CCD CALC.

Therefore your FOV would be smaller again, sorry, it might make a difference and push you towards the QHY8L anyway.

Chris
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Old 19-10-2012, 07:57 AM
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Thanks for the insight Chris and Laurie
Might have to treat myself to an early christmas present once I finally make my mind up. Currently I'm leaning towards the ATIK 314L, that in mind though I haven't really looked much at the QHY8L so I might have to research that camera a bit more.
Thanks heaps again for the recommendations.
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Old 19-10-2012, 08:00 AM
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Ian, if you want to try out the QHY8, I have one I can loan you for a couple of weeks, PM me your details and I'll post it down.

Having been through a few cameras, I personally wouldn't go for anything smaller than the APS sized sensor, framing is such a pain with smaller chips, and having to do a 4 panel mosaic for some targets rather than getting them in a single shot is a massive benefit.
Especially with the 9.25".
Basically a QHY8 (any flavour) will give a similar FOV to your Nikon D80.

The first image shows the field of view of the QHY8 with a C9.25 and f6.3 reducer/corrector. The next rectangle in the image is the FOV of the 314L, and the smaller again rectangle is the FOV of the 314E.
The Second image is the Atik Vs the QHY8 again.
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Last edited by Poita; 19-10-2012 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 19-10-2012, 08:38 AM
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Below is another way to look at it. E first, then L then QHY8, same target.

CCDCalc is free and is the perfect way to see exactly how a camera will perform on any given scope. Well worth downloading.
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Click for full-size image (e.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (l.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (8.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (m33.jpg)
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