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Selecting a CCD Camera

Started by Chris1, 03/03/2005 12:05PM
Posted 03/03/2005 12:05PM Opening Post
OK, I might finally have to give up on film (Tech Pan discontinued). Now the question of what CCD camera to consider. I have a 1992 C11 and C8 Ultima in an observatory. What SBIG camera set up should I consider for these instruments? How do you determine what are the correct camera specifications for these instruments? Any help would be appreciated.

Posted 03/03/2005 12:40PM #1
In my opinion the ST10XE is extremely nice for the money - high resolution, high sensitivity, fits almost any situation from wide field deep sky to super planetary imaging.

Roland Christen
Posted 03/03/2005 12:56PM #2
Welcome to the digital domain! Obviously budget will be a big factor. Also, have you limited your thinking to just SBIG, or are you also considering Starlight Xpress and others?
Posted 03/03/2005 02:47PM #3
Thanks for the quick responses. I think I would like to stick with SBIG but I would be open to any suggestions. As far as budget (should have put that in my original post), that will depend what I can get for equipment I am going to sell to finance this camera. (Two familiar constraints on new equipment - money and the wife.) I'm going to sell a 5.5" and an 8" (Epoch) Schmidt camera and an ST-4.
So depending on what that brings, that will be the budget.
Posted 03/06/2005 01:35PM #4

I'm not sure why you've narrowed your search to SBIG, but allow me to offer the following thoughts. First, Starlight Xpress has a new camera out called the SVX-H9, which is an improvement to their HX-916, and HX-516. The detector is Sony's new "x-view" series, which has the smooth frequency response of their older Hyper HAD chips, but now has improved red, IR, and UV response. The icing on the cake is that the detector has a real-world 65% QE, up from Sony's older 45% value. I have a lot of experience with Sony chips, and find their output to be very easily balanced in a tri-color imaging program. Sony has a different philosophy from Kodak in their detector's response curve, and the validity of that philosophy can be seen in the many "webcam" typ cameras which all use Sony chips. The bottom line is that their natural (with respect to the human eye) response curves make for natural color reproduction. I'm not saying that Kodak doesn't, just that Sony seems to have taken some engineering steps which facilitate it.

The SVX-H9 sells for about $2,800 at Adirondack Video Astronomy. Combined with a filter wheel, adapters, RGB filters, and miscellaneous, and you're at about $4,000. The camera uses USB 2.0 for fast downloads of about 4 seconds in full-frame mode (about 1.5 seconds binned). This means that in binned mode (13.6 micron pixels), you've got a real-world planetary camera in your hands, as well as a good deep sky machine. Read noise is extremely low, and the camera is so clean in general that you can take long exposures with the cooler *OFF*, and still have amazingly clean frames.

In short, I have a lot of experience with CCDs in general, and this type of camera in particular, and I think that you would have a powerful tool in your hand for a reasonable expenditure, should you decide to go with it.


Maurizio Di Sciullo