The ZWO ASI183MC is a dedicated camera originally designed for photographing celestial objects. It does not have built-in memory, like household cameras, and information from the camera is recorded on a computer using a USB cable. The videos are quite voluminous; a minute of video in full resolution at the maximum frame rate can take 20-21 gigabytes. To successfully record videos with this camera, you need a computer with a USB 3.0 bus and a fast SSD drive.
The ZWO ASI183MC camera is made in a “puck” form factor. The camera is lightweight, the body is completely metal. There is a 1/4-inch hole in the back (for example, for mounting on a photo tripod). Color sensor – Sony imx183. Shooting resolution 5496×3672 (20.18 megapixels). A 12-bit digital-to-analog converter is declared, a maximum frame rate of 19 fps in full resolution at 8 bits, a small pixel of 2.4 micrometers, a high-speed USB 3.0 bus, an autoguider port. The front sensor is covered with coated protective glass without IR-cut coating, so an additional IR-cut filter is necessary to obtain adequate color balance. Connection to the telescope is carried out using the included 1.25″ T-adapter, or using a T2 thread, or by directly installing the front black metal ring into a 2-inch focuser, or through third-party adapters.
Funny fact – the diagonal of the sensor is stated to be 1″ (1 inch), but the actual diagonal of the sensor is 15.9 mm, and the dimensions are 13.2 x 8.8 mm. But the thing is that this inch is not the same as 25.4 mm, but another – the so-called Vidicon (video camera tube) inch (16.93 mm), which is approximately 2/3 of the real inch. A similar situation is with other sensors, including those installed in smartphones, where in reality Vidicon inches are indicated (1/1.8″, 1/3″ and so on) .
The camera is supplied in a cardboard box. The kit includes a camera (with an 11 mm black ring installed), USB 3.0 and ST4 cables, a T2-1.25″ adapter ring, a 1.25″ T-adapter, 1.25″ and 2″ covers, as well as instructions.
The reason for the purchase was very simple – I wanted to pair my QHY5III178m monochrome astro camera with another camera with the same (imx178), but color sensor. And then a good option turned up to take a camera on an imx183 sensor with the same pixel size (2.4 micrometers), but with a larger diagonal.
What benefits did I get after purchasing this camera:
a) High resolution.
b) A fairly large matrix – the solar/lunar disk fits entirely on the narrow side of the matrix up to a focal length of 900 mm.
c) I was thinking about buying a similar monochrome camera to photograph the Sun in the continuum (wavelength 540 nm), but it turned out that with a certain shooting and processing technique there is no difference at all with a similar monochrome camera.
d) Searching for a planet on the screen before shooting has become much easier due to the large sensor.
e) The camera, although without cooling, is still suitable for shooting with long exposures. Yes, the lack of sensor temperature stabilization can create certain problems during calibration, but this does not mean that the camera is only lunar-solar-planetary.
f) The sensor is not widescreen, so the height resolution is quite large (3672 pixels).
g) For most types of shooting, 1.25-inch filters are sufficient.
The Sony imx183 sensor has several problems.
1. Significant intrinsic glow of the matrix at long exposures and high gain. Be sure to calibrate with dark frames, otherwise you will get a bright “lantern” for a third of the frame.
2. A grid repeating pattern (pattern) is a problem similar to the “banding” of the imx178 sensor, they are clearly “relatives”! By adding sharpening to the result of the addition, the pixel structure in the image becomes noticeable. The solution is similar – FFT filtering using Fixel FFT (see video below). Shooting flat field images may also help.
3. At high gain values, the background becomes lilac, and when the offset value (brightness, brightness) increases, it generally turns blue. So be prepared for “lilac” darks at high gain, and when shooting lunar-planetary images with high gain, the captured dark can help with obtaining the correct white balance.
One of the nuances is that the sensor is located quite deep behind the protective glass, so it will not be possible to pair the camera with CS-mount lenses (for example, for shooting meteors), since it simply will not be possible to focus. But with C-mount lenses there is a chance of focusing.
Please note that a small pixel (2.4 microns) when shooting with long exposures likes aperture, sharp optics and stable atmosphere. Therefore, when shooting deep (galaxies, nebulae, star clusters) with long exposures, the best results will be achieved at telescope focal lengths of no more than 500 mm (scale 1 arc second per pixel). Of course, you can shoot with a 750 mm focus and with a 1000 mm focus, however, in the case of an unstable atmosphere, the detail will be deteriorated, and you will need to reduce the image size several times so that the picture does not look too blurry. However, some objects such as the Orion Nebula and bright planetary nebulae (NGC 7662 “Blue Snowball”, NGC 7009 “Saturn”, NGC 6210 “Turtle”) can be photographed with short shutter speeds (0.5-1 second) even at a focal length of more than 500 mm. But for photographing planets, a Barlow lens of a certain magnification is required in order to obtain the optimal shooting scale.
Otherwise, the camera works flawlessly, reliably, stably and without any glitches. So if you need a universal camera with a fairly large sensor and small pixels, but are willing to put up with the lack of cooling, I definitely recommend it.
Some of my images with the ZWO ASI183MC camera:
The rest of the pictures I took using the ZWO ASI183MC camera can be viewed HERE.
You can order the camera on Aliexpress using the LINK.
There are also the another versions: color with cooling, monochrome without cooling, monochrome with cooling.
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