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Anvil Basher

Comparisons?

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Hi all.

I did some research on this site trying to find reviews, comparisons, etc., regarding cameras. Yes, some exist, and start off with normal questions, but then techies start to make it more confusing.

I have always followed the thought of......if someone new needs guidance then getting technical is just going to lose them. Technical aspects, though needed, mean little to the novice. We know they exist for a reason, we even partly understand some of it, but we are not in the industry or been at-it for years. So when you get so far reading replies, you are simply more confused.

There are plenty of cameras that will work as we require, but the price between them is vast, so obviously there is a difference in quality. We are in a technological age where new chips come out as fast as from a fish'n'chip shop, and within 6 months the camera you purchased is old........technology improved...... we are told.

We have the usual type hand camera dslr or mirrorless, or cmos, then we have the new breed of usb cams to fit in the eyepiece and also act as guiders. There is a plethora to choose from. Not many of us new to the game wish to spend a 1000 on a camera, some of us simply do not have that amount to buy a camera. But funnily enough, when you read descriptions of what these cameras can actually do, they all sound very similar. A 300 usb cmos camera states it does pretty much the same as a 1000 one........but that cannot be. They both do dso, roi, guider, planetary video in hd, they all seem to use the same software, they claim low noise, good heat displacement or cooled. Then get into your typical canon-type camera!!!!!............for a novice it is just mind-numbingly ridiculous. For someone that is into their cameras it's fine.

I am sure I can put up a video of me opening a motorbike gearbox, stripping it, giving technical terms, and putting it back together again, but how many of you that had not one clue about mechanics would feel confident doing it? This is how those of us that are just starting out feel about discussions on cameras.

Mono, colour?.......who bloody knows!......I don't. Do you need a filter wheel for mono? or does the software allow use of digital filters.....is there a difference using either? Filter wheels are another expense. What are the benefits, (if any), of mono v colour?

I would have thought that seeing as we are in the new era of technology, where new people coming in to this hobby are continuous, and these new people want to use technology, why there is no sticky giving advice to buyers of cameras? Why is there not advice on what to avoid?.........the most important thing to a novice. Advice on anything below a certain cost is not advised? Comparisons of dslr against cmos? Images without any work done to the image, of one against the other? Video reviews of what the camera claims to how it performs. What are the cheap ones, (50-100), really like and what you can expect from them.

I mean, c'mon. I am sure someone can get supplied with even loan cameras from these companies so as to give a review? and if you do not want to put the time in to actually doing the reviews, then maybe a novice such as myself is willing to. Maybe we need a laymans video on these cameras and let us that understands the basics give our opinion as a novice. I do not want to sit through some boring review where they show unboxing it, laying it all out, giving the technical jargon, showing how it fits in/on the scope.........and all the while listening to some crap music in the background. And after all that no images or raw footage???.....another 30 minutes I will never get back.

I am still as confused as ever regarding choice of camera........all I know is that I have the cheap one, but I want to move up a notch to start getting some good photos, plus planetary footage.......as I suspect many others also want to do.

I am not asking advice here on what camera to get, because it will just start to get technical again. I am having a rant through my frustration about this whole camera thing. Maybe sticking to 35mm film is the way to go?

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I would propose you contact a reputable seller like the site sponsor FLO and ask them. They are used to working with a range on customers and will be able to advise you at the right level.

Most of us have experience of only a small range of kit.

Regards Andrew 

Edited by andrew s

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21 hours ago, andrew s said:

I would propose you contact a reputable seller like the site sponsor FLO and ask them. They are used to working with a range on customers and will be able to advise you at the right level.

Most of us have experience of only a small range of kit.

Regards Andrew 

Thanks. I have contacted many sellers regarding questions. Some never reply. Some point me towards 1000 euro devices. I get a bit fed-up asking tbh, plus they want to sell you what they sell usually. I cannot go to any store to ask or look because there are none. I choose my internet sellers carefully, and with items such as these I make sure I am not too far away........returns etc.

From looking at the photos in the competition, it seems there are quite a few with the needed kit. Did they just buy that bit of kit initially, and stuck with it? or did they work their way up to having it, meaning they have some experience over myself? Do I have to join the freemasons to find out?.....lol........just having a laugh.

I used to live in England, born there. It is so easy to go to a store and look, and ask questions, feel the goods. I rely on internet solely right now in Ireland. Don't bother trying to point me in the right direction for an outlet here, what they have for sale is very little, usually top-end, usually they order it in.....at a cost.......and I would have to drive 2 1/2 hours each way for the privelage, and a shop can close overnight......especially with a small market of customers.

So every now and then I join a forum. This forum is the only astro one I am on. I ask questions just like any other newbie. No problem if I cannot get straight answers. My astro days are now starting, I want kit, I will get it. I just thought there would be at least 1 person that has gone through this and could give sound advice.

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20 hours ago, davew said:

Can I suggest this - https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

Some of the problems beginners have is not knowing what to ask never mind what to make of any answers. 

It may end up saving you from a world of tears. Or not ?

Dave.

Thanks. I honestly do not fancy reading books at this stage. My concern is the camera I buy, without it there will be no photos. I refer you to my answer to Andrew.

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And just for good measure.......I have not even got a camera shop near me.........another 2 1/2 hour drive to actually see them, touch them, or speak to anyone. Plenty of chemist shops selling cameras, and we have argos. Camera shop in town closed after donkeys years being there. The footfall outside Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Limerick, is really low in specialised markets, and therefore these type of shops are rare outside the specified areas. I have seen countless shops open in town to close 6 months later.

So I am at this stage pretty used to what I can get via shops here. The internet is my sole distributor. There are no clubs, I think there is one in Wexford, but I doubt it is on the scale you have in the UK. Then the Dublin crew......and I am not doing a 5hr round trip in the car.

I enjoy speaking to people when I have a question. I enjoy a bit of banter. I get no joy of reading swathes of pages of info that I primarily know. I enjoy interaction with others, that is why I join a forum.

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19 minutes ago, Anvil Basher said:

Thanks. I honestly do not fancy reading books at this stage. My concern is the camera I buy, without it there will be no photos. I refer you to my answer to Andrew.

Annoying as it may be it's really a good idea to read this book.

A lot of the quality of peeps astro' images is down to the quality of their skies not the equipment they use so someone with  pristine dark skies will get a better images using a cheap £200.00 second hand DSLR than I can achieve from S. London with thousands of pounds worth of stuff.

How are your skies when it's not raining ? :grin:

Do you have a telescope ?

Dave

 

 

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Hiya, I understand! Astro kit can be a huge purchase, so getting it right from the beginning can save a fortune. The recommendation of "Making Every Photon Count" can't be overstated!

Looking at some of your other threads, it's the moon you're interested in? With an 8" Skywatcher? Do you know specifically which, please?

Planetary imaging is usually done by taking short videos of the object (500 frames or so), then running it through software (free!) to clean it up and product a final frame. It is a little less demanding on the wallet, as the cameras don't necessarily need cooling, and colour means no filter wheel (I'm over simplifying a little)

 

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1 hour ago, Davey-T said:

Annoying as it may be it's really a good idea to read this book.

A lot of the quality of peeps astro' images is down to the quality of their skies not the equipment they use so someone with  pristine dark skies will get a better images using a cheap £200.00 second hand DSLR than I can achieve from S. London with thousands of pounds worth of stuff.

How are your skies when it's not raining ? :grin:

Do you have a telescope ?

Dave

 

 

Thanks Dave. That indeed was an honest, friendly, reply.

Dave,.......if I read anymore my head will start spinning ? ..........honestly, that is all I do mostly.....read. Trouble is most everything on the net is based around marketing. One reviewer thinks it's good, another does not. Same with reviews written by so-called individuals, it ends up like marmite..........you either love it or do not.

Yes, I have very little light pollution, I am in the country area. I have decided on my kit myself.......and god help me! I have the skywatcher 200mm on an eq5 with goto. I purchased a new spotter scope so I can fit the usb camera to it, I went with the Altair gpcam2 290C Colour Camera/Guider, and a start off dslr the canon xsi. So I will soon be trying it all out.........when it gets delivered.

Been cloudy here the last 3 weeks with no let up in sight. When the sky is clear it is fantastic just by eyes alone, but with the scope.......pretty cool.

 

Bill

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2 minutes ago, Anvil Basher said:

Thanks Dave. That indeed was an honest, friendly, reply.

Dave,.......if I read anymore my head will start spinning ? ..........honestly, that is all I do mostly.....read. Trouble is most everything on the net is based around marketing. One reviewer thinks it's good, another does not. Same with reviews written by so-called individuals, it ends up like marmite..........you either love it or do not.

Yes, I have very little light pollution, I am in the country area. I have decided on my kit myself.......and god help me! I have the skywatcher 200mm on an eq5 with goto. I purchased a new spotter scope so I can fit the usb camera to it, I went with the Altair gpcam2 290C Colour Camera/Guider, and a start off dslr the canon xsi. So I will soon be trying it all out.........when it gets delivered.

Been cloudy here the last 3 weeks with no let up in sight. When the sky is clear it is fantastic just by eyes alone, but with the scope.......pretty cool.

 

Bill

There is nothing wrong with the xsi for starting with DSO imaging and in fact its what I used when I started, in my opinion its probably the perfect place to start at your budget. Also the 290C will serve well as both a planetary imager and a guide camera. 

Is the xsi modified? That might be something for the future. 

The main thing to remember with this hobby is that there is a large skill component and many people fail to get the most out of their equipment irrespective of cost. 

You are in a good position to learn with what you have and have some fun doing it. 

Adam

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1 hour ago, Yawning Angel said:

Hiya, I understand! Astro kit can be a huge purchase, so getting it right from the beginning can save a fortune. The recommendation of "Making Every Photon Count" can't be overstated!

Looking at some of your other threads, it's the moon you're interested in? With an 8" Skywatcher? Do you know specifically which, please?

Planetary imaging is usually done by taking short videos of the object (500 frames or so), then running it through software (free!) to clean it up and product a final frame. It is a little less demanding on the wallet, as the cameras don't necessarily need cooling, and colour means no filter wheel (I'm over simplifying a little)

 

I originally bought the scope with very little knowledge in mind. I did my oh so important searches relating to scopes and mounts. Finally went with what I have so as to not need to upgrade either. I wanted eventually to do the astrophotography, so that was part of choice. The moon, (ours), has always fascinated me, I love looking at it..........but did not realise that my scope would be quite big for the moon alone. So I am making the best of what I have basically. Finding out if I can do x,y,z,...........Pleased with my choice, I have the room for it, (in my man-den), and I now have the rest. I guess the moon through the spotter/guider should be smaller, (or put on the reducer), so I can use that for video, and the camera for pics utilising the spotter one as a guider.

Am I correct in my thinking? or have I missed something out that I need to get started?

Oh, I see you ask about the scope. 1000mm f.l., 200mm dia.

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That sounds a great bit of kit to sort out all the other frustrations with astro' imaging Bill.

Once you can gather enough data and then cobble together some sort of image you'll either think it's all too much like hard work or start making a list of stuff to upgrade to :D

Good luck.

Dave

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Hi Anvil Basher,

I am new to astrophotography as well and I will share with you the process I went through in selecting my camera and other equipment. My main starting point was budget. What was I willing to spend on a whole set up and where would I need to make compromises to make sure I stuck to it.

Firstly I took a look around at mounts. From reading the forum I soon realised that without a decent mount and tripod I might as well give up before I started and just stick to holding my phone up to my flimsy department store reflector and flakey EQ mount. Now, this department store set up was actually very useful and I learnt a lot from it regarding approximate polar alignment and how to find objects in the sky and what objects I was particularly interested in. I discovered easy to find objects such as Pleiades and M42 and took some crude images of these objects with my phone and It also allowed me to get 'buy-in' from my wife to invest in some better equipment once she saw what may be possible!

I watched some Youtube vlogs, notably Astrobackyard which was very useful and entertaining and with a pinch of salt I scrutinised his equipment and the results he was getting from some pretty modest equipment at the time of viewing. (now he is higher profile and I'm sure he receives 'sponsored' equipment for 'review'. ) His older videos come across more genuine and like an astrophotographer trying to make his way through the hobby.

So, my takeaways so far were.

  1. 1. Invest in a decent mount, I couldn’t afford a decent brand new mount so I put an advert on SGL and acquired a second hand SW HEQ5 which freed up some budget for the scope and camera.
  2. 2. Widefield double refractor over lower quality triplet. Similar price but I heard a higher quality doublet would be better for me. I don’t know if this is true, but it is what I went with.
  3. 3. TEC cooled camera. I am lazy and the thought of having to take calibration frames every time I wanted to image would have put me off the hobby for life. That’s just me.

Since this post is about cameras I won't talk about points 1 and 2, only 3.

So. TEC cooled camera was my way to go, this narrowed down the selection somewhat. I then used astronomy tools and literally selected every sensor combination with my telescope to see which gave me a good balance between field of view and megapixels on my favorite DSOs. I also looked at the pixel ratio part of that website too. I knew I shouldn’t select a camera purely on this but it gave me a starting point. Since I purchased a widefield refractor I wanted a camera which gave a good balance of widefield and also the crop factor to get some data on smaller objects, I also thought that if I had a camera with a higher pixel count that maybe I could crop my images to make objects look bigger in my photos. Cheating I know, but hey ho.

So I wanted good field of view with my scope and lots of megapixels to allow me to crop if I wanted. CCDs were therefore out as this combination in CCD was ridiculously expensive. CMOS it was then. I cross referenced sensors with cameras and prices and selected a particular model based on price and what was included. Adaptors, hardcase etc.. Anything to differentiate. I knew that with my prior research I couldn’t really go wrong as there are really no duff asto-specific cameras out there and that I was going to be the limiting factor way before the camera was going to be.

Colour vs Mono. Again I'm lazy and like to see results quickly. I also know that my small refractor was not going to allow me to photograph faint objects as easily as a massive reflector. I therefore went with a more sensitive Mono camera knowing that my images for the time being were going to be black and white. I didn’t mind that as I wanted a simple rig to start with knowing that I could add on a filter wheel and filters when I was ready.

So to summarise, my main drivers were:

  1. 1. Field of view with my telescope.
  2. 2. My laziness (TEC cooled and Mono)
  3. 3. Budget. I saved where I could and spent where I need to and spend what I could afford.
  4. 4. Buy quality and buy once. (my mantra)
  5. 5. That I was going to be the performance limiting factor not my choice in camera.

I hope this helps, sorry it is so long!

James

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20 minutes ago, Adam J said:

There is nothing wrong with the xsi for starting with DSO imaging and in fact its what I used when I started, in my opinion its probably the perfect place to start at your budget. Also the 290C will serve well as both a planetary imager and a guide camera. 

Is the xsi modified? That might be something for the future. 

The main thing to remember with this hobby is that there is a large skill component and many people fail to get the most out of their equipment irrespective of cost. 

You are in a good position to learn with what you have and have some fun doing it. 

Adam

Cheers Adam, reassuring to read.

I was thinking of doing the ir glass removal myself, done a few before. I know there's a utube video showing how, so I will watch that a few times.

Yes, sometimes people have excellent kit but simply never reach it's potential. I do not really want complicated.......as some of these cameras are, for us laymen. I just need what is required to do a fair job.

Bill

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18 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

That sounds a great bit of kit to sort out all the other frustrations with astro' imaging Bill.

Once you can gather enough data and then cobble together some sort of image you'll either think it's all too much like hard work or start making a list of stuff to upgrade to :D

Good luck.

Dave

Yep, aint that the bitch ?.......you still end up upgrading!

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19 minutes ago, Han Solo said:

Hi Anvil Basher,

I am new to astrophotography as well and I will share with you the process I went through in selecting my camera and other equipment. My main starting point was budget. What was I willing to spend on a whole set up and where would I need to make compromises to make sure I stuck to it.

Firstly I took a look around at mounts. From reading the forum I soon realised that without a decent mount and tripod I might as well give up before I started and just stick to holding my phone up to my flimsy department store reflector and flakey EQ mount. Now, this department store set up was actually very useful and I learnt a lot from it regarding approximate polar alignment and how to find objects in the sky and what objects I was particularly interested in. I discovered easy to find objects such as Pleiades and M42 and took some crude images of these objects with my phone and It also allowed me to get 'buy-in' from my wife to invest in some better equipment once she saw what may be possible!

I watched some Youtube vlogs, notably Astrobackyard which was very useful and entertaining and with a pinch of salt I scrutinised his equipment and the results he was getting from some pretty modest equipment at the time of viewing. (now he is higher profile and I'm sure he receives 'sponsored' equipment for 'review'. ) His older videos come across more genuine and like an astrophotographer trying to make his way through the hobby.

So, my takeaways so far were.

  1. 1. Invest in a decent mount, I couldn’t afford a decent brand new mount so I put an advert on SGL and acquired a second hand SW HEQ5 which freed up some budget for the scope and camera.
  2. 2. Widefield double refractor over lower quality triplet. Similar price but I heard a higher quality doublet would be better for me. I don’t know if this is true, but it is what I went with.
  3. 3. TEC cooled camera. I am lazy and the thought of having to take calibration frames every time I wanted to image would have put me off the hobby for life. That’s just me.

Since this post is about cameras I won't talk about points 1 and 2, only 3.

So. TEC cooled camera was my way to go, this narrowed down the selection somewhat. I then used astronomy tools and literally selected every sensor combination with my telescope to see which gave me a good balance between field of view and megapixels on my favorite DSOs. I also looked at the pixel ratio part of that website too. I knew I shouldn’t select a camera purely on this but it gave me a starting point. Since I purchased a widefield refractor I wanted a camera which gave a good balance of widefield and also the crop factor to get some data on smaller objects, I also thought that if I had a camera with a higher pixel count that maybe I could crop my images to make objects look bigger in my photos. Cheating I know, but hey ho.

So I wanted good field of view with my scope and lots of megapixels to allow me to crop if I wanted. CCDs were therefore out as this combination in CCD was ridiculously expensive. CMOS it was then. I cross referenced sensors with cameras and prices and selected a particular model based on price and what was included. Adaptors, hardcase etc.. Anything to differentiate. I knew that with my prior research I couldn’t really go wrong as there are really no duff asto-specific cameras out there and that I was going to be the limiting factor way before the camera was going to be.

Colour vs Mono. Again I'm lazy and like to see results quickly. I also know that my small refractor was not going to allow me to photograph faint objects as easily as a massive reflector. I therefore went with a more sensitive Mono camera knowing that my images for the time being were going to be black and white. I didn’t mind that as I wanted a simple rig to start with knowing that I could add on a filter wheel and filters when I was ready.

So to summarise, my main drivers were:

  1. 1. Field of view with my telescope.
  2. 2. My laziness (TEC cooled and Mono)
  3. 3. Budget. I saved where I could and spent where I need to and spend what I could afford.
  4. 4. Buy quality and buy once. (my mantra)
  5. 5. That I was going to be the performance limiting factor not my choice in camera.

I hope this helps, sorry it is so long!

James

Very similar to myself James........thanks.

Bill

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