Choosing a digicam for astrophotography is usually a daunting job. Today we’re spoiled for alternative with an enormous vary of various producers and fashions to select from. The firm ZWO has been producing astro-imaging cameras now for a decade, and because the years have progressed, they’ve grow to be some of the fashionable producers of inexpensive cameras for astrophotography.
ZWO ASI533MC Pro: Key Specs
Sensor: Sony IMX533MC colour (3008 x 3008, 9 MP)
Pixel measurement: 3.76 micron
FPS: 20 frames per second (at full body), sooner utilizing ROI
Cooling: 12v two-stage, -45ºC beneath ambient
Peak Quantum Efficiency: 80%
Interface: USB 3.0
Dimensions: 78 x 73.5mm
Weight: 16.6 oz
The ASI533MC Pro digicam is aimed toward these trying to buy a devoted multi-purpose digicam for astrophotography. Once upon a time, cameras resembling this may have set you again a tidy four-figure sum, however with the arrival of inexpensive know-how from Chinese producers resembling ZWO the enjoying discipline has fully modified. Today cameras as soon as costing a small fortune are inside attain of a a lot wider vary of shoppers.
This mannequin provides a full-color digicam with an onboard cooling system to reduce noise for lengthy publicity astrophotography in addition to being appropriate for brief publicity lunar and planetary imaging. It additionally comes packaged with a wide range of helpful equipment to assist get you up and working simply.
In this overview, we put the digicam by way of its paces below the evening sky on a large number of various targets to see the way it performs.
ZWO ASI1533MC Pro overview: Design
The ZWO ASI533MC Pro digicam is available in a compact design typical of many cameras of this sort. Its small 78 x 73.5mm physique is of sturdy development with a large number of ports on the rear of the digicam physique together with outstanding cooling vents. The digicam itself comes geared up with a large number of equipment to get you began straight out of the field.
The digicam connects to a PC by way of the provided USB3 cable, and drivers to run the digicam might be downloaded from the ZWO web site. We had no bother in any respect having the digicam up and working inside a couple of minutes.
In the field together with the digicam itself comes a wide range of equipment. The digicam itself is available in a small, padded zip bag. Also included are a large number of various adapters providing you with choices on join it to your telescope or connect different equipment.
On the rear face of the digicam are two USB2 ports for connecting/energy equipment resembling an auto guider which most would require for severe lengthy publicity work. The digicam cooling system is powered by a 12v provide, which isn’t included with the digicam however might be bought individually.
ZWO ASI1533MC Pro overview: Functionality
Operating the ASI533MC Pro digicam is an easy course of. Drivers might be downloaded from the ZWO web site, as can digicam management software program which you need to use to function the digicam (referred to as ASI Studio). The digicam can be supported by different third-party software program which additionally works extraordinarily properly to run the digicam. Programs resembling Firecapture will run the ZWO cameras and are freely accessible on-line for obtain.
The digicam itself is powered straight from the USB connection. A separate energy provide is just wanted for those who want to run the digicam cooling system (solely actually need for very lengthy publicity work). Once linked to your PC you’ll see a reside preview on display. On the PC we examined the digicam on, it simply achieved the quoted 20fps charge at full-frame working with no issues in any respect.
For these wanting to make use of the ASI533MC Pro for lengthy publicity work, you’ll have to get an acceptable 12V energy provide to run the digicam cooling system. ZWO provides appropriate ones on the market, or an acceptable third social gathering one will do (which is what we used for the needs of this overview).
ZWO ASI1533MC Pro overview: Performance for astrophotography
Much as with the ZWO ASI183MC Pro, we first examined the ASI533MC Pro for imaging the planets; Jupiter was once more the primary goal on supply. We connected the digicam to the 14” (36cm) telescope and slewed the telescope over to Jupiter.
One factor to notice instantly is that you simply’ll want a UV/IR blocking filter for this digicam in any other case the colour will probably be polluted by IR sign. For instance, when imaging Jupiter the on-screen picture appears to be like pink on account of this. Such filters are broadly and simply accessible – and are an essential accent for anybody doing astrophotography with devoted astronomical imaging cameras resembling this one.
With Jupiter, since a lot of the sector was not required, we used the area of curiosity (ROI) function to crop down the captured space. This permits the digicam to run at very excessive body charges fascinating for imaging the planets. Imaging the planets with colour cameras resembling that is all the time good enjoyable as you’ll be able to typically see many particulars and colours on their disks. One benefit of this explicit digicam is the bigger 3.76um pixel measurement. This matches longer focal size telescopes just like the Schmidt Cassegrains properly. The 14bit output can be very clear, and with ROI you’ll be able to simply run the digicam at 100fps or extra.
You can even use the ASI533MC Pro as a mono digicam. I tried some close to IR captures of the Lunar floor because the moon was additionally seen on this explicit evening. The digicam carried out actually properly for the duty, and as with Jupiter gave very clear and crisp information with low noise. Again the bigger pixel measurement is properly suited to imaging with a telescope such because the C14.
Next got here some testing for Deep Sky imaging. For this I made a decision to attend for an honest clear and moonless evening. For the preliminary assessments I made a decision to strive imaging with the digicam with out utilizing the cooling system to see simply how properly it will carry out ‘out of the box’ so to talk.
I made a decision to shoot the picturesque spiral galaxy NGC 6946 in Cepheus – one among my favorite northern hemisphere targets. Using the C14 at a lowered F7 focal size I centred the galaxy and started a collection of 60 sec exposures with out the cooling system energetic as talked about above. Even with this modest publicity time quantity of element was recorded within the galaxy. I ended up taking pictures round 40 x 60sec publicity and stacked round 30 of them collectively for the outcome offered right here. It’s outcome contemplating the sky situations have been common and the positioning of common darkness. From a darker website with longer publicity occasions even higher outcomes may very well be realised.
I then determined to fireside up the digicam cooling system and check out just a few photographs utilizing this. The cooling system is just required if you’re going to use the digicam for lengthy single exposures (a number of minutes.) In this occasion it does make a notable distinction to lowering noise throughout the picture.
Overall, the efficiency of the ASI533MC Pro was spectacular. It simply produced good clear pictures of deep sky targets and operated all through the imaging session with none points.
Should you purchase the ZWO ASI533MC Pro?
For these trying to take their first step at shopping for a devoted astronomical imaging digicam however with out the trouble of utilizing a mono digicam, you’ll be able to’t go far mistaken with the ASI533MC Pro. It’s a fantastic multi-purpose imaging digicam that may produce glorious pictures of each planetary and deep sky targets. It’s additionally extremely straightforward to set-up and use which is a significant bonus. It’s additionally good to see a digicam like this on supply with out tiny pixels – one thing customers of longer focal size telescopes resembling myself very a lot respect!
For the worth, the ASI533MC Pro provides some spectacular specs and is much extra inexpensive than the equal high-end mono astronomical imaging cameras of comparable decision. No product is ideal nonetheless and that is no exception. It can be good to see a PSU and UR/IR blocking filter included as a part of the usual package deal as these are important equipment – the filter particularly.
Another level price mentioning is how the digicam compares to a equally priced DSLR from Canon/Nikon. Image high quality is analogous, and naturally the DSLR can be utilized for standard images too, so that is one thing that’s price contemplating.