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Posts Tagged 'camera'

LPI-G: Planetary cameras and autoguiders from Meade

November 27 2018, Stefan Taube

 The abbreviation LPI-G stands for Lunar and Planetary Imager & Guider. These cameras from Meade are ideal for astrophotography involving the Sun, Moon and planets. Even small telescopes can safely carry these lightweight cameras. They plug into the telescope like an eyepiece and are connected to the laptop via USB.

Meade-LPI-G-LifeStyle1

Delivery includes Meade SkyCapture software – this allows intuitive operation and use of other programs via the ASCOM interface. The ST-4 socket means the cameras can also be used perfectly well as auto-guiders – that is, for the tracking control of your mount.

The standard version of the LPI-G series has a 1.2 megapixel sensor. The LPI-G Advanced camera offers a wider dynamic range, a 6.3 MP sensor and a high 59 fps frame rate. It has a USB 3.0 port to allow it to handle this data stream,.

The reasonably priced standard version is eminently suitable for beginners who would like to first get some experience. The Advanced model goes way beyond this and allows an intensive experience with planetary astrophotography to develop over many years.

Both versions are available as black-and-white or colour cameras. The black-and-white cameras have the advantage of higher sensitivity and resolution. The cost of colour imaging is higher as you will also need the appropriate colour filters and a filter wheel.

All the models available in the LPI-G series can be found here in the Astroshop.

The new Sony Exmor R sensor: What does it mean for astrophotographers?

March 26 2018, Marcus Schenk

“Where there’s a lot of light, there’s a lot of shadow”.

These words come from no less than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. When he wrote these lines, nobody had even conceived of digital cameras. And the famous poet expressed this in a totally different context.

And yet: This sentence is so well suited to astronomy camera sensors that we simply had to use it.

But how does it all fit together? And why does this quote no longer apply to cameras with new Exmor R sensors? We’ll come back to that.

100% more sensitive cameras by ToupTek

This is news that many friends of astronomy will be pleased with: The latest ToupTek cameras are up to 100% more sensitive (source: Sony) than older, conventional CMOS cameras. For recently, great things have been achieved in sensor technology. To put it briefly: Thanks to the new Exmor R sensor, it’s now possible to put even more object information on the chip with short exposure times.

The cameras by ToupTek have already been fitted with these latest, brand-new sensors: Here’s the link to the cameras.

Until a few years ago, people still preferred CCD sensors. This was because they created less noise, were sensitive and you could recognise more details. But CMOS sensors have been improved. Fast data transport and super-fast digitalisation round out the achievements. Noise was markedly reduced, making this technology interesting for astronomy.

These CMOS sensors are also referred to as front-illuminated sensors. And this is where Goethe’s quote: “Where there’s a lot of light, there’s a lot of shadow” becomes interesting. Because it’s got something to do with the architecture or the construction of the chip.

Der Front-Illuminated Sensor: Lichtstrahlen treffen auf den Sensor, werden aber zum Teil abgelenkt.“Classic” CMOS sensors

Front-illuminated sensors contais quite a few elements that the photons must go through before they reach their target land on the pixel.

First, there are the microlenses, then the colour filters and then finally the electronics. The latter were placed on the chip from above. This means: at this spot, there are aluminium strips, wires and transistors. The photons must go through them, too. After all that, the light finally reaches the long-awaited pixel.

The electronics, however, unfortunately, acts like a shadow-caster. It’s a little like what we experience with telescopes with large secondary mirrors: some of the light is absorbed and diverted.

Some photons simply don’t have a chance. They are not let through or they are simply reflected by the metal wire. This consequence is unavoidable: Less light reaches the sensor.

Sony, however, thought about how current chips could be made more sensitive. And something amazing occurred to them and which is now being used in astronomy cameras: “Back-illuminated” CMOS sensors.

 

The new “back-illuminated” sensors by Sony

Sony has taken sensors apart and put them back together quite differently. Now, the photons pass through the microlenses and then the colour filters. So far, so good. But after that, they go straight to the pixels.

The electronics, wires and transistors are located behind. The photons now reach the photo cells without being diverted. The silicon substrate is illuminated from behind instead of from the front. Another advantage is STARVIS technology, a sub-group of the Exmor R sensors that possess even higher sensitivity. This technology realises its greatest benefit precisely where there is little light.

Thanks to numerous improvements, the Exmor R sensors are extremely fast , produce even less noise, and are twice as sensitive (source: Sony) and even have higher transmission in the infra-red.

This technology has been used in research for a long time already. But until now, the price of such cameras was astronomically high. Thanks to the fall in price, amateurs can now enjoy the benefits of these CMOS sensors.

What does this mean for your astronomy shots?

  • More light in a shorter time
  • Shorter exposure times – and therefore fewer problems with tracking
  • Galaxies and nebulae can now be photographed without cooled cameras
  • Extremely high frame rates – resulting in even sharper planet shots
  • Higher sensitivity in the close infra-red range – for images of Mars and Venus
  • Brighter celestial objects often possible as live video

Conclusion:

These new “back-illuminated” sensors by Sony offer new and exciting possibilities for astrophotographers. Thanks to the lower costs the prices are low. And the gain is beautiful astronomy photographs with little outlay. But the best of all is: The cameras by ToupTek are already fitted with this technology. Perhaps, we could now say: “Where there’s a lot of light, there remains a lot of light”. At least, as far as these new cameras are concerned.

P.S.:

If you want to use these cameras, too, then go here.

The new Atik Horizon is finally available!

March 20 2018, Elias Erdnüß

The new highly promising astronomy camera Horizon by Atik will be available very soon. This actively-cooled CMOS camera – available as a colour and mono version – comes with Infinity Live Stacking software, offering an easy introduction to astrophotography. At the same time, this high-performance camera has all the functions that experienced amateur astronomers could wish for. If you would like to take the bold step of taking up the fascinating hobby of astrophotography, with this camera, you have a product that will offer features that go way beyond beginner level.

The 16-megapixel CMOS MN34230 sensor by Panasonic is used. With an active chip diagonal of 22 mm, the sensor surface area is comparable with that of the popular APS-C format on SRL cameras. This large sensor, with a much high pixel density, is a great benefit compared with the well-loved Atik Infinity that comes under the same price category. The extremely low noise level of modern CMOS chips in conjunction with active cooling make the Horizon ideal for deep-sky photography.

If you have already gained experience in astrophotography with an SRL camera , the Atik Horizon is perfect for the leap to a specialist camera. The active cooling reduces not only sensor noise dramatically, it means that a stable sensor temperature can be obtained. You no longer have to shorten the valuable observation time just to take a few dark frames for image calibration. Thanks to the cooling, you can maintain the same sensor temperature throughout the day, thus collecting valuable dark frames for hours on end.

This camera is, however, not suitable for planet shots – for example, with a lucky imaging process – because you can only take around one image per second. If you are looking for a high-quality planet camera with which you can take lots of images per second, you need look no further than the models by ToupTek or The Imaging Source.

The company, Atik Cameras Limited, has made a name for itself in recent years with its high-quality CCD astronomy cameras. With this first step to rapidly improving CMOS sensor technology, a camera is being offered that should be considered by both beginners and professionals.

The Imaging Source presents new astro cameras: The Signature Series.

March 2 2018, Elias Erdnüß

We are now introducing the new Signature Series by the camera manufacturer, The Imaging Source. For over 20 years, this company has been making professional cameras, mainly for industrial applications. The company’s products are, however, readily used in medical and scientific fields. The cameras meet above-average quality standards.

In 2007, The Imaging Source designed a series of cameras specifically for astronomy applications for the first time. The manufacturer quickly became well-known and popular among amateur astronomers and astro-photographers because the cameras it produced were of excellent quality while being affordable.

In recent years, the brand became quiet in the field of astronomy. Other manufacturers came to the fore and every year new products, due to the rapid and continuous improvement in the digital camera technologies, put older models in the shade. The Imaging Source continued to diligently make astro cameras: The well-known NexImage and Skyris models of the Celestron brand are being made by way of a collaboration between these two companies.

Now, The Imaging Source is, however, finally presenting its own series of astro cameras once more! The Signature Series features outstanding robustness, which is not surprising from a manufacturer that regularly has to meet the high standards of industrial customers. The series is also equipped with state-of-the-art CMOS sensor technology. The old wisdom that you can only use CCD sensors for astronomy has not held for a long time: CMOS sensors now feature low noise and very high sensitivity, so that leading manufacturers are no longer producing CCD chips any more. In the Signature Series, the latest Pregius and STARVIS CMOS chips by Sony have been incorporated.

The cameras are wonderfully suited to planet shots. They deliver high-resolution, uncompressed, low-noise images at high frame rates. This is ideal for lucky imaging techniques to show every planet detail that is caught by your telescope. These cameras are not, however, primarily designed for taking photographs of very faint galaxies and nebulae: Depending on the model, maximum exposure times of only a few seconds are possible.

The range of models in the Signature Series is very extensive, with almost 60 models. This means you buy exactly the camera that is suited to your own needs. It is, however, challenging to keep an overview.

You should know the following:

Each camera is available in three versions: DMK, DBK and DFK. DMK models are monochromatic cameras. Since they do not need Bayer filters (to capture colour information), they are most sensitive to light. The DBK and DFK models are colour cameras. They do, however, have the same structure, including an infra-red filter in DFK cameras. The built-in CMOS sensors are also sensitive to invisible infra-red radiation, but this can be filtered out if necessary. Many amateur astronomers want an infra-red-sensitive camera, however. If this is what you want, too, DBK cameras are right for you.

Furthermore, there are different connections on each model for data transfer: The 33U cameras can be connected to your computer via a USB 3.0 and the 38U cameras can be connected via USB 3.1. For all USB cameras, a USB cable can be used for the power supply. The 33G cameras have a Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) interface. This is particularly widespread in professional image processing applications. For GiGE cameras, you also need an additional power supply, and the power pack required for this is included.

The built-in CMOS chip can be seen on the model description. This determines, for example, the resolution and frame rate of the camera.

The following table can help you to find the right camera:

If you are interested in a recently developed and high-quality planet camera, the Signature Series should be on your shortlist.

Touptek: Which camera is right for me? How to find out – at a glance.

February 23 2018, Marcus Schenk

Imagine the following situation: You’re looking for the right camera.

The amateur astronomer stares desperately at the hundreds of cameras on the screen. The technical data gives him a headache. Gradually he loses sight of the big picture. Which camera should he buy then? He does not want to search for ever; he just wants to take beautiful photos.

In this post, you will find two aids that will make it easier for you to quickly find the right ToupTek camera for your needs.

 

Das Touptek Kamera-Sortiment

 

1. A graphic that will give you an overview

The range of cameras is constantly increasing. How can you keep track of them?

Sensor size, pixel size and resolution are just a few of the key features. And you have to compare all the cameras with each other.

But the question is: Are they suitable for planets, deep sky or only for guidance?

Isn’t there an easier way to find out? Yes, we have wondered that, too; and have found the solution for ToupTek cameras. Here is the result: A graphic for a quick overview that also offers additional information. This saves you from having to constantly click all over the place. What can you see in this graphic?

Sensor size: At a glance, you can see the sensor size of ten different cameras. The frame sizes are matched accordingly.

Article numbers: Above every sensor, there is an article number in addition to the camera name. If you are interested in a camera, you can enter the number directly into the search function in the shop.

Coloured squares: Within the frame, you can see three small coloured boxes and/or a black and white box. It is actually self-explanatory: The boxes indicate whether the camera is available in a colour and/or in a monochrome version.

Number under the sensor: the sensor name is indicated, as IMX178 or AR0130, for example.

Pixel size (micron) and frames per second (fps): The cameras have been plotted on an X/Y graph. You will be able to see immediately whether a camera has small or large pixels, and whether the number of images recorded per second is very low or very high. Sensor size, pixel size and fps: These are all important pieces of information to help you decide which camera is right for your needs.

Planetary, focal length, guiding: Three coloured bars on the edge indicate for which purpose or telescope the camera is best suited. The more colourful the bar, the better suited for the respective area. These bars will tell you immediately which cameras are suitable for you.

Example: A high frame rate is suitable for planetary images, while a very large chip is not particularly well suited for just guiding. Chip size and pixel size will give you a clue about the appropriate focal length of the telescope.

 

2. How do I distinguish between different sensor sizes?

The sensor sizes of Touptek cameras range from 4.8 mm x 3.6 mm up to the large 20 MP sensor which measure 13 mm x 8.7 mm.

For planet images and guiding, smaller sensors are sufficient; for large moon shots or extended deep sky hosts, there should be more field.

A presentation of the various sizes is difficult, but it is important before making a purchase. That is why we have also created a graphic for you here and projected it on an image of the Galaxy NGC247.

The various frames with product numbers are marked clearly. Much better than an explanation could do, for example, you can see how much bigger the ToupTek EP3CMOS camera20000Kpa Deep Sky Color is than the ToupTek GPCMOS1200KMB Mono Guider.

 

 

With these two graphics, you’ll be on the safe side before you make your purchase and without many hours of searching. The best thing to do is take a look at the product pages of modern ToupTek cameras.

New in January: Taurus-Dobsons, APOs by Vixen, solar telescopes by DayStar, Atik Horizon cameras and a high-end mount by iOptron

January 12 2018, Stefan Taube

This year, too, we would like to present a small selection of items to you every month that we have recently included in the range:

  1. Taurus Dobson N 304/1500 T300 telescope

Taurus T300

Telescopes by Taurus have recently been added to our shop. The Dobson T300 with a 12-inch aperture is the first model that we would like to present to you. Other models will follow in coming days. The  Dobson T300 telescope has a wire-mesh tube, which means it’s easy to transport and can be set up without tools in just a few minutes. The entire system weighs just 15.9 kg, and the heaviest part weighs only 9.6 kg.

Unlike what you can see in the picture, the telescope does not come with a finder or an eyepiece. It does, however, come with a scattered light protector. It also comes with a high-quality 2” Crayford eyepiece holder with support.

The Dobson telescopes by Taurus are developed and made in Poland. We are pleased to be able to offer these telescopes to you now!

 

  1. Vixen AP 81/625 SD81S apochromatic refractor

Vixen SD81S

For those who prefer to take photographs, instead of exploring the night sky with their eyes alone, should make use of an apochromatic lens. The Japanese manufacture, Vixen, is offering three new models that have different lens diameters: SD81S, SD103S and SD115S.

The recently designed lens element with FPL-53 glass reduces chromatic aberrations to such an extent that they are barely detectable, ensuring an extremely clear and sharp picture! These three APOs are ideal for photography with DSLR cameras with full-format sensors.

 

  1. DayStar ST 60/930 SolarScout Carbon H-Alpha chromosphere solar telescope

DayStar SolarScout 60

The American company, DayStar, specialises in instruments for observing the sun. With the SolarScout 60, DayStar is adding another solar telescope to its SolarScout series. The telescope has an integrated QUARK H-Alpha filter.

When you buy this telescope, you are getting a finely tuned system that comprises optics, etalon filter and helical focusing with which you can enjoy observing and photographing the sun in H-Alpha light without risk!

Thanks to the light carbon tube, you can place SolarScout telescopes on a small mount. The integrated solar finder will help you to effortlessly and safely align the optics with the sun.

 

  1. Atik Horizon mono camera

Atik Horizon

This is the first camera by Atik with a CMOS sensor – the future of sensor technology. In this case, it is a 16-megapixel Panasonic MN34230. The small pixel size of 3.8 µm means high resolution and makes the camera interesting for short focal length apochromatic lenses and photo lenses. The integrated cooling system brings the camera down to 40° C below the ambient temperature. With the quiet electronics and the USB 3.0 port, the Atik Horizon is ideal for shots of weak nebulae with long exposure times.

Like the Atik Infinity, the Atik Horizon is also ideal for live stacking. This significant trend ensures more fun doing astrophotography and publicity work at observatories.

You will, of course, receive both an Atik Horizon and a colour camera. This colour variant saves you from having to use colour filters.

 

  1. iOptron CEM120 GoTo mount

iOptron CEM120

We have had good experience with the mounts by iOptron in recent years. They are long-established in the USA, and are now becoming more popular across the pond. iOptron is now putting a mount on the market that features a load capacity of over 50 kg for observatories: The CEM120 GoTo mount.

The design is reminiscent of the tried and tested CEM60 GoTo that has a load-bearing capacity of half that. The polar wedge of both mounts is supported in the centre of gravity, thereby achieving a high level of stability with low weight.

For those who are planning a garden observatory or a new acquisition for a club observatory, the CEM120 GoTo should be seriously considered. Speak to us, and we’ll be happy to advise you!

Photos taken of the sun in H-Alpha light with the filter QUARK and the new ToupTek camera.

October 13 2017, Stefan Taube

Our Spanish Colleague Carlos Malagon has a clear view of our day star almost every day. He sent us this image of the sun he had taken with the new camera EP3CMOS02300KMC from ToupTek:

H-Alpha-Sonne

The image shows the chromosphere of the sun: This is a part of the sun’s atmosphere above the photosphere, appearing in light with a wavelength of 656 nanometres. This wavelength is also referred to as H-Alpha. It represents a certain excitement condition of the hydrogen atoms in the sun’s atmosphere. At the edge of the sun you see a very nice protuberance.

Besides the camera from ToupTek Carlos Malagon used the H-Alpha filter QUARK from DayStar and the Omegon Pro Apo 80/500 on the mount SkyWatcher Star Adventurer.

This small mount is ideal for travelling. It carries a camera with small optics and tracks it parallel to the rotation of the sky. The Star Adventurer can be screwed on any photo tripod. For this purpose, Carlos Malagon used the Omegon aluminium tripod Titania 500. The photo below shows the complete equipment.

Carlos_Ausrüstung

By the way: Since the sun filter QUARK can simply be inserted into the eyepiece holder between camera and telescope, it can also be quickly removed. The easy to handle equipment can then be simply used to take photos of the night sky.

Astrophotography: New cameras from ZWO

May 30 2016, Stefan Taube

The cameras from ZWO, which can be recognized by their distinct red housing, have taken astrophotography by assault. Based on the big success of the low-priced planet cameras ASI-120, ZWO now extends its product range bit by bit and now also offers advanced cameras with USB 3.0 and CMOS-sensors.

We are able to offer you two new series of these cameras:

ZWO Camera ASI

ZWO Camera ASI

  • ASI-290: A very good all-purpose camera with small pixels, high image frequency and low read-out noise. The camera is equipped with the CMOS-sensor IMX290 from Sony. This chip is particularly light-sensitive because it is exposed from the back. Such sensors are elaborate in production, but now they are available to hobby astronomers for a reasonable price.
  • ASI-1600: This camera is equipped with a huge 16 megapixle CMOS-sensor with 21.9 millimetre diagonal. The sensor is normally installed in Olympus cameras. With this camera you can fill a large field of view.

All camera models are available as colour or black and white variants, but also with or without active cooling. I.e. there are four versions each for you to choose from.

Black and white cameras have the advantage of a higher sensitivity and resolution when compared with colour cameras. However, it takes a higher effort to successfully shoot colour images: You need colour filters and a fllter wheel.

A cooled camera allows for longer exposure times, because the sensor noise is suppressed. However, you need a separate electric power supply and, for long exposure times, a suitable mount with tracking control. Due to the increasingly high sensitivity of the sensors, uncooled cameras also become more and more popular for the photography of low-luminosity DeepSky objects. Beginners and casual photographers are therefore already very well equipped with the uncooled models of the ASI-290 series.

The cameras from ZWO, which can be recognized by their distinct red housing, have taken astrophotography by assault. Based on the big success of the low-priced planet cameras ASI-120, ZWO now extends its product range bit by bit and now also offers advanced cameras with USB 3.0 and CMOS-sensors.

 

26.08.2019
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