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FireCapture quest for new camera support and the Mallincam SSI

FireCapture will support a new user-picked camera, and the voting is done on FireCapture Yahoo group. Among votes Mallincam SSI showed up. At first I though it's yet another TV camera (they make a lot of those), but it turns out it's a Tucsen branding of their USB2 cameras.

Let's have a quick look at Mallincam SSI / Tucsen Discovery M15 and the sCMOS marketing magic.

Tucsen M15 and CH30 use older Sony IMX sensor with quite small pixels. At first Tucsen branded it as a sCMOS / Scientific CMOS camera, while it doesn't use a real sCMOS sensor. Now the vendor calls that Super CMOS (lawyer did call them?), while resellers retained "scientific" term. Rolera Bolt (another sCMOS wannabe) also changed naming so quite likely there were some legal actions taken. Performance difference between real sCMOS and normal CMOS are huge so no wonders.

Mallincam is a camera vendor popular in US and Canada. They offer a wide range of CCTV cameras, some very expensive with cooling, up to $1000. Those cameras are designed for real time digital viewing and some astrophotography (depends on hardware used, but still it's a CCTV camera).

IMX035 used in Tucsen/Mallincam camera is quite average. There are some planetary pictures taken with it, but in general it was very short lived. Newer and noticeably better sensors taken over the market. The Discovery camera I tested some time ago did work, but had some limitations that when compared to nowadays cameras are unacceptable. If those limitations were only software limitations then maybe proper application like FireCapture could unlock all of their capabilities?

The gain Mallincam SSI is stated at 20 dB which is somewhat in the middle. Some old CMOS cameras have less (like 15 or less) and those are nearly unusable for planetary imaging. Sony CCD or newer CMOS cameras offer bit higher gain values. The camera I had did not offer very high gain and the software allowed only slow recording at relatively low gain so that the image would mimic a very low noise real sCMOS camera.

Mono Mallincam SSI is priced ad $599, while ASI120MM in US shop is priced at $299 while PGR Blackfly with IMX249 is priced at $495 (Point Grey store; nett price?). The point is that Mallincam is offering a camera that is already old and which is unable to compete with price with other cameras. Nowadays Solar System imaging market tends to change very quickly, and even good cameras may become obsolete after few months.

As for new camera support in FireCapture - I also suggested French iNova cameras (many models, optional cooling, EU and US availability) as well as Ximea xiQ USB3 cameras (less popular, but have a wide range or big/fast CMOS sensors on USB3).


Astronomy and Astrophotography, 15 March 2015, Piotr Maliński

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