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MS Lifecam better than spc800/900????

Space Cowboy

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Yes, it has many advantages:

- small pixels 3x3 (no Barlow for Mak may be needed)

- higher sensitivity

- plausably the bayer mask catches IR with more than red pixels (some CMOS sensors do that)

- more pixels. 30 FPS at smaller ROI, full frame lower for moon etc.

On the other hand DBK/DFK have easier and better settings (+ long exposures) and you don't have to fight with removing the webcam lens. DBK vs LifeCams = hard to say. If you want to do a noticable improvement and a color camera then look at ICX618 based color cameras: QHY IMG0H (at Teleskop Express, astroqcam.dk) or incoming somewhere / somehow new TIS DBK/DFK/DMK cameras. Basler/PGR are much more expensive (and SBIG ST-i even more).


f/10; C11; LifeCam HD-5000 shot. Atmospheric refraction very noticable by default.

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I've used a lifecam with an ASUS 901... It works, but I do suffer from dropped frames, which I presume is the poor little thing trying to keep up with HD captures. Sometimes it's more than a 50% loss, so be warying about the frame rate you might achieve... I've tried using an external disk too, in case it's the ssd that's an issue, but the problem remains.

So it works, but in my experience it seems that you wont get full performance...

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Space Cowboy,

A month on, but perhaps my experiences will help you. I have been playing with an MD Lifecam for the last month. They are excellent webcams, until you take the lens off. Once mod'ed, I found it very difficult and strange to use. The image had a strong red cast, that I was not able to tune out with the white balance. The contrast was low. There was a strange glossy appearance to the images that's difficult to describe.

The sides of the images were much brighter than the centre. I suspected that this might be due to reflections in the original housing, so I shortened it with a hacksaw, which made a slight improvement.

I also saw jagged lines sometimes. I tended to set the camera to 640x480 or 640x360 to keep file sizes down. I think the chip is 1280x720, so there's something going on in the camera to produce all the image sizes offered. More than just standard binning, and perhaps this is causing the strange edges.

On the plus side, the chip is significatly more sensitive than the ICX098 and the noise is low. My test images were on Saturn, and were not as good as my Celestron NexImage pics. But, I took a few shots of the moon, and they were very good. This was probably because I could push the FPS right up and because colour was not so important.

Hope this helps. My new DBK21 saw first light last night. It'll take me weeks to get used to it, but that's half the fun :) With the moon so low and Saturn retreating, I'm not sure what I'll be practising on!

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The strange colors are due to IR passing in all channels (and webcam assuming he is used as a webcam), for example image taken through finderscope:


I did few Saturn images through it and the natural colors were available after some auto-color-balance in Nebulosity.

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I've modified the MS LifeCam for astronomy, removing the lens and the works from the casing and putting it into my own housing.

You need to use an IR stop filter - that fixes it. The webcam lens has an IR filter attached but even though I managed to get it off it wasn't any use because only the middle mm or so blocked IR. I was going to put it over the sensor. Anyway, I bought an IR/UV 1.25" filter and used that. It removes the pinkish cast and returns the image to normal.

I think this should be a good camera for short exposure work once I sort out my wobble problems. It seems that nobody has found a way to give it a long exposure mode. For this I have invested in the Morgan SPC880NC flashed to 900 plus adapter. I intend doing the long exposure mod later when I have a stable enough image.

I have imaged Saturn with the MS LifeCam sensor at prime focus of my 130mm Newt but even at full res (1280x800) the image is still small. It would be better with a longer focal length than my current 650mm.

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I have several filters, some Baader but not sure which is on the webcam. Here is an image of Saturn - single exposure using my 130 Newt (on it's own CG-3 mount and tripod) at prime focus. This is a 1:1 pic of the webcam image. ie. not resized for posting. (I think it's out of focus.) This is using the highest resolution (1280x800) with 3x3um pixel size.


Edited by Gina
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