Altair Hypercam 294C PRO TEC Cooled 11.6mp Colour CMOS Camera
The TEC-cooled Hypercam 294C Colour camera has a Thermoelectric cooling system for extremely low noise imaging.
The Hypercam 294C has a 11.6mp Sony IMX294 4/3rds sensor (23.2mm diagonal) capable of 14bit depth. It is Back Side Illuminated (BSI) with both STARVIS and Exmor-R ratings, making it ideal for low light imaging applications such as astronomy.
The Hypercam features TEC-cooling, amp glow reduction for easier image capture and processing, as well as an an impressive 66ke- full well capacity.
A sealed chamber system with heated optical window enable a two year frost free guarantee*
Due to it's low read noise, the Hypercam 294C is suitable for both deepsky and solar system imaging with ROI, as well as "frame stacking and averaging" for video astronomy. The TEC system can be switched off for fast exposure solar system imaging.
In fact this sensor outperforms the Panasonic sensor used in our Altair 1600C Camera by such a wide margin, we have stopped manufacturing them. It also outperforms similar CCD sensors in both read noise and sensitivity.
The Hypercam 294C has the following features:
- Amp glow reduction.
- TEC Cooling system - cools down to -40C below ambient.
- Temperature sensor, with data available in realtime, temperature written to .FITS files for easier processing.
- Free offer armoured case.
- 12v Power supply (specify EU UK or USA cord)
- ROI (Region of Interest) for cropped higher speed solar, lunar and planetary imaging.
- Binning supported.
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Easier than a DSLR and no "astro modding" required: Unlike a DSLR, there's no need to risk modifying your camera to capture detail in red hydrogen wavelengths, because it has no "red blocking filter" in the way. Hypercam is much easier to use and focus than a DSLR, thanks to the live preview mode which shows uncompressed video at full resolution. You can see a tiny star-point clearly in real-time, because there is no video compression like with a DSLR video stream. There are no clumsy power connectors which drop out easily, no firmware to fight with your software, no mirror to lock up, and a "true" uncompressed RAW mode output. You get exactly what this Sony sensor "sees" from without alterations.
Low read noise. The Sony IMX294 CMOS sensor has very low read noise at approx. 2e, wide dynamic range. Being Back Illuminated, it has high-sensitivity, low dark current, no smear, and zero blooming characteristics as found on CCD sensors. BSI technology moves the sensor circuitry behind the pixel where it does not block light, resulting in higher quantum efficiency than a CCD sensor.
HGC mode: HGC is can be switched on in the AltairCapture software, allowing read noise to stay below 2e but preserving dynamic range of 13 stops.
Recommended Telescopes for the Hypercam 294C: With a pixel size of 4.63 microns, and an active imaging area of 17.47x12.86mm, the Hypercam 294C performs well with telescopes of around 750mm imaging focal length or more. It will tend to under-sample at shorter focal lengths (therefore the Hypercam 183M or 26M series cameras are suggested for shorter focal lengths). In particular the Hypercam 294C is recommended for Altair Wave Series 115mm, 130mm and 152mm refractors, 200mm and larger Newtonians, and Schmidt Cassagrains (SCTs) such as the Meade and Celestron ranges, Celestron Hyperstar and RASA scopes. Basically telescopes with a larger spot size are more suitable for the 294C sensor pixel size. For lunar and planetary imaging, at long focal lengths, the 294C is is quite a formidable solar system camera.
Try deep-sky "lucky" imaging. The low read noise lets you stack shorter exposures to take advantage of the low read noise, reducing atmospheric aberration, mount tracking errors and wind vibration. The more frames you stack, the smoother the image becomes, and the higher the cumulative dynamic range. In this way, long cumulative exposure times of many hours can be achieved with a modest mount. The result is a smoother, sharper image with more detail.
Video Astronomy/EAA Friendly. The Hypercam 294C camera is not only desirable for Deepsky Imaging - it's also great for Video Astronomy or "EAA" Electronically Assisted Astronomy. The resolution, high sensitivity, and amp glow reduction technology are well suited to this task. What's more, you can use the Live Stacking features in the AltairCapture software or SharpCap PRO. All-sky time-lapse imaging or video is easy with a DSLR lens and optional Hypercam Lens Adapters (product code: CLA-EOS or CLA-NIKON).
To sum it up, the headline features of the Hypercam 294C camera are:
- 11.6mp resolution SONY STARVIS Exmor R Back Side Illuminated IMX294 CMOS sensor with approx. 90% QE
- 4128x2808 active 4.63 micron pixels in a 16.05mm x 12.61mm array. Physical sensor size, 4/3rds" 23.1mm diagonal.
- Extremely low read noise of about 1.5-1.6e in HCG mode for very smooth image quality and shorter exposures required to show deepsky objects.
- Amp glow reduction technology reduces amp glow, reduces noise, and increases contrast.
- High Dynamic Range with 14 bit ADC to 16bit output .FITS files in RAW mode, for beautiful deepsky images.
- Up to 17.5 Frames per second video in full 20mp resolution. (You will need a computer with high USB bandwidth to achieve these speeds, preferably with Intel or Via hardware USB controller on the motherboard).
More technical stuff:
Pure RAW video and stills mode and "digital" RGB output modes for better post processing: The Hypercam sensor ADC can deliver 12bit RAW files, which are stretched to 16 bit. In RAW mode analog (on-sensor) gain is used for ultra low read-noise images. Because the output is completely "RAW" in analog mode, there is no partial "downstream digital" processing like with a DSLR or other cheaper Chinese cameras of similar design, resulting in true RAW mode for the best deepsky performance. True RAW mode allows greater flexibility and consistency in processing large stacks of frames for deepsky "lucky" imaging, where the camera's low read noise can be taken advantage of. Either .FITS image or .SER video files are captured in their purest form for later processing in your software of choice. Of course for Video Astronomy / EAA use, you can select RGB Mode and capture .AVI files, or just view the screen with full access to white balance, gamma, contrast and histogram controls, just like any other camera.
USB3.0 speed and USB2.0 compatibility: USB3.0 gives much faster transfer speeds than USB2.0 cameras, however, The Hypercam is compatible with USB2.0.
AltairCapture software: The intuitive AltairCapture software, can be downloaded from www.altairastro.help. AltairCapture is a stable 64 bit Windows application, which allows full control of the camera in high speed video or still mode, and supports all the file formats useful for astro imaging or scientific imaging in 16bit, 12bit or 8bit mode. The popular PHD Guiding, SharpCap PRO, and Deepsky imaging software APT and NINA are also fully supported. An ASCOM driver is available for other software, downloaded at www.altairastro.help where you can also get ASCOM driver updates. The installation process is simple and straightforward, starting with AltairCapture which contains the driver base.
SharpCap PRO software: Altair Astro have worked closely with SharpCap developer Robin Glover since 2015, to fully integrate Altair cameras with SharpCap at a basic level. Now, Sharpcap PRO enables even more features with this camera, such as software driven polar alignment (more accurate than any other method), live flat frame subtraction and live dark-frame subtraction. The fast, accurate polar alignment feature in SharpCap PRO is a life-saver for imaging, minimising setup time. Most importantly, you can use the Smart Histogram tool in SharpCap PRO to determine the optimum exposure time for your target and sky conditions, taking the guesswork out of imaging.
TEC cooling: The Hypercam has an internal Thermoelectric cooling system connected directly to the sensor. The temperature can be set and maintained at a chosen level down to -40C below ambient (though there is no real benefit in going below -15C). Cooling is especially desirable for long exposure imaging to reduce thermal noise which accumulates during long exposures, and to make calibration of dark-frames the flat-frames more accurate. The result is visibly reduced noise per frame, easier processing, and less sub-frames required to attain a smooth noise-free image, compared to a non-cooled camera.
Support & warranty: Altair delivers proper on-shore English-speaking UK/EU support with a 2 year manufacturer warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Altair also offers a 2 year no-freeze warranty. New users should visit www.altairastro.help where you can get answers to technical questions,, download the ASCOM driver, and latest versions of AltairCapture. The Altair Facebook group is also a great place to share tips and techniques, to get the best out of your camera. The AltairCapture software interface supports most European languages including English, German, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Thai, and Turkish.
Hypercam file formats: The camera can be fully controlled in AltairCapture and SharpCap to output uncompressed .AVI and .SER video files for solar system imaging, as well as all common still image formats such as .JPEG (compressed or uncompressed) .PNG .TIFF .BMP, and .FITS up to 16bit depth for deepsky imaging. The Hypercam 294C supports 8bit or 14bit output. The 14bit output mode can be used for deep sky imaging with less frames needing to be stacked and a wider pixel intensity range than a 12bit camera.
Included in the box:
Camera body with internal Thermoelectric cooling system and front female M42x0.75mm T-Thread interface (17.5mm backfocus).
A spare, rechargeable desicant cartridge is included for servicing (Note: This should not be replaced unless confirmed by your dealer).
1.8m High-speed USB3.0 cable.
2" OD Nosepiece with standard 2" M48x0.75mm filter thread on the front. (code ALTAIRH-2IN) to accept standard astro filters.
Built-in UV-IR Blocking Filter, AR coatings. (Removable for sensor cleaning).
Plastic screw-on dust cap.
Armoured sealed case with foam insert.
110v/240v Power supply for camera (specify US, UK or EU plug when ordering).
Note: This camera does not come with software in the box. To operate the camera you will need to download the latest camera drivers at www.altairastro.help (opens new window)
Sensor & performance specifications:
SONY Exmor R BSI IMX294 Colour sensor
Sensor Size: 4/3" diagonal (23.2mm)
Exposure duration shortest/longest: 0.1 ms (0.00014 secs) / 5 secs (Video Mode)
0.1 ms (0.0001 secs) / 1000 secs (Trigger Mode)
Bit depth: 8bit & 14bit mode switchable
Pixel size microns: 4.63 x 4.63 um
Resolution in pixels: 4128x2808 (11.6mp)
Recording System: Still Picture and Video
Region of Interest (ROI) support: Available
Approx. Max frame rates (assuming computer Bus operating at full bandwidth)*:
640x480 ROI 63FPS
320x240 ROI 63FPS
Approx. 50% of above FPS.*
* Based on average testing. May be revised as we get more data. The shorter the exposure duration, the faster the frame rate.
An expensive PC does not guarantee a fast frame rate because PC bus and main board architecture vary.
Sensor QE / Quantum Efficiency: Approx. 90%
Readout: Progressive Scan
Shutter: Electronic Rolling Shutter
Software & OS support:
Drivers & AltairCapture software download (Windows only): www.altairastro.help (opens new window).
Driver support: PHD2, AltairCapture, SharpCap
AltairCapture OS support: Win 8/ 10 (32 & 64 bit)
NOTE: Windows 10 is recommended for best performance, with 2013 or later machine USB host controller v1.0 or later.
ASCOM fully supported with drivers downloadable at www.altairastro.help (opens new window).
SharpCap and APT (3rd party applications) are also fully supported with native drivers for seamless camera control.
USB Port & Cable: 3.0 USB Cable, 1.8m cable (USB2.0 also supported).
- Backfocus / Flange Distance: 17.5mm from front T2 flange excluding threads to sensor.
- Cooling: High Performance Thermo Electronic Cooling System
- Camera body length: 98mm
- Camera body outer diameter: 85mm
- Weight grams: 580g
- Optical window: AR-coated UV/IR blocking filter 400-700nm wavelength Transmission
Back-focus & Adaptor compatibility:
- Optical Window is NOT removable for cleaning.
- Camera body thread: M42x0.75 T2 Female Thread.
- Astro filter thread adaptor: Included, 1.25" OD and 2 OD (optional), Female thread
- Sensor surface distance from flat end of CS-mount adaptor: 12.5 mm
Operating environment & power requirements:
Power consumption: 1.4W (standby) 5V 280mA
3.65W (running with Fan off);
7.2W (running with Fan on);
Max operating temp: 50 °C
Lowest operating temp: -10 °C
Max operating humidity: 80 % RH
Power source in Volts: 5V DC (via USB cable)
Windows PC OS and Hardware Requirements:
- Windows 10PRO 64bit OS Recommended
- Minimum CPU: Equal to i5 or Higher
- Minimum Memory: 8GB or More
- USB port: USB2.0 High-speed Port or USB3.0 High-speed Port (best performance). Please note: Cheap laptops and touchscreen notebooks may not have adequate USB systems.
Software delivery: Downloaded online at www.altairastro.help and saved to hard drive.
Quick Start instructions: Online at www.altairastro.help
Warranty: 2 years manufacturer warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Return to point of purchase. 2 year "Frost Free" warranty against ice forming on the sensor (provided the sensor chamber seal is not breached).
- Altair Magnetic Filter Holder (type depends on your reducer and telescope)
- Altair Premium USB cables
- Altair Hypercam DSLR Lens Adapter for Canon EOS or Nikon lenses. (Codes: CLA-EOS and CLA-NIK).
Availability: If out of stock, click on the red "Notify when in stock" button above to receive an email when product is ready to ship. Please Note: Altair Astro and dealers reserve the right to change the product specification and/or price at any time without notice.
* Frost free guarantee valid if sensor chamber has not been opened by the customer.
Delivery Weight Package