Imaging Equipment - Astrophotography by Pete Richardson

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Imaging Equipment


The imaging camera I have used up to the point of purchasing the QSI683wsg is the Orion Starshoot Pro V2. This is a one shot colour cooled CCD camera incorporating a large Sony Super HAD-ICX413AQ chip. This has a 3032 x 2016 pixel array and 7.8 micron pixel size.
This allows for a decent FOV even when married to the native focal length (3040mm)of the LX200. I also use an Optec Lepus focal reducer to provide F6.2 and an increased field when required. This reducer does not apply any flattening which is necessary for ACF (Advanced Coma Free) optics which already have a reasonably flat field.

A recent purchase is this ZW Optical ASI120MM camera. This is a monochrome camera capable of very high frame rates and uses a hightly sensitive CMOS chip. Due to the small pixel size the focal length needed is only about two thirds of the focal length needed for the DFK in order to achieve the same image scale. In order to produce colour images it is necessary to shoot separate captures through red, green and blue filters. These images are then combined to produce a full colour image during the processing stages. Overall this is more work but ultimately due to the lack of a bayer matrix on the chip, more sensitivity is achieved and this results in improved image quality.

The QSI683wsg monochrome CCD camera is a recent purchase and a step up from the  Orion in terms of imaging capability & quality. The camera uses a full-frame 8.3 megapixel KAF-8300 sensor with 5.4micron pixels and also comes with an internal filter wheel and off-axis guider port. The use of the mono CCD also enables exposures to be taken through narrowband filters which opens up a completely new avenue of deep sky imaging. The close proximity of the filter wheel to the sensor allows 1.25" filters to be utilised thereby saving a significant cost over 2" filters. Following first light I am more than pleased with the performance. Noise from the camera is very low and the additional detail that is captured due to the increase in sensitivity from the mono CCD is very apparant.

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