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ASI120MM - suitable for me?


Penguin
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Was reading about this in July's 'Sky At Night' and it sounds superb! It does deep-sky, wide-field and planetary, all for the cost of a dedicated camera for just one of these. Here it is: http://www.365astronomy.com/zwo-asi120mm-monochrome-13-cmos-usb20-camera-p-3426.html

Note, my current standard of shots can be seen on my flickr stream:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62783243@N07/with/5713911183/

I currently have

  • a TAL-1M, 4.5" newtonian, motorised in R/A only on what I gather is 'moon speed'
  • A Canon EOS 450D, unmodified and with a 70-300mm zoom
  • A phillips SPC900

I could obviously get better planetary shots with this camera, and I could do whole-sky which is currently an impossibility for me.

But I have never satisfactorily got the mount polar aligned (it has no polar scope and I wouldn't like to even attempt to do it the long way without some hands-on guidance) and it only has a fixed-speed motor so is it at all possible for me to get any recognisible deep-sky images? The best I have so far is M42 on the SLR at full zoom while manually tracking through the eyepiece. I can't manually track like that if this thing is plugged into the prime focus and the chances of me getting the alignment good enough for a several-minute exposure are virtually nil.

And with this scope, I have to use my 3x Barlow to get focus!

I am thinking I might be better off looking for a 2nd hand EQ5 mount and tripod and some tube-rings for the TAL OTA, or looking for a 2nd-hand 8" Dob.

Basically, I am a cheapskate and don't want to fork out £300 on a camera that I can only really get use of 2/3 of. And would it improve my planetary shots that much? I know, I am in the wrong hobby!

Also, does anyone know if this camera can be controlled from Raspberry PI?

Any opinions, rants etc gratefully received

cleardot.gif

--- Alistair

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It's a mono cam so you will also need filters for colour images so more expense. With a 1/3" chip it really is only a planet/moon cam. To be honest I think you would be better off spending more time to get the best out of the kit you already have before spending more money.

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As Freddie says, it's a mono camera so you'd need filters (and probably a filter wheel) to use it for colour planetary imaging. I'd say it's far from ideal for DSO imaging unless the chip size happens to suit your scope focal length and the targets you want to image. It's perhaps still a little on the noisy side though, so even then small bright DSOs would be the only genuinely feasible targets without modding it (see another thread here) to add a cooler.

I've only tried the ASI120MC (the colour version) for planetary imaging, but I prefer it to the SPC900. It's taken a while to get the hang of, but the faster frame rate allows far more data to be collected and the smaller pixel size mean I can reduce the focal length that I'd normally use with my 127 Mak (with the SPC900) and still get higher resolution images.

James

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The ASI120MM is a very good camera. It only has 1 default : The casing is not very good in preventing dust to stick to the sensor.

So it is not just me that is driven insane cleaning the sensor every time I want to use this camera! Where is all the dust coming from?

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Nice to see that they've added the ST4 autoguider port on the new version of the ASI120's, its a very nice and sensitive sensor, though a small diagonal which will give a limited field of view - though quite respectable for smaller/brighter DSOs with an LRGB filter set/wheel. Primarilly though it's a very good value planetary and guide camera and should give many years of use.

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Mine seems to have been much better since I held it upside down and gave it a decent going over with a rocket blower and then put an IR filter on it.

James

I have tried that many times, I think troublesome dust is generated when the nosepiece is screwed back in.

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  • 2 months later...

It's a mono cam so you will also need filters for colour images so more expense. With a 1/3" chip it really is only a planet/moon cam. To be honest I think you would be better off spending more time to get the best out of the kit you already have before spending more money.

Although there is the colour version as well, which is slightly cheaper. Presumably this would not get as good results as the mono one with filters. How much do they cost?

You are probably right that I would do better by learning how to polar align, star hop, etc.  have finally understood the setting circles and they have worked well on a couple of trials. But this just means I am more likely to find the DSOs I would like to image and I have nothing other than a Canon 450D and 55-250mm lens. I suppose this might be ok for some bigger DSOs?

--- Alistair

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No desperate reason why you shouldn't do some DSO imaging with the 450D.  Plenty of people use something similar.  It won't be as good as a dedicated astro ccd camera, but it's not useless.

James

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