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Dedicated DSO camera confusion!!!!

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Hi all

I have been looking at ccd imaging devices online. They seem to range anywhere between £70-£3000. Heres the issue, i can not find a single place that gives you a run down of what is good for what. There are some labelled as "planetary" imaging which seem to be the bottom of the price scale. Then around £300 the "planetary" description disappears.

Then you have the mega pixels and chip sizes which i sort of understand and finally you have a load of graphs showing light frequency sensitivity and a bunch of other tech specs only scientists understand.

Is there a dummies description to all this as i cant seem to source a good place where i can understand anything.

In paticular the ZWO cameras which there are around 30 of, seem to cover a wide range of purposes but with no real guidance....you can show as many datasheets and charts as you want, if only a genius understands what it all means ,its pointless.

Rant over?

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This handy tool was shared with me by someone on this forum.  https://astronomy.tools/

Click on "field of view", then "imaging mode"  select a telescope, select a camera then select any DSO object.  Should help some.

Aside from that there are many threads here that cover pixel size, chip size etc.

Hope this helps!

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... and remember @icebergahed   once you have selected the camera of your dreams ( or logical deliberations )... you then have to decide on whether you want an

OSC   ( One shot Colour ) or a Mono.

At which stage I advise you to pull your chair up to the fireside and prepare for a long evening of lively discussion. ( ;)  )

This question rivals the greatest schisms of religion and politics.  Good luck.


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If there was a list of 5 essential specs to look out for for a entry level DSO camera, what would it be?

So chip size i get this covers how much of sky you are getting.

Cooling i understand.

Mega pixels? What would be a minimum?

Any other have to have specs?

At the moment im not sure if i would have to spend £100 or £600.

I wouldnt be looking for poster quality imaging, just beginner stuff above dslr capabilty.

Althou i have seen dslr images that do look like hubble took them. But im sure they may have been on a 20k mount and a 20k tube.

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I would start with this site:


Download the CCD Calculator. It's similar to the one in the advice above, but personally I like this better.

Three quick questions to answer:

- What is the resolution that is useful at your location? Measured in arcsec/pixel, this is determined by the quality of your sky. In this context it has nothing to do with the number of pixels on a given CCD, it's just a figure that applies to your location and perhaps your ambition. At this stage you will need to match the pixel size of a CCD you consider with a certain focal length to achieve this ballpark number.

- What area do you wish to cover in one frame? Narrow for planets or large for nebulas? The actual CCD size determines this. Costs typically go up as they increase in size.

- How fast would you like to expose? Having found the resolution you'd be happy with and the focal length of a scope matching this, it's time to look at f-ratio, in other words as you maintain the focal length you open up the aperture of the imaginary scope. Each inch adds a lot of money.

As to cooling, it's not as simple as cooler is better. It depends on how one particular CCD handles heat. Some CCDs are more forgiving than others and manufacturers match the cooling needed to the CCD. They can only cool a certain number of degrees below ambient temperature so your location might be a factor. In a hot country with warm nights it's worth looking at cooling specs.

Astrophotography is complicated and most rigs you'll see are slightly different to suit the user - or the user's budget. Part of the hobby is to learn enough to find your perfect rig, and this is time consuming. I have spend days looking at the CCD calculator alone...

Good luck!




Edited by Jessun

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