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Please help me decide on which IMX571 sensor camera


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Thinking of getting a new camera with a larger sensor than my Zwo ASI 294 MC pro. To me, the most obvious choice is a camera with the IMX571 sensor. The logical choices being:
1.    Rising CAM      at £1054.46 including shipping and estimated VAT.
2.     Altair 26C        at £1399.00
3.    QHY268C         at £1888.00
4.    Zwo AsI2600C at £2265.00

I know there has been considerable discussion regarding these different cameras and there potential issues:
•    Zwo occasionally suffering from heat transfer paste leaking onto the sensor.
•    QHY having driver issues when trying to integrate into some software packages. 
•    Rising Cam unknown pedigree and possible lower grade sensor
•    Altair, not sure of the issues with this, though I did find one report of the heat transfer paste leakage issue.

For me I want a reliable camera with good customer support at the best price possible. So looking at the prices and spec it seems to me that the Zwo has priced itself out of the market its £377 more expensive than the next most expensive (QHY). The Rising Cam looks like a bargain at just over a £1000 but I am not confident of the import duties. Plus if there are any issues with the camera shipping the item back to China is going to be expensive and there must surely be a very irritating delay waiting for the return of the fixed camera. The QHY seems like a more reasonable price but I am worried by the extensive number of threads detailing driver/integration issues. That leaves the Altair which from what I can see is UK based which I would like to think would be advantageous with any warranty claims and technical support.

All these cameras have had favourable reports with regard to how they behave on the telescope with people very happy with the results they achieve.
The problem I have is that the more I have read the more I feel paralysed as to which one to buy. I would very much like to hear other peoples thoughts on these cameras, their idiosyncrasies etc.
I am looking to integrate the camera to a Skywatcher Esprit 100 and use SharpCap for camera control.
Thanks,
Ian    
 

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I've a ZWO 2600MC and a QHY268M

Some minor observations:

The ZWO2600 arrived with a tiny tiny spec of dust on the cover glass of the sensor but so far the oil leak hasnt affected my model.  However it is more stable in terms of temperature mainenance, and overall pretty much faultless in terms of function/connectivity.

The QHY268 is definitely a little more finickity and very occasionally there seem to be connection issues, and drop outs when using it for solar imaging.  It's temp control will fluctuate around 0.2-0.3 degrees of -10 through a session.  The QHY268 requires me to use dessicant and to change it frequently.  The ZWO2600 seems to so far be dry - thats why I wont remove the cover to get the spec of dust out.

I'm not sure the 268C version offered an adjustable faceplate - this can be useful (or essential) when correcting tilt.

I'm actually in the market for another mono sensor, but hadnt thought of going for one of the less common brands.  I actually wanted a mono ZWO 2600, but when I priced it a coupole of days ago at £2850, I decided to leave it.  The equivalent QHY model is £800 cheaper.

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3 hours ago, tooth_dr said:

The QHY268 is definitely a little more finickity and very occasionally there seem to be connection issues, and drop outs when using it for solar imaging.  It's temp control will fluctuate around 0.2-0.3 degrees of -10 through a session.

Yes, this kind of finicky-ness does put me off. I have a Zwo ASI294 which seems bomb-proof and I also have a QHY183c which seems to occasionally glitch and recently I thought it was broken (I have a thread below) but turned out to be that the camera does not work well with the zoom function in in Sharpcap. 

As things stand, I feel most tempted by the Altair camera. I hope some people will comment about the Altair camera and the Rising Cam.

Ian

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I have been using the Altair 26C for around 6 months now and have noted a few keys areas.

Good points

Great build quality and it's light, drivers very stable, powerful cooling, built in dew heater, good warranty/support.

Bad points

While it does support usb2 (occasional corrupt data) I find it works flawlessly  with usb3, no tilt adjust.

Now the big question is would I buy it again, yes definitely but probably mono.

Hope this helps

Gary  

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Hi Gary,

Many thanks for your observations they are very helpful.

my mini pc has 4x USB3 ports so that’s not a problem to me. 
I am 99% sure on getting the Altair. I think I will probably go colour purely because clear nights are so rare that it would take me forever to finish an image using a mono camera.

I don’t know much/anything about tilt adjusters but it appears you can buy them for about £50 which seems a lot cheaper than the Zwo camera. Am I wrong about retro fit tilt adjuster.

Ian

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I have the QHY268c and RisingCam IMX571C versions. I connect the QHY with NINA and the latest native driver, never suffered any comms issues. No problem with moisture either and the camera spends weeks at a time in a unheated observatory. The tilt adjustment can best be described as agricultural and has given me some minor operational issues when used on an F2 RASA.

The Risingcam has again been solid with NINA  and the native driver, the cooling is a bit less powerful than the QHY but I run it at -10C which is no problem in the UK. VAT at 20% is quoted in the Aliexpress price, I paid around £60 duty to get it in my hands, but the asking price was £950 when I purchased mine. Yes, the thought of sending it back to China for repair is a bit scary, but mine has made it through the warranty period without the need for any attention. 
For me the choice was reasonably straightforward, I wanted a second IMX571c sensor camera without delay, so with my budget, it was the RC or nothing.

My next planned purchase will be a mono version, and that will be the RisingCam version.

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Just posting another alternative, the TS one (made by ToupTek, carbon copy of the rising cam): https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p14967_TS-Optics-Color-Astro-Camera-2600CP-Sony-IMX571-Sensor-D-28-3-mm.html

And the Omegon VeTec571 (also made by ToupTek, but this time looks a bit different): https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p13286_Omegon-Camera-veTEC-571-C-Color-cooled--Sensor-D-28-3-mm.html

Both still nowhere near ZWO or QHY prices, and these ones you can buy closer to home compared to the AliExpress rising cam. But for what its worth the ordering and shipping from AliExpress was just as smooth as ordering from TS, and i was able to pay with Klarna, a swedish(?) billing service that i am very familiar with. They dont accept payment from obscure and scammy sites, so that should give an idea to the legitimacy of the site and seller and was definitely what removed any doubt i had in mind when ordering.

By the way since you are considering the Altair one, you might want to consider either the Omegon or the TS (or the cheap rising cam) since they are all made by ToupTek and just sold under different labels and different coloured shells. Driver compatibility and possible issues with the product will very likely be the same for all of them.

If you have any doubts on the quality of the sensor being a lower grade one, below is a 27h maximum stacked and stretched dark frame from my rising cam 571:

628034211_cosmicrays-27h_stackedcopy-small.thumb.jpg.5251a7bb71f7f680547e7f02778feb2e.jpg

Thats all there is from 27 hours of 3600s subs stacked with maximum combination, so the sensor is very clean even under duress. Most of the odd looking streaks in the image are from either cosmic rays or local background radiation hits on the sensor.

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Can't comment on the sensor but I recently purchased an asi533 based Hypercam direct from Altair.

The camera was very good and very easy to use.  Works well at usb 2 and 3.  The camera I got took exceptional pictures and I was happy however there was a slight but if glow in the darks which shouldn't be there.  Altair quickly said that wasn't normal and arranged a replacement.  Their technical support is excellent.  They also have a decent community they just seem to not be very loud.

You don't get a lot of adapters with it, but you do get a nice hard case, a nice hat and a packet of Haribo.  Oh and a 1 year subscription to sharpcap.

Also the camera is a nice shade of purple.  This is my wife and daughters favourite colour which got them firmly inside when I bought it.

IMHO you should get the Altair, based on the fact you will be well supported if there are any issues.

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On 16/11/2022 at 03:35, Ratlet said:

Can't comment on the sensor but I recently purchased an asi533 based Hypercam direct from Altair.

The camera was very good and very easy to use.  Works well at usb 2 and 3.  The camera I got took exceptional pictures and I was happy however there was a slight but if glow in the darks which shouldn't be there.  Altair quickly said that wasn't normal and arranged a replacement.  Their technical support is excellent.  They also have a decent community they just seem to not be very loud.

You don't get a lot of adapters with it, but you do get a nice hard case, a nice hat and a packet of Haribo.  Oh and a 1 year subscription to sharpcap.

Also the camera is a nice shade of purple.  This is my wife and daughters favourite colour which got them firmly inside when I bought it.

IMHO you should get the Altair, based on the fact you will be well supported if there are any issues.

and its cheaper.

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I have my QHY268M in the observatory for about a half year right now. During that time I had two connection drops and no dessicant changes. There is a humidity sensor inside QHY268M so you can easily say if there is a need to refresh dessicant - I am not sure if that is also present in QHY268C. 

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21 minutes ago, drjolo said:

I have my QHY268M in the observatory for about a half year right now. During that time I had two connection drops and no dessicant changes. There is a humidity sensor inside QHY268M so you can easily say if there is a need to refresh dessicant - I am not sure if that is also present in QHY268C. 

Side by side ZWO2600 and QHY268 in a high humidity area - zero dessicant changes ZWO, several with QHY.

 

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I have the QHY268c and it’s been flawless, no problems with anything at all, connection perfect, no need to ever use desiccant, and stays within 0.1 of set temp…I also had the version with clear glass so I use my own UV/IR filter…

there is also the new Player One offering of this camera now on the market, and seems very good, both mono and OSC, with a superb built in tilt plate…prices similar to QHY for OSC and £300 more for the mono..👍🏻

BTW, the Rising cam, the Touptek, Omegon and Altair Astro are all the same cameras, just re brands….👍🏻

Edited by Stuart1971
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13 minutes ago, tooth_dr said:

Side by side ZWO2600 and QHY268 in a high humidity area - zero dessicant changes ZWO, several with QHY.

I think that is quite random, not only in Chinese cameras :(

QHY163M - always dry, QHY247C - desiccant every 1-2 months, QHY163C - dry, QHY268M - dry.

Atik314L+ - dry, Atik383L - desiccant replacement every 3-4 months. 

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