The new ASI1600MM-Cooled astrophotography camera from ZWO is breaking new ground in technology for imaging the night sky. It’s one of the first cameras that can do both planetary imaging and deep sky imaging.
I have spent a couple clear nights recently taking some test images with it. I am really impressed with the camera’s low noise capability. Even more impressive is its ability to be used at high gain settings in combination with short exposures while achieving good dynamic range. In some cases capturing fainter details in deep sky objects versus other CCD cameras traditionally used by astrophotographers.
The high gain and lots of light frames is most advantageous when doing narrowband imaging such as H-alpha acquisition. But there have also been examples of luminance images taken with the ASI1600MM-Cooled camera that consisted of shorts exposures, in some cases only 1-second, and up to 2000 light frames that were then stacked into a very impressive image.
In my case the past couple of clear nights I have experimented with luminance imaging using the ASI1600MM-Cooled camera. Luminance images are grey scale (no colour). These images were all taken using just 50-70 x 90-second exposures that were then stacked. No fancy processing has been done to them. I merely calibrated with darks, bias and flats and then stacked and applied some histogram stretch to reveal the deep sky object.
The other very interesting aspect of these images is they were taken from the city, with two street lights across from me glaring down. I definitely have light pollution to contend with here yet the camera was able to reveal a lot of faint detail, especially the Iris Nebula dark dust!
The goal of my initial testing is to see how well the ZWO ASI1600MM-Cooled camera performs. I’ll be doing more testing with it in the upcoming days and weeks. I’ll also be adding Optolong filters to take colour images with. Optolong filters are highly regarded for their quality in the astrophotography community. I am looking forward to creating some fabulous images using the Optolong filters when they arrive.
Stay tuned for more results with the ZWO ASI1600MM-Cooled astronomy camera!