How to Choose a Nightscape CCD Camera
October 11, 2012
For many of us, our first experience with astroimaging comes when we hold up a point-and-shoot camera to the eyepiece of a telescope and take a picture. This simple process, known as digiscoping, opens the door to the world of astroimaging. After digiscoping, imagers commonly progress to a DSLR camera using a T-adapter. With this technique, they can take stunning photos of celestial objects and hone their skills. Astroimaging becomes more than a hobby; it’s an art form.
But eventually, imagers become limited by the constraints of DSLR cameras. After all, these cameras are mainly built for terrestrial photography, and lighting conditions very different from what we can see through a telescope.
CCD cameras take astroimaging to the next level, with super-sensitive CCD chips and cooling systems that reduce the temperature inside the camera by several degrees. These specialized cameras reduce noise, yielding greater signal and more detail in every shot. But this advanced technology can be difficult to use and range into the thousands of dollars. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right camera to help you get the best results.
Celestron offers two excellent CCD cameras at an extremely affordable price, perfect for those looking to make the transition from DSLR to CCD camera.
Nightscape 10100: A Versatile CCD Camera
The Nightscape 10100 debuted in 2011, and gained favor among imagers for its flexibility. At 10.7 megapixels, this camera offers more pixels-per-dollar than any other cooled 16-bit color CCD on the market.
The Nightscape 10100 works in 3 different resolutions in color. At full 1x1 resolution, sensitivity is best matched with short telescopes with a fast f-ratio, such as an EdgeHD with Hyperstar (f/2). In 2x2 and 4x4 binning modes, the camera is considerably more sensitive and suited for longer focal length telescopes, like the EdgeHD operating at f/10 or f/11. This provides great versatility for most imaging configurations.
At $1,499, the Nightscape 10100 is a huge improvement in quality over DSLR imaging, while providing excellent value.
Nightscape 8300: Advanced Technology at an Affordable Price
The Kodak KAF 8300 CCD sensor is a favorite among astroimagers due to its inherent low noise, high sensitivity, and relatively small pixel size. However, until now, this acclaimed Kodak chip was only available on high-end CCD cameras with a price tag to match.
To make this sensor more accessible for amateur astroimagers, Celestron’s engineers designed the Nightscape 8300. It’s the most affordable Kodak KAF 8300 camera on the market. At $1699, this camera offers 3.5x the imaging area and 5.5x the resolution of other CCD cameras in its price range. The Nightscape 8300 sets a new standard for intermediate level imaging.
The Nightscape 8300 has 8.3 megapixels, and is ideal for short to medium focal length telescopes, such as an EdgeHD system with a 0.7x Reducer Lens. It’s also a great choice for most refractor and reflector telescopes.
AstroFX Software: Included With Your Nightscape Camera
In reference to our Nightscape 10100, Sky and Telescope magazine said,“This camera takes the work out of creating spectacular deep-sky images.” Part of why Nightscape is so easy to use is the included software, AstroFX.
If you’re new to CCD photography, let AstroFX guide you step-by-step from taking images to final processing. You’ll be surprised how simple it is to create a final master image that's been stacked, stretched, sharpened, and saturated – ready to share with your friends.
Additionally, both Nightscape cameras come with a 2-year warranty from Celestron.