Tag Archives: One Shot Colour

The CCD vs. CMOS Showdown: Why Monochrome Cameras Excel in Astrophotography Over One Shot Color

One of the first things photographers must decide when venturing into astrophotography is what kind of camera sensor they’ll need to capture the beauty of the cosmos. Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) and Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors are two of the most common on the market (CMOS). Each has its own set of pros and cons that make it better or worse for astrophotography in certain situations. Further complicating matters is the ongoing discussion between advocates of monochrome and one-shot colour cameras.

Understanding CCD and CMOS Sensors
Light is converted into electronic signals by the CCD or CMOS sensor at the centre of a digital camera. The image quality, cost, and power consumption are all impacted, but in fundamentally different ways.

CCD Sensors
CCDs have been the go-to sensors for astronomy photography for quite some time. They are well-known for the exceptional clarity and sensitivity to light of their photographs. These sensors generate low-noise, high-quality images by transferring charge across the chip and converting it into voltage in a single spot: the array’s corner. In turn, this improves light collection by allowing for a greater pixel fill-factor. CCDs, on the other hand, are typically more costly and power-hungry than their CMOS counterparts. In addition, they experience ‘blooming,’ an effect in which overcharged pixels leak their energy into neighbouring ones.

CMOS Sensors
In contrast, CMOS sensors have shorter processing times and use less power because light is converted to voltage right at each pixel’s location. They have lower manufacturing costs, making them common in smartphones and consumer-grade cameras. Their read noise and sensitivity are typically higher than that of CCDs, though. Recently developed technologies have allowed CMOS sensors to catch up to and even surpass CCDs in terms of performance, closing the gap between the two.

Monochrome vs. One Shot Colour Cameras
After settling on a CCD or CMOS camera, the next big decision in astrophotography is whether to use a monochrome or one-shot colour camera.

One Shot Color Cameras
As the name implies, a One Shot Color camera takes a complete colour picture with just one click of the shutter. The Bayer mosaic used in these cameras covers each pixel with red, green, and blue filters. The greatest benefit of these cameras lies in their ease of use. Even amateur astronomers can easily take stunning, colourful pictures of the night sky with these instruments.

Monochrome Cameras
Images taken with a monochrome camera are grayscale. These cameras capture red, green, and blue light through individual filters and combine them into full colour in post-production. Even though using a monochrome camera is more difficult and time-consuming, there are some benefits.

Why Monochrome Cameras Excel in Astrophotography
In general, monochrome cameras have higher sensitivities than single-shot colour ones. They are up to three times as sensitive as cameras that use a Bayer filter because all of the light that reaches the sensor is used to create the image. This heightened sensitivities is especially helpful in low-light astrophotography.

Additionally, more options and control can be had during the imaging process when separate filters are used with a monochrome camera. Using a hydrogen-alpha filter, astronomical photographers can isolate and emphasise specific wavelengths of light, such as the ionised hydrogen regions in nebulae. Imaging in light-polluted skies or capturing narrowband images greatly benefits from this ability.

Because the information for each colour channel is captured by the entire sensor rather than just a subset of pixels, as in one-shot colour cameras, the resulting images have greater resolution and detail.

In conclusion, CCD and CMOS sensors each have their uses in astrophotography, and the one you settle on will depend on your particular goals, financial constraints, and level of experience. Comparing monochrome and one-shot colour cameras, the former has better sensitivity, flexibility, and resolution while the latter is more user-friendly and saves time. Therefore, the investment in a monochrome camera and separate filters can be well worth it for serious astrophotographers seeking to capture the highest quality images.

ZWO ASI6200 62mpx Full Frame Camera Review

I recently wrote a review on the ZWO ASI2400 24mpx full frame camera, so I thought I would also do the same for the big brother which is the ZWO ASI6200 full frame camera with a mammoth 62mpx which I picked up from 365astronomy when returning the ASI2400 after the review. Looking at both of the cameras, there is no obvious difference from the outside except for the model number, both cameras are exactly the same size and feel roughly the same weight and the build quality is identicallyu exceptional.

ASI6200MC Pro One Shot Colour Camera

If we compare the specifications of the ASI6200 to the ASI2400 we can see where each camera has an advantage over the other:

Sensor SizeFull FrameFull Frame
Pixel Size5.94um3.76um
Full Well Capacity at 0 Gain100ke51ke
High Gain Mode140100
Full well at High Gain Mode20ke18ke

So as you can see from the comparison on specification there are some differences, the ASI2400 has the edge on full well capacity, however the ASI6200 has a much more smaller pixel size as well as a higher Qe which to me gives the ASI6200 the edge over the ASI2400.

Now since both cameras are the exact same field of view due to them both being full frame sensors, the question is how does this affect resolution, clearly the ASI6200 has the upper hand having significantly more pixels than the ASI2400, but how does this translate to an image?

Iris Nebula taken with the ASI2400MC Pro, 82x150S at Gain 26, darks, flats and BIAS frames applied
Iris Nebula taken with the ASI6200MC Pro 48x150S at Gain 100, Darks, Flats and BIAS frames applied

As you can see, both cameras offer the exact same field of view, however when you zoom in on the images you start to see where the ASI6200 excels above the ASI2400 with the higher resolution

On the left is the ASI2400MC Pro and on the right is the ASI6200MC Pro

As you can clearly see from the above two images, the 6200 offers a much better resolution which will allow a much finer level of detail, however, depending on your sky conditions and focal length the ASI6200 might not be possible due to over or under sampling

You can see here, that on my SharpStar 15028HNT which has a Focal Length of 420mm the ASI2400 would lead to Under Sampling in my “OK” seeing conditions

But the ASI6200 shows in the green area:

If I increase the focal length to around 1150 the ASI6200 no longer becomes suitable and the ASI2400 is more suited to this focal length and sky conditions:

So as you can see, both the ASI2400 and ASI6200 is not a “One Size Fits All” scenario, you have to work out the best suitability depending on your conditions and equipment to be used.

From a price perspective, the ASI6200 is only slightly more expensive than the ASI2400, but both cameras offer the full frame capability and a fantastic field of view, but for me personally the ASI6200 beats the ASI2400 when using the focal length of my SharpStar 15028HNT. Just like it’s smaller version, the looks, feels, sounds and operates exactly the same way. Here is another image taken with the ASI6200 and then my Synthetic SHO version which I will be writing a tutorial on how to acomplish with Dual Band Filters.

North America Nebula – 60x300S at Gain 100 using the Optolong L-eXtreme Filter on the SharpStar 15028HNT
Synthetic SHO using the same data as the previous image

Either way, both ZWO cameras I have tested have been of awesome quality, and I would recommend either camera if you wish to go down the full frame route, but personally my favourite is the ASI6200MC Pro, more images to come since this is now my new camera.