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nephilim

Dedicated camera or DSLR

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As the title suggests, I'm after a bit of advice regarding a suitable camera.

I'm in the process of buying my first proper AP set up. I tried this several years ago but my budget was small & the gear/ my knowledge at the time was not up to the job. This time I have a bit more cash & deciding whether to buy a decent DSLR or a dedicated camera. 

I fully appreciate how steep the learning curve is regarding AP so I'm half thinking to go with a DSLR as I'm familiar with these, or do I just go straight to a CCD (which I'll buy in the end anyway)

My budget isn't massive (by any means) when it comes to a CCD & with around £1200 to spend does anyone have any recommendations? The scope I'll be using with this will be the WO GT81 IV Apo Triplet.

Thanks

Steve

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Ok so this is my two pence on the matter. About ten years ago I went the full hog and got a dedicated camera with filters etc and really really struggled to get it to work with the limited time and knowledge.

Fast forward to this year and I managed to get everything out to play again but this time I used my DSLR with a shutter release cable that I had and my old dedicated camera as guide cam and instantly got some data I could play with.

Fast forward a few months and I bought a modified 600d to learn the ropes a bit more with APT and plate solving, eqmod, focusing etc etc...I thought about going the full hog but I'd want a mono cooled camera which was pushing quite a lot of $$$ compared to the modded camera .

I'm using it as a stepping stone to get my rig working and my image processing skills up (the gear isn't holding me back right now).

I like the DSLR...was nice and easy to focus, get instant results to play with and kept me tweaking things to get right and I can sell it later when I'm ready and not lose an awful lot of cash.

 

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58 minutes ago, smashing said:

Ok so this is my two pence on the matter. About ten years ago I went the full hog and got a dedicated camera with filters etc and really really struggled to get it to work with the limited time and knowledge.

Fast forward to this year and I managed to get everything out to play again but this time I used my DSLR with a shutter release cable that I had and my old dedicated camera as guide cam and instantly got some data I could play with.

Fast forward a few months and I bought a modified 600d to learn the ropes a bit more with APT and plate solving, eqmod, focusing etc etc...I thought about going the full hog but I'd want a mono cooled camera which was pushing quite a lot of $$$ compared to the modded camera .

I'm using it as a stepping stone to get my rig working and my image processing skills up (the gear isn't holding me back right now).

I like the DSLR...was nice and easy to focus, get instant results to play with and kept me tweaking things to get right and I can sell it later when I'm ready and not lose an awful lot of cash.

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I understand what your saying there & agree it is a lot to take on, especially with our weather here in the uk, I don't want to be wasting hours faffing around too much.  I'll be using N.I.N.A for framing, focus, plate solving & capture etc (this is another thing to learn), I used Back yard Eos last time around but N.I.N.A seems to have the lot in one place.

I'm drawn to the CCD for a few reasons, better quality images, the low temp meaning far less noise to deal with, so potentially longer subs. But the added things that can go wrong plus much more to learn are putting me off (I would be looking at OSC rather than mono with filters as I just don't think I'll have enough clear sky time to be getting data for all channels)

I won't be buying until around end December beginning of January so I've a fair bit of time for more research 🙂

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I bought a Canon 7d (mark 1) when I started about 3 years ago.  I had just bought an Esprit 80 and an EQ5 mount so a dedicated camera was out of the question.  With that setup I could learn everything I needed to know about setting up, guiding, capture and processing and I could also figure out exactly what I wanted to do and what I'd need to do it.
Among the things I learned is that where I live and with the time I can spend large multi filter projects with a mono camera would be really difficult to achieve.  I love what can be done with mono imaging but It's not for me at the moment.

I've been fortunate enough to be able to upgrade my mount so now have a NEQ6 and I made a stupid impulse purchase of a QHY10 OSC camera a few months ago.  I say stupid because the camera is not a good match to my scope (details here).

A decent used DSLR can be picked up cheaply and, of course, can be used for normal photography too.  That lets you take everything forward for a while and gives you time to decide what dedicated astro camera suits you best.
Now that I have my new setup working well I am making a saddle for the DSLR to sit on top of the scope and I plan to have that taking wide-field data for whatever part of the sky I'm imaging.

Smashings comment about the gear not holding him back right now is very pertinent.  Once you have a setup that works consistently then you are practising everything else from framing to processing.

So, no real advice, just some rambling thoughts and experience 😉

Michael

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1 hour ago, Synchronicity said:

I bought a Canon 7d (mark 1) when I started about 3 years ago.  I had just bought an Esprit 80 and an EQ5 mount so a dedicated camera was out of the question.  With that setup I could learn everything I needed to know about setting up, guiding, capture and processing and I could also figure out exactly what I wanted to do and what I'd need to do it.
Among the things I learned is that where I live and with the time I can spend large multi filter projects with a mono camera would be really difficult to achieve.  I love what can be done with mono imaging but It's not for me at the moment.

I've been fortunate enough to be able to upgrade my mount so now have a NEQ6 and I made a stupid impulse purchase of a QHY10 OSC camera a few months ago.  I say stupid because the camera is not a good match to my scope (details here).

A decent used DSLR can be picked up cheaply and, of course, can be used for normal photography too.  That lets you take everything forward for a while and gives you time to decide what dedicated astro camera suits you best.
Now that I have my new setup working well I am making a saddle for the DSLR to sit on top of the scope and I plan to have that taking wide-field data for whatever part of the sky I'm imaging.

Smashings comment about the gear not holding him back right now is very pertinent.  Once you have a setup that works consistently then you are practising everything else from framing to processing.

So, no real advice, just some rambling thoughts and experience 😉

Michael

Thanks for the reply.

I agree, the more I look into it the more I'm thinking a DSLR will be the best option for now . Ive seen a fair amount of images & videos about having it modified (appreciate this means it can't be used for daytime photography) so I think that's the way I'll go.

I'm very familiar with DSLR's & have used one for AP before but my lack of decent equipment let me down 

Plus I also like the idea of using a DSLR /lens for wide field.

Cheers

Steve

Edited by nephilim

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18 minutes ago, nephilim said:

Thanks for the reply.

I agree, the more I look into it the more I'm thinking a DSLR will be the best option for now . Ive seen a fair amount of images & videos about having it modified (appreciate this means it can't be used for daytime photography) so I think that's the way I'll go.

I'm very familiar with DSLR's & have used one for AP before but my lack of decent equipment let me down 

Plus I also like the idea of using a DSLR /lens for wide field.

Cheers

Steve

I got mine direct from cheap astrophotography who was great.

I'll probably end up keeping mine for wide field stuff as well but once I buy a house I've promised myself a pier, an eq6 pro and a proper camera...just need to let my OH know the plan now hahaha

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Hi,

I bought a Canon T4i (650D) modded for £220 from this forum last year after being disappointed with my Pentax K10d. I cannot afford the expense or have the time for full CCD dedicated astro camera. Our imaging sessions here in the UK (clouds, rain, wind etc) are usually short so one shot colour (in my opinion) is the way to go for an achievable 'quick' result. As well as the camera I use a HEQ5 pro mount with two telescopes, ED80 pro (for wide field shots - e.g. nebulas) and SW200 reflector (galaxies, clusters, smaller targets). Run through EQMOD , APT and Cartes du Ciel. I also use ZWO mini guide camera to achieve long exposures. I also got my telescopes second hand from this site but other stuff I had to buy new!!££££.! 

My images are usually achieved with exposures of 3-4 minutes duration and I try and take at least 20 of them. I then stack them in DSS (with bias and flats, darks I don't take - dither instead) and process them in photoshop CS2 (old but still does the job). I'm starting to build a library now (I started AP three years ago) and am pretty pleased with the results I am getting. 

Astrophotography is an expensive and sometimes frustrating hobby in our climate but can be very rewarding given enough time and opportunity. I would consider mono astro CCD with filters and wheel but not while I live in the UK.

Anyway that's my penny worth and check out my images below that I have got with my 'methodology'!

P.s. I would like to image planets but am struggling with the 650D (no image crop on this model) - am considering low cost web cam approach, any suggestions??

Ger :)

328A8FE8-BEC6-4BE4-9F69-3BE65504284B.jpeg

CC7CFB64-E7AB-4857-B36D-43398EDD9470.jpeg

E8829EB8-E1EA-497B-93C3-D104564DFA06.jpeg

9DBAFE79-30F1-4BEB-8F12-54455BDB4DAF.jpeg

52AFA8D2-9BB5-41C2-8F9F-D37EF3368328_1_201_a.jpeg

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@GerrP.s. I would like to image planets but am struggling with the 650D (no image crop on this model) - am considering low cost web cam approach, any suggestions??

Use a Barlow and Backyard EOS with 5X zoom. Better still a ZWOASI224.

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Hi Peter,

I have a 2x and 3x Barlow. Is Backyard EOS free? Sounds like a decent solution though.

Cheers,

Ger.

 

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21 minutes ago, Gerr said:

Hi Peter,

I have a 2x and 3x Barlow. Is Backyard EOS free? Sounds like a decent solution though.

Cheers,

Ger.

 

Not free but there is a trial version that you can use free.

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On 06/11/2020 at 21:24, nephilim said:

 Ive seen a fair amount of images & videos about having it modified (appreciate this means it can't be used for daytime photography) so I think that's the way I'll go.

Don't assume an Astro modded DSLR can't also be used for daytime photography.  I got my Astro Modded DSLR from Juan at Cheap Astrophotography and it's fine for day time use:  

image 1

image 2

I've been using it for AP for  almost 6 years now and am only just getting to the limits of what it can do (OK, so I'm a slow learner!) but I don't regret going with a DSLR at all.  Some targets I only get 12 minutes of data on, but it still gives a usable image :

image3

 

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It is a misconception that mono cameras with filters require longer to shoot an equivalent image. You can actually get away with shorter total integration times, especially if your skies aren't super-dark.

Since our eyes discriminate fine detail in monochrome, concentrating on luminance gives you better detail quicker. Bonus: Luminance is pulling all frequencies at once, so the photons accumulate faster to begin with!

RGB data can be at lower spatial resolution without compromising perceived image quality. So you don't need as anywhere near as much time on the color filters.

It's definitely more fuss and gadgetry, and a slightly more complex processing workflow. But if a duffer like me can pull it off...

And of course, mono+filters enables narrowband imaging, which is a whole other ball game WRT good signal/noise ratios even in bright urban skies, in addition to being fun in itself.

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Upgrading your mount, optics and adding guiding will all give modest improvements to your images. 

Moving from DSLR to mono CCD is easily the biggest leap forward you can make, particularly narrowband if you have light pollution. 

Don't overlook the cost of the filters, I'd have a cheaper, small chip, second hand CCD (eg. Atik 314L+) with good quality filters over a bigger chip with cheap filters. If the budget is getting stretched just a Ha filter and a very short focal length is a good starting point. 

I can't comment on cooled CMOS, I've never used one. 

 

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