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Finally, a highly affordable camera that can pretty much cover all your needs. The amazing new GSTAR-EX3 colour camera is your passport to live viewing and imaging the night sky. With better overall functionality and performance it also offers slightly wider field of view than its predecessors. The GSTAR-EX3 is USB plug and play ready utilising latest high-speed USB3 technology and new generation Sony Exmor image sensor and internal thermal cooling fan. The GSTAR-EX3 camera uses the Sony IMX178 CMOS Sensor which features high sensitivity, high resolution, and high dynamic range with back-illuminated CMOS image sensor technology. The IMX178 is an "Exmor R" sensor, with significantly enhanced imaging characteristics, including sensitivity and low noise, by changing fundamental structure of "Exmor" adopted column-parallel A/D converter to back-illuminated type.

Sony STARVIS sensors, of which the IMX178 is one, features sensitivity of 2000 mV or more per 1m*, and realizes high picture quality in the visible and near infrared light regions.
High dynamic range was achieved by featuring 14 bit ADC, which reduced quantization noise and suppressed dark random noise. This enables clear image quality in light and dark areas, even when imaging objects with high contrast. Not only is it a great deep-sky capable camera, with its small 2.4um pixels and 1/1.8-inch sensor size is performs exceptionally well as a superb guiding camera due to its advantages in resolution and wide FOV and as a high-speed planetary imager using ROI.
 
A  VERSATILE  CAMERA
DEEP-SKY IMAGER
PLANETARY IMAGER
LUNAR IMAGER
SOLAR IMAGER
AUTO-GUIDER
   
   
GSTAR-EX3 uses the amazing Exmore R series sensor with STARVIS low light performance

 

FEATURES
GSTAR-EX3 High Resolution Colour camera
Image Sensor: Sony Exmor IMX178 colour (see spectral response here)
Size: 1/1.8" (8.92mm diagonal) (3:2 aspect)
Resolution: 3072 x 2048 (6.29 M recording pixels)
Pixels: 2.4μm x 2.4μm
Bit Depth: 8 bit and 14 bit (10 bit / 12 bit 14 bit A/D converter)
Output Resolution: 3040 x 2048 (1520 x 1024 binned mode)
Dust Protection: AR dust protective window.
Exposure: 0.244 sec ~16 mins
Frame rates: up to 195 fps with ROI*
Cooling: Fan vented (on/off controllable)
Connection: USB3 (also USB2.0)
Power: USB powered
Dimensions: 84 (L) x 67mm (W)
Weight: 300 grams
Thread: M42 female
Nosepiece: M42 male to 1.25 inch (threaded for 1.25" filters)
Auto-Guiding: ST4 compliant with ASCOM and WDM drivers
Cables: USB3 and Auto-guide supplied
CD Software:
Includes powerful live viewing, live stacking and capture softwares, including the latest update of GSTAR4 capture V.56 plus ASCOM drivers and auto-guiding software. Compatible with WIN XP, WIN7 WIN8 and WIN10.

Image & video formats: AVI, SER, BMP, JPG, PNG, TIF & FITS

GSTAR-EX3 Image Sensor Sony EXMOR GSTAR-EX3 fan cooling, USB3 and Auto-guiding interface
The GSTAR-EX3 high-resolution camera comes with a M42 x0.75 female threaded front housing for direct attachment to M42 male adaptors and providing more inward focus capability. It can also be used in 1.25 inch eyepiece holders with supplied M42 male to 1.25 inch nosepiece adaptor or optional M42 male to 2 inch nosepiece.

The rear of the camera features a low brightness red power LED which blinks during operation. A USB3 high-speed port for connecting the camera directly to your computers USB3 or USB2 port with supplied USB cable and ST4 auto-guiding port for connecting the camera directly to your mounts auto-guiding port connector using the supplied 1.5 metre auto-guiding cable. The camera is kept cooled to ambient temperatures via the built-in fan and side vent helping to reduce hot pixels.

A CAMERA FOR DEEP-SKY AND PLANETARY IMAGING

M27 taken with GSTAR-EX3

GSTAR-EX3 capture Silver Coin glalaxy NGC253 with 130mm scope
Above: NGC253 from a 130mm f/5 Newtonian from suburban backyard using with GSTAR-EX3 set to 30 second, unguided exposures and later stacked. Auto Dark Frame subtraction feature was used during exposures so no need to apply them later during the stacking process. The above images are rescaled down from the large original recorded 3040 x 2048 and 1520 x 1024 formats.  Image by Steve Massey

M65 captured with GSTAR-EX3 camera

Above: M65 Leo galaxy using 12 inch f/5 Newtonian with GSTAR-EX3 set to 10 second exposure live stack x 2 frames. Unguided exposures and later stacked with Registax 5.1 and enhanced with PhotoShop. Auto Dark Frame subtraction was used during exposures. Image by Steve Massey

 

POWERFUL FEATURES & SOFTWARE
LIVE DARK FRAME SUBTRACTION

One of the powerful features of the cameras software is the ability to subtract visible hot pixels from long exposures live. Cover the scope, select how many frames to capture then check the "Enable" box.

LIVE STACK AND IMAGE ALIGNMENT

This is perhaps the key feature of the cameras software whereby deeper views and images can be displayed on screen and captured in real-time using the live stacking option. Just like the GSTAR-EX and EX2 cameras which performed co-add or summing of video frames within the cameras electronics, the images from the GSTAR-EX3 uses external software to perform this task offering a few user options. Option 1) to Co-add a number of user defined images from the camera to display the equivalent of a much longer or deeper exposure or Option 2) to average a user defined number of exposures for displaying a smoother, less noisy result. This is similar to the CSD function of our GSTAR4 capture software although much less limited.

If your telescopes mount is fairly well polar aligned and / or tracking pretty accurately, another amazing feature within the "Live Stacking" option is aligning and stacking images in real-time. In other words, images output from the camera can be aligned as well as stacked (with dark frames subtracted for that matter) all at the same time to produce a lovely still image, sequence of still images or video recording at the same time. And, you can stack these later as well for even smoother results using your favourite image stacking software.

Select 8 bit mode or better still, 14 bit mode for greater dynamic range and detail.
 

Live stacking and dark frame subtraction of GSTAR-EX3 camera and software
LIVE VIEWING
PERFECT FOR GENERAL PUBLIC VIEWING

As can be seen from the smart phone snapshot of a computer monitor at right, using only a small 130mm f/5 telescope, dramatic full colour views of nebula, galaxies or star cluster is possible and with shorter exposures, wonderful views of the planets or craggy landscapes of the Moon .
Like anything when it comes to modern computer displays, the viewing angle capability of the LED or LCD monitor is important for allowing large group viewing.

The computer monitor view here is of M20 the Trifid Nebula (5 second refreshed exposures) utilising live auto-dark frame subtraction and live stacking options of the capture and display software. The telescope mount is only roughly aligned so the overlay bullseye crosshair is used to monitor any overly large unwanted drift. If this happens, one can simply pause the recording, adjust the mount position so that that the reference star is centred to the crosshair once again then resume the recording.
However if the mount is extremely well aligned then this is not necessary and live alignment and stacking feature can be used together. 

Helix nebula live view from GSTAR-EX3 camera

Silver Coin galaxy live view from GSTAR-EX3 camera

Above: At left and right are screen grabs of live viewing sessions using a small 130mm F/5 Newtonian. At left is a live view of the Helix (NGC7293), a large planetary nebula with low surface brightness. Notice how nicely the colours are revealed in this near real-time view of unguided exposures updating every 10 seconds using live stack mode. This is typically a very difficult object to capture in a near real-time sense particularly in colour. And, to the right above is the magnificent silver coin galaxy NGC253 in video mode using only 5 second exposures and live stack mode. The small display window can of course be set to full screen mode as shown in the M20 live view above. 

 

BRILLIANT COLOUR IMAGE SCALE AND DETAIL
Remember, the GSTAR-EX3 is not a large format (wide-field) or Peltier cooled camera type camera but a video camera with the ability to take sort or long exposures, video or still images and it really does perform as well or better in some regards to some far more expensive cameras out there. While its image sensor produces a slightly wider field of view over the old EX and EX2 models, the image scale produced make for far more interesting close up portraits of galaxies and nebulae alike.

  

M42 Great Orion Nebula with GSTAR-EX3 colour camera

 

Like any camera out there, particularly when it comes to deep-sky imaging, optimal performance and contrast will be limited by sky-glow, local light pollution and sky transparency. Also, it is important to remember that the key to brighter deep-sky images with good contrast is a fast scope like f/4 or f/5. Use of a focal reducer assists greatly in producing not only a wider field of view but also brighter images. We should be releasing one for the GSTAR-EX3 in the coming months.

 

MOON & PLANETS
With its super fine 2.4 micron pixels and 6.3 megapixel format, the GSTAR-EX3 can record and produce wonderfully detailed lunar and planetary portraits even from a single snap shot or using your favourite stacking and image processing software. This effortless composite image of the Moon below was captured on the 8th October 2016.

 

Copernicus high resolution image with GSTAR-EX3
High Resolution Imaging

With its 6.3 megapixel array of 2.4 micron pixels, excellent seeing conditions will allow you to capture wonderful lunar vistas with fine detail. The following lunar images were taken with the GSTAR-EX3 and 12 inch Newtonian.

Crater Eratosthenes captured with GSTAR-EX3 camera

Lunar craters captured with the GSTAR-EX3 camera
Clavius captured with super resolution of the GSTAR-EX3 camera
Jupiter captured with GSTAR-EX3 camera Jupiter 2017

Captured using 12 inch f/5 Newtonian and Explore Scientific 5X tele-extender and GSTAR-EX3 on a night of average seeing.

Mode, 14 bit and 3040 x 2048 resolution was used with software ROI cropping for increased capture frame rate speed. This quickly processed image was stacked in AutoStakkert and sharpened in Maxim DL4.

Below: Ganymede slightly enlarged showing some subtle surface detail before passing behind Jupiter.

 

 

 

Saturn captured with GSTAR-EX3 June 2017

Left: Saturn captured with a 12 inch Newtonian telescope with 5X tele-extender and GSTAR-EX3 June 2017

 
TECHNICAL  &  FURTHER INFORMATION
SPECTRUM SENSITIVITY CHARACTERISTICS

GSTAR-EX3 SPECTRAL SENSITIVITY CHARACTERISTICS

Hardware Requirements:

CPU equal to Intel Core2 2.8GHz or better
Memory: 2GB or more
USB Port: USB3.0 High Speed port *
USB Port: USB2.0

*Highest speed frame rates of up to 195 fps depends on the computer hardware and camera exposure, bit depth and ROI settings.

**The camera is designed to work optimally with Intel based USB3 port controllers including NEC and many others. However the cameras software may not perform correctly with some older computers that use AS-Media USB3 port controllers in Window 7 but may be ok in WIN8 and later. If this is the case, you can simply use a USB2.0 port.

***Please note: If you do not well understand the basics of using your telescope, its optics and / or have difficulties working with a computer then this product may not be suitable for you.**
 

ACCESSORY
ProStar 0.7X Focal Reducer
 

Increase the field of view and image brightness with the ProStar M42 x 0.75mm thread on focal reducer (image compression) lens. Feature low profile design, black anodised finish with knurled edges for easy tightening and removal.

Includes a 10mm a 1.25 inch thread on ring extension for eyepiece holders that have low set tightening thumb screws to ensure secure attachment. Or you can simply use your existing UV-IR cut filter which can thread on to the reducer lens housing directly.

Either way you will gain an extra 30% field of view and brighter images.
Particularly recommended for Schmidt Cassegrain and Maksutov telescopes.

 

   

Buy Now  Model #PS-RDCR-TM

 

VIDEOS
1. Product introduction video
2. Jupiter in motion
   
  more soon...

Getting the best results


Like any form of astro-photography / imaging, getting the best out of a camera depends on several factors including your telescope optics, environmental conditions, understanding the capture software and optimal settings thereof and of course, personal post image processing skills.
When it comes to live deep-sky viewing and imaging, the GSTAR-EX3 works best with short focal length (faster) instruments like F/5 etc so, with a longer focal length instrument, consider using a focal reducer (tele-compressor) lens such as the PS-RDCR-TM mentioned above or other telescope design specific lens.

You should seriously take time to learn the capture and live view features of the software by experimenting  with various settings to see what works and what doesn't for a given celestial target as there are many combinations that will affect the "on screen" view and final processed image.
For example you might try using a longer exposure time greater than 5 seconds using the softwares "Trigger Mode" capturing a dozen or so frames for later stacking or use shorter exposures with "Video Mode" capturing one or two hundred frames for later stacking to compare the differences. Some prefer "real-time" dark frame subtraction while others want more control over this by capturing their dark frames separately and applying them later. You might prefer to stretch the gamma settings a little to reveal fainter detail and co-additively align and stacking in real-time or you might prefer to use Registax or AutoStakkert to do this later or even use both methods. 

In the end however, producing a really nice final image depends on how well you set things up with the camera and software from the outset in order to register and record the maximum pixel information from the camera and of course your own personal image processing skills.

See some customer images here. Please feel free to send along your own result.


GSTAR-EX4 (wide view deep-sky camera) GSTAR-EX2 (discontinued) GSTAR-EX (discontinued) GSTAR-EX CLR (discontinued)
Software GSTAR Capture Software (V2.56)    

*** PLEASE NOTE THIS REFERENCE PAGE IS STILL CURRENTLY UNDER DEVELOPMENT***

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