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New Camera for dual Solar / Lunar..?

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Hi all... I could do with the collective advice of SGL members please...

I'm been trying my hand at solar and lunar imaging with an old Firewire DMK41 mono camera while the 'main' SBIG camera is away being mended back in the States.

Standard gear used for both:

Mount: a manual alt/az Half Hitch Telescope Nova Hitch. It has simple drives on both axis that allow me 20-30 mins before they need to be re-set. Tracking is not perfect like say an EQ6 as I have to vary the two drives as the object moves across the sky.

Computer: 2016 Touch Bar MacBook Pro (top spec job in it's day, thanks to my old company - they let me have it when they made me redundant 2 years ago!) SSD drive and Thunderbolt 3/USB 3 compatible (funny Apple connector)


Solar set-up

TSA102s f/8 816mm, Baader 2" UV/IR, Televue 2" Everbright Diagonal, Quark. Using a 0.5x FR screwed into the DMK41 because it helps with my less than perfect tracking and UK seeing. 

Lunar set-up

TEC140ED f/7 980mm, Baader 2" BBHS diagonal, 2x and 4x TV Powermates, 1.25" UV/IR filter screwed into DMK41. I also have a Astronomik IR Pro 742 filter but it made things a bit too dim with current set-up using 4x Powermate.


New Camera...?

I know I probably should buy two different cameras, small pixels and use with the TEC140 and 2x PM, then a larger pixelled camera for use with solar. But I think I'd rather try to keep both scopes at a similar focal length and sort a single camera. Also a lot easier to get past the wife just one camera!

I'd want for the outlay:

1) Greater sensitivity, less noise, more dynamic range than the 8bit DMK41 (I've read that bit depth isn't necessarily the biggest factor as that increases the more images you stack?). Perhaps then I could try different filters (see below), say a 35nm Ha for solar or a red IR pass for solar imaging or a green, solar continuum filter (I have a 2" one with my Baader Herschel Wedge), or the Astronomik IR Pro 742 filter for lunar..? I presume all the new sensors have vastly superior ones than the old one in my current camera...?

2) Larger pixels rather than small at these focal lengths..? In fact, slightly larger than I have now (4.65um) would perhaps make things even better..?

3) Similar if not bigger FOV  (1280 x 960 / 1/2 inch format))

4) A sensible jump over the current 'max' of 15 FPS! I don't think I require crazy FPS, but 60-80-100 would be sensible and allow me to capture 4-5x more over 30seconds so I have more images to cull the best ones from.

5) As I'm Mac based, a camera that works with either OACapture or FireCapture. I want plug and play please!

6) If I have to contend with Newton's Rings, then:

a) not so serious they degrade the data

b) easily sorted with a 'bag flat' that I've been using to get rid of dust motes on the DMK41. I can't see the point in having to buy a tilt adapter and then loose some of the data because it's been tilted off-band... no extra faffing.


Currently I'm drawn to the ZWO ASI 174. I'm also happy to go with another brand, OACapture 'should work' with 'Grasshoppers'.... After my SBIG issues though, I'd prefer to source from FLO in case of any issues.

Is there anything else (filters) that I should be looking at for both solar and lunar imaging that could help me improve or make life easier...? I've read for solar, I could swap out the UV/IR (my scope and diagonal all appear fine and cool though), for a red IR pass filter (?) or a 35nm Baader Ha filter... I've ready so many different filter uses for lunar. With my set up stated (I'm not looking to purchase any more scopes just get the most out of them), what do you all recommend....

Anything else I should be thinking about..?

Thanks in advance,

Clear skies and good health to you all...


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I think the 174MM is a fair choice for this.  I might be inclined to avoid the Point Grey cameras, not through any fault with the hardware, but now they've been bought by FLIR I don't really have a clear idea of where they're going and how long support will be available on MacOS and Linux for the cameras they decide don't fit any more.  Altair also have a 174-based camera that includes a cooling fan, but I'm really not sure it makes a whole lot of difference.

I've tried using an Ha filter for lunar recently and been reasonably happy.  I'm not sure it makes a lot of odds which filter you use particularly, but narrowing the bandpass in theory means that everything should be better focussed (though with the TEC140 I'm not sure that would be an issue anyhow).  Contrary to imaging almost anything else, I've found that reducing the amount of incoming light to have a wider range of possibilities for exposure time very helpful too.  Whether there's logic to it I'm really not sure, but it makes me feel as though I have more control.

I've no experience with Quarks though, so I'll have to pass on that one.


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Thanks James for your input... and for OACapture, it’s been great this last week or so!


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You're welcome on both counts :)


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i can't comment on solar imaging yet. However, for lunar imaging I'm over the moon with my ASI174MM. I work on Mac as you do and the ASI174MM and firecapture work really well. The ASI174MM is properly sampled at about f/20. A bit higher will probably work just fine too. I comfortably use frame rates of 100fps at full res. 8bit

regarding filters I use mostly IR685 from baader and a baader orange filter when seeing is good. I have the proplanet 807 too; but rarely use it. You have to crank up gain really high and S/N ratio suffers a bit then.

With the TEC140 i doubt you will often need an IR-pass. I'd go for the better transmission and sensitivity in red.


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If you use a Quark then I think you'll still need a x5 reducer to achieve full disk imaging.

The solar disk (and the Lunar disk) is approx 1/100 the focal length, with 816 fl = 8.2mm, 980 fl = 9.8mm

I agree at an f ratio >f20 is good with the ASI 174MM (5.86micron pixel), but the chip size 7.13 x 11.34mm means you can't get a full disk image.

This was one of the drivers for me to go to an ASI 1600MM, smaller pixel (3.6 micron) and larger chip (13.4 x 17.7mm) this gives very good results for me on the ED80 (600mm fl) with a x1.6 Barlow (=960 fl, f12)

When the seeing allows I can use either the x2.5 Powermate, or the ES x3 Barlow......


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Hi Damian,

I think you'll be happy with the 174m as it will be a nice match for the TEC with 4x Barlow, though I think a 3x might be the sweet spot. Big sensor too so you'll be able to get a lot of the surface without resorting to mosaics. Will take longer to get x number of frames at full sensor though. 

I cant comment on solar as I've never done it. 

Filters wise you will get a lot use out of red or IR but I'd stay on the nearer side of IR for a 140mm scope (685nm or 742nm). I prefer a red filter myself and if the seeing doesnt support that I generally don't bother. In good seeing orange and green can work well and I've seen some superb hi-res images of a high moon taken in excellent seeing through a blue filter (the airy disk being smaller the shorter the wavelength of incoming light).



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Thanks Wouter, Merlin, Craig and Freddie and Vlaiv who've also helped via PM.

I'm going to add this reply to see if it sheds some extra light on what I wish to achieve (ie what Wouter does with 20" but with only 5.5" aperture that I have!!!)


I'm interested in close up shots. Both lunar and solar. I have a wide field deep sky set up, so it makes quite a nice change to go in for details. I could in the future try the Borg 90FL for some full disc images. (I don't mind doing 4-6 Frame mosaics to get a full disc image, just not 20+!) I also have the 2x, 4x and 5x Powermates if needed. But the focus and camera decision should be based around hi-res detail shots.

Re: solar and UV/IR filter. I understand this is required for my 102mm scope. I'm not tracking either for hours on end due to my mount not being able to. I've also touched around the scope, diagonal, Quark and all appear to stay cool. But, I've read that some (MalVeauX) suggest swapping the simple Baader UV/IR out for a Baader RED CCD-IR Block filter (ERF), although he's not using a Quark. I'm sure I also saw someone say they used a Baader 35nm (imaging) Ha filter instead of the UV/IR to protect the Quark even more. Just thinking whatever best protects the lifespan of the Quark and aids imaging. BUT, that doesn't cut the light down so much that whatever camera I change to ends up being no more sensitive, or as noisy as the DMK41 I use now.

For lunar - Specifically using the TEC140ED, I've been pointed towards a 'simple red' filter that should suffice (I presume that's a red Baader imaging filter used for RBG?), or the Solar Continuum Filter would be worth a try... or an orange filter as Wouter suggested (sorry, is that a visual orange filter or is there a specific imaging orange filter)... it just gets a bit confusing! Can someone explain the last bit of Wouter's comment... about the IR pass... do I or don't I require this...

Price???, my max (in my head), really is around the ZWO 174mm, so £599, although I'm in no rush... will wait an FLO 10% sale probably.... it's been out nearly 5 years (?), I wonder if and when it's replacement will now come out... is it getting a bit long in the tooth...? 

With regards to the need for a tilt adapter for ZWO cameras and especially the 174, it still sounds like a bit of a faff. If it is to be the 174mm (as long as camera works for both lunar and solar and on Mac with OACapture or FireCapture the brand doesn't matter), then a tilt adapter sounds (sort of), OK.

Can I ask for a link if that's the way forward please. I'm sure I've seen a DayStar one and an FLO / Astro Essentials version... which one is 'the best' or should I say easiest to use..?

What about connection to Quark..? Currently the camera is straight into the eyepiece holder... What should I use for the super new camera ... plus a link please...

Hope that gives you some insight into where I am. As you can probably tell, I prefer to do my research and buy once, even if that means waiting/saving and spending a tad more to get it right. I'd rather enjoy being out imaging and observing than fighting the gear.

Thanks for your all your help previously and in advance...


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Posted (edited)

Thought I’d update this thread, you never know... it might help someone else in the future!

Having received a load of help with regards to ‘wing’ testing the Quark, the advise I got from a solar imaging perspective was the Sony 174 based camera and specifically the Basler aca1920-155um as one of the ‘best integrations of this architecture’, although I baulked at the price and probably would have ended up with the ZWO variant. Fortunately I found one less than a year and a half old second hand and a third of the RRP, so snapped it up! The thing feels beautifully made and is so diddy (the picture with my DMK41 and a friend’s ZWO174MC)! I have to say Basler have been helpful in speaking with them.

Currently, James/OACapture crappie has kindly (been roped in!) offered to see if he can get the camera to work on his software which I use.

Basler’s own Pylon software does work on Mac and I can get 150+ FPS 8bit, 78 FPS 12bit and 150 FPS 12bit ‘P’, but the software isn’t as intuitive nor set up for our niche hobby.

I can’t get it to work in either Firecapture, nor SharpCap on the DELL Vostro Windows laptop (it’s old and doesn’t have an SSD anyway), I think due to some sort of USB bus problem. I’m not really up with Windows (only use it for PHD2 and CduC), so although the camera is showing up in ‘Devices’ I keep getting it needs a USB3 port (they are ‘blue’ coloured, have SS next to them as well...?) Doesn’t matter as I intend/Hope to use the Mac anyhow...



Edited by TakMan

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