Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A night with the Mallincam DS16C

I make no bones about the fact I am a devotee of Mallincam cameras.  Hand made in Canada, they fill some unique niches, from ultra-high sensitivity video cameras like the Xterminator, to single-cable USB cameras like the sensitive and high resolution DS16C. And then there is the Universe, which is in a class by itself for producing superb, magazine-ready images without hours of post-processing.

All the  Mallincams share one thing in common--they allow you to create excellent images with minimal processing, but if you want to spend lots of time in post processing, their first-rate imaging chips will allow you to go as far as you want.

Last night, I hooked up the DS16C to my 14 inch ACF.  I used (unfortunately) a rather inferior, no-name .5x focal reducer which introduced enormous vignetting and coma distortion beyond the central part of the image. I did not use any filters in a sky that was moderately light polluted close to the horizon.

My goal was to image the brighter nebulas in the southern part of the sky--the Eagle, Trifid, Swan (Omega), and Lagoon. My goal was to capture them with minimal exposure times, and to process the images to an acceptable level in close to real time to see just how fast the DS16C would enable me to produce decent images that are a step or two up from love capture. My goal was NOT to achieve the same levels as those astrophotographers who spend hours pursuing perfection.

For each image, I did the following:

  • 5 images of each object with a max integration of 25 seconds at max gain. No darks or dark field correction.
  • Stacking, histogram adjustment, and color balance in Nebulosity 4 (max of 2 minutes for each object imaged)
  • Cropping (due to inferior FR)
So each image here took less than 4 minutes from capture to final result:
Swan Nebula

Trifid Nebula

Eagle Nebula

Lagoon Nebula

These images are cropped to be about half the size of the full capture to eliminate the vignetting and coma distortion. Again, I took no darks, so the only noise reduction is due to stacking. Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results. Not prefect, but good enough to please me.