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Torn between DSLR and CCD imaging..


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Hi All,

I got into astro photography via regular terrestrial photography, (Landscape, wildlife etc) and have always solely used dslr's for both hobbies. 

I'm currently using a Canon 5DSR, which is fantastic for regular terrestrial use, and pretty decent for astro (See attached M42 single 10s shot) though it is not renowned for its ultra low light capabilities.

I'm a complete novice when it comes to dedicated astro cameras, but am assuming that these would produce much better results than even top level dslr's?

So my question is, what level of CCD (or CMOS?) camera would I need to invest in to produce decent high quality astro shots which would rival those of a top level dslr (Mainly for dso's) 

Any recommendations as to camera specs & likely price points, and ultimately particular camera brands/models etc greatly received :) 




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Hi Xplode.


Thanks for the reply - I'm guessing that the ccd equivalent for a 5DSR fov would be a bit overkill, and the larger the fov the more £££ investment required?

Im looking for a fov which would accomodate imaging most of the main dso targets. 


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You could always check out a FOV calculator to get an idea of what's available to what you'd like to image. 

Maybe check the deep sky imaging forum aswell as most users post their equipment used to get an idea of what's possible. 

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Since you're used to a very large FOV i'd say you minimum want an 8300 sensor (Atik 383L+) to not loose that much FOV.

A 383L+ with Baader LRGB 36mm unmounted filters will cost a little over £2000

For something larger like the 16200 sensor (Atik 16200) you would end up at a little above £3200 with Baader LRGB 50.2mm unmounted filters.

I calculated this to your scope, not sure if you use a focal reducer or not?

Without focal reducer


With 0.8x focal reducer

astronomy_tools_fov (1).png



Edited by Xplode
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Personally I'd firstly be investigating the capabilities of your current set-up.

The shot you posted is not at all shabby for 10 secs. You have a capable tracking mount so why not try tracking and stacking to see what can be achieved with the gear you already have. 

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For me the CCD / DSLR comes down entirely to how much cash you want to spend / are able to spend on a camera and how sure you are that you are going to stick with the hobby in the medium to long term.  

Dont underestimate what is possible with a DSLR I dont have the cash to splash on a 8300 sensor or even a ASI1600m but I get results that keep me happy with a DSLR for the time being.

If the money is not literally burning a hole in your pocket, then its also worth noting that you are quite some way from fully exploiting the capabilities of your current DSLR and as you already own it I would tend to agree with DarkKnight in the short to medium term. 

For a decent sized mono sensor and filters and wheel you are looking at £2k ish new you will also want to get a guide camera and scope for £250 ish as CCD's generally benefit from much longer exposures (a ASI1600M CMOS would still work well without guiding). Personally having looked at many OSC CCD images I am not completely convinced that they are a huge step up from a DSLR, so I would save for a mono sensor rather then being tempted by them. 


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Many thanks for the sound advice all ( Xplode - thanks especially for taking the time out to look into the FOV options for me)

I was kind of expecting that tone of response, as I know I'm already a classic case of "all the gear but no idea" Lol.  

My main driver for the question was due to my impatience of never really getting enough time to apply to astronomy, mainly due to poor weather, but also other commitments, and hoping that investing in top level kit was the quick answer to amazing astro photographs.   

Tracking and stacking are definitely weak points for me, so I'll persevere with those in the first instance, and save my money. (Hmmm, maybe put it towards a faster scope.. Doh, this is such an addictive hobby!)

Thanks again. 


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17 hours ago, Drakester said:

Im looking for a fov which would accomodate imaging most of the main dso targets.

The good news is that most DSO targets are quite small. You could happily spend your entire imaging "life" on objects less than 30 arc-minutes (½ a degree) and never tire of the fantastic images you produce.

As for prices, reckon on a minimum of £1000 for a new cooled colour camera. If you plan to image in RGB with a monochrome camera instead then the camera will still cost the same, but add another £500 for a basic set of filters and a filter wheel and an additional £400-ish if you want a basic narrow-band set. You don't say of you have guiding on your telescope. If not that will add another £400 or so and increase the level of complexity considerably.

You can occasionally pick up some stuff second hand, but you have to be prepared to wait for the right pieces to come along.

Be prepared to spend more time processing your RGB and NB image stacks than you spent actually taking the images.

Edited by pete_l
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