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Which Imager to purchase

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  • sinbad53066
    Hi all, I have decided to take a plunge into astrophotography. I am considering which imager to purchase to use with my Vixen VCM110L (Skypod mount). The more
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 1, 2011
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      Hi all,

      I have decided to take a plunge into astrophotography. I am considering which imager to purchase to use with my Vixen VCM110L (Skypod mount). The more I read the more confused I get. Is it possible to get a general purpose imager for under $500? I would like to work on planets and nebula. Any advise would be appreciated.

      Rick
    • Don
      Try for a Meade DSI pro on Astromart. Don t forget you will probably want a guide camera and scope also. This hobby can mushroom and test the budget!
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 2, 2011
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        Try for a Meade DSI pro on Astromart. Don't forget you will probably want a
        guide camera and scope also. This hobby can "mushroom" and test the budget!
        <g>

        Don Waid

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "sinbad53066" <rgoodson@...>
        To: <ccd-newastro@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2011 1:26 AM
        Subject: [ccd-newastro] Which Imager to purchase


        > Hi all,
        >
        > I have decided to take a plunge into astrophotography. I am considering
        > which imager to purchase to use with my Vixen VCM110L (Skypod mount). The
        > more I read the more confused I get. Is it possible to get a general
        > purpose imager for under $500? I would like to work on planets and nebula.
        > Any advise would be appreciated.
        >
        > Rick
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • Stan
        ... A quick search indicates that scope is a 4 f/9.5, which is awkward for beginning astrophotography. The native 40 FL is too short for lunar/planetary but
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 2, 2011
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          --- "sinbad53066" <rgoodson@...> wrote:
          > ... which imager to purchase to use with my Vixen VCM110L.
          > Is it possible to get a general purpose imager for under $500?
          > I would like to work on planets and nebula.

          A quick search indicates that scope is a 4" f/9.5, which is awkward for beginning astrophotography. The native 40" FL is too short for lunar/planetary but the f-ratio is slow for nebula and galaxies unless you use a fairly expensive camera. So you will probably have to modify it for either type of target – a Barlow (or EP projection) for lunar/planetary and a reducer for nebula/galaxy.

          I don't know that mount but it may not be sufficient to do DS imaging at the native FL. You should check various forums to see how others have done with it.

          As for an astro camera, I'm afraid that $500 is not enough to buy anything worthwhile and I would not advise getting one of the few cheap cameras that are available at that price (unless maybe you get a deal on a good used one). The current low price for entry level astro cameras is nearer to $1k and that does not include accessories such as filters, filter wheel, guider, OAG or guide-scope, etc. Something to consider is getting a good quality camera that retains resale value (e.g. SBIG) and consider it an investment/rental; for example if you buy a $3k camera and later resell it for $2.5k then it really only cost $500; if you buy used you might be able to resell at the same price.

          You can get a Canon "Rebel" DSLR near that price but it will be problematic for that scope because of the slow f-ratio. DSLRs do not perform well at f-ratios slower than f/5-6 due to high, uncontrolled dark noise. The DSLR Bayer filters are a serious impediment for astro and DSLR's are nearly blind to H-alpha nebula unless you remove the internal NIR-blocking filter, which adds about $600 (unless you do it yourself). There are many astro-DSLR forums to consult if you want to go that way.

          Stan
          http://www.stanmooreastro.com/
        • Mike Dodd
          ... I think this is good advice, but you should investigate how well that camera will work with your FL scope. See
          Message 4 of 7 , Apr 2, 2011
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            Don wrote:
            > Try for a Meade DSI pro on Astromart.

            I think this is good advice, but you should investigate how well that
            camera will work with your FL scope. See
            <http://www.meade.com/photogallery/index.html> for some examples of DSI
            images. Note, however, that some of these were made with long FL SCTs or
            RCs.

            For planetary imaging, many people use an f/10 OTA with a webcam
            attached to a 2X or 3X Barlow. They take hundreds of short exposures and
            use specialized software to automatically select the best subframes,
            then combine these into the final image. Planetary imaging is totally
            different from DSO imaging.

            HTH.

            --
            Mike

            Mike Dodd
            http://astronomy.mdodd.com
            Louisa County, Virginia USA N37.58.23 W77.56.24
          • Mark de Regt
            I agree with what Stan s advised. For starters, a DSI for lunar/planetary imaging, where the exposure length will be very limited, should be fine, and you will
            Message 5 of 7 , Apr 2, 2011
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              I agree with what Stan's advised.

              For starters, a DSI for lunar/planetary imaging, where the exposure length
              will be very limited, should be fine, and you will get to see if you enjoy
              the physical and intellectual rigors of this game.

              If you can reduce the focal ratio (with a decent focal reducer), you may be
              able to get a used parallel port-type of CCD imager from Astromart within
              your price range.

              Mark

              -----Original Message-----
              From: ccd-newastro@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ccd-newastro@yahoogroups.com] On
              Behalf Of Stan
              Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2011 10:15 AM
              To: ccd-newastro@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [ccd-newastro] Re: Which Imager to purchase

              --- "sinbad53066" <rgoodson@...> wrote:
              > ... which imager to purchase to use with my Vixen VCM110L.
              > Is it possible to get a general purpose imager for under $500?
              > I would like to work on planets and nebula.

              A quick search indicates that scope is a 4" f/9.5, which is awkward for
              beginning astrophotography. The native 40" FL is too short for
              lunar/planetary but the f-ratio is slow for nebula and galaxies unless you
              use a fairly expensive camera. So you will probably have to modify it for
              either type of target - a Barlow (or EP projection) for lunar/planetary and
              a reducer for nebula/galaxy.

              I don't know that mount but it may not be sufficient to do DS imaging at the
              native FL. You should check various forums to see how others have done with
              it.

              As for an astro camera, I'm afraid that $500 is not enough to buy anything
              worthwhile and I would not advise getting one of the few cheap cameras that
              are available at that price (unless maybe you get a deal on a good used
              one). The current low price for entry level astro cameras is nearer to $1k
              and that does not include accessories such as filters, filter wheel, guider,
              OAG or guide-scope, etc. Something to consider is getting a good quality
              camera that retains resale value (e.g. SBIG) and consider it an
              investment/rental; for example if you buy a $3k camera and later resell it
              for $2.5k then it really only cost $500; if you buy used you might be able
              to resell at the same price.

              You can get a Canon "Rebel" DSLR near that price but it will be problematic
              for that scope because of the slow f-ratio. DSLRs do not perform well at
              f-ratios slower than f/5-6 due to high, uncontrolled dark noise. The DSLR
              Bayer filters are a serious impediment for astro and DSLR's are nearly blind
              to H-alpha nebula unless you remove the internal NIR-blocking filter, which
              adds about $600 (unless you do it yourself). There are many astro-DSLR
              forums to consult if you want to go that way.

              Stan
              http://www.stanmooreastro.com/




              ------------------------------------
            • Bill Bradford
              ... Ya think!?! :^)) Bill
              Message 6 of 7 , Apr 2, 2011
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                On 4/2/2011 10:00 AM, Don wrote:
                > This hobby can "mushroom" and test the budget!

                Ya' think!?! :^))

                Bill

                >
                > ----- Original Message -----
                > From: "sinbad53066"<rgoodson@...>
                > To:<ccd-newastro@yahoogroups.com>
                > Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2011 1:26 AM
                > Subject: [ccd-newastro] Which Imager to purchase
                >
                >
                >> Hi all,
                >>
                >> I have decided to take a plunge into astrophotography. I am considering
                >> which imager to purchase to use with my Vixen VCM110L (Skypod mount). The
                >> more I read the more confused I get. Is it possible to get a general
                >> purpose imager for under $500? I would like to work on planets and nebula.
                >> Any advise would be appreciated.
                >>
                >> Rick
                >>
                >>
                >>
                >> ------------------------------------
                >>
                >>
                >>
                >>
                >
                >
                >
                > ------------------------------------
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
              • Stan
                Upon further thought, I advise first concentrating on lunar imaging, which requires no Barlow or reducer (though a Barlow would be useful for high-res) and
                Message 7 of 7 , Apr 3, 2011
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                  Upon further thought, I advise first concentrating on lunar imaging, which requires no Barlow or reducer (though a Barlow would be useful for high-res) and makes very modest demands on the mount and is easy to do. This will aquaint you with some basic processes and may tempt you to try planetary imaging, which is more difficult.

                  You can image the moon with almost any camera via an "afocal" EP-to-Camera connection. It can be as easy as focusing the scope/EP for your eye then hold a point-&-shoot camera at the EP. The next step is to use a rig to hold the camera steady (purchase such device from Orion telescopes, etc.).

                  If/when you want to improve upon that then modify a cheap web-cam or get a digital vidoe cam to do "Lucky Imaging" of moon and planets. There are several web-cam astro forums for advice.

                  After that you might try a very few extra bright nebula, but Deep Space (DS) is a very different game and quickly consumes much effort and potentially a lot of money. Your current scope is ill-suited for DS imaging and the mount may also be inadequate. But if you already have a DSLR then it's not much trouble to get a fitting to mate with the scope just to see what you are up against (I really do not advise getting a DSLR just for astro). It is likely that the first few images will be somewhat thrilling (just to get anything at all <g>) but you will very quickly learn that there are many serious obstacles and difficulties that require significant efforts. You may decide that this is not your cup-of-tea or you may get hooked and start to tap into your equity line of credit! <g>

                  Stan
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