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Canon vs. Nikon (vs. CCD?)



I know this is probably a heated debate in most forums, but right now I'm considering a purchasing a camera solely for astrophotography use, somewhere in the less than $1000 range. Previously Nikon was basically unsupported, but with BYN, and seeing a lot of evidence that Nikon's doing better on the sensor side by a fairly healthy margin (for now, at least), it has me wondering. I know there's a lot of debate about which sensors or better, a new D5500 vs a T6s, but it's hard to find astrophotography related data, with such little support of Nikon for the hobby.


But that aside, purely from a software interface, control, and reliability issue, is it better to stick with the tried and true Canon, with all the software that supports them? Or does the advent of BYN make the potentially better sensors on Nikon worth the risk of the newer playing field? Are their issues I really need to know or think about for one or the other in making this decision?


Does someone know of a good comparison of a recent (less than a year old) Nikon vs Canon sensor test for astrophotography, to add a little less biased info to this decision?


Heck, for $1000, maybe there's some sort of crazy other consumer camera that's great for astrophotography? (Samsung? I don't know) Should I wait for Backyard CCD?

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$1000 may be a decent downpayment for a CCD camera, or for the high end Canon or Nikon DSLRs.  I spent closer to $5K for a QSI 583wsg with 8-position filter wheel, 7 Astrodon filters and an SBIG STi guide camera. So, if that is all you have to spend, I would stay in the DSLR realm and continue looking for a heads up comparison of Canon and Nikon prosumer cameras when used for AP.


When cooled down to -10 degC my QSI is extremely low read noise with virtually no pattern noise (horizontal or vertical banding).


I hope that BYE and BYN get autofocus capability before seeing BYCCD. I have no doubt that the user interface for BYCCD would be first rate, but there are already lots of apps for controlling CCD cameras, which are much simpler to control than DSLR's, IMO.

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Well, a little more background on what I have, and why I want this camera: I do have a pixinsight license, which is probably all I need for processing software. I also have a SX 694 CCD. It's fairly decent sized for a CCD, but it's a hassle to set up, get focused and take images. And it certainly requires a computer.


The desire behind this camera would be to potentially use without a computer at all, but at the least, just hook up the camera to BYE/BYN. (consequently, a built in intervalometer is a bonus) It's also for the larger sensor size and just general ease of use. Modern consumer sensors are getting to a point where most of the tedium and hassle of imaging just isn't as important as it used to be. You can do pretty impressive images with a modern unmodded DSLR, with nothing but light frames and stacking. Thus, a modified camera would be a plus, but not a requirement. I'll just follow up with some Ha exposures from my CCD if it's needed.


I tend to shoot wider angle, and I'm of the opinion that I should be super-sampling by a factor of 2 or so anyway, to make sure I'm able to separate noise from signal a little better, and try to remove any aliasing I can. General seeing here is about 1-2 arc seconds, so I try to aim for something like 0.5-0.7 arcsec per pixel. I could go into it for pages, but suffice it to say, I'm very happy with more pixels. Second only to more sensor surface area. But yes, most of my scopes won't illuminate a full frame anyway, so APS-C is where I'm stopping for now.


So overall, this is about ease of use, and the benefit in noise, dynamic range, and sensor size of modern cameras.

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Could I suggest that  you save some of your $1000 for astro modifying your camera, and for processing software?


Astro modifying is important if you want to image nebulae (my favorite DSOs). After that, cooling the camera is important to reduce noise. Those two things are more important, in my mind, than having the newest sensor.


As you say it could be a heated debate as the newer cameras have more pixlels but you are most likely oversampling with older APC sized sensors already, so there's not much value add in paying more for more pixels. Full size sensors mean a scope who's image size really covers a full size sensor which means a >= 3" focuser,, more expensive (larger) filters,  etc. (vs. 2").


With a used astromodified and home cooled t3i I'm imaging at 0.74 arcsec per pixel, so oversampling (less arcsec per pixel that the 2 or even 1 arcsecond seeing). 

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