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New document: How to intelligently select a camera (preliminary cut)

this is work in progress. I keep getting asked questions by users as to what camera they should buy. Of course there's no single answer.

so I am preparing a monograph to examine the various factors involved in sensors and cameras appropriate for use in astro-imaging (and other imaging as well).

the first section of the work is in a pre-release form but may be useful for discussion so I am posting it here today.

The idea is to add to this work each week and to engage a round of questions if there are any

For those that don't know me, hence my qualifications to make such a work: I am a professional semiconductor industry design engineer, with over 30 years of practice. I have been astro-imaging for over 10 years and have developed the tricolor emission line (narrowband) technique now in wide practice, I also have pioneered the use of 6x7 format lenses for widefield astrophotography and have delved deeply into residual bulk image (RBI) phenomena and have published scientific papers (peer-reviewed SPIE papers) on the topic.

Even though I have pretty strong opinions as to what makes sense and doesn't when it comes to spending thousands of dollars for a camera, I am keeping this work neutral with respect to suppliers and only am focusing on the technology and tradeoffs for one approach versus another.

here's the work in progress in case anyone is interested:

I plan to add more to the document in coming days

in the meantime I am available to answer questions that may arise.

I realize this is a very technical approach to the matter at hand, it is also a very technical hobby so it is hard to be thorough and avoid all of the technical detail.

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Comment by Conor on June 25, 2011 at 8:14am
Has the page been moved? I get a 404 at that link. I probably would have liked to have
read this prior to ordering my QSI camera!
Comment by Charles Dunlop on May 26, 2011 at 9:06am
yeah that's a good direction Richard. I liked the review of color vs. monochrome as well, that was cool.
Comment by Jeff McFarlin on May 26, 2011 at 7:17am
Cool - seems fair enough. Was just thinking out loud mostly.
Comment by Richard Crisp on May 26, 2011 at 5:09am
Glad you folks are liking this. I have quite a bit more to add to it.

As far as putting a table of cameras and their properties, I was not planning to do that. I want to keep this non-specific in terms of makers of cameras. I do mention specific sensors though.

Instead I was planning to put in examples of how to use the information: cite a few scenarios, a particular telescope, a type of imaging desired, seeing and sky conditions and then use the information to help guide a rational selection given the stated constraints. Personally I think that is more useful because it shows HOW to use the information and what specs are needed to be known.

Each camera maker publishes their specs, maybe they hide a few things that make them look weak, such as download time, or cooling Delta T, but it at least tells you what is relevant and you can ask what the specs are of the makers or someone that has measured it.
Comment by Jeff McFarlin on May 26, 2011 at 3:50am
That's a great PDF. I also think a table of popular cameras might come in handy, too. Or maybe include a cost range, too, with that.
Comment by Charles Dunlop on May 25, 2011 at 11:16pm
Are you thinking of adding a table of popular camera properties in the end, so that people can refer totheir camera or the one they are interested in or should be interested in?
Comment by Russ Ruggles on May 25, 2011 at 9:35am
Oddly enough....I understood most of that :)
Comment by Richard Crisp on May 25, 2011 at 7:47am
Comment by Richard Crisp on May 24, 2011 at 4:31pm
thanks for the comments folks

even though today the content is definitely focused on technical accuracy it is a simple matter to put some summary pages that distill this to the gist of the key points in laymen's terms

I plan to do just that.

I start with the details and get that presented in a logical order and correct and then work on how to "package" it to be more available.

I find that if I do things that way the summaries are better and clearer and usually that is all most will study. But for those that want to know the details, it is there.

I am never happy with rules of thumb, I want to know the why not just the how....

Because that is how my mind works, I approach things from a ground up perspective when it comes to explaining things.

I've been at this hobby for 10 years now and I started out 10 years ago having never owned a telescope and knowing very little about astronomy other than what was a solar system, versus a nebula versus a galaxy etc....

Most of this I taught myself. So in many cases what I am explaining is what I wanted to know way back when and I spent the time to learn it.
Comment by Russ Ruggles on May 24, 2011 at 3:43pm
Richard. As a person fairly new to the wonderful world of AP, about 2 years for trial, error, more error and even more error, I think what you're doing is great. My mind is not of an engineering nature - at least to the level you seem to be writing to. There was some of this that was way over my head but then I understood the gist of much of the other information as well. I can only attribute that to the months and months of seeking out and reading anything available to help me understand things like AP terminology, equations, equipment shortcomings and strengths, etc.
I'd really like to read more of this as it becomes available to see if it's technically beyond the average person's grasp of understanding or if it'll contain those diamonds of information that will click with an "ah ha!!"
I'd say at least for me this article is leaning more towards the experienced imager looking to do scientific work rather than the imager who would like to photograph our beautiful sky just for it's beauty. Maybe I'm off base and I hope I'll get the chance to see for myself if there are those diamonds within.


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