Altair Hypercam 269C REVIEW
You all probably know by now that I am a total gadget fiend and so I was super excited to get my hands on a new astro camera!
It also comes in that super snazzy purple!
So first things first, what are the vital statistics on this new camera?
It is based on a Sony Exmor IMX269 sensor, which is a 4/3rds size CMOS sensor.
21 megapixel sensor.
Each pixel is 3.3um.
Pixel array is : 5280x3956 in a 20.49 mm × 17.83 mm array
Cost £999 (at the time of writing).
The camera itself is a 'Pro Tec 4GB' model which means that it has electronic cooling, and also 4GB of on board memory. The electronic cooling can cool to -45c (from ambient) but in reality, I've found that there is no real benefit in going below -10/-15c. Altair only offer the 269C in a 'Pro Tec' version at the moment, i'm not sure if a fan cooled 'pro' version will be out at a later date. However being a 'Pro Tec' model means that you can specify the temperature you want the camera to run at and can capture dark frames at your leisure.
So what comes in the box with the Altair 269C?
A spare desiccant cartage (however this shouldn't be used without contacting Altair first)
1.8m USB3.0 cable.
2" nose piece, this is threaded on the end to accept filters
power supply (I have been running it via the pegasus pocket powerbox though)
Software isn't included in the box, but you can download Altair capture via the Altair camera website. You can also download any drivers here too and access a whole raft of support, including a tonne of useful articles.
One of the first things I did when I received the camera was to carry out a sensor analysis in SharpCap Pro. This useful tool can tell you a lot about the characteristics of a sensor. Here's the sensor analysis results for the 269C.
When doing the sensor analysis I found that the camera completed the sensor analysis in about 10 minutes, this was using the provided USB3 cable.
This camera fits really well in the Hypercam line up. Altair are pitching it between the 183C (great for short focal lengths) and the 294C (great for longer focal lengths). Primarily I have been using the 269C with an Altair Ascent 102ED (both with and without a 0.8x reducer, so 714mm and 571mm focal lengths) and it gives a really nice field of view.
I feel the sensor is a nice size and shape, there are other cameras out on the market that utilise a square sensor, with the 269c you can crop down to a square if you wish without losing too much of the FOV.
So whats a killer feature of this camera?
No sensor glow! Seriously, I was hard pressed to find any sensor glow on this camera...in the end I gave up because no matter how hard I pushed it, there simply wasn't any!
Check out these darks from the 269C:
I deliberately did a longer exposure to see if there was any evidence of glow, however there wasn't any to be found.
The camera also has a heated optical window to help prevent dew from forming. During the few months that I have been using it I have not suffered from any dew forming on the window.
So how does this camera perform on a telescope?
I've found that the 269c is a very capable and sensitive sensor.
For all my deep sky images the camera was set to 565 (unity) gain and 24 black level.
One of my first images that I captured was the Rosette Nebula
What most impressed me with this image was the amount of detail from only 2 hours worth of exposure. The field of view fitted the Rosette Nebula very nicely.
Next up, the Horse Head Nebula
This was the first time I had tried to combine RGB exposures with Ha data and it worked out pretty well! The 269c shows that it is well suited to imaging with a 'narrowband' filter such as the Altair Triband/Quadband filter. No calibration frames were used on the above image!
Another winter favourite, the great Orion Nebula and the Running Man Nebula
but with its smaller pixels, what about galaxies?
Here's the Leo Triplet
With the 3.3um pixel size, the altair 269C proves that it is very cable at picking up fine detail in galaxies.
Finally, one target that is a little closer to home!
For this lunar image I captured 1000 frames and stacked the best 50%.
My thoughts on the Altair Hypercam 269C Pro Tec:
Its a great all rounder camera for various focal lengths, and fits in great between the 183C and 294C sensors
The larger rectangular field of view gives you more leeway if you want to crop down etc
There's no sensor glow
I really like the TEC cooling and how it means I can shoot darks whenever I like.
I think the camera is a great addition to the hypercam line up.
Here's my video review on the Altair Hypercam 269C Pro Tec:
Disclosure: Bear in mind that the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a few pennies (at no cost to you) which in turn helps to support the astro gadget habit and keep all the reviews coming! However at the end of the day the decision is always yours and whether you go through these links or not is entirely up to you.