Any tips for using a 60x o.zoom camcorder for Moon/planets?

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Any tips for using a 60x o.zoom camcorder for Moon/planets?

Postby spartan45 » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:41 pm

I have a low light Sony 60x optical zoom camcorder. Has anyone else tried to use video cameras for planet and Moon photography? If so, any tips would be appreciated.
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Re: Any tips for using a 60x o.zoom camcorder for Moon/plane

Postby Gfamily2 » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:51 pm

spartan45 wrote:I have a low light Sony 60x optical zoom camcorder. Has anyone else tried to use video cameras for planet and Moon photography? If so, any tips would be appreciated.


Not done it myself, but videoing the Moon seems to be relatively straightforward
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfshAzV0FN4

A good mount, preferably with a good quality panning head would be needed for smooth tracking.

In principle, if you record a couple of minutes of the Moon you could process it in stacking software (such as Autostakkert or Registax) to get an optimised still.

One issue with trying planetary imaging is with getting the exposure correct - the planet is a small bright object on a dark background, so auto-exposure settings are likely to overexpose the planet's image.

Does your camera have USB digital output? If so, you could try capturing the video stream directly to a laptop using Sharpcap or Firecap. This should allow you to adjust the gain, so that you can optimise the exposure there rather than in the camera.

ETA - forgot to say, "Hi, good to have you with us"
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Re: Any tips for using a 60x o.zoom camcorder for Moon/plane

Postby spartan45 » Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:17 pm

My Sony DCR-DVD150 camcorder does have a digital USB output so I must find out more about Sharpcap/Firecap. In all honesty I was glad to get a reply that did not ridicule the idea of stargazing with the aid of a video camera rather than a telescope / binoculars / still camera. Way to go Sky at Night forum!
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Re: Any tips for using a 60x o.zoom camcorder for Moon/plane

Postby Gfamily2 » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:17 pm

spartan45 wrote:My Sony DCR-DVD150 camcorder does have a digital USB output so I must find out more about Sharpcap/Firecap. In all honesty I was glad to get a reply that did not ridicule the idea of stargazing with the aid of a video camera rather than a telescope / binoculars / still camera. Way to go Sky at Night forum!
Using low light and night vision equipment has a bit of a following in astronomical circles.
I've not done it myself, but I think there's an Electronically Assisted Astronomy forum on Cloudy Nights
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Re: Any tips for using a 60x o.zoom camcorder for Moon/plane

Postby Aratus » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:22 pm

spartan45 wrote:My Sony DCR-DVD150 camcorder does have a digital USB output so I must find out more about Sharpcap/Firecap. In all honesty I was glad to get a reply that did not ridicule the idea of stargazing with the aid of a video camera rather than a telescope / binoculars / still camera. Way to go Sky at Night forum!


I think using equipment you already have is a good idea. Don't forget that people ridiculed the idea of using a webcam to record images through a telescope. Today it is the standard way of getting amazing photos of the planets and the moon!

However, I will point out some potential limitations.
I do wonder about amount of light coming through what is roughly a 1" lens. A lot will depend on the sensitivity of the chip and the quality of the lens system.
The planets will be small even with 60x. The moon would be a good, large target to start with.
Please post your results.
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
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