Sony’s 60fps imager in astro camera
Following announcements that Sony has developed a backlight technique to enable extremely low noise exposures, we receive this press release which may or may not be related – a Sony CCD astrophotography camera capable of one-hour exposures and programmed sequences. Resolution seems a bit basic though.
Bremen, June 18, 2008 – The Imaging Source, a multi-national manufacturer of imaging hardware and software for industry, medicine and astronomy, is now offering amateur astro-photographers a series of highly affordable, low noise astronomy cameras to capture high quality images of the night sky.
The astronomy cameras ship in beautifully crafted, blue and black anodized aluminium and zinc industrial housing, measure 50 mm x 56 mm and weigh 260 g. The included nose piece is mounted onto a C/CS mount on the front of the camera. On the rear, a USB or FireWire connector is available (model specific). A threaded tripod adapter on the bottom rounds off the exterior of the camera.
Monochrome and color models are available with and without an IR cut filter in three resolutions: 640×480, 1024×768 and 1280×960. The astronomy cameras deploy low noise CCD chips from Sony, which have an exposure time of up to 60 minutes and a maximum frame rate of up to 60 fps.
The cameras ship with the camera control and acquisition software “IC Capture.AS”, which allows image sequences and singular images to be written to disk. Furthermore, using the highly intuitive graphical user interface, all camera parameters, such as exposure, sensitivity and frame rate, can be set.
In the American magazine “Sky & Telescope”, Sean Walker wrote:
“The Imaging Source [CCD imager] is a well-designed, versatile camera that is a natural progression for planetary astro-photographers looking to upgrade from a consumer webcam. The camera control software IC Capture.AS seems to be a mature program itself, complementing the camera perfectly.”
Similarly, in the British magazine “Astronomy Now”, Nick Howes wrote:
“The Imaging Source have delivered cameras and software that offer the serious Solar System imager a product which will deliver outstanding results for years to come.”
The astronomy cameras are available worldwide and start at only USD 350.00 or EUR 290.00 (without shipping and sales tax). They can be purchased online and from an international network of dealers. To learn more about The Imaging Source astronomy cameras, download “IC Capture.AS” and see hundreds of sample images, please take a look at:
About The Imaging Source
The Imaging Source is a multi-national enterprise with branches in the US, Taiwan and Germany. They have been manufacturing imaging products for scientific, industrial and medical applications for more than twenty years. In 2007, The Imaging Source released a series of cameras designed specifically to meet the needs of amateur astro-photographers. The new astronomy cameras leverage the years of experience gathered in the aforementioned fields, to bring amateur astro-photographers highly affordable, robust and stable astronomy cameras for their telescopes.
Check this out:
It all comes down to one thing: post-processing (integrating).
Resolution is not basic at all. Webcam astronomy to date used 640×480 as their maximum resolution, at very low framerates. Plus, they didn’t usually allow long exposures, so they weren’t as useful in many scenarios. Having access to one-hour exposures (with presumably low noise) allows excellent quality out of the box.
These cameras from Sony must be very exciting for people dealing with webcam astronomy, as a 1280×960 60 fps sequence is going to provide an extremely high amount of information. With 4^x exposures resolution is x-ed. So after only one second, and 64 exposures, resolution is going to octuple after integration, giving a 10,240×7,680 image (78 megapixels!). All of this is rough, of course, and works for monochrome cameras mostly, but colour cameras can do it as well, if only provided with more exposures (four times more due to Bayer mask).