Product Type: Celestron telescopes
Newest Review: ... great to the budding astrophotographer until we look at the pricetag, £116. Celestron are hoping that their potential customers will ... more
Member Name: Revier
Advantages: Does enable the taking of passable images
Disadvantages: Very Overpriced
Everybody has to start somewhere in a new hobby and Celestron would like you to start with them and their entry level planetary imager the Neximage. Exclusively a lunar/planetary camera, the Neximage is marketed at the beginner interested in shooting objects within the solar system.
First, the facts...The neximage uses a 3.6mm x 2.7mm CCD colour chip with 640x480 resolution, with a pixel size of 5.6 microns giving a sensitivity of <1 lux. It's USB 2 and is capable of a maximum of 30fps (although we'll look at that in a bit more detail later). It comes with a CD Rom that's got processing software and camera control software on it. A Pc with a 333mhz pentium 2 and 128mb of ram is required as a minimum to run the camera.
On the surface all that sounds great to the budding astrophotographer until we look at the pricetag, £116. Celestron are hoping that their potential customers will be sufficiently unconfident and uncertain enough in starting their new hobby that they'll pay over the odds for a "comprehensive and complete start up package". A little unfair perhaps to place the blame squarely on Celestron, all of us (this writer included) have been guilty of paying for convenience and for someone else to do the work for us but in this instance, significantly better cameras with better (and free) softwares can be found with only a minimal effort.
The software found on the CD rom is outdated and basic with better image processing tools as well as camera operating softwares being easily obtained on the net, they are widely distributed, absolutely free (and legal).
The cameras claim to 30fps is slightly misleading, while technically the camera can produce 30 frames per second you can only effectively use 10 before data compression dramatically reduces image quality.
These days there are so many simple webcams out there that outperform the neximage, using the logitech fusion webcam that I started out with as an example. The Fusion has a max resolution of 1280x960 and will capture 20 fps at 640x480 with a pixel size of 3.5 microns. The most amazing part is, all that cost me just over a quarter of what Celestron is asking for the Neximage, £30.
I cannot recommend the Neximage for the simple reason that it is overpriced by about 400%, it is a highly standard camera with a hugely inflated pricetag that is targeted at the newcomer who might be attracted by a certain style of advertising.
Summary: With a little research there are much better and cheaper cameras to be found