Deep Space Cameras
Deep Space Cameras
Choosing Cameras for Astrophotography
CCD cameras generally have larger pixels than their CMOS / DSLR counterparts, which means they can handle longer exposures without saturating individual pixels. Most CCD cameras are actively cooled to 30-40 degrees Centigrade below ambient temperature, which dramatically reduces the image noise. Premium CCD cameras offer setpoint controlled cooling, offering you the considerable advantage of being able to do all of your imaging at one or two selected temperatures. More recently these cooling features are starting to appear on CMOS based cameras.
Choosing the right camera for astrophotography involves matching the features to the telescope and application. There are a number of key features to consider when purchasing a CCD camera, including:
- CCD Sensor Size: CCD sensor size is the one of the more fundamental difference between models. The larger the CCD sensor, the more of the sky you can image in a single shot, all else being equal.
- Pixel Size: Consumer cameras are sold on the basis of pixel count, but pixel size is actually more important when it comes to astrophotography. Apochromatic refractors produce pinpoint stars and are best matched to CCD sensors with small pixels. Schmidt-Cassegrains produce larger star images and can be matched to sensors having larger pixels.
- Color vs. Monochromatic Imaging: Monochrome CCD cameras tend to be more versatile than color cameras and also have a 4x advantage in resolution. Color CCD sensors combine one red, one blue and two green pixels into a composite color dot. Using a monochromatic sensor in combination with color filters allows each and every pixel to be recorded in the the three primary colors. Color CCD cameras are an easier way to get started because the images require less post processing, but most astro imaging enthusiasts eventually graduate to a monochrome camera with a filter wheel for greater resolution and flexibility.
- Cooling: Temperature tends to have a strong effect on CCD cameras, with increases in temperature resulting in more image noise. As a result, cooled CCD cameras for astronomy are generally more favorable.
While larger CCD cameras tend to be favorable in most cases, price and application is always a factor to consider. Beginning astrophotographers may wish to turn to more modest CCD cameras with user-friendly features like one-shot color. With the right technique, modern users can get images of comparable quality to those taken with the most sophisticated CCD astrophotography cameras only a few years ago.
If you need help choosing the right CCD camera for your needs, Skies Unlimited can help. We offer the best CCD astrophotography cameras and can provide quality advice for any astrophotographer, from beginners to experienced imagers. Founded in 2004 by amateur astronomers and astrophotographers, we pride ourselves on providing quality equipment and expertise, with a team of amateur astronomers on staff to provide customers with quality resources in the field.
Whether you want to order a specific CCD camera for astronomy from our store or need advice on which is the best CCD camera for your astrophotography needs, we can help. Call Skies Unlimited today or visit our physical store just outside of Pottstown, Pa., to speak with one of our team members to get help choosing your next astrophotography CCD camera.