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Posted (edited)

Hi All

I'm sure this is a very popular topic, so please excuse me for asking again if it is 🙂

I'm really wanting to start getting into astrophotography and I am unsure what type of camera is best to go for. I have around £100 to work with which I know isn't much in the whole scheme of things but its what I have. I might be able to stretch to a little more if its worth the extra. I have a standard digital camera which I've managed to take reasonably good images of the moon (mounted to eyepiece), but I'd like something which is a bit more all purpose, so reasonable deep sky and also planetary, if possible, if not at least good planetary. I'm also in the process of reading 'Making Every Photon Count' to gain further knowledge but I thought I'd ask advice too.

I'd also prefer something which doesn't require a masters degree to understand 🙂 

I've heard good things about Celestrons Neximage and ZWOs etc for planetary. Maybe I should start here to gain experience, then expand into deep sky imaging as I progress and learn.

I'm probably asking too much with the budget and my lack of experience, but any advice welcomed 🙂 

My scope is a SW Explorer 150P on an EQ3-2 mount. I have installed an auto focuser (found this to be a great upgrade for observing, to help limit vibration), will be getting tracking motors too. It may not be the most elaborate set-up, but I've had great planetary views and some awe inspiring deep sky views with it, so it would be good to see what I can photograph (If possible).

Edited by Portech7
Typo
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I think for that budget you are going to be limited.

It is possible to get quite good results on DSOs with a standard (unmodified) DSLR. For planetary, I thought the neximage was a bit overpriced. There used to be a lot of modified Toucams (Phillips) around that were good for planetary. I haven't seen many advertised lately, but it might be worth keeping an eye on various sale boards.

If you want to get a better camera for DSOs, I would recommend you wait until you can save up for one of the (for example) ZWOs.

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Posted (edited)

For planetary, you need a specialist USB video camera.  The Neximage 5 was popular. The entry level Neximage, which I have, is not good enough - I found it disappointing. A lot of people successfully use the ZWO cameras. I suggest you try the ZWO ASI120MC, (available new with USB3 only, or used with USB2) or if you have more cash, the ASI224MC + IR-cut filter, which offers a significant gain in performance.

With Jupiter and Saturn rising to only around 15 degrees this season, you also need an atmospheric dispersion corrector (ADC), costing about £100, for best results on these.

If these two ZWO cameras +ADC seem too expensive,  you've picked the wrong hobby, I fear.😦 Unless you can buy secondhand, or identify the cheaper Far Eastern camera that uses the same chip as the ASI120. 

Edited by Cosmic Geoff
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11 hours ago, Portech7 said:

Hi All

I'm sure this is a very popular topic, so please excuse me for asking again if it is 🙂

I'm really wanting to start getting into astrophotography and I am unsure what type of camera is best to go for. I have around £100 to work with which I know isn't much in the whole scheme of things but its what I have. I might be able to stretch to a little more if its worth the extra. I have a standard digital camera which I've managed to take reasonably good images of the moon (mounted to eyepiece), but I'd like something which is a bit more all purpose, so reasonable deep sky and also planetary, if possible, if not at least good planetary. I'm also in the process of reading 'Making Every Photon Count' to gain further knowledge but I thought I'd ask advice too.

I'd also prefer something which doesn't require a masters degree to understand 🙂 

I've heard good things about Celestrons Neximage and ZWOs etc for planetary. Maybe I should start here to gain experience, then expand into deep sky imaging as I progress and learn.

I'm probably asking too much with the budget and my lack of experience, but any advice welcomed 🙂 

My scope is a SW Explorer 150P on an EQ3-2 mount. I have installed an auto focuser (found this to be a great upgrade for observing, to help limit vibration), will be getting tracking motors too. It may not be the most elaborate set-up, but I've had great planetary views and some awe inspiring deep sky views with it, so it would be good to see what I can photograph (If possible).

I think that you might struggle at a £100 budget. Given your scope and mount I think that imaging planets is a starting point although as noted they are not currently well placed for imaging from the UK, which is not to say that you cant try. 

I think that the ASI120mc is a good choice to start with but it is more that your budget. 

Adam

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Posted (edited)

I think the Chinese asi120 clone is the Datyson t7 and can be bought on aliexpress for £80 ish (colour or mono).

 Not used one myself but seem to recall other forum users have 

Cheers

Vern

Edited by vernmid
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With that sort of budget I would either save up or seek out a second-hand un-modded DSLR (you don't say whether your "standard digital" is an SLR or not).

I've seen decent Canon DSLR's second hand (even in London) for £90 - £100.

I'm currently using a Nikon D5300 on an Explorer 150PDS and I'm getting some decent DSO images, but then I am just starting out too.

I have my eyes on the ZWO ASI 1600MM Pro Mono, but it ain't cheap!

Good luck!

Daemon

 

 

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For that budget a Canon 450D or 1100D are a sort of 'step change' better then the 400D and 1000D. If you can find one for your budget the 600D is often praised.

For planetary the ZWOASI120 series are not far beyond you budget and can do small DSPOs like planetary nebulas, distant galaxies and globular clusters.

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I would look for a second hand canon 550d. Why canon and not nikon, because you can use old m42 lenses with an adaptor. Why 550d, because it has vidro crop mode which is better on planets/moon.

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5 hours ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

try the ZWO ASI120MC

Hi. If that puts the OP overbudget, there's a clone for around €90 for the colour verson. I have the mono version and alongside the zwo120, it's performance is identical. If you want to do deep sky too, just get something easy to cope with e.g. an eos 450d which has nice big light hugging pixels.

HTH

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36 minutes ago, alacant said:

Hi. If that puts the OP overbudget, there's a clone for around €90 for the colour verson. I have the mono version and alongside the zwo120, it's performance is identical. If you want to do deep sky too, just get something easy to cope with e.g. an eos 450d which has nice big light hugging pixels.

HTH

I'm not sure that's a clone, at least for the colour model.  I think the 120MC uses the AR130 sensor.  The pixel size is also wrong the the sensor they claim it has, but perhaps that's just a typo.  Surprising how many vendors are selling the same camera on AliExpress though.  I wonder if they're actually just one of the older Touptek models?

James

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, JamesF said:

I'm not sure that's a clone, at least for the colour model.  I think the 120MC uses the AR130 sensor.  The pixel size is also wrong the the sensor they claim it has, but perhaps that's just a typo.  Surprising how many vendors are selling the same camera on AliExpress though.  I wonder if they're actually just one of the older Touptek models?

James

The irony is that the Touptek mono and colour have the same sensor as the  original 120MC, but the 120MM has a slightly lesser sensor. [From ZWO's discontinued product section:  Sensor: 1/3″ CMOS AR0130CS(Color) / MT9M034(mono) }

So the mono ZWO is actually slightly less sensitive than the Touptek!

post-54682-14074281769606_thumb.jpg

 

The -S versions of the ASI120 both have an AR0130CS

That said, having used a mono Touptec side by side with the ASI120MC it seems to be less sensitive, but I suspect that is a gain-related issue or in the firmware? I discovered this doing planetary where I was needing longer exposures with the Touptec.

Edited by Stub Mandrel

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3 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

The irony is that the Touptek mono and colour have the same sensor as the 120MC, but the 120MM has a slightly lesser sensor(allegedly)!

Having used the Touptec side by side with the ASI120MC it seems to be less sensitive, but i suspect that is a gain-related issue or in the firmware? I discovered this doing planetary where I was needing longer exposures with the Touptec.

I think the USB2 120MM used an older sensor than that in the USB2 120MC, but as far as I'm aware the USB3 mono model uses the mono version of the sensor in the colour camera.

James

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2 minutes ago, JamesF said:

I think the USB2 120MM used an older sensor than that in the USB2 120MC, but as far as I'm aware the USB3 mono model uses the mono version of the sensor in the colour camera.

James

Correct, I've updated my post to make it clearer.

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Posted (edited)

Camera specs.

ASI120MC-S (color) 

Sensor: 1/3″ CMOS AR0130CS(Color) / MT9M034(mono)
Resolution: 1.2Mega Pixels 1280×960
Pixel Size: 3.75µm
Bayer Pattern: GRBG
Exposure Range: 64µs-1000s
ROI: Supported
Interface: USB3.0/USB2.0
Bit rate: 12bit output(12bit ADC)

ASI120MM-S (mono)

Sensor: 1/3″ CMOS AR0130CS(Mono)
Resolution: 1.2Mega Pixels 1280×960
Pixel Size: 3.75µm
Exposure Range: 64µs-2000s
ROI: Supported
Interface: USB3.0/USB2.0

ASI120MM Mini (mono)

Sensor: 1/3″ CMOS AR0130CS(Mono)
Resolution: 1.2Mega Pixels 1280×960
Pixel Size: 3.75µm
Exposure Range: 64µs-2000s
ROI: Supported

Interface: USB2.0

Edited by johninderby
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2 hours ago, happy-kat said:

I would look for a second hand canon 550d. Why canon and not nikon, because you can use old m42 lenses with an adaptor. Why 550d, because it has vidro crop mode which is better on planets/moon.

I'll second the 550d, for those same reasons plus dso's

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I can vouch for the 450d - its nice and cheap on ebay :) I got mine just to wet my feet in this hobby. Its a great cam and the only thing I would really comment about it is that it has no flip out screen (not a big deal but when starting I found myself struggling to find focus on the cheap lenses i had which meant very careful adjustment in often awkward neck positions!) the other thing it doesnt have is a video crop mode as the 550d does, which whilst ok for lunar (in my experience) is basically a requirement for planetry.

So, to sum up - flip out screen + video if you can find a bargain! (cash converters is quite a good place to pick up those 2 models - as is ebay if in uk!)

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Posted (edited)

I've found a Canon 10D which comes with the remote shutter switch, charger, battery and a few other bits, for £99+£8 shipping.

Is this worth trying?

Edited by Portech7
Additional info added

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6 minutes ago, Portech7 said:

I've found a Canon 10D which comes with the remote shutter switch, charger, battery and a few other bits, for £99+£8 shipping.

Is this worth trying?

Id say no, but only because you can find better camera's then that with a bit of persistence for the same price - have you looked on facebook marketplace for instance? There are some very cheap camera's on there - I put in a 60km search around Cardiff (no idea where you are in South Wales!) and lots came up :) Also you could put an advert in the wanted section of the classifieds on this forum too :)

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Posted (edited)

Hi!

Canon 10D is a very old model (2003) and it only supports Compact Flash memory cards. I bet you can get a lot newer Canon DSLRs for £100. Personally I’ve bought a used 500D and a 550D for €100 each here in Finland and I assume that you should be able to find them in the same price range in the UK as well. 🙂 1000D is also very good for beginners and usually quite cheap.  Newer cameras have a lot less noise and are more likely to be compatible with modern astro-software. DSLRs can also be used for wide field shots of the Milky Way.

Keep in mind that you’re going to need a T-adapter and an intervalometer as well!

Clear Skies!

Tomi

Edited by AstroFin
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I'm Bridgend area. I'll keep looking, there are others out there, in fact its quite a busy market for second hand cameras so I'm sure something will turn up.😀

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I do like the idea and ease of use I've read with the ZWO etc.

It maybe the best thing to start from, I can always progress as time goes.

Thanks for the help all 😀👍

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I've got an old 10D,  it's not very good - low bit depth,. high noise, old fashioned cards etc.

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Hi all

Just looking on line and seen this T7 camera, think its a copy of the ZWO as mentioned by vernmid.

5 hours ago, vernmid said:

I think the Chinese asi120 clone is the Datyson t7 and can be bought on aliexpress for £80 ish (colour or mono).

 Not used one myself but seem to recall other forum users have 

Cheers

Vern

Spec copied in below:
CMOS chips: Aptina AR0130CS
CMOS Size: 1 / 3 in.
Effective pixels quantity: 1280*960
Astronomy requirement is fast, full real output, much longer exposure, these three elements, high resolution can not be achieved.
Pixel size: 3.75um
Focusing range 20 mm to infinity
Depth of field: 50 mm to infinity
Scintillation control: 50 hz or 60 hz
Readout type: Progressive Scan
Shutter: Electronic rolling shutter
Exposure time: 20us-1min
Sensitivity: 2.7 / LUX. The SEC (under the condition of 550 nm green lighting)
Scintillation control: 50 hz or 60 hz
Software compatibility support: Windows98, WindowsME, Windows, Windows xp, Windows 7,Windows 8, win10 and Mac OS, Linux.
Single frame capture storage formats: BMP, FITS, RAW
Dynamic capture storage format: AVI
Working temperature: - 5 ° 60 °
Storage temperature: - 20 ° 60 °
Working humidity: 20% RH 80% RH
Store humidity: 20% RH 95% RH
Power consumption: < 0.5 W

Maximum frame rate:
1280X960@35FPS
1280X720@46FPS
1280X600@55FPS
1280X400@80FPS
960X960@46FPS
1024X768@54FPS
1024X600@69FPS
1024X400@101FPS
800X800@66FPS
800X640@82FPS
800X512@102FPS
800X400@108FPS
800X320@158FPS
640X560@98FPS
640X480@113FPS
512X440@123FPS
512X400@135FPS
480X320@165FPS
320X240@215FPS
2X2Bin:640X480@35FPS5FPS

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Hi

I've decided to go for the ZWO ASI 120MC-S USB 3.0 Colour Camera. Slightly more than I wanted to pay but after much research it appears a really good starter. I also like the idea of the 150 degree wide angle lens it comes with as it can be placed outside pointing up to the sky and image above without the scope, so I found this a nice point which I didn't initially consider, but can definitely see me using it a lot.

Cheers for all the guidance and comments as your experience really does help the novice astronomers out. 😀

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