Amazing! After the recent appearance of the "zero amp glow" ASI533MC-PRO, here is another "zero amp glow" camera with a larger sensor, 16 bit ADC, huge dynamic range and a pixel size that would suit many small to medium sized amateur APO telescopes (or small SCTs etc.)
The ASI2600MC Pro uses Sony’s latest back-illuminated IMX571 APS-C format native 16-bit ADC sensor. It has an ultra-high 14 stops dynamic range, ultra-low 1.0e readout noise and an innovative breakthrough resulting in zero amp-glow. It is a camera born from the appeal of astrophotography lovers.
Amazing Craftsmanship, Lightweight body, Solid image quality:
We have been working hard to reduce the weight of the camera while improving the performance of the camera. After years of technical accumulation and repeated weight loss experiments by ZWO engineers, ZWO finally concentrated the ASI2600 to 0.7KG.
The ASI2600MC Pro uses APS-C format, the sensor length and width are 23.5mm * 15.7mm and the diagonal is 28.3mm. This is a 26MP camera with a small pixel size of 3.76um that can accommodate a large well depth of 50ke.
Native 16bit ADC:
ASI2600MC Pro is our first batch of CMOS astronomy cameras with 16bit ADC. This 16bit ADC is not a CCD 16bit ADC, and it can really achieve a dynamic range output of 14 stops. This significantly improves the image sharpness and contrast, and the color changes are smoother and more natural.
IMX571 backlit sensor:
Sony’s back-illuminated CMOS image sensor improves sensitivity and noise reduction – the key factors to enhancing image quality, while radically realigning their fundamental pixel structure from front-illumination to back-illumination. It has retained the advantages of CMOS image sensors such as low power consumption and high-speed operation.
With a conventional front-illumination structure, the metal wiring and transistors on the surface of the silicon substrate that form the sensor’s light-sensitive area (photo-diode) impede photon gathering carried out by the on-chip lens. A back-illuminated structure minimizes the degradation of sensitivity to optical angle response, while also increasing the amount of light that enters each pixel due to the lack of obstacles such as metal wiring and transistors that have been moved to the reverse of the silicon substrate.
Sony has newly developed a unique photo-diode structure and on-chip lens optimized for back-illuminated structures, that achieves a higher sensitivity and a lower random noise without light by reducing noise, dark current and defect pixels compared to the conventional front-illuminated structure.
The ASI2600MC Pro has excellent performance with a dynamic range of up to 14stops. When the gain value is 100, the magical HCG high gain mode is turned on, the readout noise is greatly reduced, and the dynamic range is basically unchanged. It is recommended to set the gain to 0 or gain 100 in deep space.
Zero Amp Glow
Traditional CMOS sensors produce a weak infrared light source during operation quite often seen in the corner of uncalibrated images as the tell tale signs of ‘amp glow’. As the ASI2600MC Pro uses zero amp glow circuitry, you won’t have to worry about amp glow even when using high gain, long exposure imaging.
ASI6200MC Pro comes with the polyimide heater that can avoid any dew problems. The heater can be turned off in software if you want to save power.
We suppose that the QE peak value of the ASI2600MC Pro is above 80%.
Two-stage TEC cooling, ultra-low dark current:
Like the ASI6200, the ASI2600MC Pro also uses two stage TEC cooling and can lower the CMOS sensor temperature to more that 35c below ambient, which can greatly reduce dark current generation and sensor noise even with extended exposure times.
The unique dark current suppression technology can even further reduce dark current noise.
At a cooling temperature of 0 °, the dark current noise is only 0.003e/s/pix. Which means 300s exposure can only cause 0.9e dark current noise, which is less than the readout noise. While at a cooling temperature of -20 °, the dark current can even reduce to 0.00021e/s/pix, which is completely negligible!
DDR3 Memory Buffer
The ASI2600MC Pro is equipped with a USB 3.0 transmission interface and a built-in 256MB DDR3 cache to ensure stable and secure data transmission. Under long exposure, it effectively avoids frame dropping and greatly reduces the glow effect caused by slow reading speed.