Planetary and Deep Sky Imaging

Blogged by Jonathan Maron on December 18, 2007 and tagged with Reviews, Moon, Sun., one of our German resellers, has published the following short review of The Imaging Source astronomy cameras. The text has been translated from German into English for our global audience.

Planetary and Deep Sky Imaging With Highly Sensitive Video Cameras

One of the main problems with the range of web cams from Philips is that they only allow a limited amount of data to be transferred from the camera to host PC. Alternative cameras are available from Mintron, Watec and The Imaging Source, with their DMK range.

The DMK cameras are available with a number of chip sizes and resolutions. The DMK 21AF04.AS have already acquired a very good reputation for planetary imaging. This monochrome camera outputs sixty images per second with a dynamic range of 10 bit (digitization 8 bit).

In terms of sensitivity and noise, The Imaging Source astronomy cameras are far superior to web cams. This is due to better control of the chip and lack of a color filter. Color web cams have a filter in front of each pixel. This only allows red, green, blue through (quarter of the light). Only monochrome cameras take advantage of the full sensitivity of the chip.

The resolution of the DMK 21AF04.AS is limited to 640×480. This, however, is more than sufficient for planetary imaging. There are also some models with 1024×768 and 1280×960 resolution, which are of interest to astro-photographers who wish to capture Moon and Sun images.

The DMK cameras ship with a FireWire [and USB] connector [...] Furthermore, the camera driver IC WDM DCAM The Imaging Source and camera control software IC Capture.AS are included. Image data from the camera is not compressed: each image is in RAW format. In addition to the shipped software, it is also possible to use applications such as Virtual-Dub or Giotto with the cameras.

Post capture image processing is performed in a manor similar to with web cams.