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Seeking your advice Mono vs Colour CMOS for newbie deep sky

Started by JohnDeathridge, Feb 13, 2023, 08:28:26

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Hello all hope everyone keep well. I am a complete deep sky imager newbie and looking for your advice please. I am still deliberating over starting with mono as opposed to single shot colour. I have read an awful lot about the pros and cons of both but wanted to get some thoughts from those of you with a few years under your belts as it were.

As I am effectively starting from scratch should I start with colour and focus on getting to grips with the whole setup etc guiding, processing or dive in.

I have heard that post processing is more complicated with mono and of course requires more equipment and requires multiple exposures.

Would really appreciate your advice.


To be honest John, I started with DSLR and changed to CCD imaging because of the noise factor with the uncooled DSLR after 2 or 3 years. 

I was planning to go for OSC (one shot colour) cooled CCD camera, but so many people on the various forums were trying to convince me to go mono because it is more senstiive.  I was daunted but in the end took their advice.  I went to kelling with my first mono camera and took my DSLR also, I took identicial images both with the DSLR and the mono camera over different nights at Kelling Heath and was blown away by the incredible detail and smoothness with the mono camera. 

It took me a while to work out how to combine the various filters without having some degree of misalignment, but there are so many more tools available these days (I was doing this in 2012). 

To be honest I would never go back to a OSC camera.  A mono camera, whilst it is more work is so much more versatile and sensitive.  You can do SHO narrowband (Hubble Palette) with a mono camera, at the moment I think you can only do dual band with a OSC and it is looking through a bayer matrix which is the thing that makes a OSC less sensitive. 

Another advantage of a mono camera is it is much easier to "see" your target and know you are in the right place because of it showing more than a OSC camera would do. 

At one point I thought it might be a good idea to get a OSC camera and use it in tandem with luminance to speed up the capture of LRGB images, but I found this frustrating and reminded me of all the drawbacks of colour imaging, and I only persevered for a few months and was glad to re-sell it. 

You can always practice with mono images while you are finding your feet. 

Well that's my happuth, I am sure others will have their own preferences. 




If you want to test if you will like DSO imaging first, go for OSC.  Modern OSC cameras are excellent.  They are very sensitive and noise free.   My first OSC was an MX7C in 2003 and though modern back then it was horrible to image with from London (I lived in West London back then).   My current OSC provides all the colours for my shots:  https://astrobin.com/users/rbotero  I also do planetary imaging with another OSC (uncooled) model.   Keep your exposures short and learn the processing and you'll get excellent results.
If you want to commit, there's nothing better than a modern mono CMOS camera.  But if you intend to do RGB or narrowband, you will need filters, a filter wheel, more exposures, etc...and a lot more expense.


The Thing

Hi John,

I've only ever used OSC since 2006, first self modded Canon DSLRs and now an ZWO ASI294MC PRO and a QHY294PROC. Same CMOS, different implementations. I do now have luxury of darkish skies but I find my lEnhance dual band filter gives me many of the advantages of narrowband when needed. The two pictures I've just posted were taken just after full moon.

I thought about mono but all those filters and extra processing e.g. three stacks to get one RGB image put me right off. I can make an RGB into Hubble pallete lookylikey with a script in Affinity Photo if I'm that way incline.

I would definitely get a cooled camera for repeatability and matching of darks to lights.




Really appreciated all this helps a lot. I was a little unsure about going the whole hog on mono as a starting point especially with the processing piece so I my well start with OSC and then go from there so I get other things to look forward to when I get comfortable.


Just a thought, why don't you try with a second hand Canon DSLR which you can pick up cheaply (e.g. on UK Astro Buy and Sell) and they're very easy to connect up and operate - it's how I started. You can learn an awful lot about imaging this way including the frustrations. Then if you decide imaging is for you then upgrade, or if not you not really lost much.



@ John.
I thought you had already bought a OSC at Astrofest, or is your thinking you could change the order as you still have time before it is dispatched to you?