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Rosette and M42 — tribute to the old king of amateur CCD cameras
 There was a time when the KAF-1600 CCD sensor was an indisputable king among solid state detectors. It was a dream sensor for every amateur astronomer — huge resolution of 1.5 mega-pixels and 14 × 9 mm photo-sensitive area seemed like a miracle. Even the ¼ area, 400 kilo-pixels KAF-0400 offered twice the horizontal resolution compared to cameras available to amateurs these days.

Today’s cameras surpass the old king by more than on order of magnitude, be it in number of pixel (C3-61000 has 38-times more pixels) or sensor area (C4-16000 surface is 11-times greater). Not only the size and number of pixels of newer sensors, but also lower read noise, field uniformity, anti-blooming, download speed and other parameters pushed the KAF-1600 based cameras out of the spotlight long time ago.

But KAF-1600 kept its place in one important area — astronomical research. Very high quantum efficiency and perfectly linear response to light, as well as huge pixel capacity leading to great dynamic range resulted to precise photometric measurements. Rather high read noise was not an issue, as other noise sources like sky glow overshadowed it (filters used for photometry have rather wide passbands). Even the best current CMOS detectors have hard time to equal these parameters.

M42 Great Orin Nebula (left) and Rosette nebula (right), taken with G2-1600 on 80 mm refractor

KAF-1600, like other commercially available CCD sensors, are no longer manufactured. CMOS took over all amateur cameras, even the ones used for research. The greater surprise were images taken and processed by Stefano Tognaccini and Marco Burali. They use one of the very first G2-1600 CCD cameras ever manufactured to capture really stunning portraits of famous deep-sky objects. Great tribute to the old king of amateur astronomical CCD cameras. Thank you!

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