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Looking for best one shot colour camera


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Hi all, so I have figured out my HEQ5PRO and polar alignment. Amazed by the mount's accuracy.

So now I may be ready to move onto some imaging.

I have decided for a number of reasons to opt for a one shot colour camera. I realise that I am looking at around £1000 for anything decent and cooled.

I have seen the Altair Hypercam 269C PRO TEC, having seen the review by ASTROSTACE she says it doesn't need dark frames.

So hoping to keep imaging hassle free but still with some success am leaning towards dumping my dollars onto this camera. 

My hobby will mainly be a retirement one as I am still working now and don't have massive evening time available would want something that is future proof.

As this is a new sensor am hoping that it will also be that.

Does anybody have experience of this model vs any others?

Advice at this stage is always useful and members on here have always tipped me in the right direction so far.

I have a CPC925 for planetary and visual and a Sky Watcher Esprit 80ED on HEQ5PRO for imaging with 50ED and ZWO mini for guiding. Plus 0.85 reducer.

GO!

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For me personally there's only three Cameras I'd want to buy right now as OSC, the ASI2600/QHY268C and the ASI533MC Pro. 

I've had a look at countless images from the 294MC Pro, which is basically the same cameras as the one you're looking at, and I am just underwhelmed by the images I've seen on astrobin for instance. 

I'm by no means an experienced imager or processor but in the main they look like images that I can obtain with my unmodified DSLR.

The 2600,268C and 533 however, especially the first two Cameras look utterly superb from the images I have seen both on here, astrobin and cloudy nights. The square sensor on the 533 isn't for me, but the 2600 and 268C I haven't seen any OSC images come remotely close to them in terms of smoothness, detail and how clean the images are.

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22 hours ago, smr said:

For me personally there's only three Cameras I'd want to buy right now as OSC, the ASI2600/QHY268C and the ASI533MC Pro. 

I've had a look at countless images from the 294MC Pro, which is basically the same cameras as the one you're looking at, and I am just underwhelmed by the images I've seen on astrobin for instance. 

I'm by no means an experienced imager or processor but in the main they look like images that I can obtain with my unmodified DSLR.

The 2600,268C and 533 however, especially the first two Cameras look utterly superb from the images I have seen both on here, astrobin and cloudy nights. The square sensor on the 533 isn't for me, but the 2600 and 268C I haven't seen any OSC images come remotely close to them in terms of smoothness, detail and how clean the images are.

The 294MC Pro and  and the Altair 269C are based on different chips - the former is 11.7 mp,  the latter is 21mp and the pixels are a different size. I know pixel size is important, but not whether the difference in the case is significant. The 2600 camera is twice the price of these cameras.

I am in a very similar position to @spikkyboy and have been thinking of buying a camera later in the year. The Altair 269c looks interesting, with the claim that it is another one (along with the ASI533 and ASI2600) that there is no amp glow on the output. I get the impression Altair cameras aren't as popular as ZWO but hopefully someone is able to provide some more adivce.

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yes the 269c has a new chip. It was that I found interested and also time proofing me a bit.

Look for Astro Stace  on youtube she does some very good reviews and has just been forwarded for the RAS.

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Hi! I'm still a noob, but i believe that chip size is far more important than pixel number :) 

Problem - good cameras with a decent chip size like the ASI2600 are around &2000 - but maybe you could manage to buy a decent camera second hand from someone who makes the move to the hubble palette ?

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Further details

The TEC-cooled Hypercam 269C Colour camera has a Thermoelectric cooling system for extremely low noise imaging.

The 21mp Sony IMX269 is a 12bit colour 4/3rds sensor with 3.30 µm Pixels. The IMX269 Colour sensor is a better replacement for the now discontinued colour Panasonic MN34230 Series for long exposure astrophotography for thos wanting similar image scale and pixel size. The Hypercam features TEC-cooling with 4GB DDR3 RAM, and amp glow reduction for easier image capture and processing. A sealed chamber, and dessicant system with heated optical window make the camera ideal for harsh environments.

Further details

The TEC-cooled Hypercam 269C Colour camera has a Thermoelectric cooling system for extremely low noise imaging.

The 21mp Sony IMX269 is a 12bit colour 4/3rds sensor with 3.30 µm Pixels. The IMX269 Colour sensor is a better replacement for the now discontinued colour Panasonic MN34230 Series for long exposure astrophotography for thos wanting similar image scale and pixel size. The Hypercam features TEC-cooling with 4GB DDR3 RAM, and amp glow reduction for easier image capture and processing. A sealed chamber, and dessicant system with heated optical window make the camera ideal for harsh environments.

Due to it's low read noise, the Hypercam 269C PRO TEC camera is suitable for both deepsky and solar system imaging with ROI, as well as "frame stacking and averaging" in other applications. The TEC system can be switched off for fast exposure video imaging.
The Hypercam 269C PRO TEC camera has the following features:

Features  
4GB DDR3 RAM Memory Buffer for better performance.
Elimimation of amp glow. We cannot detect any glows on this camera.
TEC Cooling system - cools down to -45C below ambient.
Temperature sensor, with data available in realtime, temperature written to .FITS files for easier processing.
Free offer armoured case.
12v Power supply (specify EU UK or USA cord)
ROI (Region of Interest) for cropped higher speed solar, lunar and planetary imaging.
Binning supported.
SPECIAL OFFER! FREE 1 YEAR SharpCap PRO License! Includes ultra-accurate polar alignment assist, deepsky CMOS exposure time optimisation assist, live stacking for EAA/Video astronomy, live darkframe and flat frame subtration

Easier than a DSLR and no "astro modding" required: 
Unlike a DSLR, there's no need to risk modifying your camera to capture detail in red hydrogen wavelengths, because it has no "red blocking filter" in the way. Hypercam is much easier to use and focus than a DSLR, thanks to the live preview mode which shows uncompressed video at full resolution. You can see a tiny star-point clearly in real-time, because there is no video compression like with a DSLR video stream. There are no clumsy power connectors which drop out easily, no firmware to fight with your software, no mirror to lock up, and a "true" uncompressed RAW mode output. You get exactly what this Sony sensor "sees" from without alterations.
Low read noise. The Sony IMX269 CMOS sensor has very low read noise at approx. 2.6e and the usual high-sensitivity, low dark current, no smear, and excellent anti-blooming charateristics you would expect from a CMOS sensor. Unity gain is 565 in SharpCap and most other imaging applications, 5.65 in AltairCapture.

Video Astronomy/EAA Friendly. The Hypercam 294C camera is not only desirable for Deepsky Imaging - it's also great for Video Astronomy or "EAA" Electronically Assisted Astronomy. The resolution, high sensitivity, and amp glow reduction technology are well suited to this task. What's more, you can use the Live Stacking features in the AltairCapture software or SharpCap PRO. All-sky time-lapse imaging or video is easy with a DSLR lens and optional Hypercam Lens Adapters (product code: CLA-EOS or CLA-NIKON).
To sum it up, the most desirable features of the Hypercam 269C camera are:

- 21mp resolution SONY Exmor IMX269 CMOS sensor.
- 5280x3956 active 3.3 micron pixels in a 20.49 mm × 17.83 mm array. Physical sensor size, 4/3rds" 21.77mm diagonal.
- Extremely low read noise enabling deepsky lucky imaging and very smooth image quality.
- Amp glow reduction technology onboard totally eliminates amp glow, reduces noise, and increases contrast.
- The camera has a 12 bit ADC converting to 16bit output .FITS files in RAW mode, for deepsky imaging.
- Up to 17.5 Frames per second video in full 21mp resolution. (You will need a computer with high USB bandwidth to achieve these speeds, preferably with Intel or Via hardware USB controller on the motherboard).

Pure RAW video and stills mode and "digital" RGB output modes for better post processing: The Hypercam sensor ADC can deliver 12bit RAW files, which are stretched to 16 bit. In RAW mode analog (on-sensor) gain is used for ultra low read-noise images. Because the output is completely "RAW" in analog mode, there is no partial "downstream digital" processing like with a DSLR or other cheaper Chinese cameras of similar design, resulting in true RAW mode for the best deepsky performance. True RAW mode allows greater flexibility and consistency in processing large stacks of frames for deepsky "lucky" imaging, where the camera's low read noise can be taken advantage of. Either .FITS image or .SER video files are captured in their purest form for later processing in your software of choice. Of course for Video Astronomy / EAA use, you can select RGB Mode and capture .AVI files, or just view the screen with full access to white balance, gamma, contrast and histogram controls, just like any other camera.

USB3.0 speed and USB2.0 reliability: 
USB3.0 gives much faster transfer speeds than USB2.0 cameras, however, if like most imagers, you prefer to use longer and more flexible USB2.0 cables for better tracking and reliability with a USB2.0 hub, no problem! The Hypercam is completely compatible with USB2.0 or USB3.0. Just plug and go!

QUALITY software and drivers included:
AltairCapture: Unlike cheaper cameras, Altair Astro has spent considerable time improving the extensively featured and intuitive AltairCapture software, which can be downloaded from www.altaircameras.com. AltairCapture is a stable 64 bit Windows application, which allows full control of the camera in high speed video or still mode. It includes extensive automation features, and supports all the major file formats useful for astro imaging and professional scientific imaging in 16bit, 12bit or 8bit mode. The popular PHD Guiding, SharpCap PRO, and Deepsky imaging software APT and NINA are also fully supported. An ASCOM driver is available for other software, The installation process is simple and straightforward, starting with AltairCapture which contains the driver base.
SharpCap PRO: Altair Astro have worked closely with SharpCap developer Robin Glover since 2015, to fully integrate Altair cameras with SharpCap at a basic level. Now, Sharpcap PRO enables even more features with this camera, such as software driven polar alignment (more accurate than any other method), live flat frame subtraction and live darkframe subtraction. The fast, accurate polar alignment feature in SharpCap PRO is a life-saver for imaging, minimising setup time.

TEC cooling: 
The Hypercam has an internal Thermoelectric cooling system connected directly to the sensor. The temperature can be set and maintained at a chosen level down to -45C below ambient (though there is no real benefit going below -15-20C aside from power consumption). Cooling is especially desirable for long exposure imaging to reduce thermal noise which accumulates during long exposures. The result is visibly reduced noise per frame, easier processing, and less sub-frames required to attain a smooth noise-free image, compared to a non-cooled camera.

Support & warranty: 
Altair delivers proper on-shore English-speaking UK/EU support with a 2 year manufacturer warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. New users should visit the Altair Astro Facebook Group or Altair Camera Google User Group where you can get answers to technical questions. Our support groups are also a great place to share tips and techniques, to get the best out of your camera. The AltairCapture software interface supports most European languages including English, German, French, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish, and Thai.

File formats: 
The camera can be fully controlled in AltairCapture and SharpCap to output uncompressed .AVI and .SER video files for solar system imaging, as well as all common still image formats such as .JPEG .PNG .TIFF .BMP, and .FITS (for deepsky imaging) to mention just a few. The Hypercam supports 8bit or 12bit output. The 12 bit output mode can be used for deep sky imaging with less frames needing to be stacked and a wider pixel intensity range. The sensor is extremely sensitive and a good candidate for video astronomy, especially with small refractors. Find out more about bit depth here. Find out more about video & file formats here.

The Hypercam platform: 
The Hypercam platform supports “Trigger Mode” to make long exposures of over 5 seconds easier to control. With most cameras, in normal video mode, you have to wait for an exposure to complete before the camera will accept, say a command to abort the frame, for say clouds, aircraft, or an alignment issue, like kicking the tripod and so-on, changes in gain, exposure time, or re-aligning or refocusing. For long exposures, normal video mode is inconvenient, especially for video astronomy and deep-sky imaging, however in Trigger Mode, you can stop the camera instantly (even if you are half way through a long exposure) change the settings, and re-start the camera. The Hypercam also has an improved on-board frame buffer to improve data transfer stability at high frame rates (to reduce dropped frames) and to increase compatibility with a wider range of PCs. The improved buffers give a more consistent data transfer rate over USB2.0 and USB3.0 buses on laptops and desktop PCs. 

Included in the box:
Camera body with internal Thermoelectric cooling system and front female M42x0.75mm T-Thread interface (17.5mm backfocus).
A spare, rechargeable dessicant cartridge is included for long-term servicing.
(Note: This should not be replaced unless confirmed by your dealer or Altair Astro and the sensor chamber seal should not be opened unless under instructions by a qualified party).
1.8m High-speed USB3.0 cable.
2" OD Nosepiece with standard 2" M48x0.75mm filter thread on the front. (code ALTAIRH-2IN) to accept standard astro filters.
Built-in UV-IR Blocking Filter with AR coatings protects the sensor and hermetically sealed chamber.
Protective silicon rubber end-cap for M42x0.75 front female thread.
Dust cap for 2" nosepiece.
Armoured sealed case with foam insert.
110v/240v Power supply for camera (please specify US, UK or EU plug when ordering).
Note: This camera does not come with software in the box. To operate the camera you will need to download the latest camera drivers at www.altaircameras.com (opens new window)

Sensor & performance specifications:
AA269CPRO: SONY Exmor IMX269 Color CMOS sensor
Sensor Size: 4/3" diagonal (21.77mm)
Exposure duration shortest/longest: 0.1 ms (0.00014 secs) / 5 secs (Video Mode)
0.1 ms (0.0001 secs) / 1000 secs (Trigger Mode)
Bit depth: 8bit & 14bit mode switchable
Pixel size microns: 3.3 x 3.3 um
Resolution in pixels: 5280x3956 (21mp)
Recording System: Still Picture and Video
Region of Interest (ROI) support: Available

Approx. Max frame rates 8bit (assuming computer Bus operating at full bandwidth)*:

5280x3956 17.5fps 1x1 binning
2640x1978 17.5fps 2x2 binning
1760x1318 75fps 3x3 binning
584x440 210fps 9x9 binning

12bit mode:
Approx. 50% of above FPS.*
* Based on average testing. May be revised as we get more data. The shorter the exposure duration, the faster the frame rate.
An expensive PC does not guarantee a fast frame rate because PC bus and main board architecture vary.

Sensor QE / Quantum Efficiency: No data from Sony
Readout: Progressive Scan
Shutter: Electronic Rolling Shutter

Software & OS support:
Drivers & AltairCapture software download (Windows only): www.altaircameras.com (opens new window). 
Driver support: PHD2, AltairCapture, SharpCap
AltairCapture OS support: Win 8/ 10 (32 & 64 bit)
NOTE: Windows 10 is recommended for best performance, with 2013 or later machine USB host controller v1.0 or later.
ASCOM fully supported with drivers downloadable at www.altaircameras.com (opens new window). 
SharpCap and APT (3rd party applications) are also fully supported with native drivers for seamless camera control.
USB Port & Cable: 3.0 USB Cable, 1.8m cable (USB2.0 also supported).
Windows PC Hardware Requirements for best performance:
Minimum CPU: Equal to i5 or Higher
Minimum Memory: 8GB or More
USB port: USB2.0 High-speed Port or USB3.0 High-speed Port (best performance). 
Please note: Some laptops and touchscreen notebooks may not have adequate USB throughput.


Camera Format:
Backfocus / Flange Distance: 17.5mm from front flange to sensor.
Cooling: High Performance Electronic Fan-cooling System with Heat-sink connected to sensor via cold-finger
Camera body length: 98mm
Camera body outer diameter: 85mm
Weight grams: 580g 
Optical window: AR-coated UV/IR blocking filter 400-700nm wavelength Transmission

Back-focus & Adapter compatibility:
Optical Window is NOT removable for cleaning.
Camera body thread: M42x0.75 T2 Thread.
Astro filter thread adapter: Included, 1.25" OD and 2” OD (optional), Female thread
Sensor surface distance from flat end of CS-mount adapter: 12.5 mm

Operating environment conditions:
Power consumption: 1.4W (standby) 5V 280mA 
3.65W (running with Fan off);
7.2W (running with Fan on);
Max operating temp: 50 °C
Lowest operating temp: -10 °C
Max operating humidity: 80 % RH
Power source in Volts: 5V DC (via USB cable)

Recommended Windows PC Hardware Requirements:
Minimum CPU: Equal to Intel i5 2.8GHz or Higher
Minimum Memory: 4GB or more, 8GB recommended
USB port: USB2.0 High-speed Port or USB3.0 High-speed Port (best performance)

Software delivery: 
Downloaded online at www.altaircameras.com and saved to hard drive.
Quick Start & AltairCapture instructions: Downloaded online at www.altaircameras.com and saved to hard drive.

Packaging:
Armoured plastic case with foam insert.

Warranty: 
2 years manufacturer warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Return to point of purchase.

The desiccant system and heated sensor area are interesting. I see that you can renew the desiccant so guessing some sort of bag or tablet like you might get in a new telescope box?

 

Features  
4GB DDR3 RAM Memory Buffer for better performance.
Elimimation of amp glow. We cannot detect any glows on this camera.
TEC Cooling system - cools down to -45C below ambient.
Temperature sensor, with data available in realtime, temperature written to .FITS files for easier processing.
Free offer armoured case.
12v Power supply (specify EU UK or USA cord)
ROI (Region of Interest) for cropped higher speed solar, lunar and planetary imaging.
Binning supported.
SPECIAL OFFER! FREE 1 YEAR SharpCap PRO License! Includes ultra-accurate polar alignment assist, deepsky CMOS exposure time optimisation assist, live stacking for EAA/Video astronomy, live darkframe and flat frame subtration

Easier than a DSLR and no "astro modding" required: 
Unlike a DSLR, there's no need to risk modifying your camera to capture detail in red hydrogen wavelengths, because it has no "red blocking filter" in the way. Hypercam is much easier to use and focus than a DSLR, thanks to the live preview mode which shows uncompressed video at full resolution. You can see a tiny star-point clearly in real-time, because there is no video compression like with a DSLR video stream. There are no clumsy power connectors which drop out easily, no firmware to fight with your software, no mirror to lock up, and a "true" uncompressed RAW mode output. You get exactly what this Sony sensor "sees" from without alterations.
Low read noise. The Sony IMX269 CMOS sensor has very low read noise at approx. 2.6e and the usual high-sensitivity, low dark current, no smear, and excellent anti-blooming charateristics you would expect from a CMOS sensor. Unity gain is 565 in SharpCap and most other imaging applications, 5.65 in AltairCapture.

Video Astronomy/EAA Friendly. The Hypercam 294C camera is not only desirable for Deepsky Imaging - it's also great for Video Astronomy or "EAA" Electronically Assisted Astronomy. The resolution, high sensitivity, and amp glow reduction technology are well suited to this task. What's more, you can use the Live Stacking features in the AltairCapture software or SharpCap PRO. All-sky time-lapse imaging or video is easy with a DSLR lens and optional Hypercam Lens Adapters (product code: CLA-EOS or CLA-NIKON).
To sum it up, the most desirable features of the Hypercam 269C camera are:

- 21mp resolution SONY Exmor IMX269 CMOS sensor.
- 5280x3956 active 3.3 micron pixels in a 20.49 mm × 17.83 mm array. Physical sensor size, 4/3rds" 21.77mm diagonal.
- Extremely low read noise enabling deepsky lucky imaging and very smooth image quality.
- Amp glow reduction technology onboard totally eliminates amp glow, reduces noise, and increases contrast.
- The camera has a 12 bit ADC converting to 16bit output .FITS files in RAW mode, for deepsky imaging.
- Up to 17.5 Frames per second video in full 21mp resolution. (You will need a computer with high USB bandwidth to achieve these speeds, preferably with Intel or Via hardware USB controller on the motherboard).

Pure RAW video and stills mode and "digital" RGB output modes for better post processing: The Hypercam sensor ADC can deliver 12bit RAW files, which are stretched to 16 bit. In RAW mode analog (on-sensor) gain is used for ultra low read-noise images. Because the output is completely "RAW" in analog mode, there is no partial "downstream digital" processing like with a DSLR or other cheaper Chinese cameras of similar design, resulting in true RAW mode for the best deepsky performance. True RAW mode allows greater flexibility and consistency in processing large stacks of frames for deepsky "lucky" imaging, where the camera's low read noise can be taken advantage of. Either .FITS image or .SER video files are captured in their purest form for later processing in your software of choice. Of course for Video Astronomy / EAA use, you can select RGB Mode and capture .AVI files, or just view the screen with full access to white balance, gamma, contrast and histogram controls, just like any other camera.

USB3.0 speed and USB2.0 reliability: 
USB3.0 gives much faster transfer speeds than USB2.0 cameras, however, if like most imagers, you prefer to use longer and more flexible USB2.0 cables for better tracking and reliability with a USB2.0 hub, no problem! The Hypercam is completely compatible with USB2.0 or USB3.0. Just plug and go!

QUALITY software and drivers included:
AltairCapture: Unlike cheaper cameras, Altair Astro has spent considerable time improving the extensively featured and intuitive AltairCapture software, which can be downloaded from www.altaircameras.com. AltairCapture is a stable 64 bit Windows application, which allows full control of the camera in high speed video or still mode. It includes extensive automation features, and supports all the major file formats useful for astro imaging and professional scientific imaging in 16bit, 12bit or 8bit mode. The popular PHD Guiding, SharpCap PRO, and Deepsky imaging software APT and NINA are also fully supported. An ASCOM driver is available for other software, The installation process is simple and straightforward, starting with AltairCapture which contains the driver base.
SharpCap PRO: Altair Astro have worked closely with SharpCap developer Robin Glover since 2015, to fully integrate Altair cameras with SharpCap at a basic level. Now, Sharpcap PRO enables even more features with this camera, such as software driven polar alignment (more accurate than any other method), live flat frame subtraction and live darkframe subtraction. The fast, accurate polar alignment feature in SharpCap PRO is a life-saver for imaging, minimising setup time.

TEC cooling: 
The Hypercam has an internal Thermoelectric cooling system connected directly to the sensor. The temperature can be set and maintained at a chosen level down to -45C below ambient (though there is no real benefit going below -15-20C aside from power consumption). Cooling is especially desirable for long exposure imaging to reduce thermal noise which accumulates during long exposures. The result is visibly reduced noise per frame, easier processing, and less sub-frames required to attain a smooth noise-free image, compared to a non-cooled camera.

Support & warranty: 
Altair delivers proper on-shore English-speaking UK/EU support with a 2 year manufacturer warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. New users should visit the Altair Astro Facebook Group or Altair Camera Google User Group where you can get answers to technical questions. Our support groups are also a great place to share tips and techniques, to get the best out of your camera. The AltairCapture software interface supports most European languages including English, German, French, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish, and Thai.

File formats: 
The camera can be fully controlled in AltairCapture and SharpCap to output uncompressed .AVI and .SER video files for solar system imaging, as well as all common still image formats such as .JPEG .PNG .TIFF .BMP, and .FITS (for deepsky imaging) to mention just a few. The Hypercam supports 8bit or 12bit output. The 12 bit output mode can be used for deep sky imaging with less frames needing to be stacked and a wider pixel intensity range. The sensor is extremely sensitive and a good candidate for video astronomy, especially with small refractors. Find out more about bit depth here. Find out more about video & file formats here.

The Hypercam platform: 
The Hypercam platform supports “Trigger Mode” to make long exposures of over 5 seconds easier to control. With most cameras, in normal video mode, you have to wait for an exposure to complete before the camera will accept, say a command to abort the frame, for say clouds, aircraft, or an alignment issue, like kicking the tripod and so-on, changes in gain, exposure time, or re-aligning or refocusing. For long exposures, normal video mode is inconvenient, especially for video astronomy and deep-sky imaging, however in Trigger Mode, you can stop the camera instantly (even if you are half way through a long exposure) change the settings, and re-start the camera. The Hypercam also has an improved on-board frame buffer to improve data transfer stability at high frame rates (to reduce dropped frames) and to increase compatibility with a wider range of PCs. The improved buffers give a more consistent data transfer rate over USB2.0 and USB3.0 buses on laptops and desktop PCs. 

Included in the box:
Camera body with internal Thermoelectric cooling system and front female M42x0.75mm T-Thread interface (17.5mm backfocus).
A spare, rechargeable dessicant cartridge is included for long-term servicing.
(Note: This should not be replaced unless confirmed by your dealer or Altair Astro and the sensor chamber seal should not be opened unless under instructions by a qualified party).
1.8m High-speed USB3.0 cable.
2" OD Nosepiece with standard 2" M48x0.75mm filter thread on the front. (code ALTAIRH-2IN) to accept standard astro filters.
Built-in UV-IR Blocking Filter with AR coatings protects the sensor and hermetically sealed chamber.
Protective silicon rubber end-cap for M42x0.75 front female thread.
Dust cap for 2" nosepiece.
Armoured sealed case with foam insert.
110v/240v Power supply for camera (please specify US, UK or EU plug when ordering).
Note: This camera does not come with software in the box. To operate the camera you will need to download the latest camera drivers at www.altaircameras.com (opens new window)

Sensor & performance specifications:
AA269CPRO: SONY Exmor IMX269 Color CMOS sensor
Sensor Size: 4/3" diagonal (21.77mm)
Exposure duration shortest/longest: 0.1 ms (0.00014 secs) / 5 secs (Video Mode)
0.1 ms (0.0001 secs) / 1000 secs (Trigger Mode)
Bit depth: 8bit & 14bit mode switchable
Pixel size microns: 3.3 x 3.3 um
Resolution in pixels: 5280x3956 (21mp)
Recording System: Still Picture and Video
Region of Interest (ROI) support: Available

Approx. Max frame rates 8bit (assuming computer Bus operating at full bandwidth)*:

5280x3956 17.5fps 1x1 binning
2640x1978 17.5fps 2x2 binning
1760x1318 75fps 3x3 binning
584x440 210fps 9x9 binning

12bit mode:
Approx. 50% of above FPS.*
* Based on average testing. May be revised as we get more data. The shorter the exposure duration, the faster the frame rate.
An expensive PC does not guarantee a fast frame rate because PC bus and main board architecture vary.

Sensor QE / Quantum Efficiency: No data from Sony
Readout: Progressive Scan
Shutter: Electronic Rolling Shutter

Software & OS support:
Drivers & AltairCapture software download (Windows only): www.altaircameras.com (opens new window). 
Driver support: PHD2, AltairCapture, SharpCap
AltairCapture OS support: Win 8/ 10 (32 & 64 bit)
NOTE: Windows 10 is recommended for best performance, with 2013 or later machine USB host controller v1.0 or later.
ASCOM fully supported with drivers downloadable at www.altaircameras.com (opens new window). 
SharpCap and APT (3rd party applications) are also fully supported with native drivers for seamless camera control.
USB Port & Cable: 3.0 USB Cable, 1.8m cable (USB2.0 also supported).
Windows PC Hardware Requirements for best performance:
Minimum CPU: Equal to i5 or Higher
Minimum Memory: 8GB or More
USB port: USB2.0 High-speed Port or USB3.0 High-speed Port (best performance). 
Please note: Some laptops and touchscreen notebooks may not have adequate USB throughput.


Camera Format:
Backfocus / Flange Distance: 17.5mm from front flange to sensor.
Cooling: High Performance Electronic Fan-cooling System with Heat-sink connected to sensor via cold-finger
Camera body length: 98mm
Camera body outer diameter: 85mm
Weight grams: 580g 
Optical window: AR-coated UV/IR blocking filter 400-700nm wavelength Transmission

Back-focus & Adapter compatibility:
Optical Window is NOT removable for cleaning.
Camera body thread: M42x0.75 T2 Thread.
Astro filter thread adapter: Included, 1.25" OD and 2” OD (optional), Female thread
Sensor surface distance from flat end of CS-mount adapter: 12.5 mm

Operating environment conditions:
Power consumption: 1.4W (standby) 5V 280mA 
3.65W (running with Fan off);
7.2W (running with Fan on);
Max operating temp: 50 °C
Lowest operating temp: -10 °C
Max operating humidity: 80 % RH
Power source in Volts: 5V DC (via USB cable)

Recommended Windows PC Hardware Requirements:
Minimum CPU: Equal to Intel i5 2.8GHz or Higher
Minimum Memory: 4GB or more, 8GB recommended
USB port: USB2.0 High-speed Port or USB3.0 High-speed Port (best performance)

Software delivery: 
Downloaded online at www.altaircameras.com and saved to hard drive.
Quick Start & AltairCapture instructions: Downloaded online at www.altaircameras.com and saved to hard drive.

Packaging:
Armoured plastic case with foam insert.

Warranty: 
2 years ma

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If you are considering 4/3 sensors then you might consider getting a Lumix G7 which may go for as little as £200 used, if you don't want to spring £1,000.

Pixel size is more important than pixel count in low light.

The 16MP sensor has 3.75µ pixels. The Panasonic designed Live-MOS is biased to sweep stray electrons off, unlike Sony CMOS sensors. And it is mounted on a heat sink to keep the temperature stable. The powerful processor has features to further reduce noise as it is designed to shoot movie indefinitely without overheating.  Shutter speed down to 1 minute and built in intervalometer.  ASCOM drivers are available.

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Just going back to the original post - the poster says he doesn't have much time and wants to be future proof.

Not wishing to lob a hand grenade in but a mono camera is much quicker at gathering precious photons and is certainly more future proof.

 

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Agree with David (Skipper Billy), OSC is slower at picking up the photos, and is not future proof, as you are likely to want to change to Mono eventually.  Buying second hand would reduce the cost, especially if from members on here.

Admittedly there is more work in the post processing. 

Carole  

 

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Nothing is cheap in Astrophotography and I agree with Mark, Carole and David that mono is best but a full set of filters/filter holder, as well as a cooled mono camera, can set you back quite an amount. But the results can be phenomenal.

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1 hour ago, spikkyboy said:

Can somebody tell me what a 4/3 sensor is and what the pros and cons of that would be? Thanks

People always get this wrong and say it's 4/3 of an inch diagonal...which it can be in some cases but it's actually the aspect ratio. 

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On 15/05/2020 at 10:36, spikkyboy said:

Hi all, so I have figured out my HEQ5PRO and polar alignment. Amazed by the mount's accuracy.

So now I may be ready to move onto some imaging.

I have decided for a number of reasons to opt for a one shot colour camera. I realise that I am looking at around £1000 for anything decent and cooled.

I have seen the Altair Hypercam 269C PRO TEC, having seen the review by ASTROSTACE she says it doesn't need dark frames.

So hoping to keep imaging hassle free but still with some success am leaning towards dumping my dollars onto this camera. 

My hobby will mainly be a retirement one as I am still working now and don't have massive evening time available would want something that is future proof.

As this is a new sensor am hoping that it will also be that.

Does anybody have experience of this model vs any others?

Advice at this stage is always useful and members on here have always tipped me in the right direction so far.

I have a CPC925 for planetary and visual and a Sky Watcher Esprit 80ED on HEQ5PRO for imaging with 50ED and ZWO mini for guiding. Plus 0.85 reducer.

GO!

This sensor has smaller pixels and lower QE than the 294, as such not a great combination by comparison.  The sensor seems to be close to the same size though. I would say that unless your main interest is galaxy imaging and you want the smaller pixels to deliver you with finer detail I would give it a miss. On the other hand it is true to say that the 294 has some calibration issues due to uneven cooling according to some of the owners over on cloudy nights.

What I would say about the video is that she is associated / sponcered by Altair as it would seem that they send her lots of their stuff, so take it with a pinch of salt. I tend to only believe a review if I know the person paid for the kit themselves.

Adam

 

Edited by Adam J
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On 24/05/2020 at 10:47, spikkyboy said:

Can somebody tell me what a 4/3 sensor is and what the pros and cons of that would be? Thanks

The name "4/3" comes from the size of a TV camera tube, now pretty much obsolete. The image sensor of Four Thirds and MFT measures 18 mm × 13.5 mm (22.5 mm diagonal), with an imaging area of 17.3 mm × 13.0 mm (21.6 mm diagonal), comparable to the frame size of 110 film. (wiki).  Micro Four Thirds (MFT or M43) is actually the lens fitting, the sensor is "4/3".  The image circle diameter is almost exactly half that of  a full frame camera, so the crop factor is X2, which effectively doubles the length of the lens, or telescope.  The pixel size of the 16MP sensors is 3.75µ (slightly larger than most APS). but the 20MP sensors have smaller pixels.

For example - The £700 ZWO ASI294MC Colour 4/3"  has a Sony 4/3 11MP CMOS sensor with 4.63µ pixels. The earliest MFT cameras were about 12MP.

The MFT cameras have a Live-MOS which unlike a CMOS is biased, this reduces electronic noise. Some are made by Panasonic and some by Sony, but to Panasonic design. It is not unusual for a rival to manufacture parts.

Being mirrorless MFT cameras only have a live view, which can be boosted for faint objects to aid focussing. Or dimmed right down for the moon.

Recent MFT cameras will wifi to iOS apps on fondle slabs to control and view images However some of the functions are then missing and probably not suitable for astro. Both makes will shutter to 1 minute and have intervalometers, Lumix ASCOM  drivers are available to wifi to laptop, however in my feeble efforts these appear clunky, the wifi keeps falling over.  iPads only have a single wifi, so you cannot get GPS and time from the interweb when connected to the camera. The higher end cameras can be tethered to a laptop by manufacturer or third party applications. What you get in a MFT camera is a very good sensor and a powerful processor that can interval shoot long exposures to JPEG+RAW and optionally compile to movie, and do its own dark framing better than most software.

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On 24/05/2020 at 12:44, Adam J said:

People always get this wrong and say it's 4/3 of an inch diagonal...which it can be in some cases but it's actually the aspect ratio. 

That is incorrect. It does have a 4:3 aspect but not why it is called 4/3-inch, It dates back to steam powered TV cameras and the internal diameter of the tube (valve) used in them. It is just a name. Rather like incorrectly calling full frame DSLR full frame when they're the same size as compact film. Image circle diameter of 4/3 is 21.6mm, less than an inch.

Something to note though is a smaller sensor does not receive less light than a large one. When they are pulled into focus, all the light from the lens (telescope) is focussed upon it. What is important is the photoreceptor (pixel) size. A larger sensor can have larger pixels but on the down side they become slower to transfer data, harder to keep cool, and are noisier.

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