CMOS camera sensor technology is moving fast, and Orion is happy to introduce the monochrome version of our venerated G10 camera, providing significant improvements in sensitivity as well as versatility. Our previous monochrome CMOS camera (the G16) was a workhorse all on its own. But the G10 Mono features two MAJOR improvements over the G16, including a 14-bit sensor (the Sony IMX 492), and over 85% Q.E. (quantum efficiency), which in the G16 topped out around 60%).
The difference between the older 12-bit cameras and this 14-bit G10 Mono comes down to a massive increase in dynamic range. Instead of 4096 'steps' between pure black and pure white, the 14-bit G10 Mono has over 16,000 steps, translating to more subtle variations in faint nebulae, and a much greater dynamic range between the brightest core of a galaxy and the faintest outlying wisps. And with >85% Q.E., this camera is much more sensitive to light, allowing both shorter exposures, as well as more faint details visible in all of your images.
The Sony IMX 492 chip is a 4/3 format back illuminated CMOS chip, with dimensions of 19.1mm x 13.0mm (23.1mm diagonal). The relative response of the Sony IMX 492 chip is shown below:
The G10 Mono features a full well capacity of 66,000 e- in LCG mode, but where the sensor really shines is when you flip into HCG mode to significantly reduce the read noise. In LCG mode, the read noise ranges from 7.53e- down to 6.42e-, depending on the gain setting used. But flip the switch for HCG (available at any gain setting) and you suddenly reduce the read noise down to a range of 1.77e- to an astoundingly low 1.42e-! And in HCG mode, the dynamic range at zero gain is just over 12 stops, a loss of only one stop from LCG mode. In fact, due to the extreme sensitivity of this chip, it is recommended to keep the camera in HCG mode and a gain of 0 or 1 for the best full well capacity and lowest noise characteristics. The chart below shows sensor details in 14-bit HCG mode:
Being a monochrome chip has major advantages over a one-shot-color camera. While the G10 Color is definitely the most convenient for getting a full color image without a lot of work, the G10 Mono provides much more sensitivity because all of the pixels are seeing all of the incoming light, instead of light being diverted to specific pixels below the color Bayer Matrix. In addition to much higher sensitivity, the versatility of a mono camera is unparalleled. Combine this camera with the Nautilus Filter Wheel, and the LRGB filter set to get a true color broadband image as a result. Or switch to more specialized narrowband filters such as Ha, O-III, and SII, and you can get spectacular narrowband ultra-high contrast images of nebulae even when the moon is out or you are imaging in heavily light polluted areas.
Another advantage of this Sony IMX 492 chip is the way it handles binning. All our previous cameras have defaulted to binning 1x1 native pixels. The default mode that we suggest for deep-sky imaging with the G10 Mono is 4128x2808, which equates to a hardware binned 4.63 micron sized pixel. BUT, you can actually 'hardware un-bin' those pixels in the included StarShootIC software to provide a vanishingly small 2.3 micron size pixel, and a truly massive 8184 x 5616 fully unlocked 45mp full resolution mode! Please note that unbinning the 4.63 micron size hardware binned pixel comes with some drawbacks. The bit depth will decrease from 14-bit to 12-bit per pixel, and the full well capacity will also be reduced, meaning less dynamic range in your images. For most/all deep-sky imaging, we definitely recommend the 4128x2808 mode for the best results. But if you want the highest resolution for planetary, lunar, and perhaps some deep-sky imaging at very short focal lengths, the unbinned mode is available when you wish to experiment.
How to Set Black Level on Orion StarShoot G Cameras
The StarShoot G10 Mono features a two-stage regulated thermo-electric cooler with fan, capable of reaching ~40° C below ambient temperature. A 512MB DDR3 memory buffer stabilizes the data transfer and helps reduce amp glow during image download. A dew heater built into the front window protects against dew forming at such low temperatures. The USB 3.0 interface provides exceptionally fast frame rates and download speeds. Power for the camera electronics comes from the USB 3.0 port, and the TE cooler is powered by an included AC adapter, though any 12v 3amp external battery source will work as well.
A standard t-thread is cut into the front opening of the camera, and with an included 2" nozzle, you can attach the G10 camera to most all telescope configurations, including coma correctors, flatteners, and off-axis guiders. With a built in two-port USB 2.0 hub, your guide camera and other USB accessories can be wired directly to the G10, which means you'll only have the one USB cable running to your laptop, eliminating many extraneous wires draping from the telescope to the computer.
Compatible with Win 8/10/11, the camera includes a hard case, along with free control and image acquisition software. And best of all, the StarShoot G10 is ASCOM compatible, meaning you can use most dedicated astro-imaging software on the market to unlock the full potential of your new StarShoot G10 Mono CMOS Imaging Camera!
Limited Warranty against defects in materials or workmanship for one year from date of purchase. This warranty is for the benefit of the original retail purchaser only. For complete warranty details contact us at 800-447-1001.
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