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Stargazing Cheap versus expensive CCD

  1. Jul 12, 2016 #1
    Is the monetary savings in buying a cheap CCD (£10-£250) outweighed by the performance of an expensive CCD (£700+)?
     
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  3. Jul 12, 2016 #2

    phinds

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    You think maybe it depends on the application?
     
  4. Jul 12, 2016 #3

    Drakkith

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    If you can afford the more expensive camera, I'd say yes if you're doing deep sky imaging. The cheaper ones tend to have smaller chips, lower sensitivity, and few extra features like cooling. The more expensive ones tend to have larger chips, more features (especially cooling), and higher sensitivity. I have an SBIG ST-200XM that I bought for $1000 used a few years ago. It came with a filter wheel, built-in cooling, and a separate guide chip right next to the main chip.

    If you're not doing deep sky imaging, but perhaps planetary imaging, then a CMOS imager for less than $100 should work just fine.
     
  5. Jul 12, 2016 #4

    Chronos

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    A CCD is basically intended for experienced APer's. For a neophyte I would suggest a DSLR. A truly magnificent DSLR for AP can be had for under $1.5k US, whereas a CCD in this price range will, to put it charitably, flat out suck. Don't waste your time or money on a cheap CCD. You'll get stuck with a tiny sensor and/or crappy sensitivity. Once you master using a DSLR for AP you will have a much better idea what you want in a CCD, or if you even really need one. Besides, the DSLR is a much easier sell if you are married given a CCD is only good for AP.
     
  6. Jul 12, 2016 #5

    Drakkith

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    Nonsense. Everyone knows that only leads to your spouse "borrowing" your DSLR for a "short time". And then putting it in a box in the attic where it languishes in the darkness, crying out for comfort that shall never come...

    But seriously, Chronos is probably right. A half-decent DSLR, once modified to attach to a telescope, should do very well for someone starting out in astrophotography. The large chip allows your to find your target easier and take pictures of large objects that even expensive CCD's would need a shorter focal length telescope to image.
     
  7. Jul 12, 2016 #6

    davenn

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    agree with all that
    and a really good (half decent) DSLR is the Canon 700D ( T5i in the USA) @ 18 Mpix. I bought one of these last Oct (2015) and it has been getting a pretty serious workout over recent months and producing great results.
    At ~ $600 Australian = ~ $450 US it's a great buy
    A huge selling point is its rotatable LCD viewscreen which is also touch sensitive. This is a godsend for when doing high in the sky images and you don't have to contort yourself into crazy positions to do focussing etc.

    At this time, I am not imaging through the telescope, as my scope is a very slow f10. Rather I connect it to my 400mm f5.6 canon lens and piggyback that on the scope and just use the scope as a tracking mount

    Dave
     
  8. Jul 13, 2016 #7
    I want to do some planetary imaging, but also a bit of deep sky imaging :wink:
    I don't have a telescope yet, but I'm looking at the Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P Table-top Dobsonian for £129. It got a good review in 'Astronomy Now' magazine.
     
  9. Jul 13, 2016 #8

    Drakkith

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    If you want to do astrophotography, I'd recommend focusing on getting something for deep sky imaging. You can pick up a CMOS imager for less than $100 USD if you want to do planetary imaging. Their are also webcam conversions, so you can turn a cheap webcam into an imager for a telescope for next to nothing. You cannot do the same for deep sky imaging.
     
  10. Jul 13, 2016 #9

    Drakkith

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    That will do just fine for a small, easy to use telescope, but you cannot really do astrophotography with it. You'll need some kind of motorized mount, preferably one with a built-in catalog of objects it can point itself to. And that's not cheap. Unfortunately this is not a hobby for the faint of heart (or wallet).
     
  11. Jul 13, 2016 #10
    Hopefully I can spend my student finance (all £3,881) on a good telescope and camera :woot:
     
  12. Jul 13, 2016 #11

    Drakkith

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    Well, just remember to save some for food and other expenses. :biggrin:
     
  13. Jul 13, 2016 #12
    I'd suggest buying and reading the book "Making every photon count" before you buy anything. It will save you money and months of frustration in the long run. There is just so many small things you need to know about to make decent decisions when it comes to astrophotography that it is very hard to learn by asking questions on a forum. Even better is if there is a local astronomy club you could visit.
     
  14. Jul 13, 2016 #13

    Chronos

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    You need a high quality motorized mount for deep sky AP. That will easily set you back a grand or two. Then you need a well corrected optical tube [telescope]. Poof, there goes another grand. Adding a capable DSLR camera is going to pop the wallet another big bill. But, we're not done yet. You need a computer with image processing software, camera to telescope mounting hardware and a reel of cable just to get started. As Drak noted AP ain't for the faint of heart, or wallet. It calls for the commitment of an olympic athlete and the patience of Job to achieve success. Almost everyone who has ever enjoyed the view of a decent scope has been bitten by the AP bug, but, only a precious few actually bring the dream to fruition - and most of them have more money than sense. If you elect to cut corners, the most likely result is an impressive collection of avant garde art. Glapp's advice is very sound. If you can find an experienced AP'er to apprentice you. Your wallet and sanity will thank you many times over. Let me share a story - there once was fool with a telescope. He decided to spend $500 on an intro CCD. That led to another big stack of benjamins for an equatorial wedge, imaging software, camera actuator, ASCOM signal converter [for the telescope drive], field flattener, filter wheel kit, laptop and 100 feet of USB cable before he realized his scope rig was a better boat anchor than imaging platform and invested in a decent mount, an RC optical tube and 3" finder scope. Still not satisfied he blew more $$$ on a DSLR and some remote AP software before actually getting his first picture. That cheap CCD turned out to be usable as a guide camera so it wasn't a complete loss. Don't be the fool I was.
     
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