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Is there a new planetary imaging revolution rising?

You don't know when, but it will happen again - a newer sensor will beat nowadays cameras used for Solar System imaging. Few days ago e2v revealed a new line of Ruby CMOS sensors that have very low read noise and high QE. One of them has also a global shutter required for efficient planetary/solar/lunar imaging. That's something for the future, while Sapphire "EV76C560" sensor is also on a rise. e2v is a company that provides professional sensors even for space probes. Will their CMOS sensors conquer planetary imaging?

Ruby line of e2v CMOS Sensors

Sapphire EV76C560 sensor is used in few machine vision cameras, including IDS Imaging UI-1240LE - USB 2 camera priced at around 500 EUR. The price is quite good for such a sensor size, but the camera/sensor haven't been tested yet. I should get one soon and I'll try to determine if this sensor is worth it price.

IDS Imaging UI-1240LE

But what if 500 EUR is to much and you want less than 250 EUR? Well, that' the revolutionary part of this news. There is a USB 3.0 camera with EV76C560 that costs less than 250 EUR. The camera is marked as MQ013MG-E2 and is made by ximea.

Ximea USB 3.0

Few models is available, while only this one is noticeably cheaper than it should be as it's being subsidized to help promote the cameras and USB 3.0 vision standards. Cameras with CMV4000 are still above 1000 EUR. Compared to IDS camera this one is more "raw" equipment - it's not supported by astro-software for AVI recordings (IDS cams seems to be visible in SharpCap + provide their own basic app for recording). And also if you want 60 FPS of a 1280 x 1024 frame you need a fast HDD (7200 RPM disk capable of recording no less than around 80MB/s. SSDs seems to be a bad option for this unless they are of newer type supporting TRIM. RAM buffering - easiest). Ximea camera may be a hit - ultra low price with ultra high performance - but wait for test results first (mid March for me).

Ruby EV76C660 Rolling Shutter ~80% QE max
Ruby EV76C661 Global Shutter ~60% QE max
Sapphire EV76C560 Global or Rolling Shutter ~60% QE max

Sapphire EV76C560 Datasheet

Quantum Efficiency EV76C560

EV76C560 Quantum Efficiency

QE chart from IDS Imaging PDF

QE chart from IDS Imaging PDF

Sensor description from e2v

Ruby EV76C660 Datasheet

Quantum Efficiency EV76C660

EV76C660 Quantum Efficiency

In IDS Imaging PDF there is 3e- read noise given for the rolling shutter version of a pre-production Ruby sensor:
Read noise by Sapphire and pre-production Ruby sensor

Read noise by Sapphire and pre-production Ruby sensor

Sapphire vs Ruby QE
Ruby vs other sensors

If the Ruby EV76C660 CMOS sensor won't have any problems with Solar System imaging due to it rolling shutter then it will be a next generation camera for this type of imaging.


Astronomy and Astrophotography, 29 January 2012, Piotr Maliński

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