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LunaSwift

Watec WAT - 910 HX

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Having been a purely visual astronomer for some time now and wanting to get into AP, I have decided to go the video route ,,I am interested in the above camera, have read the spec, and am considering purchase, I would be using it on either Skymac 150 pro, SW Evostar 150, Mead LS 8 sct or Starwave 102ed frac, Has anyone any experience of this camera or could suggest a better buy,

You're observations appreciated

Gray

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I should add that with the exception of the Meade LS 8 other scopes will be on a Celestron AVW mount

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Hi

I've no experience of the Watec but have used the SCD435 with a range of scopes.

For the SCT & MAK you'll need a focal reducer - aim for F3 to F4.

Have you considered the Lodestar cameras - cost a little more but much more flexible and no PAL/NTSC encoding so possibly a better image.

HTH

Paul

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Hi Graham

Looking at the price of the Watec on 365 Astro, I think that the Lodestar will be a cheaper option and give significantly longer exposure times.

The only possible downside is that you will need a computer/laptop to view, although using Paul81's Starlight Live software (MAC or Windows) will give you automatic stacking and processing of individual exposures to get fantastic detail.

The sensor size of the Lodestar is the same as the Watec so your potential field of view will be the same with similar resolution but with 16 bit data transfer allowing you to extract more information from the data.

Here's the colour version on FLO's web site:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/guide-cameras/starlight-xpress-lodestar-x2-autoguider.html

It's available in colour or mono - the mono offers better sensitivity which is great for dim galaxies and narrowband use, however seeing colour in nebula is where the colour version comes into it's own.

YOu'll still need a focal reducer with  the SCT/MAK though.

Have a look at my gallery to see what is possible - I have the older version, the new X2 is more sensitive.

There are much better examples of what can be achieved for more experienced users - just search for lodestar within this sub-forum.

HTH

Paul 

Edited by DoctorD

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I sort-of "held back" on this one. Despite being a fairly happy 910HX owner. :)

The 910HX has many virtues! But it took me a while to evolve a solution for

a distinctly user-unfriendly (fragile!) remote control plug / socket. In fairness,

Watec produce these things as "security" cameras and not for astronomers.

Video Astronomy has evolved? I still persist with 8-bit internal integration...

And still stack and post-process images. But I sense the writing on the wall! :p

Just wondering what you decided on eventually... ;)

On the other hand, if someone were to come up with a *16-bit* internally

stacking (colour) VIDEO camera with a DSLR sized chip and small pixels... :D

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I have given up on the Watec , and are going instead with this

Mintron 72S85HP-EX Colour Astro Video Camera Kit with USB Adapter, from 365 Astronomy, Zoltan, the owner of 365 is a personal friend and the camera comes recommended by him. Unlike the Watec the Mntron is colour and quite a bit cheaper so as I already have 3 canon DSLRs , 1 Astro modded Canon 60DA , the Mintron will suit me as an entry into Video

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I bought a WAT-910HX/RC for evaluation when it was first released (I still have it). It replaced the famous WAT120N+ and WAT-120N which I used extensively (and still have). I was never tempted by the cheaper Mintron cameras (it's a little perverse to use a cheap camera on an expensive instrument :-). I now use the Lodestar-X2 for low-light imaging (monochrome for highest sensitivity). The WAT-910HX/RC has a slightly more sensitive CCD than the Wat-120N+ (and much more sensitive than a colour Mintron), it is smaller (much smaller than the Mintron) and yes, has a much smaller, more fragile remote than on the Wat-120N+. I think the Mintron only has exposure dials on the back and no remote like the non-RC WAT-910HX. A remote controller is an advantage, otherwise you are going to disturb your telescope fiddling with the camera.

If you are only interested in real-time imaging, then yes, these "video" cameras are still competitive. Both video and digital cameras use similar 1/2" CCD chips with (monochrome) efficiency between 50-75% peak. They even have some advantages; since they output video, you only need a small TFT monitor to view the image, a video cable can be much longer than a USB cable, and you can even transmit wireless video over hundreds of metres. 8-bit output is not a big disadvantage for real-time viewing, since your screen (and your eye) can only see 256-levels of grey (8-bits). Digital cameras output 16-bits (10-14 bits effective), but then you just select the most suitable 8-bits for viewing. 

Concerning internal or external stacking, as Macavity implies, internal is best for noise provided your FOV doesn't change during exposure, but both "video" and digital cameras accumulate internally. If your FOV drifts, external stacking is a necessary evil :-) and then I agree with DoctorD's advice to buy a digital Lodestar-X2 (or Atik Infinity).

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