Over the last few weeks I have been in somewhat of a battle with myself in regards to my current imaging setup.
I have been using the Fuji X System for a few years now and for “daytime” photography it is an outstanding system.
The low light capabilities are fantastic and the new Fuji XT2 has taken it a step further, so whats the problem?
There are two issues at play here, lack of support in regards software and also the X-Trans Sensor (more on this in a second).
Using the the Fuji X System for astrophotography is not as easy or anywhere near as flexible as some of the other brands. The lack of software support at the capturing stage as well as the processing stage makes the whole task a lot harder and lot more time consuming than it needs to be. One of the major disadvantages is the lack of direct software based camera control and no SDK available for third parties to be able to interface with the system in any way.
The other issue is the sensor that is used. The simple fact that there are fewer red and blue pixels really has the ability to hamper the ability to capture data as well as a traditional bayer array. Under normal daytime photography this is not an issue but when you are attempting to capture areas that are for example high in Ha the lower number of red pixels could have an effect on the overall response and sensitivity (Further investigations into this are going to be needed).
The spectrum response of the Fuji XT2 is better than the XT1 but is still hampered by the UV/IR cut and colour correcting filters. Due to the wide spectrum response that they typically block this also hampers capturing Narrow band data such as Ha even further.
Traditionally this is the reason why cameras are modified for astrophotography, the filters are either removed or replaced with specialist filters that do not block these and the camera can pass through 4 or 5 times the amount that it could before the modification (This is not unlike the modification that is done for Infrared conversions).
I had originally thought about going down the dedicated CCD route but the costs are a real factor and more so if going down the route of a mono setup with filters.
After a little more research and speaking to a few people I have made the decision to do something that I never thought I would be doing again, buying a Canon.
Canon DSLRs have by far the best software and hardware support and also once modified are very capable imaging systems.
APS-C Canon DSLRs are also a lot cheaper and although the Noise and High ISO performance is not as good on some of the older models, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce this and once stacked the noise really is pretty impressive.
Although newer models can be used and converted there are a number of older models out there that perform very well and are actually highly regarded and recommended.
Last night I picked up one such canon at a very good price and over the next week will be converting it and making the modifications required. I will also be taking a closer look at the software options and how these can be used to automate workflow as well as cut down on processing and reduce both luminance and colour noise. Some of these techniques I already use however there a few that due to current limitations in the Fuji system mean its not possible. Something I am also currently exploring and may be looking into depending on time and cost is to create a cooled camera setup to reduce noise even further.
There was also a slight delay in my mount coming back however I have been informed that it should be back with me the end of this week. This is something I will also be going into further.
Keep an eye out over the coming weeks for further updates.