Not all 6 mega-pixel T.E.C. cooled astronomy cameras are created equal. The DS-616C XL is in a class of its own with 50% higher sensitivity in real-world applications (100% maximum) than other cameras using the same Sony CCD due to its hardware gain and outstanding hardware noise suppression, both features implemented in the camera hardware which is the only way to deliver the additional performance. Black Level is also implemented in hardware and is user set, it helps to effectively reduce dark noise levels prior to the data being sent to the computer.
The new Opticstar XL cameras use precision machined heavy duty alloy cases that provide unparalleled solidity and support sensor orthogonality. The camera uses long-life, high quality seals and offer 99%+ camera window transparency. A substantial heat-sink (over five to ten times the mass of the typical heat-sink in comparable cameras) rapidly draws the heat away from the sensor via a powerful Peltier thermocouple for superior performance. This heat is then rapidly dissipated into the atmosphere with the assistance of a fan thus bringing noise levels down to an absolute minimum.
The huge Sony 1.8" format CCD sensor offers an unusually wide field of view (~13 times the sensor area of a 1/2" sensor typically found in top of the range astronomy video cameras) allowing exceptionally large targets like the Andromeda Galaxy to approximately fit on the DS-616 XL sensor at 1000mm focal length i.e. 8" f5 telescope.
Focus and preview modes run at a maximum 1 frame per second (at 6 mega-pixels) which is several times faster than other single shot astronomy cameras, this makes accurate focusing markedly easier to achieve.
The proprietary StarView mode enables semi real time viewing of deep sky objects in colour with an 1600% sensitivity boost with exposure times at up to 10 seconds, a very useful feature not available to other manufacturers' single shot cameras! As with all colour Opticstar CCD cameras, binning modes are supported at 2x2 and 4x4 in full colour.
The DS-616C XL offers the functionality of single shot, long exposure large sensor cooled camera with features found in long exposure video cameras while delivering superior performance. Coupled with the real-time viewing ability the Opticstar DS-616C XL presents the ultimate astronomy cooled colour camera.
Bundled with the camera, is a mains power supply unit to power the thermo-electric cooling sub-system, hard carry case and adapters to attach the camera to the telescope. The camera also includes the Opticstar View camera control software, Nebulosity v2 camera control and image processing software as well as drivers for MaxImDL and Astroart.
The camera is ready to use out of the box, all you need is a telescope.
Nebulosity v2 Software
Nebulosity is designed to be a powerful, but simple to use capture and processing application for a wide range of astronomy CCD cameras. Many cameras are supported for capture and images from just about anything can be processed (support for many FITS formats, PNG, TIFF, JPEG, CR2/CRW, etc). Its goal is to suit people ranging from the novice imager who wants to create his or her first images to the advanced imager who wants a convenient, flexible capture application for use in the field.
In it, you get a host of purpose-built, powerful tools to make the most out of your images (e.g., Digital Development Processing, traditional alignment/stacking (equatorial and alt-az), Drizzle alignment/stacking, Bad Pixel Mapping, LRGB tools, real-time tricolour histograms for colour balancing, star tightening via edge detection, adaptive scaling of stacks, 32/96-bit accuracy, etc.)
Simple, but powerful interface.
All basic controls are present on the main screen. No need to navigate through lots of menus during an imaging session. Nebulosity was designed to be easily operated in the field by someone who actually operates it in an actual field.
By default, all displays are auto-scaled. Any scaling (including inverted) of the data onto the display possible using easy sliders.
Histogram gives a quick view of how much of the valid data range is being used during each capture.
Pixel statistics / area statistics pop-up window.
Zoom button lets you rescale the displayed image quickly.
Measure Distance tool lets you measure the distance (CCD pixels, arc-seconds, or arc-minutes) among up to 3 points.
Can act as a FITS file viewer for Windows (double-click or drag-and-drop).
Can write / run scripts to automate captures.
Unlimited undo/redo (0, 3, or unlimited levels of undo).
Small clock to show local time, UTC, GMST, local sidereal, or Polaris RA.
All basic capture parameters present on main screen. Duration of exposure, number of exposures per captured series, delay between captures, name of series, camera gain and camera offset all in one simple panel.
Times may be specified in either seconds or milliseconds.
Quick Preview button captures one frame with current settings and displays it on the screen without saving. Helps in focus, composition, and tuning of capture parameters.
Frame and Focus mode: Loops a quick, binned image to assist in rapid initial focus and framing.
Fine Focus mode: Loops a very quick image around a selected star in full resolution to fine-tune focus.
Capture one-shot colour in RAW CCD format or reconstruct colour on the fly ñ your choice.
Automatic setting of camera offset.
Capture status able to be shown in large red display for easy viewing when away from computer.
Multiple file formats supported.
Read virtually any FITS file to process images from virtually any camera (RGB colour, black and white, compressed or uncompressed, any bit depth).
Captured data saved in FITS as 16-bits (0-65535) per colour channel, 32-bit floating point per colour channel, or in 15-bits (0-32767) per colour channel.
One-shot colour data captures may be saved in RAW CCD format or as reconstructed full-colour images in an RGB FITS format (Maxim / AstroArt style or ImagesPlus style) or 3 separate FITS files (the latter only for capture and subsequent use in other programs).
Captured data saved in either lossless compressed FITS according to the FITS standard or uncompressed FITS.
These same save formats available for any loaded image, making Nebulosity serve to convert between many FITS formats (just select your output format using the settings on the Preferences menu).
Save current displayed image in BMP or JPG format (24-bit colour) as displayed.
Save current image in 16 bit/colour (48-bit colour) uncompressed TIFF, compressed TIFF, or PNG (compressed) format.
Load Canon CR2 format RAW (Rebel XT, 20, 20Da, 5D, etc) and Canon CRW format RAW as pure Bayer-matrix RAW data.
Load 8/24 bit PNG, TIFF, JPG, and BMP (scaled to 16/48-bit) or 16/48-bit PNG and TIFF.
Batch convert from FITS to 16/48-bit PNG or compressed TIFF.
Batch convert from CR2, CRW, PNG, TIFF, JPG, and BMP to FITS.
All data stored internally in 32-bit floating point per colour channel. For B&W or RAW images, this equates to 32-bits and for colour images, this equates to 96-bits in all math routines. You will never have overflow (saturation) or overflow or quantization issues as a result.
Critical math routines computed in double-precision (64-bit per channel) floating point.
Since all captures even from one-shot colour cameras can be done in B&W mode (RAW CCD data) and since memory for colour images is only allocated when viewing in colour, memory requirements can be reduced by capturing one-shot colour data in RAW format for machines with less RAM.
All calculations done using pointer arithmetic for high-speed operation.
Dark / flat / and bias frame pre-processing of B&W, RAW one-shot colour, and RGB one-shot colour sets of images.
Auto-scaling of dark frames to compensate for differences in exposure time or temperature.
Create and apply Bad Pixel Maps as an alternative way of removing hot pixels.
Versatile Levels / Power Stretch tool lets you apply not only simple linear stretching of your images, but non-linear stretches as well. Pre- and post- stretch histograms interactively displayed and an ROI preview is available.
Digital Development Processing (DDP). A technique to make CCD images look more like film images by using a hyperbolic scaling of the data. Here, the basic technique is enhanced to allow easy darkening of the background at the same time.
Star Tightening. A technique to sharpen stars using an edge-detection algorithm (does not leave the artifacts found).
Grade a series of images to determine the sharpest / best of the set.
Line filter reconstruction for one-shot cameras. Optimized reconstruction of RAW images taken using line filters. General mode plus modes optimized for H-alpha and O-III/H-beta on CMYG arrays.
Align and stack a series of images using translation (for equatorially mounted telescopes) or translation + rotation (alt-az or equatorial) or translation + rotation + scaling. Unequal image sizes supported and output either the stack or the individual aligned frames.
Drizzle alignment / stacking and resolution enhancement for either equatorial or alt-az (translation + rotation).
Colours in Motion: Simultaneous over-sampling alignment/stacking and De-Bayer of one-shot colour images to significantly decrease colour error and increase resolution. For one-shot colour imagers, this improves resolution and reduces colour error.
Adaptive scaling of combined data (stacks) to use full 16-bit range (gives you the best features of adding and averaging frames).
Average a series of images without alignment (e.g., for combining darks, flats, bias frames, etc.)
Tools to set the minimum of an image to zero (useful if a computation has taken it above 65535 and you wish to save the image) and to rescale the intensity of an image (multiply each pixel by a constant.)
Colour balance adjust (offset and scaling) with real-time 3-colour histograms for easy, accurate balancing. Luminance extraction provided as well.
De-mosaic a RAW one-shot colour image for any of the supported cameras. Both interactive and batch-mode supported.
Automatic demosaic of Canon CR2 files with control over white balance for stock and IR-filter modified cameras.
Manual De-mosaic of RAW one-shot colour images from RGB or CMYG cameras. Full control over pixel aspect ratio and over colour balancing / mixing during conversion.
2x2 binning of images: addition, averaging, or adaptive.
Blurring of images (3-levels).
Rotation and mirroring of images.