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Mono CCD upgrade from DSLR?


MattGoo
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I am currently using a standard Canon 1000D DSLR to do my DSO imaging, mainly with a ED80 on an EQ6, with guiding by ST80/QHY5L-II/PHD.

The next level is to go for a mono CCD camera, but which one?

I really would like advice on whether is worthwhile investing in 2nd hand older tech such as the Atik 16IC-S for ~£200 or the Atik 314L+ for £800

Or is it better to save up and go for something new like the Atik 420L £830 or Atik 414EX £1120?

Open to suggestions or any other ideas.

Note: I already own a filter wheel loaded with LRGB filters for my planetary stuff, and have capacity available to add in the required Ha/SII/OIII filters for colour images.

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I am currently using a standard Canon 1000D DSLR to do my DSO imaging, mainly with a ED80 on an EQ6, with guiding by ST80/QHY5L-II/PHD.

The next level is to go for a mono CCD camera, but which one?

I really would like advice on whether is worthwhile investing in 2nd hand older tech such as the Atik 16IC-S for ~£200 or the Atik 314L+ for £800

Or is it better to save up and go for something new like the Atik 420L £830 or Atik 414EX £1120?

Open to suggestions or any other ideas.

Note: I already own a filter wheel loaded with LRGB filters for my planetary stuff, and have capacity available to add in the required Ha/SII/OIII filters for colour images.

The point that you have to digest is that even a high end CCD such as an ATIK 460 has a sensor less than 1/2 the size of your DSLR. This will restrict your FOV with your scope so larger targets may or may not fit in the FOV. You then need to decide if the scope has to be changed with something shorter and faster or you have to learn to do Mosaics which are easier said than done in practical terms. Of the cameras you have listed the 414L and 314L have the same size sensors but the 414L is reported to have a more sensitive sensor. I for one need to see a true side by side comparison done on an identical twin rig of the same target to gauge how much more sensitive the 414L is. The other two cameras you mentioned are just not worth bothering with. The 420 has a small sensor and lousy Ha QE and the other one is just too old and small, perhaps worth a try to see if you can live with a Mono and then passed on. The other consideration is the budget, a set of LRGB and NB filters and a manual filter wheel will add anywhere from £650.00 to £1500.00 to the price of the CCD depending on the brand and band pass of the filters, there is always the used market that could save you 40~50% if bought in bits and pieces. It would also be prudent to ask yourself the question whether you have really reached the limit of the DSLR and only you can answer this. Good luck with your decision. 

Here is a link to the Astronomers do it in the Dark where most of images are taken using a modified 450d .http://www.astronomersdoitinthedark.com/index.php?c=113&p=501.

A.G

Edited by lensman57
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The comments so far are spot on - You will benefit from spending a lot of time on the fov calculator John linked to and see if you can live with a smaller chip size. If you want a DSLR size CCD sensor then you are looking at a Kodak sensor - Perhaps the 8300 in the 383L. If you were to buy a Moravian or QSI then you can use 1.25" filters as the internal filter wheel is close enough to negate the severe vignetting that you will get otherwise.

I'm afraid that none of these options are going to be cheap.

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The very tiny sensors are restrictive for sure. On your list I'd go for a second hand 314L or 16HR. Rob was selling his 16HR recently for £500 in the Classifieds, I think.

I'm very 'CCD' and hugely prefer the mono CCD system to DSLR because I enjoy the variety of ways in which images can be put together. You can do pure NB, HaRGB, HaLRGB, LRGB, RGB etc etc depending on the target and on the moon.

Olly

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I have been fortunate enough to have someone loan me a 314L+ Mono CCD. I have the same scopes as you (200p and ed80 with st80 guidescope) and a modified Canon 1100d. I have also just bought a full set of NB filters.

I think it is my experience (I am pretty new to this game) but I cannot see or rather make use of the extra sensitivity of the CCD camera. I have tried to use it a few times, but the pictures I am generating are just too small with regards to the FOV, and this really limits the targets you can get. Also, when you do get that 'zoomed in', your guiding needs to be perfect. 

One thing I have noticed is that you are not listing your camera as modified. Is this the case? This made a huge difference to me with regards to sensitivity.

I would post some pictures, but it has been so cloudy here as of late, I am just waiting for some decent nights!

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I have been fortunate enough to have someone loan me a 314L+ Mono CCD. I have the same scopes as you (200p and ed80 with st80 guidescope) and a modified Canon 1100d. I have also just bought a full set of NB filters.

I think it is my experience (I am pretty new to this game) but I cannot see or rather make use of the extra sensitivity of the CCD camera. I have tried to use it a few times, but the pictures I am generating are just too small with regards to the FOV, and this really limits the targets you can get. Also, when you do get that 'zoomed in', your guiding needs to be perfect. 

One thing I have noticed is that you are not listing your camera as modified. Is this the case? This made a huge difference to me with regards to sensitivity.

I would post some pictures, but it has been so cloudy here as of late, I am just waiting for some decent nights!

Once you are up to speed with a mono CCD it will blow anything else right out of the water. You just need to get on top of it. OK, the field of view is going to be smaller on budget 'x' but you have twice as many nights available. Swings and roundabouts. The Atik 16HR I mentioned as being for sale on here took this picture...

http://www.middlehillobservatory.co.uk/IMAGES/Full%20size%20pics/M1-November%202011-HaS2OIII-MASTER.jpg

And this...

http://www.middlehillobservatory.co.uk/IMAGES/Full%20size%20pics/M27-24-HaR-03-HaG-O3B-master.jpg

And this...

http://www.middlehillobservatory.co.uk/IMAGES/Full%20size%20pics/NGC%206946-LHa50RGB-border.jpg

I think there is also a fundamental misconception lurking in your post. A small chip does not zoom you in. Crop away the outer part of the image from a larger chip and you have exactly the same image/image scale as you get from a smaller chip. Only the focal length governs how 'zoomed in' you are. In fact the need for accurate guiding is reversed. The need for greater guiding accuracy arises from the smaller pixels of the DSLR. The larger pixels of your CCD will be more tolerant of guiding error, not less tolerant.

If I'm mis-reading your post then forgive me but I've had similar discussions many times while running courses.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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I love this thread, concise, accurate and well informed. Keep them coming. Now I've only been imaging just over a year with a DSLR but I'm always reading threads on the CCD alternative. For me I opted for an Obsy as a priority and will one day take on the CCD challenge but armed with my new modded 60D I will be thrilled by the chase of the mono CCD for a good time yet. To be honest at my age I'm more concerned about keeping the neurones firing and well exercised. Great info everyone.

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Once you are up to speed with a mono CCD it will blow anything else right out of the water. You just need to get on top of it. OK, the field of view is going to be smaller on budget 'x' but you have twice as many nights available. Swings and roundabouts. The Atik 16HR I mentioned as being for sale on here took this picture...

http://www.middlehillobservatory.co.uk/IMAGES/Full%20size%20pics/M1-November%202011-HaS2OIII-MASTER.jpg

And this...

http://www.middlehillobservatory.co.uk/IMAGES/Full%20size%20pics/M27-24-HaR-03-HaG-O3B-master.jpg

And this...

http://www.middlehillobservatory.co.uk/IMAGES/Full%20size%20pics/NGC%206946-LHa50RGB-border.jpg

I think there is also a fundamental misconception lurking in your post. A small chip does not zoom you in. Crop away the outer part of the image from a larger chip and you have exactly the same image/image scale as you get from a smaller chip. Only the focal length governs how 'zoomed in' you are. In fact the need for accurate guiding is reversed. The need for greater guiding accuracy arises from the smaller pixels of the DSLR. The larger pixels of your CCD will be more tolerant of guiding error, not less tolerant.

If I'm mis-reading your post then forgive me but I've had similar discussions many times while running courses.

Olly

Ahh ok, so I don't need superior guiding? Maybe it just feels that way! 

I am still quite new to this, and perhaps I will spend more time with the CCD before I pass it back.

I guess my other issue is the scope that I am using. An old Explorer 200p (came with the mount). The main concern of the CCD is the cost. Even second hand, this one will cost me 650 pounds. I think that money would be better spend elsewhere for now (or forever if you ask the wife!).

I think putting the CCD on the end of this scope is kind of like putting a spoiler on a robin reliant. Perhaps once I get better at taking images with the DSLR, I can move over to a CCD, but until I have that nailed, it would be a waste of money for me, that and I have only just bought all this other stuff!

Cheers for the info though. Maybe in a year or two, I will be posting amazing pictures like the ones above!

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