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Some Digital Camera Must Haves

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Posted by Forum Master on June 26, 2001 14:11:12 UTC


Digital cameras offer the amateur astronomy access to a whole new world. Data from the camera can immediately be used in programs such as Maxim-D/L and others. Piggy back photography on your telescope is a great way to start. Prime focus and other through the telescope imaging can be employed, but be prepared to use your tools for custom adapters.

I would suggest the following specs when shopping for digital cameras for scientific use.

  • long exposure times (B setting if possible)

  • Raw mode data output so you can get your images without any compression. Compression is okay for everyday snaps, but can compromise your "data".

  • Removable lens for prime focus photography, but this is asking a lot - they are very expensive.

  • Remote power so you can operate the camera without the heavy batteries for use on your telescope.

  • Tripod socket - don't laugh, many cameras do not have this

  • Removable memory card - most cameras use either of two types. It is worth getting the adapter for your PC so you can download images faster.

The Kodak DC-290 is a pretty good choice for overall use. We have used its older cousin, the DC-260, with success in Astronomy imaging. The 290 offers compressionless output to preserve your CCD data in original format; This makes huge files so be prepared to deal with it.

They are not too expensive thanks to the large market so go out and get one and start playing around with various methods. Please share your results here so we can all learn from your progress and maybe offer some tips.


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