Going shopping for the best camera for astrophotography? Let us help you make the best choice, and get you sailing the seas of astronomical photography. Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, it doesn’t matter that much in terms of managing to get a shot of the deep sky. Astrophotography can be done even with the standard webcam or snapshot camera. What will set your pictures apart is the quality of the device you choose to invest in. A high-quality device ensures high-quality photos.
Two types of cameras stand out as being the most competent in the art of shooting celestial bodies, from stars and planets to galaxies and nebulae: CCD cameras and DSLRs.
BEST CAMERA FOR ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY – DSLR
Cooled Astronomical CCD Cameras are constructed especially for scientific purposes. They offer top-quality results, but they are also the most expensive among all types of cameras you can use to capture the deep sky.
You can get a cheap CCD camera that will cost about $100, but an advanced one will go as much as $44,000. We’ve rounded up a few cameras that proved to be both efficient in capturing excellent images of astronomical objects, and affordable enough not to sell your flat to buy one.
1. ORION STARSHOOT SOLAR SYSTEM
This is the cheapest alternative when you want to shoot planetary objects at the lowest price possible and still get richly detailed captures. This is the perfect beginner camera for Astro-imaging fans. You can capture wonderful pictures of Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, or the Moon thanks to the CMOS imaging sensor that ensures a 1280 x 1024-pixel resolution for intricate planetary and lunar photos. It’s targeted at about $99, which is quite the bargain considering it is a CCD camera.
Whether you are interested in planetary or lunar imaging, or more in deep-sky imaging, it can do all. That’s quite a surprise coming from a $149 camera. One of the great features of the ZWO ASI120MM CCD camera is the ability to shoot up to 215 frames per second if choosing the reduced resolution mode, or up to 35 frames per second when going for the full resolution. And the 150-degree wide lens attachment lets you capture super wide-angle shots.
If you are looking for an affordable planetary imaging camera, then this might just do the trick. It’s priced at $349 and is one of the best color imaging cameras in its price range. It can also be used for deep sky imaging because it supports a maximum shutter speed of up to 1000 seconds.
An excellent camera for either planetary or deep-sky imaging, featuring cutting-edge CMOS sensors for noise-absent, smooth images. Pair it with a telescope and you will get breathtaking photos of celestial bodies. Be prepared to pay about $649 for one.
We’ve allowed ourselves to go big by showing you a $1,000 camera. This state-of-the-art astronomy imagines shine in its price-range by producing beautiful pictures of the night sky. It allows for maximum exposure of up to 2000 seconds, and it can be used for long sessions without worrying that it will be overhead. It is perfect for planetary or lunar imaging, but if you are more into deep space photography, it is fully capable of providing those long exposures required to shoot nebulae, star clusters, galaxies, and more.
Going back to the more affordable imaging devices, we present the Imaging Source IS-3CU camera, which gloats at capturing intricate details at only $570. The ICX205AK sensor that lies at the heart of it was manufactured by Sony, and we’re assured that the noise is minimal even at long exposure times thanks to this high-quality chip. The USB 2.0 connector that the camera is fitted with allows for a fast transfer of large amounts of data.
This tiny CCD camera packs a lot into its small frame. The ATIK Titan can record up to 15 fps in uncompressed 16-bit format, which translates into clear images of even low contrast planetary objects, such as the Sun or Saturn. It’s not modest of cameras, coming in at $669, but some of its features surpass that of many astronomical cameras costing way more. You can either use it as a deep-sky camera or as a guide camera because of its high sensitivity and high frame rates.
Got $1,695 to spare? This top-of-the-line little gem is an ideal purchase for anyone looking for an entry to a middle-level CCD camera. Its cooling system is one of the most efficient there is in the field of very small, compact CCDs.
This is an 8 megapixel CCD camera with a Kodak KAF-8300 imaging sensor fitted on the inside. It’s not exactly cheap, being targeted at $1,995, but it’s quite an irresistible price considering you get a large number of pixels and a mid-range astronomical imaging sensor that dares to compete with those of high-priced cameras.
You might want to sit down for this one. We all know astrophotography is the most expensive form of photography there is, but some might not be familiar with just how big the prices can get in terms of equipment. The PL4240 literally offers stellar-quality pictures of the night sky at the equally stellar price of $44,995. It’s a durable CCD, ensured to survive the most demanding conditions, in the harshest environments.
Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras are good enough to capture pictures of the night sky on their own, thanks to the wide range of the removable lens. But if you really want to capture the precious details that will get lost using a standard lens, then pair your DSLR with a telescope and let your scope act as the camera lens. You will end up with a set of breathtaking photographs of astronomical objects without having to invest in a CCD camera. You can use a DSLR in all forms of photography, so it would be a good option to go for a DSLR because you can take it outside in daylight and get equally excellent photos of landscapes, portraits of people, macro shots of plants, and more. Brand-wise, we suggest you choose either a Canon or a Nikon camera.