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My First Astro CCD...


fatwoul
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I have a plan. An evil masterplan, if you will. First, was the telescope/mount, then came the pier and obsy. Next, was getting an unwanted desktop computer for the obsy, and configuring my netbook for imaging. The next stage is the imaging equipment itself, so I can give my DSLR a rest.

So I've been choosing between a 314L+ and a 383L+. I think I've settled on a 383, but I also wanted a planetary cam, mainly for imaging the Moon. I've seen some wonderful work done with the Atik Titan Mono, so I've just ordered one.

That way, I figured I can have a bash at "proper" CCD RGB imaging before I get my 383L+.

So anyway, I'm excited and I wanted to share. :D

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So I've been choosing between a 314L+ and a 383L+. I think I've settled on a 383, but I also wanted a planetary cam, mainly for imaging the Moon. I've seen some wonderful work done with the Atik Titan Mono, so I've just ordered one.

None of the 16-bit DS cameras is capable of doing very good planetary images. Moon or white-light Sun with Baader astrosolar and some filter with cams like Atik 314L is nicely doable with great results, but on semi-high f-ratios. For planetary and high-resolution Moon use a planetary/lunary camera (that can works also as a guider; DMK21 and similar), or 8-bit guider that can work as a planetary camera (QHY5v /5).

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Sounds like a plan. Lots of folks agonize between the 314 and 8300 - and with good reason! There is no easy answer.

Olly

Ultimately, my decision was based on chip size. I've been spoiled after using the D3's full-frame sensor, and I now find even DX to be a little claustrophobic. The idea of a sensor as small as the 314L+ I found just too constricting. I know it is very capable of mosaicing, but with the number of clear nights I get as it is, and already opting for a mono 383, I really didn't relish the idea of having to tile images as well. :D

None of the 16-bit DS cameras is capable of doing very good planetary images. Moon or white-light Sun with Baader astrosolar and some filter with cams like Atik 314L is nicely doable with great results, but on semi-high f-ratios. For planetary and high-resolution Moon use a planetary/lunary camera (that can works also as a guider; DMK21 and similar), or 8-bit guider that can work as a planetary camera (QHY5v /5).

Thanks Rik. Planetary is a bit of a novelty, lunar being more interesting to me. I opted for the Titan based largely on reviews such as this one which demonstrated the Titan's ability as a lunar camera.

It's not as fast fps-wise as the DMK21, but is quoted as having potential as a guide camera.

The 383L+, when I get it, will be exclusively for DSO work, as I understand it might be a little more capable when doing narrowband work (a necessity under my light-polluted skies).

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Titan has small sensor and not so many pixels - so it won't be so Moon effiecient. You overpayed for such a lunar camera :p. And if you would check other forums - you wouldn't found much of Atik Titan cases. This camera isn't popular. To expensive for a common guider, to inferior, and to expensive for a planetary/lunar camera. It was rather intended as a guider for the biggest Atik cameras for the most demanding DS imaging.

Here is my Moon mosaic from a DSI III Pro (typical DS Cam): http://i54.tinypic.com/2v9aykz.jpg and you can Google Moon shots with QHY5 the guider, or DMK31/41 and others :D

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I personally am going for the 314 as i will have no issues using 1.25" filters, (2 inch are just so much more) and most DSO's are small so the FoV works.

Im honestly not sure on the Titan, and there has been another thread regarding it, its an expensive guide vs a DSLR for same price and greater versatility.

I dont think there is a right or wrong choice its a depends, for me as I already have a DMK and a QHY6 and was using a DSLR it was an easier choice.

I think the biggest step in to ccd imaging is getting used to working of the screen and not touching the scope, (once its all set up focused etc).

My attempt a few nights back highlighted a few issues.

the Visual finder scope goes on the Main scope not the guide (yes it obvious but i did it the other wat round for some reason.....) this needs to be bang on with the CCD otherwise getting alignment is a pain (unless you have an eqmod alignment model already built yadda yadda..... working on that)

Focus. I was struggling using a mask but i think i understand why now I used to focus using 15second subs on the dslr but was trying to do it live via a screen in phd... really not a clever idea..

I think the biggest thing I did learn was how different to DSLR CCD imaging is.

Edited by Earl
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I think you made a good choice with the titan, I used the earlier atik 16ic as my first CCD and loved it, its a great way to get used to the CCD world.

As for 383 or 314, I had the 314 and upgraded to the 383, the size of the chip is just sooo much better and although the 314 is amazing its just too small for me! Soon I will write up a review of my experiences of 314 vs 383 and post them up

Earl have a look at my recent posts in deep sky, they were taken with a 383 and 1.25" filters on pretty much a massive DSO that covers the entire FOV. Flats cured all vignetting there mate... closer the filter wheel to the camera the better :D

Edited by shaunster
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...I dont think there is a right or wrong choice its a depends, for me as I already have a DMK and a QHY6 and was using a DSLR it was an easier choice...

It wasn't too difficult for me, either. All I have to compare the Titan to is a 20-year-old MX5C (the serial port version!) that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. If the Titan at least gives me more than a stripey, incomprehensible image, I'll be happy to start with!

...I think the biggest step in to ccd imaging is getting used to working of the screen and not touching the scope, (once its all set up focused etc)...

That's what I am looking forward to, but it will be a habit I have to shake.

...I was struggling using a mask but i think i understand why now I used to focus using 15second subs on the dslr but was trying to do it live via a screen in phd... really not a clever idea...

No live view on your DSLR? That's something I never used until I returned to astrophotography. Now I use it for everything. Back in 2003 I remember having to find objects with an eyepiece and then spend ages gradually refocussing once the camera was attached. Now I just switch on live view as part of my alignment process. It's saved me so much time.

...I think the biggest thing I did learn was how different to DSLR CCD imaging is.

I remember that in reverse. When dad and I were working out how to get that Starlight Xpress to give us an image of M42, it was the first digital camera I had ever seen, or would see for a couple more years. I had that discipline of leaving the camera alone and working from a computer, something I was still doing when I was messing with the cameras in the obsy at Leeds, and then had to lose it again by necessity when I later became a photographer.

I'm excited about re-learning that discipline.

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I am quite happy about the decision I have made

You have it, and you can use it, it will work ;) It's just that I like to go through various sources and find the best thing or super-bargain on the used equipement market. New cams tend to have much higher prices :D

LRGB filters from Norway, camera from USA, wheel, scope from Germany, other stuff from UK and Austria :p

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I think you made a good choice with the titan, I used the earlier atik 16ic as my first CCD and loved it, its a great way to get used to the CCD world...

Thank you, shaunster. I was really only posting this thread to express my excitement about getting my first astro CCD, and wasn't expecting to have my parade so firmly rained-upon! :D

I'm happy that I've made a good decision, and if I haven't, well, it's still the least expensive single item I've bought since returning to the hobby, so if a mistake had to be made, I'd prefer it was a <£500 camera than a >£1,500 one!

As for 383 or 314, I had the 314 and upgraded to the 383, the size of the chip is just sooo much better and although the 314 is amazing its just too small for me! Soon I will write up a review of my experiences of 314 vs 383 and post them up...

You're my new best friend.

Earl have a look at my recent posts in deep sky, they were taken with a 383 and 1.25" filters on pretty much a massive DSO that covers the entire FOV. Flats cured all vignetting there mate... closer the filter wheel to the camera the better :p

That's really encouraging. Thanks again, Shaunster.

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Just had first light with my new Titan, and I am so far really pleased.

I gave it a bit of a go on M57 and M27, having first focussed with my two new Star Sharp Bahtinov masks I ordered from FLO at the same time - nice masks, by the way. I didn't process or even save anything, but simply looking at the looping 120 sec exposures through Artemis was enough to impress me.

But then I tried the Titan at guiding through PHD, and I was bowled over. Until now, I've been limited to less than 240 sec subs, but before the cloud rolled in I was able to do a 300 sec exposure of NGC6888, and it looked steady as a rock.

It's overcast now, but I'm very excited. When my POD arrived, it allowed me to jump forward with my imaging, because I could leave things set up. I think that finally being able to use PHD is going to let me make another jump, and I can't wait.

I'll still use my SynGuider for imaging in the field, because without a laptop it is still a good option, but I doubt I'll be using it in my dome anymore except to use as a guide cam for my Titan.

I'm very impressed with the build quality of the cam, too. I'm more confident about my 314/383 purchase next month.

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