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symbiosis

Altair GPCAM2 224C or Altair GPCAM2 290C

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Hi All

Please help out an imaging newbie - Looking to purchase my first camera and I have been looking at the 2 Altair CMOS cameras I've listed (would love to stretch to their Hypercam range but budget constraints say no). 

I currently have a very basic 4.5" reflector (non guided/tracking) that I have been using to take A-focal planetary images (with some reasonable success) and now want to take this further with (hopefully) clearer/better images and I would also like to get some of the Orion Nebula and of wider sky views (such as the Pleiades  etc). I understand the limits of my current setup and will be looking to upgrade my scope later to one that offers guidance - so the Altair scope connection seems to offer some futurebility for when I do this. 

I'm a bit baffled by the technical specs on the two cameras in question and note that the main difference seems to be in the different chips used. Which would you suggest is the better option please and are there any other cameras in a similar price & quality range that I should also consider?

Many thanks

Edited by symbiosis

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1 hour ago, symbiosis said:

Hi All

Please help out an imaging newbie - Looking to purchase my first camera and I have been looking at the 2 Altair CMOS cameras I've listed (would love to stretch to their Hypercam range but budget constraints say no). 

I currently have a very basic 4.5" reflector (non guided/tracking) that I have been using to take A-focal planetary images (with some reasonable success) and now want to take this further with (hopefully) clearer/better images and I would also like to get some of the Orion Nebula and of wider sky views (such as the Pleiades  etc). I understand the limits of my current setup and will be looking to upgrade my scope later to one that offers guidance - so the Altair scope connection seems to offer some futurebility for when I do this. 

I'm a bit baffled by the technical specs on the two cameras in question and note that the main difference seems to be in the different chips used. Which would you suggest is the better option please and are there any other cameras in a similar price & quality range that I should also consider?

Many thanks

If you want to do anything like that you will need some sort of tracking mount, the 290 has one of the lowest read noises of any camera I have seen and so that will mean you can go with very short exposures 10s or so and still get good Deep sky results even with an alt az goto...but you need something that is tracking / a goto to make it work. However, both of those sensors are far too small to allow you to capture wide field views and so you would be limited to planets / planetary nebula at your current focal length. A 60mm / 340mm FL scope may give you a ok ish FOV with the  290....but.

I have got to be honest with you, you need a different mount scope and camera realistically to get the kind of result beyond planetary imaging.....a second hand DSLR + lens + star adventurer mount is the cheapest way into deep sky imaging, I suggest you save for that combination.

 

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Thanks Adam - I would always far prefer an honest answer and points you raised are duly noted :-) 

So out of curiosity, are you saying that the 290 is better than the 224? I saw some video shot with the 224 with the meteor lens that seemed to capture a wide sky view 

 

looks like I need to start saving those pennies...

Any advice on best value for £ for a DSLR?

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ps - I forgot, my mount does have basic mechanical tracking that can get me around 60 secs - does that change the situation?

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Hi

Really you need a motorised mount for most AP. The Star adventurer is an option but maybe the eq3 pro is better and more versatile, else it's slightly bigger brother, the eq5 pro. Serious AP can rapidly turn into an expensive hobby - be warned!

Louise

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On 21/01/2018 at 13:18, symbiosis said:

Thanks Adam - I would always far prefer an honest answer and points you raised are duly noted :-) 

So out of curiosity, are you saying that the 290 is better than the 224? I saw some video shot with the 224 with the meteor lens that seemed to capture a wide sky view 

 

looks like I need to start saving those pennies...

Any advice on best value for £ for a DSLR?

get a canon 450D with something like a samyang 135mm lens and a EQ3pro or EQ5pro or star adventurer mount and you will be able to take wide field DSO images. 

Edited by Adam J
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Both the cameras are excellent for planetary and lunar imaging. They can be used for dso's but the main thing you have to take into account is the resolution you'll be imaging at. Both camera's have small pixels which means the resolution you'll be imaging at will be higher than most Dslr's and a lot of ccd's. At this point it's harder for your mount to track effectively, lowering your exposure time. It will also be harder to find targets on the small sensor size.

However as already mentioned you can do shorter exposures with these cameras because of their low noise and they will be good for small targets such as planetary nebula and some galaxy's as well as globular clusters.

The advantage of a Dslr is the large sensor and the ability to use it without a computer, although I found Backyard EOS great software if you want to use your laptop. You will get longer exposures, especially if using shorter focal length lenses. The Dslr will be a lot noisier that the Altairs in the same price range if using Canon, although I believe some Nikon camera's around that price range are very low noise.

It all depends on what you want to do really. If's wide field shots the Dslr is probably the best bet. If it's lunar and planetary with a little dabbling with easy targets such as M13 or M57 then either of the Altair cameras will be excellent. Just remember that you probably won't get very long exposure times. 60s is unlikely. 10-30s is more achievable.

The main difference between the 224 and 290 is that the 290 has smaller pixels, so the resolution will be higher. The 290 will be slightly more sensitive.

As always the most important piece of equipment is the mount. I'd much rather a good mount and average camera than the other way round. 

If you do go with an Altair check out Sharpcap. Excellent software with a great polar alignment routine.

Edited by cuivenion
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Thanks again everyone, much to mull over!

I would like to expand my current lunar/planetary limits to some basic DSO's but I have also often thought how great it would be to be able to grab a camera on a clear night and grab some wide field shots - I guess that the DSLR route would give me greater flexibility in that regard.....

what model Nikon would you suggest in a similar price range to the canon's please?

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On 28/01/2018 at 00:22, Thalestris24 said:

Serious AP can rapidly turn into an expensive hobby - be warned! 

 

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Hi, I wouldn't like to recommend one as I've never owned one. I have seen some read noise figures for different models on https://www.sensorgen.info/

Some models seem to have lower read noise at lower iso's than the Canons. I'm fairly new to DSLR's myself too.

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On 1/30/2018 at 20:19, symbiosis said:

Thanks again everyone, much to mull over!

I would like to expand my current lunar/planetary limits to some basic DSO's but I have also often thought how great it would be to be able to grab a camera on a clear night and grab some wide field shots - I guess that the DSLR route would give me greater flexibility in that regard.....

what model Nikon would you suggest in a similar price range to the canon's please?

I would recommend a canon, with the Nikon I would take a look at the backyard Nikon compatibility list and by the looks of it non of the 3000 series are suitable. Possibly a D5200 upwards, but non of those are in the same price range as the canon 450D or 600D that i would normally recommend. 

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