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ZWO…… mono or colour?


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I’ve been wanting to buy a ZWO for sometime now. 
im more drawn to mono and I understand it’s 4 times the work etc to get the best of colours. 
my question is , if you have a ZWO are you  using mono or colour or do you have both tried both and what’s your preferences and why? 
I’m prepared to spend up to £1500(ish) and ideally would like something that I can do planetary, solar and dso. 
so a one stop shop for all.  
 

thanks 

 

nic 

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All other things being equal, mono will deliver a better result than OSC, but with the latest CMOS OSC sensors, first class results can be obtained, and you can always get something if your imaging session is cut short before you have obtained a full set of colour subs.

I’m not a planetary imager but I would assume a colour camera makes this process more straightforward, especially on dynamic targets like Jupiter.

My most recent camera purchases have been OSC sensors.

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I think there are definite benefits to both - an plenty of threads on/SGL about the subject. I have mono and colour (DSLR), and my next camera will be a OSC astro camera of some type. However, I would not be without the flexibility of the mono camera. For your budget it will also depend what sensor size you want.

Mono is certainly not 4x the work assuming you have a EFW, and yes, the images are better in theory. However, with UK weather being a fickle as it is OSC does have some advantages. I have quite a few sessions of part filled LRGB as unexpected clouds have ruined the party. If this was OSC I would at least have an image. Having said this, I also like narrowband imaging, especially around the full moon. With the exception of dual / triple band filters this is not really possible with OSC.

Ultimately, either choice will give you decent images. If you like simple set up then OSC may suit, if you want to do NB then I would go with mono.

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It isn't 4x the work for mono over OSC.  It might add 10% to the processing time but not more. Some people take flats per filter, for instance, but I don't, I use the lum flat for everything on nearly every occasion and very, very rarely have a problem with this. I stack the three colour files, which maybe takes four minutes longer than making a single stack, I open the three stacks, and, in AstroArt, need two clicks to turn that into RGB. A minute? In terms of exposure time, LRGB gets equivalent signal in less time because luminance collects R,G abnd B at the same time.

I've just started working with an OSC camera again. It's a CMOS and is much better than the OSC CCDs I've used in the past. There's a certain charm to the simplicity but it's wiped out by the moonlight unless you add a filter and, well, then you've added a filter! It gives great results on reflection nebulae but, unfiltered, doesn't go deep on emission - even in the RASA 8 at F2.

Our decision to go for OSC was driven by the RASA, which cannot accommodate a filterwheel.

For me the real choice would be between OSC with optional dual band filter and mono. OSC on its own is quite restrictive.

Olly

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You have to assess your individual circumstances (imaging environment, weather) and decide with that info. I started OSC as it was the cheaper route for me buying my first astro cam so it was a planetary camera to start with but weighed up after if I'm going to spend more money on a better camera might as well get serious with mono (remember you're utilising all pixels on the sensor for any given filter used). I had the benefit of already having OSC options though if I needed them.

With mono you have the associated filter costs, setup times (I don't automate filter use, you have to refocus if you change them during the same session) and your sessions will be cut short due to not having done a whole suite of filter captures. But the sensor will be sensitive and with LRGB all pixels will be L or R or G or B, narrowband is awesome for light polluted skies but has its associated need to expose for longer per sub to get signal (and therefore needs better guiding).

I've been mulling over a cooled OSC as it would be good to have a complete image even after an hour of capture as weather isn't the best and OSC sensors are getting better, do I need it though when I've got versatility of choice of how to shoot? I've also learned to be more patient spreading projects over many months and seeing how they evolve after adding more different filter data.

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59 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

It isn't 4x the work for mono over OSC.  It might add 10% to the processing time but not more. Some people take flats per filter, for instance, but I don't, I use the lum flat for everything on nearly every occasion and very, very rarely have a problem with this. I stack the three colour files, which maybe takes four minutes longer than making a single stack, I open the three stacks, and, in AstroArt, need two clicks to turn that into RGB. A minute? In terms of exposure time, LRGB gets equivalent signal in less time because luminance collects R,G abnd B at the same time.

I've just started working with an OSC camera again. It's a CMOS and is much better than the OSC CCDs I've used in the past. There's a certain charm to the simplicity but it's wiped out by the moonlight unless you add a filter and, well, then you've added a filter! It gives great results on reflection nebulae but, unfiltered, doesn't go deep on emission - even in the RASA 8 at F2.

Our decision to go for OSC was driven by the RASA, which cannot accommodate a filterwheel.

For me the real choice would be between OSC with optional dual band filter and mono. OSC on its own is quite restrictive.

Olly

I was just using 4x as a metaphor lol. 

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Thanks everyone for your input.  Much appreciated 😊 

 

ill ponder the next few days about it before committing myself. 

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1 hour ago, ollypenrice said:

It isn't 4x the work for mono over OSC.  It might add 10% to the processing time but not more. Some people take flats per filter, for instance, but I don't, I use the lum flat for everything on nearly every occasion and very, very rarely have a problem with this. I stack the three colour files, which maybe takes four minutes longer than making a single stack, I open the three stacks, and, in AstroArt, need two clicks to turn that into RGB. A minute? In terms of exposure time, LRGB gets equivalent signal in less time because luminance collects R,G abnd B at the same time.

I've just started working with an OSC camera again. It's a CMOS and is much better than the OSC CCDs I've used in the past. There's a certain charm to the simplicity but it's wiped out by the moonlight unless you add a filter and, well, then you've added a filter! It gives great results on reflection nebulae but, unfiltered, doesn't go deep on emission - even in the RASA 8 at F2.

Our decision to go for OSC was driven by the RASA, which cannot accommodate a filterwheel.

For me the real choice would be between OSC with optional dual band filter and mono. OSC on its own is quite restrictive.

Olly

How do you get away with not taking flats per filter. Don’t you get dust bunnies in different places from each filter and need to remove theses….🤔

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It was mentioned above about having to refocus per filter change, you don't. Take NINA, as an example, you can do a round of focussing and create offsets which will be used each time you swap a filter. Of cpurse you would focus using the base filter at the start of the night and then choose to refocus on HFR/Temp changes as needed.... No extra time needed really.....

However, I wouldn't even think about it without a filter wheel and some level of automation unless you feel there just isn't enough to think about already......

Edited by scotty38
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3 hours ago, Nrmh02 said:

I’ve been wanting to buy a ZWO for sometime now. 
im more drawn to mono and I understand it’s 4 times the work etc to get the best of colours. 
my question is , if you have a ZWO are you  using mono or colour or do you have both tried both and what’s your preferences and why? 
I’m prepared to spend up to £1500(ish) and ideally would like something that I can do planetary, solar and dso. 
so a one stop shop for all.  
 

thanks 

 

nic 

The general progression is to start out with OSC, however if you are currently using a DSLR you may feel that you have already progressed beyond this. Both do have advantages but my own conclusion is that the most impressive images are almost invariably produced using mono cameras. This is the case for DSO imaging certainly. 

Your issue is that Solar and DSO imaging = Mono (for best results) 

Planetary imaging and Lunar imaging are usually best with OSC.

Despite what some have said you do not have to refocus with each filter change you can create offsets using a program like nina, but if you have an auto focuser refocusing is not an issue anyway. In the extream you just dont refocus at all, after all you cant refocus with a OSC per channel can you and its subject to the same issues with CA as mono. 

I would personally say that if you are wanting to progress in the hobby, with a main focus on DSO imaging and you are willing to image over multiple nights to increase your total integration time on a single target you should go with a mono camera.

If you want to get an image in a single night, you are budget limited, or just want less stress in exchange for lower performance then OSC is likely the best way to go.

If I had a budget of £1500 including filters I would actually not go for a ZWO for OSC I would go with one of these:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001359313736.html?spm=a2g0o.store_pc_home.hotSpots_6001922564357.0

Discussion on the camera here (get the AR coated window option):

In the case of a mono for 1500 including filters I would wait a little for a ASI533MM Pro to be released (should be only weeks away) and will likely come under your budget with a set of Optoling / Baader LRGB filters and a Ha filter. 

Adam

Edited by Adam J
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2 hours ago, Stuart1971 said:

How do you get away with not taking flats per filter. Don’t you get dust bunnies in different places from each filter and need to remove theses….🤔

No. The filters are not usually the source of the bunnies. These are produced by dust closer to the chip, which is to say on the chip window. I won't say this applies literally every single time but it proves true at least 19 times out of 20 for me. I'm not alone in working this way: a number of our experienced imaging guests do likewise.

What is more, the LRGB image's light levels will be determined by the luminance layer so, if that has been properly flattened, it will have a significant tendency to flatten the RGB layer as well, according to its own light.  

Assuming you have clean filters, I can only suggest that you try it. It works for me.

Olly

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1 hour ago, Adam J said:

The general progression is to start out with OSC, however if you are currently using a DSLR you may feel that you have already progressed beyond this. Both do have advantages but my own conclusion is that the most impressive images are almost invariably produced using mono cameras. This is the case for DSO imaging certainly. 

Your issue is that Solar and DSO imaging = Mono (for best results) 

Planetary imaging and Lunar imaging are usually best with OSC.

Despite what some have said you do not have to refocus with each filter change you can create offsets using a program like nina, but if you have an auto focuser refocusing is not an issue anyway. In the extream you just dont refocus at all, after all you cant refocus with a OSC per channel can you and its subject to the same issues with CA as mono. 

I would personally say that if you are wanting to progress in the hobby, with a main focus on DSO imaging and you are willing to image over multiple nights to increase your total integration time on a single target you should go with a mono camera.

If you want to get an image in a single night, you are budget limited, or just want less stress in exchange for lower performance then OSC is likely the best way to go.

If I had a budget of £1500 including filters I would actually not go for a ZWO for OSC I would go with one of these:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001359313736.html?spm=a2g0o.store_pc_home.hotSpots_6001922564357.0

Discussion on the camera here (get the AR coated window option):

In the case of a mono for 1500 including filters I would wait a little for a ASI533MM Pro to be released (should be only weeks away) and will likely come under your budget with a set of Optoling / Baader LRGB filters and a Ha filter. 

Adam

Thanks for your input. It’s very much appreciated 

so currently using mod 600D. 
 

I’ve looked at AliExpress but there’s a lot of fake items etc going though that website so I’d be rather hesitant to spend 1K with little to non cover etc. 

I might take another look though. Thanks 

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I had the same dilema a few months ago, coming from a modded 600D too. I ended up buying an ASI294MM Pro after considering an IMX571 OSC.

You should take into account the sensor-scope relation in terms of arcsecs/px. 

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2 hours ago, Adam J said:

The general progression is to start out with OSC, however if you are currently using a DSLR you may feel that you have already progressed beyond this. Both do have advantages but my own conclusion is that the most impressive images are almost invariably produced using mono cameras. This is the case for DSO imaging certainly. 

Your issue is that Solar and DSO imaging = Mono (for best results) 

Planetary imaging and Lunar imaging are usually best with OSC.

Despite what some have said you do not have to refocus with each filter change you can create offsets using a program like nina, but if you have an auto focuser refocusing is not an issue anyway. In the extream you just dont refocus at all, after all you cant refocus with a OSC per channel can you and its subject to the same issues with CA as mono. 

I would personally say that if you are wanting to progress in the hobby, with a main focus on DSO imaging and you are willing to image over multiple nights to increase your total integration time on a single target you should go with a mono camera.

If you want to get an image in a single night, you are budget limited, or just want less stress in exchange for lower performance then OSC is likely the best way to go.

If I had a budget of £1500 including filters I would actually not go for a ZWO for OSC I would go with one of these:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001359313736.html?spm=a2g0o.store_pc_home.hotSpots_6001922564357.0

Discussion on the camera here (get the AR coated window option):

In the case of a mono for 1500 including filters I would wait a little for a ASI533MM Pro to be released (should be only weeks away) and will likely come under your budget with a set of Optoling / Baader LRGB filters and a Ha filter. 

Adam

I agree with you on the matter of focus change between colours. I don't find any change to come from the filters, rather it comes from the optics - which means you can correct for it in mono and can't in OSC. That said, I never do. I just focus in green and scroll RGB, RGB, RGB and then refocus as the temperature changes require. Another non-issue.

However, I disagree over a perceived need for multi-night with mono or with any suggestion that OSC is faster. It cannot be faster and isn't. OSC shoots (broadly speaking) with two out of three colours blocked all the time. Luminance shoots with the full visible spectrum being recorded.  On top of that, narrowband is captured much faster in mono and can be used to replace luminance, though not by using it in the luminance channel.

By way of evidence, here's a Heart Nebula shot in two hours with a 4 inch F5 refractor and old school CCD camera with a QE of 50%. It's Ha RGB.  I don't believe this signal could be matched by an OSC, even a modern CMOS one, in the same scope. Mono is fast but does bite you if you're clouded out without one of your layers.

379992968_2HourHeartweb.thumb.jpg.a0413f498e16d6655e29678d4c1fb46d.jpg

(I do have a much better Heart, by the way. 🤣)

Olly

 

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Interestingly I get the same observation as Olly with my F7 refractors in that the dust bunnies seen on the flats are all on the camera sensor, and the LRGB flats are all identical, but with @Tomatobro’s RC 10 the LRGB flats all display different dust mote patterns so separate flats are required.

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44 minutes ago, Nrmh02 said:

Thanks for your input. It’s very much appreciated 

so currently using mod 600D. 
 

I’ve looked at AliExpress but there’s a lot of fake items etc going though that website so I’d be rather hesitant to spend 1K with little to non cover etc. 

I might take another look though. Thanks 

I just recieved my RisingCam 571 yesterday and got it going very easily (with toupcam drivers, tho it does provide its own in the box) , I ordered mine from ebay and didn't even get any notice of customs charges (yet? do they send that in the post later or does it coming through ebay include that charge somehow?) I'd say it's legit. I have heard good things about this cam from a LOT of sources and so far my own (albeit limited) testing shows it may be true. I get some good weather this weekend according to clearoutside so I am itching to give it a proper test!

 

8 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

-snip-

Olly

 

I just got my first cooled mono cam and hope I can achieve something half as good as that! Even after I removed the IR filter from my Nikon I was still suffering in terms of noise and colour banding of flats. That said I won't have any filters or guider for almost two months, so everything I shoot will be mono and unguided until my ASI120mm-mini and chroma lrgb set arrive : (

I also need an autofocuser, but what's good and bad kit wise in that realm is a bit confusing to me atm.

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24 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

I agree with you on the matter of focus change between colours. I don't find any change to come from the filters, rather it comes from the optics - which means you can correct for it in mono and can't in OSC. That said, I never do. I just focus in green and scroll RGB, RGB, RGB and then refocus as the temperature changes require. Another non-issue.

However, I disagree over a perceived need for multi-night with mono or with any suggestion that OSC is faster. It cannot be faster and isn't. OSC shoots (broadly speaking) with two out of three colours blocked all the time. Luminance shoots with the full visible spectrum being recorded.  On top of that, narrowband is captured much faster in mono and can be used to replace luminance, though not by using it in the luminance channel.

By way of evidence, here's a Heart Nebula shot in two hours with a 4 inch F5 refractor and old school CCD camera with a QE of 50%. It's Ha RGB.  I don't believe this signal could be matched by an OSC, even a modern CMOS one, in the same scope. Mono is fast but does bite you if you're clouded out without one of your layers.

379992968_2HourHeartweb.thumb.jpg.a0413f498e16d6655e29678d4c1fb46d.jpg

(I do have a much better Heart, by the way. 🤣)

Olly

 

When I talk about single night imaging its more a gauge as to how much effort the imager in question is willing to put into their imaging. With RGB I cycle my filters as you suggest, but I tend to run 1 hour then auto-focus on filter change as I find that most efficient in terms of productivity per hour.

For narrow band imaging with mono I will invariably only take one channel per night though and always multiple nights paying attention to the moon when selecting my filter for a given night. In narrow band I tend to find my absolute minimum integration is around 6 hour per channel and so not something I would do in a single night. The place I feel OSC shines is for mobile imaging at a remote / dark sky location when you may not get to return to that location for additional data, or want to keep your setup as light weight  / simple as possible reducing the chance of something going wrong. When you dont want to keep your filters spotless or take flats per channel, when you dont want the pain of combining channels in processing, or when your budget just dose not allow for filter wheels, filters and auto-focusers. Or even when you want a larger sensor for your budget. 

I should also be clear that I dont own a modern OCS but have considered it for the above use case, I also never do single night imaging as it would not support my imaging goals. Mono is faster for sure even in single night, but my gut feeling is that if you are the type of imager (and its perfectly valid) that wants to image a different target every night then move on to the next exciting object, then you are better off with an OSC, a duel band filter and a UV/IR cut or a combination of the two in as lower f-ratio scope as you can afford as you are also unlikely to want the extra work associated with mono. 

Adam 

 

 

Edited by Adam J
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7 minutes ago, tomato said:

Interestingly I get the same observation as Olly with my F7 refractors in that the dust bunnies seen on the flats are all on the camera sensor, and the LRGB flats are all identical, but with @Tomatobro’s RC 10 the LRGB flats all display different dust mote patterns so separate flats are required.

My flats are all different with different filters, so have to take them with each, I really don’t see how there is any other way if the dust bunnies show from each filter…🤔🤔

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2 minutes ago, Stuart1971 said:

My flats are all different with different filters, so have to take them with each, I really don’t see how there is any other way if the dust bunnies show from each filter…🤔🤔

You keep your filters spotless mate, its possible but pretty much involves never opening the filter wheel and going over them in detail before sealing them inside. 

Adam 

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36 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

I agree with you on the matter of focus change between colours. I don't find any change to come from the filters, rather it comes from the optics - which means you can correct for it in mono and can't in OSC. That said, I never do. I just focus in green and scroll RGB, RGB, RGB and then refocus as the temperature changes require. Another non-issue.

However, I disagree over a perceived need for multi-night with mono or with any suggestion that OSC is faster. It cannot be faster and isn't. OSC shoots (broadly speaking) with two out of three colours blocked all the time. Luminance shoots with the full visible spectrum being recorded.  On top of that, narrowband is captured much faster in mono and can be used to replace luminance, though not by using it in the luminance channel.

By way of evidence, here's a Heart Nebula shot in two hours with a 4 inch F5 refractor and old school CCD camera with a QE of 50%. It's Ha RGB.  I don't believe this signal could be matched by an OSC, even a modern CMOS one, in the same scope. Mono is fast but does bite you if you're clouded out without one of your layers.

379992968_2HourHeartweb.thumb.jpg.a0413f498e16d6655e29678d4c1fb46d.jpg

(I do have a much better Heart, by the way. 🤣)

Olly

 

1.5 hours with 268c and L-Extreme filter….so just Ha and OIII….not bad….🤔

shot through a Tak FSQ85 at f5.3

 

EB3E9381-D925-4858-BCE3-2F223867E67D.jpeg

Edited by Stuart1971
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With an Atik or SX camera the sensor is further away from the filters than with a typical ZWO so dust isn't noticible with the former. With a permanent setup it's easy to get away with long standing flats. Moving about on a tripod every night its clear, it's not worth risking not taking them.

Regarding the opening thread, if your prepared to put the time in, capturing those few precious photons over multiple nights, weeks, months, (years!)  then mono all the way. If you like to image for 2 or 3 hours a night and have a full colour image to process afterwards then colour. I would recommend an ASI1600 for mono or ASI294C for colour. Would buy second hand and you'd have plenty of change in your budget. Couple of weeks ago you could have gotten a full mono package of 1600 + FW + filters for just over £1k on here so keep an eye out!

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2 hours ago, Stuart1971 said:

1.5 hours with 268c and L-Extreme filter….so just Ha and OIII….not bad….🤔

shot through a Tak FSQ85 at f5.3

 

EB3E9381-D925-4858-BCE3-2F223867E67D.jpeg

Very good, clearly. What you don't have with this setup, though, is star colour. 

The L-extreme (and similar) filters do open up the CMOS OSC possibilities enormously.

But, yes, a good image done very quickly.

Olly

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7 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

For me the real choice would be between OSC with optional dual band filter and mono. OSC on its own is quite restrictive.

Just highlighting Olly's comment here, because I totally agree and think it's important to note.

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