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Sunshine

Solar imaging advice

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Hello all! i am finally wetting my feet in AP and will be starting with solar, i will be using my Lunt LS60 pressure tuned with B1200 and starlight feather touch focuser on a GP mount with NO TRACKING, do i need TRACKING for solar? is hand tracking feasible?? considering the scope and its features i am looking for a suitable starter camera.

I do understand that a mono camera will be best considering mono will fully utilize the sensors capability, but i wonder how so many here on SGL capture beautiful images in such detail in colour? is false colour added after? i would love a colour image for print purposes

i don't mind working in mono but i would love my final processed image to be in colour. Im so new to AP of any kind and i have no idea so your advice would be amazing, my budget for a camera would be around US $350, there are many cameras in my local astronomy buy and sell which i will list below.

Aside from the camera itself do they typically come with processing software? if not what software would be good for solar? i am a photographer and i always work in RAW format images for developing in Adobe Lightroom, having RAW format images would be fantastic.

In a nutshell im not looking to earn first place in solar imaging on SGL but i would like to utilize my experience post processing RAW images and apply my skills to solar images to produce an image i can be proud of, please weigh in and suggest some cameras within my budget as i will need to invest in a small laptop computer to boot.

 

These cameras fall within my budget, obviously the higher Res the camera the better but some of you may have had great results with the cheaper options below?? i forgot to mention that my goal would be a full disc image in colour which confuses me because although mono is best of course the beautiful full disc images ive seen here, some with the ASI178mm are in colour?!!

Orion Starshoot DSI II Monochrome

Celestron Skyris 236M monochrome

Celestron Skyris 132M monochrome

ZWO ASI290 mini Mono 

ZWO ASI120mm mono

ZWO ASI178mm mono 

 

Edited by Sunshine
addition

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OK, you're on the right track.

I use the ASI 174MM for solar - pixel size suits my set-up and the frame rates are FAST!!!

The newer ASI 178MM would be a good bet.

You'll need a USB3 connection and a fast SSD drive to collect the data (2-3Gb per session)

Acquisition and processing.....FireCapture or SharpCap will give you good AVI (or SER) file to allow stacking for quality. Registax 6 or Autostakker V2/V3 will do the necessary stacking and "tweaking"

Any photo imaging program (PainShopPro, PS etc. etc.) can be used to apply the colourisation....

http://www.firecapture.de/

http://www.sharpcap.co.uk/sharpcap

https://www.astronomie.be/registax/

http://www.astrokraai.nl/software/latest.php

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4 hours ago, Sunshine said:

Hello all! i am finally wetting my feet in AP and will be starting with solar, i will be using my Lunt LS60 pressure tuned with B1200 and starlight feather touch focuser on a GP mount unguided, do i need guiding for solar? is hand tracking feasible?? considering the scope and its features i am looking for a suitable starter camera.

 

No, guiding isn't necessary. The mounts tracking should be sufficient. if you start doing multi-hour solar animations then good tracking helps a lot.

If you start doing high-resolution animations at long focal lengths (ie with a Quark or modified SCT) then guiding starts to become a very worthwhile feature.

 

 

4 hours ago, Sunshine said:

I do understand that a mono camera will be best considering mono will fully utilize the sensors capability, but i wonder how so many here on SGL capture beautiful images in such detail in colour? is false colour added after? i would love a colour image for print purposes

The colour is added in later in the post-processing.  You can make the Sun any colour that you like.

14206017164_a5be410e7d_c.jpgAlien Sun by Stephen Jennette, on Flickr

8162383822_9b24e984ae_c.jpgFull Disc 04th November Inverted by Stephen Jennette, on Flickr

4 hours ago, Sunshine said:

i don't mind working in mono but i would love my final processed image to be in colour. Im so new to AP of any kind and i have no idea so your advice would be amazing, my budget for a camera would be around US $350, there are many cameras in my local astronomy buy and sell which i will list below.
 

Lots of great tutorials over on the SolarChat forum. Mark Townley has a wealth of information on his site:

https://brierleyhillsolar.blogspot.co.uk/p/imaging-tutorials.html

Ken Crawford's tutorials are brilliant too, especially once you become more skilled at post-processing. They are linked on Mark's site.

 

4 hours ago, Sunshine said:

Aside from the camera itself do they typically come with processing software? if not what software would be good for solar? i am a photographer and i always work in RAW format images for developing in Adobe Lightroom, having RAW format images would be fantastic.

You'll need Autostakkert for stacking. ImPPG for sharpening. Microsoft ICE does a good job at stitching panes to create mosaics.
I use an old copy of Photoshop for final processing. GIMP would probably work fine, and is free.

 

 

4 hours ago, Sunshine said:

 i will need to invest in a small laptop computer to boot.

Make sure to spec the laptop with a SSD drive and USB3. The newer CMOS cameras with big sensors DEMAND USB3 and a fast disc. They also need a lot of space...I can easily generate a couple of hundred gigabytes of data in an afternoon's imaging session.

 

4 hours ago, Sunshine said:

These cameras fall within my budget, obviously the higher Res the camera the better but some of you may have had great results with the cheaper options below?? i forgot to mention that my goal would be a full disc image in colour which confuses me because although mono is best of course the beautiful full disc images ive seen here, some with the ASI178mm are in colour?!!

Orion Starshoot DSI II Monochrome

Celestron Skyris 236M monochrome

Celestron Skyris 132M monochrome

ZWO ASI290 mini Mono 

ZWO ASI120mm mono

ZWO ASI178mm mono 

 

For your scope you will need a mono camera with small pixels. A second hand DMK21au618 would be a good starting point. The sensor is a bit small, but they work well in solar. If you could get a Point Grey Chameleon then these are brilliant solar cameras. The chip is sensitive in the right frequency and the pixel size would match your scope well. The later USB3 Chameleon would also work very well.

Be wary of cameras with rolling shutters.....they can cause artefacts with fast moving objects.

 

 

Edited by Zakalwe

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Great advice from everyone but i must correct my initial post, i mentioned my mount is unguided, what i meant was no tracking period! can an object as bright as the sun not be hand tracked for a burst of frames??

i would have though that with a camera taking many images per second especially of the sun (like a camera freezing a car in motion) would be impervious to movement considering selected frames are used for image? or am i totally wrong here?

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7 minutes ago, Sunshine said:

Great advice from everyone but i must correct my initial post, i mentioned my mount is unguided, what i meant was no tracking period! can an object as bright as the sun not be hand tracked for a burst of frames??

i would have though that with a camera taking many images per second especially of the sun (like a camera freezing a car in motion) would be impervious to movement considering selected frames are used for image? or am i totally wrong here?

Hand tracking would be fine. You MUST cover the finderscope with Baader Solar film (the darker version, not the imaging version) if you use the finderscope.

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There is excellent advice in all of the posts above.  I'll just throw in my "opinions" for consideration.

I have the same Lunt that you have that I use primarily for full-disk shots.  If you use an ASI120MM cam with it, you won't get a full-disk image because the chip is too small, but you can always do a mosaic for a full-disk... just more processing work. 

Cams:  The older DMK 21's are nice, but the frame rate is pretty low and they are hard to find used here in the US.  I use an ASI174MM-cooled cam (I have two) for almost everything solar-wise.  The 174 is a rolling shutter, but ZWO has incorporated firmware that electronically duplicates a global shutter, thus eliminating the artifacts mentioned above... works great.

I have never shot without a tracking mount, but know several who have.  I encourage you to at least look into a Celestron CG-4 that will accept an RA tracking motor.  CG-4's are fairly inexpensive and a tracking motor is less than $100 (US).  When you've got your head stuck in a dark box setting up a shot, it's nice to have the mount tracking the sun, leaving one less thing to "worry about".

I usually shoot around 1000 frames at 60fps; stack in Autostakkert3; adjust wavelets in RegiStax6; and finish processing in Photoshop.   I have Lightroom, but it is better suited for pictures of your kids playing with the dog... In my opinion.  Stick with PS or GIMP.

Computers... You want as fast of a processor as you can afford, and USB-3 ports are a must as the world has long-since passed on the slower USB-2.  I will warn you here that the data cable supplied with ZWO cams is often a failure point, even when new.  That's not a big deal as $20 (US) will set you up with one that can handle the faster USB-3 data.

One last word about barlows... You likely have seen these super-close prom shots that we post.  Those are shot with a Quark that contains a built-in 4.3x Barlow lens.  If you want close-ups with the Lunt 60 you'll soon find that anything over about 3x is unsuitable.  I use a 2.5x Powermate when I want to get up-close-and-personal with the Lunt.

Best of luck in starting your solar imaging adventure... It's addictive.

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Thank you and great advice! it looks like my expectations for what i may need were underestimated, i thought practically any decent laptop will do but it sounds like i will need one with a bit of processing might, and camera recommendations are fairly specific, yes i do want full disc shots so i get exactly why i will need a sensor size which will allow for it.

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I only recommended a fast processor because they're not that much more expensive than the slower ones.  As long as you're pumping USB 3.0 data out of the cam, you'll be fine.  However, a slower processor may drop some frames at the higher capture rates.  Don't let that be a show-stopper for you.

Best,

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Thank you, your advice is as good as gold to an AP newbie haha,  you mention you have two cams, the ASI120 and 174 and they are both cooled, is cooling necessary? is that a feature inherent in those cams or an added feature? and which of those two would you suggest i seek out? i am being offered a ZWO ASI120 mono from an individual in my local classifieds i assume i should jump on that?

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Cooling is not necessary in solar, lunar or planetary imaging.

Don't get too hung up on wanting to capture only full discs....you will lose the maximum obtainable resolution. Photoshop has an automated merge routing that makes stitching frames together very easy. Likewise Microsoft ICE (free of charge!) is also very good.

All my solar full discs are multi-pane mosaics. it really doesnt add that much to the image capture time when you are using a camera that can capture at 100 FPS and the stitching is quick.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjAQpKfG

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So from what i gather maybe i should jump on that ASI120 mono being offered i my local astronomy buy and sell for the equivalent of US $120??? sound like its a good camera for solar applications!

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8 hours ago, Sunshine said:

Thank you, your advice is as good as gold to an AP newbie haha,  you mention you have two cams, the ASI120 and 174 and they are both cooled, is cooling necessary? is that a feature inherent in those cams or an added feature? and which of those two would you suggest i seek out? i am being offered a ZWO ASI120 mono from an individual in my local classifieds i assume i should jump on that?

I have two ASI174MM cams that are both cooled.  There is a tilter on one and not the other... just because I'm lazy. LOL  I also have an ASI120MM-s cam that is not cooled.  The "-s" means it is a USB 3.0 model and the "MM" on all of them indicates that they are monochrome.:icon_biggrin:

Cam cooling is often not necessary.  However, I live in the desert southwestern US where average daily summer temps average 117 degrees Fahrenheit.  It those temps, a cam's chip can become overheated resulting in dropped frames and a signal-to-noise ratio that is uncomfortable to deal with in post-processing... to say the least.  I was out for a one-hour session today where the outside air temp was only 68 degrees (F) and the SharpCap cooling control never even turned the cooler on.

I use SharpCap for my imaging software.  SharpCap will monitor the chip temps for you during imaging.

3 hours ago, Sunshine said:

So from what i gather maybe i should jump on that ASI120 mono being offered i my local astronomy buy and sell for the equivalent of US $120??? sound like its a good camera for solar applications!

I just refer you again to my earlier thread in which I recommend a USB 3.0 cam.  If the cam offered locally is not a 3.0 version (with the "-s), I would avoid it.  It's not that you can't use it, but the 3.0 protocol is where we as an imaging community are currently at because of the advances in personal computers.

Edited by Lowjiber
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On 2018-01-22 at 08:16, Lowjiber said:

There is excellent advice in all of the posts above.  I'll just throw in my "opinions" for consideration.

I have the same Lunt that you have that I use primarily for full-disk shots.  If you use an ASI120MM cam with it, you won't get a full-disk image because the chip is too small, but you can always do a mosaic for a full-disk... just more processing work. 

Cams:  The older DMK 21's are nice, but the frame rate is pretty low and they are hard to find used here in the US.  I use an ASI174MM-cooled cam (I have two) for almost everything solar-wise.  The 174 is a rolling shutter, but ZWO has incorporated firmware that electronically duplicates a global shutter, thus eliminating the artifacts mentioned above... works great.

I have never shot without a tracking mount, but know several who have.  I encourage you to at least look into a Celestron CG-4 that will accept an RA tracking motor.  CG-4's are fairly inexpensive and a tracking motor is less than $100 (US).  When you've got your head stuck in a dark box setting up a shot, it's nice to have the mount tracking the sun, leaving one less thing to "worry about".

I usually shoot around 1000 frames at 60fps; stack in Autostakkert3; adjust wavelets in RegiStax6; and finish processing in Photoshop.   I have Lightroom, but it is better suited for pictures of your kids playing with the dog... In my opinion.  Stick with PS or GIMP.

Computers... You want as fast of a processor as you can afford, and USB-3 ports are a must as the world has long-since passed on the slower USB-2.  I will warn you here that the data cable supplied with ZWO cams is often a failure point, even when new.  That's not a big deal as $20 (US) will set you up with one that can handle the faster USB-3 data.

One last word about barlows... You likely have seen these super-close prom shots that we post.  Those are shot with a Quark that contains a built-in 4.3x Barlow lens.  If you want close-ups with the Lunt 60 you'll soon find that anything over about 3x is unsuitable.  I use a 2.5x Powermate when I want to get up-close-and-personal with the Lunt.

Best of luck in starting your solar imaging adventure... It's addictive.

Cams:  The older DMK 21's are nice, but the frame rate is pretty low and they are hard to find used here in the US. 

There just happens to be someone selling a DMK21AU618 mono camera in my city, i know it is USB 2.0, but im looking at half the cost of a new ASI, you mentioned the older DMK 21's are nice, does this model fall under that? sorry if i seem like such a noob cause i am in AP lol. Do you think this cam can produce decent results? DISREGARD im getting 3.0 cam so forget this DMK

Edited by Sunshine

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I can't really testify regarding that model.  Try Googling " DMK21AU618".  There are some reviews of that cam there.

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I use the DMK 21 618 for a while.

Higher QE at Ha than the standard version, but very small webcam sized chip.

There are better options availed today.

(I still use my DMK 41 and DMK51)

 

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Sunspot with baader film and my sct with a Skyris 236m

FB_IMG_1469446665355.jpg

Edited by newbie alert
Phone thinks it knows best

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On 22/01/2018 at 06:14, Merlin66 said:

OK, you're on the right track.

I use the ASI 174MM for solar - pixel size suits my set-up and the frame rates are FAST!!!

The newer ASI 178MM would be a good bet.

You'll need a USB3 connection and a fast SSD drive to collect the data (2-3Gb per session)

Acquisition and processing.....FireCapture or SharpCap will give you good AVI (or SER) file to allow stacking for quality. Registax 6 or Autostakker V2/V3 will do the necessary stacking and "tweaking"

Any photo imaging program (PainShopPro, PS etc. etc.) can be used to apply the colourisation....

http://www.firecapture.de/

http://www.sharpcap.co.uk/sharpcap

https://www.astronomie.be/registax/

http://www.astrokraai.nl/software/latest.php

Thread resurrection time 🙂 were you using a 1.25" nosepiece with the asi174mm camera/Lunt 50mm?

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Pete,

I use a Coronado BF on my SM60 DS set up..... and yes the 1.25" nose piece on the ASI 174.

Nowadays I've added an ASI 1600MM as well.

 

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22 hours ago, Merlin66 said:

Pete,

I use a Coronado BF on my SM60 DS set up..... and yes the 1.25" nose piece on the ASI 174.

Nowadays I've added an ASI 1600MM as well.

 

Did you have any issues with vignetting because of the smaller diameter nose piece? I am thinking of upgrading from my DMK21au618 to a 174mm, even though i do own a 290mm.

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Pete,

I use a BF15 on my set-up, no issues with vignetting.

I also regularly use a x2.5 Powermate, again no issues.

 

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