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swag72

So, with £1500 to spend - I open it up to you guys!

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So, here's my dilemma - I have about £1500 to spend and want your help to decide what to get. I currently image (I didn't say I am an imager!!!) and have no compulsion to actually look through a telescope!

I will soon be getting an obsy and so a nice permanent setup.

Currently I have;

  • HEQ5 (which I'd like to keep as I've got the mount adaptor that I am waiting to use on my pier)
  • Canon 1000D modded with Astronomik clip filters (CLS, HA and UHC)
  • SW Evostar 120ED PRO with upgraded moonlite focuser
  • Guiding with QHY5 through a 9x50 guiderscope
  • A load of Canon lens's for wider stuff

I guess that realistically the options are CCD (which I'm thinking would be best) or different scope and still image with the DSLR.

I would really welcome you opening my purse for me and giving me ideas to spend, spend, spend!

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You could go down the CCD route - your money would get you an Atik 314l+, wheel & filters, but on the 120ED you would get a very small field of view from the small chip on the Atik.

Edited by johnrt

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One for CCD and one for faster scope!!

I know that the 314L will give me a small fov on my 120, but I can't help thinking that I quite like that idea to be able to capture the small stuff. Looking at the dof idicator, the fov with the 120ed and 314L is about the same as a DSLR on an 8" scope.

A faster scope? ............. What would you have in mind? Bear in mind that I'd still therefore be DSLR imaging. And (here's the problem!!) I'd want a simple scope!!

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I vote for the 314L+ and filters. The FOV is still very useful and you'd still have your modded 1000D for the widefield stuff. That's exactly what I'm thinking about for 18 months time. (don't know if I wil be able to reach focus on a 150P though?)

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If you get a 314l+ also consider the images will be considerably smaller than you get with your DSLR. If you like them large on your desktop screens or similar then you may also want to take that into account..

As for scopes, keep it simple and get a small 'frac. Theres loads around at about f/6 and with a reducer you can take them down a bit further.

Edited by shaunster

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Hi Sara - By Simple, do you mean a refractor (ie something that doesn't need collimating?)

The new 200mm quattro certainly promises to be fast, but at f4 collimation will obviously be criticial. Also it's possible that the steel version might be too heavy for the HEQ5(?)... The CF version should be okay though (but they currently don't seem to have any rings in the box :icon_scratch:), and it would be quite a bit faster than your 120ED (albeit fairly similar FOV).

Assuming you're happy with your 120ED, if you're feeling reticent going down the CCD route just now, then maybe adding a widefield (70-80mm) refractor and appropriate flattener (or reducer/flattener) to your armoury might be worth thinking about?

Personally though, I'd vote for the 314L+, filters, filter wheel - I found it a fairly steep learning curve from the simplicity of DSLR imaging, but it does eventually get to be fun and it can keep you occupied for hours re-processing!

You'll then have an upgrade path for wider field imaging either via an 70-80mm refractor later or, if you have any lenses you may find a Geoptik CCD/Lens adapter interesting (if you get fed up of doing mosaics with the 120ED/314L+). And if we're talking about future-proofing, the 1.25" filters can also be used with the Atik 4000... :)

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One for CCD and one for faster scope!!

You could always get both, get a secondhand Atik 16hr/314L and an ED80. I've used a William Optics FFII on an ED80 and 120 with an Atik 16HR (The 16HR is the predecessor of the 314L, it's got the same sensor) and it works well. This will give you 4 different focal lengths and with the reducer you're imaging at f6 which is quick enough IMO. I would imagine you'd have enough money left over for a light pollution and Ha filter too, get the pennies together for a filter wheel and RGB filters while you're getting used to the new camera and you'd be sorted :).

Tony..

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If you get a 314l+ also consider the images will be considerably smaller than you get with your DSLR. If you like them large on your desktop screens or similar then you may also want to take that into account..

Mmm, I would like to take that into account!! What would you suggest? In my ideal world I would like the equivalent of an 8-10" scope, probably best attained by camera wizardry!

@Andy - Would definitely like to keep it simple with a refractor - One less thing to worry about!!

@whippy - I would be happy with a second hand CCD, but finding them is another matter! Definitely think that I'd be looking at using my Canon lens's rather than another scope.

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Tony's idea is great if you can find a camera, but regardless of that, the 314L type CCD is the route I'd go down. The chip in those cameras is vastly more sensitive than a DSLR chip, and you'll be knocked out by the results.

As regards FOV...I use my 16HR with my 1200mm FL F8 6 inch refractor, and it's perfect for the smaller targets.

Check out many of the images on my site....lots are done with this combination.

Cheers

Rob

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Cheers Rob - There's some fantastic images there.

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Sara, in all honesty I would say to upgrade the mount to the NEQ6, the mount is the most important item for AP and you would see a real benefit by doing this and if more spending money comes along the mount is future proof.

Along with that get the dedicated field flattener/reducer for your 120ED.

Then longer term CCD.... my 2ps worth

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Hi Sara, further to your PM, my humble ramblings...

If your mount is delivering round stars out of an observatory then it will certainly do so inside one. If this is the case don't change it. Yes, with an ED120 you are close to the limit with the mount but, if it works it works, so what else is there to be said? Fay uses this combination successfully.

If you move away from refractors you move away from simple, reliable, fuss free optics. The only way to get anywhere near the CCD standard with any kind of DSLR is with an ultra fast astrograph. (You can't pile on the exposure time with a DSLR because the thermal noise gets you.) Now it is a worthy idea, the fast imaging Newt, but can it be done cheaply? We simply don't know yet what the Quattro can do but the fast imaging reflectors of proven worth are expensive. Very. There is a reason for this. Not only do the optics have to be good but the mechanical integrity and precison throughout the instrument also have to be outstandingly good to hold collimation and orthogonality. The only proven fast Newt astrographs cost an awful lot more than £1500. They would all overtax your mount as well so they are a no go.

I fully concur with your preference for refracting!

So that leaves the camera. My own choice would be to move into CCD even without all the caveats concerning fast astrographs because CCD will beat DSLR soundly. I know there are good DSLR images out there but I know of none that rival CCD in F6-ish scopes. The 314L is a dream of a camera, its only downside being the small chip.

But you can work round this. Anna's ED80/314L NAN-Pelican is, very obviously, one of the best images ever seen on SGL. So are many of Rob's 16HR (previous model) images. I find, curiously, that my TEC140 (similar to your scope) lies 'between focal lengths' and often, on my larger format Atik4000, I have empty sky around the kind of targets I'm going for. I think you might find the 314 chip very accepable.

I don't want to upset owners of other makes but I am going to say that I don't believe in free lunches and the 314L would be my personal choice. I should also declare that I have a friendly, though entirely non commercial, relationship with Atik having used so many of their cameras and helped them regarding advertizing in France. That's just to be dead clear about things.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

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Thanks for the continuing insights - Interesting thought about upgrading the mount, as this is something I really don't want to do. But following on from Olly's comment - Am I really working on the limit of the HEQ5 with the SW 120ED, added moonlite and a finderscope and QHY5 for guiding? - Add onto that whatever imaging equipment, be it DSLR and reducer or CCD, reducer and filter wheel / filters.

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If you are keeping the same scope and not going for a newt and you are getting good subs then there is no reason to upgrade the mount and when you move to a pier mounting things will become a little more stable and allow you to perfect a drift polar alignment..

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I think I'm getting OK subs, but then we're never quite happy are we?!!

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Let's have a look at some longer subs.

Fay has just posted an Eagle with your mount and scope and all looks fine to me. Check it out on the DS imaging board. It's very good!

Olly

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I'd vote for the 314 & filters. It's a lovely camera and, although small, produces wonderful images with very low noise. I bought my 314 last year and I know that it will be part of my imaging system for years to come despite the chip size - I can always do mosaics for the larger targets.

While I think Olly is right in suggesting some longer shots to measure your guiding accuracy as far as your flickr shots go your guiding looks good to me.

Good luck with your choice. :)

Mark

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Thanks all - Appreciate your comments - Looks like it will be the Atik then!! I won't doubt this option again!!

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A focal reducer is always a good buy for some of your money as well. I'd get the following, in order, until the money runs out. If lucky, you might find them in the buy/sell section second-hand and that could allow you to get to the bottom of the list.

£185 Skywatcher 0.85x focal reducer + Equinox adapter

£1170 Atik 314L+ mono

£295 Starlight Xpress filter wheel

£198 Baader LRGB set

£256 Baader Ha, OIII & SII filters

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I have decided on the following and will be ordering at the end of the week.

Atik 314L+ mono

Baader 1.25" LRGB

Baader 1.25" NB

TruTek manual 8 slot filter wheel

Various spacers

@ dmahon - Already have the reducer!

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You'll regret the manual filter wheel - the automatic ones always put the filter in exactly the same place so you don't need to redo flats every night.

The Starlight Xpress wheel is much cheaper than the Atik one, and also draws (a tiny amount of) its power over the USB cable so no need for a power cable.

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I just want to keep technology out of the equation as much as I can!

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You'll regret the manual filter wheel....
Hmmmm... yes..... I think this might be one of those "light blue touch paper and retire" statements... :)

I agree with Sara - With manual, there's less to go wrong, and with the design of the Trutek manual wheel (no light ingress and holding 8 filters) IMHO it's probably one of the best manual wheels on the market (which is probably why it's actually one of the more expensive wheels :D).

I must admit though that I'm a "manual" wheel person, and if I could have afforded one, I'd have also gone for the Trutek at the time, but I acknowledge that there's arguments for both. I personally aim to take a set of flats after each session anyway, but if you can get away with using "stock" flats with a USB wheel, then obviously that's at least one benefit for the USB wheel

I guess it just depends how you weigh up the pros and cons... :(

Edited by AndyUK

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I use a manual filter wheel and have used the same set of flats for 2 months so that statement is wrong, unless of course your manual wheel costs £20 and is made of lego.

Edited by shaunster

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