Imaging Cameras

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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by donatpointgrey » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:11 pm

Could someone explain the performance difference between the ICX687 vs. ICX674. Especially in light of the new Grasshopper3 cameras that will be released shortly.

Don

Hi Don, this is Don from Point Grey ;)

I didn't respond earlier because I was hoping to get more tangible information for you... but still don't have it so I'll just give you the most obvious points.

The sensors have a lot of similarlities... they have about the same sensitivity, the same number of pixels, the same frame rates. The biggest difference between them is physical size (ICX674 is 2/3" optical format, ICX687 is 1/1.8") and the price. The size difference, I understand, can make the difference between a full disk or not. This is where someone who actually knows about astronomy could clarify - I'm a camera guy not an astronomer. But I've heard a lot that people get happy with larger sensors because of this reason. There is also a fairly significant price difference between the sensors (and consequently between the cameras). They don't let me tell people prices, you need to talk to sales for that, but the ICX674 will be about 35% more expensive than the ICX687.

We are pretty excited about the ICX687 at Point Grey. It is a high quality HD CCD sensor that also has a pretty good price point, so we expect it will be the workhorse for our CCD cameras in the next few years.

I hope that helps.

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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by donboysail » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:58 pm

Don,

Thanks for the info, it is very helpful. The 674 will have a wider field than the 687 using CCDCalc.

Don



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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by MapleRidge » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:32 pm

Hi Don...

What scope/focal length are you plannng to use the camera with, and do you want full disk on a single frame?

The ICX674 chipped camera I have gives full disk coverage on the LS80T (560mm focal lenght)..this new 687 chip will have a smaller FOV, but a bit more resolution with the smaller pixels.

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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by donboysail » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:21 pm

Brian,

At the moment I'm using a Lunt White Light Wedge on my 80mm ED 600mm scope. The full disc just barely makes it with the 687 chip. No camera that I've had so far will allow me to to do a full disc with my current setup. So I'm use to adding a focal reducer to acquire a full disc image and I kind of prefer this since I can avoid a barlow for close up detail.

This all maybe for naught depending on the price of these cameras and if they will work reliably with Windows 7. My previous experience with a PG Chameleon was that it wouldn't work with any of my Windows 7 computers but did just fine with WinXP. To PG's credit they worked with me for three weeks to resolve the issue but to no avail.

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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by MapleRidge » Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:11 pm

Don...

My 674 camera (Grasshopper Express, firewire) runs on a small footprint Acer computer under Win7 with no issues at all. I have been using FireCapture for both solar and planetary...planetary CPU is an old Dell unit on WinXP and it has no issues either.

At 600mm, the 687 will snip the solar poles off (FOV 41'x 30')...so close it's a [bad-word] shame it doesn't fit. The ICX674 chip will fit with lots of room with a FOV 50'x 37', wiht a slightly lower resolution.

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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by rico10 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:48 am

Love to buy a Point Grey Don, I'm in Alberta but have to admit I a bit overwhelmed by the selections. Wish there was a way to cut down to the relevant choices. I understand peoples desires for large sensors for full discs but one would thing you could stitch them together in a mosaic if needed. as well there seems to be an issue with 1.25" nosepieces for the unit. I understand these units have whats called a C mount on the front and you will need to procure an adapter from a separate vendor. Be nice to see a suggested list from point grey listed by chip size.


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by brianb11213 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:25 pm

I understand peoples desires for large sensors for full discs but one would thing you could stitch them together in a mosaic if needed.
But you clearly don't understand the issues involved in stitching together mosaics ... the Sun's surface changes so much over a period of a few minutes that alignment can be a problem, changes in transparency and seeing quality can also have major effects and the time required to process large number of videos is a real bind ... even if the clouds keep away (which is pretty unlikely for most of us).

I have experience of attempting both and I'm very strongly of the opinion that large scale mosaics of the solar surface, in hydrogen alpha or calcium K, are far, far more difficult than mosaics of the moon at the same scale with the same camera. And even with the moon, the advance or retreat of the terminator over a 20 minute imaging session can be a big issue.

Oversize sensors of course create issues of their own with field flatness, illumination falloff etc. & very high pixel counts cause issues in alignment / stacking (partly due to file size limitations, partly due to excessive processing time).

Everything is a compromise but IMHO a sensor with a reasonable pixel count (around 2 megapixels) and a reasonable physical size like the DMK51 (Sony ICX274AL 1/1.8" monochrome CCD) is close to optimum for whole disk imaging ... it's just a pity that the frame rate is so low. A much higher frame rate is required for large scale closeups, at the expense of pixel count.



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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by solarchat » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:14 pm

PGR Grasshopper 5.0MP or 6.0MP seems to be the best one for me to use for full disks.


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by MapleRidge » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:02 pm

Hi Rico...

Chhosing a camera can be a bit of a daunting task, and as Brianb pointed out we often have to make trade-offs (or use more than 1 camera).

In order to narrow othe options down, please post a few details about your equipment, computer, and imaging intentions...then we can help to sort out better choices.

For the scope side, what is the scope? A dedicated solar unit like a LS60 or a refractor fitted with an etalon and blockig filter? This forms the base info to work with.

The computer will dictate what type of camera you can interface with...USB2, USB3, Firewire, RAM, Hardrivew capacity/spped also play a factor in maimum frame rates.

With imaging intentions, do you want his res full disks (almost requires mosaics), or hi-res clseup of active regions/proms?. How much time do you want to spend assembling mosaics? How good is your seeing...the more variable, the more the assembled mosaics will lack uniformity across the disk. We can use telecompressors to fit a full disk on some of th ecameras with moderate size chips, and barlows to get more resolution on the days that support hi-res work. The more you can calrify the better the fit can be made.

Personally, I currently use the Grasshopper Expreess camwera with the ICX674 chip (on the larger side). My system is to use it with a shorter focal length refractor to get full disk images in Ha, CaK, and WL. These are not high res, but I never intended them to be. I use them as a starting image to put he features into perspective on the disk. I then switch over to a longer focal length scope to get the hi-res images of the points of interest. The larger chip permits a wide enough FOV to get the larger AR's in a single frame (I try to avoid mosaics...too little time to do them justice). I also bought a Flea2 with the ICX445 chip (nice chip...very good for planertary too) which has small pixels to keep the resolution up on moderate focal lengths but still covers a nice swath of the disk.

There is no one simge answer (part of the reason I have 7 astro-cameras)...but hopefully can narrow the choices down.

One other important factor....do you have a set budget for a camera/cameras? This will play a huge role in the final selection ;)

Brian


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by donatpointgrey » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:36 pm

Hi Rico,

Yeah, definitely listen to what Brian, Brian, and Stephen are telling you - much better feedback than I can give because I have no direct experience in astrophotography. (And thanks guys for helping out!)

My only add-on comment is that if a 1/1.8" sensor is a reasonable choice, then the ICX687 will be a good option. You won't find any anecdotal evidence for this yet because it is a new chip and people haven't had a chance to try it, but it should be a better option than the ICX274. Frame rate is almost the same (30 vs 26), resolution is higher, pixels are smaller but more sensitive. The chips that MapleRidge Brian and Stephen are talking about = ICX674 (2/3"), ICX625 (2/3") and ICX694 (1") - are all larger sensors and they are more expensive.

If money is no object (which I don't expect to be the case) then the upcoming ICX814 camera (1" 9MP @ 9fps with the new pixel structure sensitivity) should be a dream camera for this application (http://grasshopper3.ptgrey.com/USB3/Grasshopper3). I know the frame rate isn't that high but on the other hand the problem will shift to trying to save 9MP at 9fps on a laptop anyway. So many trade-offs!

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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by swisswalter » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:43 pm

Hi Don

thank you for that information. Can you lead us to a product with the ICX687 in mono version? Thank's in advance


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by solarchat » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:49 pm

Im still waiting for my ICX814 camera demo Don.. whats up ,man? :)


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by donatpointgrey » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:43 pm

Hi Don

thank you for that information. Can you lead us to a product with the ICX687 in mono version? Thank's in advance


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Hi Walter,

The only Point Grey camera currently shipping with an ICX687 sensor is the FL3-GE-28S4M-C Flea3 GigE camera.
http://www.ptgrey.com/products/flea3_gi ... camera.asp

It is available through our web store (www.ptgreystore.com) and you can see the price there (you have to register with the site to see prices).

The Grasshopper3 USB3 new camera line is scheduled to release an ICX687 model by the end of March.
http://grasshopper3.ptgrey.com/USB3/Grasshopper3

I hope this helps!

Don


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by donatpointgrey » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:43 pm

Im still waiting for my ICX814 camera demo Don.. whats up ,man? :)

Hey, I haven't even seen one yet!


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by rico10 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:55 pm

Hello Brian. I have a Richview II Double Stack I bought last August, as well as a Explore Scientific ED127 APO on a CGEM. I also have an inexpensive Skywatcher 1206 AZ3. I have a 5.0 Density Kendrick Filter for the ES, and a Mylar that fits the 1206, but the Kendrick will fit that as well. The ED127 has a focal length around 960mm and the 1206 is 120mm at f5 which I kept hoping this may help with full disks due to the short focal length. I also sometimes use an f8 6" Newtonian with a spherical primary thats quite old, but the only solar filter I have left for that is a glass one which has a horrible orange tint . My present camera collection is an Orion Starshoot, a NexImage5 and a Canon T3. I have both 1.25 and 2" nosepieces for the Canon. I can also do some eyepiece projection with a Baader Mark III Zoom and a Baader 31mm Aspheric whereas after you remove the rubber eye guard it exposes a set of threads I bought a convertor for which converts to T3 threads. As for computers I have a Laptop thats less than a year old running windows 7, it has 4 gig of ram and a pair of 2.8 mhz processors. Also I have a 2 year old desktop that runs Vista and It has virtually the same stats as the new laptop 4 gig of ram with a pair of 3.2 mhz processors, but it's a lot faster than the laptop. I own Baaders Continuum, Ca K, and have ordered their Contrast but it's on back order with Canadian Telescopes along with my new ES EP's. As for whether my computers will handle firewire, the laptop will, but the desktop won't, I have no idea about USB 2 & 3 though. I work in the oil patch in Northern Alberta, so I have all kinds of gear, and have zero hesitation to add more - trust me that's an understatement.


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by Merlin66 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:15 am

http://store.fastmac.com/product_info.p ... cts_id=128
A 6 pin powered Firewire card for the PC???
I use the PCMCIA firewire card (Acer) and the Xpress card (Dell)on the laptops.
Works well.


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by MapleRidge » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:17 am

Hi Rico...

Before I get thinking too deeply here, is the Richview II Doublestack the complete scope, or the etalons to mount on one of the refractors? What aperture is the scope or etalon and what blocking filter to you have. That will help sort out some combos.

I'm surprised the laptop will accept Firewire, but it is available on some. It would be best to confirm the speed...I was looking at laptops a year ago and the only firewire I saw was in a high end Sony (I think), but it was not the high speed 1394b, just the older (and slower) version. If you have a free expansion slot in the desktop you should be able to add a firewire card. Also, if the laptop is fairly new, it should have some USB3 ports...I think they have a blue colour where the USB cable plugs in (and the cable connectionn is blue too).

The laptop is the most portable as far as the computer goes, but if you set up where you can operate the desktop you will benefit from the speed.

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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by rico10 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:11 am

Hello Brian, my mistake your right the laptop is 3 x USB 2.0 . Not 2x Usb and a firewire. The Coronado is the Solarmax II with the BF12 blocking filter, the dual etalons are factory installed and it has doppler shift. My desktop does have one spot left as the other two are used for video and audio. The manual for the laptop says ram can be increased to 8 gig., and is a dual core at 2.4 Ghz that can handle 64 bit technology. As well the desktop could be placed within 20 - 25ft of my observing area


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by MapleRidge » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:19 am

Hi Rico...

Is the Cornonado the 60mm version of the scope?

Brian


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by rico10 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:30 am

Yes it is Brian, my mistake just noticed I didn't add scope details in my signature, just fixed that.


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by swisswalter » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:09 am

Hi Don

thank you for the links


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by sullij1 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:34 pm

Hi All,

Late to this party but I will chip in my 2 cents worth anyway. I nave the DMK21 and have had the privilege of using Astrodancos DMK51. I also use the Star shoot auto guider (similar to the Optistar without the cooling) and a PG firefly.

All of the cams are USB 2.0 cuz I can’t afford a lot of fancy Firewire, GigE and USB 3 adapters on my limited budget.

Having said all of that, I have found the DMKs to deliver the sharpest images with the least amount of artifacts after processing. Despite the lower frame rates IMHO the DMKs are the best tool for the solar job.

I agree with Mark T that the CMOS have a tendency to deliver chip pattern artifacts as soon as a person begins to sharpen the image. You end out having to strike the balance between image sharpness and pattern artifacts much sooner than you do with the CCD chips.

Of course the DMK 51 is pricy but still less than its PT Grey brothers. The DMK 51 is on my wish list for when I win the lotto. :)

Just an opinion, Best,

Joe


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by thesmiths » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:52 pm

I don't have anything new to add to this but since it is a kind of poll, I would just add that I have owned and used lots of cameras and for solar system work the two hardest working are the DMK21 and DMK51 (both monochrome and USB2). The DMK21 is mainly used for planetary and the DMK51 mainly used for solar. I'm a believer in simplicity over perfection and IC Capture and USB are just so much simpler to use than the alternatives.

The other very useful thing for solar is a 0.5 low profile focal reducer (which really works at about a 0.67 reducer, I think). With this, a full disk image is possible with the DMK51 even with a fairly long focal length.

High frame rates are not as important in solar compared to planetary -- the sun rotates a lot slower than Jupiter. Also, there's no need to take RGB (which takes about 4 times as long to do as a single wavelength since the filters need to be rotated).

There is also plenty of light (from the sun compared to from planets) so having the highest sensitivity CCD is also not that important, in my view. Once the shutter speed is above 1/250 or 1/500, I don't think it makes that much difference to the imaging quality. But there is certainly a big difference between 1/8 and 1/60 (with planets).



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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by solarchat » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:27 am

I don't know how many folks use both Mac and PC in here but I think about 80,000 + students might say that a PGR camera of any kind on a Mac using ASTRO IIDC is about as simple as it gets. color preview one program to capture, stack and process, never any lockups. It's definitely my favorite.


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Re: Imaging Cameras

Post by MapleRidge » Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:38 am

Hi Rico...

Below is my long winded follow-up to the earlier converstion about camera choices and your seelction of hardware.

You have several great options for solar viewing and imaging. You also have some cameras that will give you a good start at imaging...practice will make you a great imager, no matter how much money you throw at it ;) .

Generally, we get better results from mono cameras (especially in the Ha/CaK) because the colour filter matrix on the chip only transmit red or blue through one of the 4 pixels under each Bayer filter pattern. So, with Ha we only get 1 pixel in 4 recording any signal though the red filtered pixel, and only the blue transmits any light from the CaK side of the spectrum. The colour chips also cut the IR/UV and I have found that they likely cut a bit too close for the narrow band filters. That said, you can still work with colour chips and a good friend of mine uses the same NexImage on this Ha scope and gets good results. I have not used the DSLR for solar very much, so I am going to limit how much I say on them. For the higher res images, we need to capture a lot of frames over a short period of time in hopes of catching as many sharp images as we can during good moments of seeing. This is where the video style cameras excel.

I will usually refer to a sensor that suits the job rather than a specific camera as there many camera choices that use the same chips (and I don't work for any of the manufacturers). Once you have narrowed the best chip down, find a camera that has the highest frame rate and interface that you can work with (at least the way I make the choices). I have owned/used cameras from Lumenera/Imaging Source/Point Gray and each company produces good products...just each has their own take on the market (and price point).

Starting off with Ha, the 60mm Richview scope should provide you with an excellent opportunity to do Ha work. Personally, I would fine tune the imaging in single stack mode, then set up the double stack...not sure how easy that is to do. This is my just my personal recommendation...limit the number of factors you have to work with, then try more complex systems once you get the single pass system worked out.

Due to the fact this scope has a short focal length (40mm according to its specs), you will get a full disk on many of the chips used today. Your NexImage will give you full disk in a single frame, with room to spare around the limb for proms...FOV is 48'x36', and the resolution is 1.1"/pixel (very small pixels in this camera). It is colour, but I've seen some good work with similar hardware. You can use a barlow to increase resolution, anywhere from a 2x-3x is a good start.

The other 2 refractors can provide good white light views with the appropriate front mount filters (Baader film is verg good choice). My thinking is the ES127 would do a great job, and the Baader continuum filter produces a very contrast image (I use this with a Herschel wedge ). You can get good full disk WL images with the DSLR (many examples posted here), and the NexImage give less than full disk images, but should have good resolution. You will be just short of full disk with the Celestron camera on the 120mm, f5 scope (poles cropped off, tight on the equatorial axis) and the ES127 would require about 4 frames to cover the disk likely six to have some room around the edge of the frame. A barlow will allow higher res images with either camera or scope combo, but I'd lean on the APO for the white light work.

You also mention the Baader CaK filter which needs to be used with either the Baader solar film (photo density) or a Herschel wedge. This will work the same as the WL imaging setups on the refractors, but The colour sensors may not work well in the nearUV where the CaK band is. I have taken images with the Lunt CaK module on a 4" refractor using the colour Lumenera camera I have...exposures were longer than with he mono camera, but it did work.

In all cases, set the scopes up and try all the filters visually (CaK has very poor visibility to the eye...the younger you are the more likely you will see something), and practice focusing and seeing the features. Then try the cameras...and sort out proper focus, exposures, etc. The you need to practice image processing, mosaicing, etc. No end to the learning curve :lol: .

Now, if you want to get a mono camera to refine the imaging system there are several that warrant a look. The ICX 204 and 274 chips are perhaps the more popular in solar imaging (solar as DMK41, DMK51 series as well as Lumenera SKYnyx 2-1, and multiple PGR versions). The ICX445 based cameras have a smaller FOV, but are high resolution and well suited to grabbing hi res without a lot of extra optics (barlows, or low power ones). The newer lines of sensors work well too...I can personally vouch for the ICX674 chip (I use the Grasshopper Express version). I have to admit I like the look of the new ICX687...high resolution and a large array...should be a winner for hi res solar and lunar work!

I would be waiting to see what is released in USB3 in the near future...new chips and a more widely supported USB3 interface will keep the frame rate up and reduce the number of tradeoffs made.

Again, these are my opinions...others may look at it differently...ask questions and practice

Brian


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