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geppetto

Atik Titan mini review

37 posts in this topic

Atik_Titan_camera2.jpg

A few nights under the stars with the Atik Titan camera

Thanks to Steve from First Light Optics and Jennifer at Atik, I got the chance to do a mini review of the new Atik Titan mono version.

Without getting into comparisons and technicalities (not my style), I decided to test out the camera with an eye to the fact, that it is stated to be a good camera for entry level CCD imaging with a bonus of fast frame capture for moon and planet work

with of course, the advantage of it being a guide camera as well.

A quote from the published information:

"The new Atik Titan is essentially a dual-purpose CCD camera that features a cooled Sony ICX 424 Sensor that can also operate at 15 frames per second in high-speed mode.

The high frame rate captures fleeting moments of clarity when the atmosphere is at its most stable. This combined with 16-bit digitisation and very low noise makes the Titan an ideal camera for lunar and planetary imaging.

In addition, the sensitive Sony 424 sensor with low (5e) read noise and -20 degrees C cooling makes the Titan capable of long exposure deep-sky photography.

The Titan would also make an excellent ultra-fast autoguider "

I have owned an Atik 16ic for a few months now and have had a lot of success with it so I had great expectations of the Titan…

OK, same case but blue, supplied with the usual Atik simple to understand user manual as well as software/drivers and all cables.

It's USB2 and the camera powers from your USB port, needing the external 12Volt supply for running the cooling system. Nice touch that as when doing lunar/planet imaging, it's one less cable and power supply.

The capture software is easy to use and is complete with all the necessary tools to do one shot to multi length/mode batch capturing.

Didn't want to get too fussy in using this so I decided to do the tests with the camera at prime focus on my excellent Skywatcher 150P DS 6" F5 Newtonian on an HEQ5 mount with a modified finder scope/Toucam webcam guiding set up.

I didn't take any darks or flats either, so the whole process was kept simple.

First off, was to see if it matched up to the 16ic in long exposure mode and it does with nice sensitivity and low noise. I used a Baader 7nm Ha filter to do the first set of captures as the moon was around and I needed to cut through the sky glow.

The exposure lengths were set at 5 minutes and each image consisted of 8 subs stacked. What I did notice was that the camera was sensitive enough to show a faint M27 on screen during the 10 second loops I used for positioning

the object properly in the field of view.

Focusing was set using the capture software's built in focusing tool

M27, M15, Crescent Nebula, Bubble Nebula and the Cocoon Nebula all came out very well and I also did an RGB of M27 and M57 using Baader colour filters in my home made filter drawer. I noticed that the capture software will control an Atik filter wheel in the batch

sequencing making life a lot easier for LRGB work. ……….where's my christmas list!

m27_titan_stack.jpg

m27_titan_col.jpg

titanm15.jpg

TitanM57LRGB3.jpg

titancres.jpg

bubbletitanstack.jpg

TitanCocoon.jpg

First test with the fast capture feature was to target the 20 day moon.

I must admit, It took a couple of goes at this to get the exposure correct. Not a problem though and only to be expected when first using an unfamiliar camera. Using the 15 frames per second mode, you can soon rattle off a few hundred frames

for stacking later. Nice to see the image size is the same in this mode and not compromised to get the speed up.

I took a series of 6 sets of 200 frames to form a mosaic of the moon's terminator. The subs were stacked in Registax and stitched using iMerge.

This really is an excellent lunar camera with lovely smooth but detailed results and nice level exposure across the grey scale. Much cleaner than the results from my mono Toucam webcam.

titan_moon_mosaic.jpg

Onto planets and this is where I had a problem as I don't own a planet scope so even with using a 4x Barlow, you will have to excuse the small rendition of Jupiter shown below.

Again, using fast capture mode it's easy to collect a good stack of subs and since the lunar detail was so good, I have no doubts that through a proper planet scope, the results would equal that.

This Jupiter image is a combination of 100 of each red green and blue shots stacked in Registax and combined in Photoshop. At 15 frames per second, the three sets of frames plus time to push the filter drawer meant

a final set of images in just a minute or so. Good test of the camera but with more frames and a longer focal length scope, the results would be much better.

Tan_Jupiter3.jpg

Conclusions:

So, does the camera perform all the task it's supposed to… well, yes it does.

These small chip cameras have a small field of view and whilst you're not going to fit the whole of M42 or the North American Nebula on the sensor using a normal scope, there are huge numbers of interesting mid to smaller sized targets crying out to be imaged close up.

Very small file sizes mean less computer processing time when stacking dozens of subs compared to DSLRs or large sensor CCD cameras.

It's sensitive enough even for an unguided but tracked scope to produce some nice images.

The Atik cooling system works very well so you can often get away with not using darks. In my opinion, the addition of the fast capture mode lives up to the description of it being a camera with which a user can try out all modes of astro photography before moving on to what suits and interests them the most.

The small chip size requires more care in getting the target on the sensor and the .FITS file system takes a bit of getting used to for anybody coming straight from Jpegs and the like but all worth the little extra effort

I did need to run a few short test shots at the start of the Jupiter session to get my head around the exposure settings. With FITS images, the capture software stretches them to be visible on screen but what might look slightly over exposed turns out fine during post processing.

I found that with the 6" F5 scope, 0.04 second exposures were about right. Just a case of getting to know the camera and it's whims.

When pitched against the cost of a modified DSLR plus a modified webcam plus a guide camera, I reckon it's well priced, a credible "Jack of all trades", and a pleasure to use.

More images to follow if I get some sky time before returning the camera.

Edited by geppetto
3 people like this

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A very informative review and some nice examples of what can be achieved.:D

Many thanks Philip, don't see you often enough here

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Hi Phillip

I have the Titan also but as I have only recently begun astrophotography I have been learning so much about all aspects that I did not think I would be able to give this camera the sort of report you have given.

I do echo your thoughts, I have had some nice details in some of my images and also that Jupiter capture is a little awkward at first until you can find a nice exposure setting that will process well later.

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Looks like a good all rounded this one.

Good report.

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Philip, for the DSO's did you use the 200 F5 ?

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DOH ! You did say in your post !

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That looks like an excellent camera mate,I think I may have to purchase one of them babies!

So how do you compare it to the 16ic?

Thanks for the review.

Matt.

Edited by SlipperySquid

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The 16ic is very similar on DSO's, both very nice cameras.

The Titan of course is much more versatile with the fast mode:)

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A couple more from the Titan tonight in between cloud banks.

This is to show that although small chip cameras aren't suited to

bigger targets without doing a mosaic, it's fun to "drill down" into

these objects sometimes.

Here is a close look at the pacman's mouth proccessed in false

colour and a close in look at the swirling beauty of part of the veil.

Both with 150P DS newtonian and 7nm Ha filter.

4 subs each of 6 minutes duration.

titanpacman.jpg

titanveil.jpg

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hi, great review and some excellent images there. You said though that you had little success with the Atik-ic so I'm wondering why the Atik-Titan would be any better as it has the same sensor? Or were you refering to its use at a planetary camera, in which case a webcam could have been a cheaper option.

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No, not at all....this is what I said

<......I have owned an Atik 16ic for a few months now and have had a lot of success with it so I had great expectations of the Titan….....>

You can't compare this camera to a webcam in any way shape or form....

It is what it is, an excellent entry level cooled 16 bit camera with

the added advantages of a guide port and fast exposure mode:)

Edited by geppetto

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........I love my Lu070 ( same chip) a great deal already but in comparison to the Titan , what the Lu misses is the -20*C cooling below ambient. As much as I'd like to have a go at DSO's with it it'll never achieve what the same chip in the Titan could. :D More's the pity

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Are you in a dark sky area? as the images seem fantastic for five minute exposures! on a 150p! especially the bubble and the crescent!

On a side note ..I love your model on your website of the observatory! the detail is amazing! even down to the Solar scope on the porch :D made me smile so it did!

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great report and pics

if they had made it 30fps like dmks they wud sell alot more

still looks gud for dso tho

regards James

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Are you in a dark sky area? as the images seem fantastic for five minute exposures! on a 150p! especially the bubble and the crescent!

No mate just normal small town polluted skies...

The Ha filter cuts through that and the scopes 150mm aperture is a good all round light grabber...

Pleased you enjoyed the mini observatory, suppose I should

get round to making a 12th scale Titan.

I think I've got some blue paint left :D

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great report and pics

if they had made it 30fps like dmks they wud sell alot more

regards James

It seems that there have have been a lot of comments along those lines James and I can see where people are coming from on that but in the end, it does take good quality planet images and is a superb DSO and moon camera.

It's a pity I don't own a planet scope or I could have done more but having said that, the Jupiter session was very successful I think, with a modest scope pushed to it's limits and with so few frames per colour...

I have no connections with Atik and I see myself as a down to earth tell it like it is guy. At the end of the day, it fits it's description as a good entry level 16 bit cooled CCD camera with the added advantage of fast exposure mode and guide facilities.

Great tool for the newcomer to astro photography wanting to get a few more rungs up the ladder:)

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You could always lend it to me :D

I've got to send it back though mate :eek:

Edited by geppetto

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Can it not take a diversion, I would love to try it out on the MN190 ....

Nadeem..

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Can it not take a diversion, I would love to try it out on the MN190 ....

Nadeem..

Only way to compromise on that is for you to send me the MN190

Nadeem :D

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Excellent review Phil :D

I had a feeling you would give it a good run for its money.

Steve

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great report and pics

if they had made it 30fps like dmks they wud sell alot more

still looks gud for dso tho

regards James

Indeed...30fps and a tweak in the software for gamma control/better stream output :-) = perfik!

V good review

Edited by NickH

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Agree, that would be quite welcome !

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Hi I'm De Lorme, I really enjoyed the Titan review. Is there a review on the Atik 314e? Is the Dawn soft ware applicable to all Atik's camers? Any information on which Atik ccd camera would match up with a particular scope? Thanks for the help.

De Lorme

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