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SC001 Camera Capturing the Moon and More-Grant Sorensen

SC001 Camera Capturing the Moon and More-Grant Sorensen

SC001 Camera Capturing the Moon and More-Grant Sorensen

Greetings fellow astronomers.  Today I am going to review the new Svbony SC001 eyepiece WIFI spotting camera.  I am going to test this new WIFI camera with a few small telescopes I own (see figure 1) and perform some basic imaging on the Moon, the Sun, the great Orion Nebula along with some other celestrial targets.  The Svbony SC001 WIFI eyepiece camera is designed by Svbony to be used in conjunction with a good spotting scope like the Svbony SV406P (or other spotting scopes that use 1.25 eyepiece holders) for spotting targets, nature watching, target shooting, hunting, etc.  A spotting scope such as the Svbony SV406P works very well with this new camera and the images are very sharp with great color and contrast.  Nature photos of course look wonderful.  It is interesting that Svbony describes this camera for this exact reason - spotting, target shooting and beautiful nature shoots.  Please see the main Svbony webpage for a brief description for more on this -https://www.svbony.com/sc001-wifi-spotting-scope-camera/  along with some nature pictures they provide with this scope-camera combination.     

The new Svbony SC001 WIFI camera is well made, robust and comes well packaged with several  accessories including a C-mount adapter, a charging cable, and a included Micro SD card for storing images, etc (see center bottom image in figure 1).  The product link provided above describes what is included with this new camera and its basic operation which I will not dive into much detail here.  In this review I am going to test drive some features of this new camera such as it's unique WIFI hotspot capability to image the Moon, stars and our Sun.  Unlike virtually all other eyepiece camera's on the market - the Svbony SC001 has a unique WIFI hotspot capability which means this new camera can be used without wires to image the moon, many bright celestrial objects like the great Orion Nebula (M42).  Yes no wires at all needed!  You can of course also hook this new camera up via USB and use software like Sharpcap in the standard manner like other eyepiece camera's but you cannot manually control any of the settings-more on this later.  What is really nice is you can use your tablet or  your phone along with the free Svbony Camera app you install (available on both Android and IOS devices) to not only provide a "live" view of what you are seeing wirelessly but too also transfer and store what is being imaged by the WIFI camera to your personal device (see figure 2).  This is a pretty unique and cool capability for an inexpensive camera like this one.  

The SC001 WIFI Camera is entirely designed to use fully automatic settings to adjust images and this means you cannot manually adjust the brightness, contrast, gain and exposure etc.. So then how well do automatic settings work with this new camera?  Are the automatic settings good enough for viewing low light images or really bright images?  In this review I will testing the new Svbony SC001 WIFI camera carefully in both very low light and very bright light conditions to see exactly how well it performs.  For example i will test this camera on our really bright and intense Sun (with of course a front solar filter attached) to see how well the camera's fully automatic settings adjust the Sun's brightness.  This is a good test as most conventional cameras would be completely saturated by light with little to no contrast or detail of our Sun unless a good polarizing filter or ND filter is attached to reduce the intense light.  The other question is how sensitive is this new camera on picking up low light and high contrast objects like nebulas and stars under low light and dark conditions.  How well does this new camera from Svbony handle color, exposure and contrast under all these varying real world conditions.  While performing all this testing how does the unique WIFI capability work under real conditions including cold weather.  Let's find out and see:

Equipment Used:

Equipment Used.jpg

Figure 1: Equipment Used

SC001 Camera App used for Imaging.jpg

Figure 2: USB Camera App used for Imaging (works identically on both Android and IOS)

Analysis and results:

So what are my findings?  From my initial testing of the SC001 camera I found the WIFI range too be really good and the WIFI signal did not drop out at all (not even once) while in use on multiple devices tested (both on android and iphone) out in some fairly cold weather (-5 C).  From my testing I did acquire some really nice images from this camera.  I can tell you this new WIFI camera can do way more than just spot targets, etc.  I love not having cables hanging from my equipment to trip over anymore.
First things first before before we review imaging with this new camera check out the SC001 Camera WIFI hotspot capability in action below.  I have tested connectivity on several personal devices such my Iphone XR, several Android phones, an Android tablet, an Android TV, and even a laptop computer (via free bluestacks Android emulator software).  I can use this WIFI Camera on all of them and it works very well! (see figure 3)
WIFI hotspot on SC001 works on many devices including my android TV.jpg

Figure 3: WIFI hotspot on SC001 works on many devices including my android TV!

Well, what about image quality? Attached below are some of the images I have taken with the Svbony SC001 WIFI camera.  The Moon normally is very bright especially a full moon or near full moon and you normally would need a ND filter to cut down excess light and improve contrast and detail.  I tested viewing the moon first without any filters attached to the SC001 camera and the camera did a pretty good job with the automatic settings and cutting down excess light (see figure 4).  Of course with an attached ND filter (see figure 5) the contrast is very good and of course a bit better but not by much actually.  Even without a light reducing filter the image still had lots of detail, was sharp and quite good and could be easily adjusted by post processing software.  I am very impressed with the SC001 camera which worked well in moon viewing.  As you can see the camera did a pretty good job with the settings on the moon for sure.

The Moon captured with a Meade ETX 60 refractor at FL 400mm (no filter or adjustments).jpg

Figure 4: The Moon captured with a Meade ETX 60 refractor at FL 400mm (no filter or adjustments)

The Moon captured with a Meade ETX 60 refractor at FL 400mm with a ND filter.jpg

Figure 5: The Moon captured with a Meade ETX 60 refractor at FL 400mm with an ND filter

Next, some images of M42 and some stars were taken with the SC001 WIFI Camera with the histogram and black point adjusted afterward so you could see the nebulosity and some detail.  I am very happy with the image quality and results.  Keep in mind I live on the outer edge of a light-polluted city (Bortle 5 and 6).  Of course this camera is not sensitive enough to pick up dimmer dark nebulas and galaxies and does have exposure limitations but was never designed for deep space imaging so this capability should never be expected.  The edge-to-edge aberrations on stars were non-existent and color sensitivity was really good.  I was really surprised with the results and little noise existed in the images even with single shots (See figure 6).  Stacked video and processed images were even better (see figures 7, 8 and 9): 
M42 by SC001.jpgM42 by SC001.jpgCluster by SC001.jpgCluster by SC001.jpg
Figures 6 to 9: M42 and some star clusters captured with the Orion Goscope 80 at FL 350mm
The following images of the Sun were taken with the SC001 WIFI Camera (see figure 10) and with the histogram adjusted and sharpened afterward (see figure 11).  Again I am very happy with the image quality and results.  Keep in mind other than a front solar filter no additional filters were used here.  What surprises me here is how well this camera cut down the extreme brightness of the Sun and I could actually see the sunspots "live" while viewing on my phone in real-time pretty cool.  Take a look at the lower right towards the middle you can already see a sunspot very nice (raw image from view).  The same image is shown with histogram, color adjusted and sharpened in the next Sun image again with very nice contrast imaged from the capabilities of this new camera from Svbony.
The sun image by SC001The sun image by SC001
 Figures 10 and 11: The Sun before and after image processing on Meade ETX 60 at FL 400mm
Sample processing of a SC001 captured image of the great Orion Nebula
unprocessed M42 by SC001.jpg
Figure 12: Unprocessed SC001 image capture of M42 in JPG format
We can use a free program called GIMP (you can use any other programs that allows you to adjust the histogram and black point such as Photoshop) to adjust the histogram light settings.  When we do this magic happens.  We pull the light curve up to bring out the nebula details out that you simply cannot see with your eyes while "live" viewing (while you can see a little bit actually if your eyes are good).  See the two figures below on how this is done:
GIMP processing.jpgGIMP processing.jpg
Figure 13 and 14: Adjusting the light histogram in GIMP before and after
Notice since we boosted the light curve up the background brightness also went up considerably and the image now looks a bit purplish.  We need to now adjust the black level to remove any background noise, the purplish hue and excess light that got boosted.  See below how this is done below:  
GIMP processing.jpg
Figure 15: Adjusting the black level in GIMP
Of course you could also stack the videos captured from this camera using Autostakkert but we will not go into how to do this in this review.  If you want to know about how to process videos such as the ones that get captured from this camera please see my other review - https://www.svbony.com/blog/sv105-camera-for-solar-imaging/:  SV105: Solar Imaging which covers this technique.  It can be used with the Svbony SC001 or any other camera.
So you decide for yourself.  I think this new WIFI camera from Svbony provides a really excellent value for the money.  Not only can you use it without wires but this new camera is capable of taking great pictures and videos and is sensitive enough to take some deep-sky bright images like the Great Orion Nebula.  The camera's automatic exposure settings worked very well and took some great images of the Sun and our Moon with excellent clarity, contrast and detail.  Even though the Svbony SC001 WIFI Camera is fully automatic it did a wonderful job of controlling exposure, sensitivity, brightness and contrast on all celestial images I tested even without any additional filters to cut down excess light.  Keep in mind this camera is not designed to be a deep-space camera and will never be one but I was pleasantly surprised by how sensitive it actually was and what dark images and high contrast images I could actually get from it.  Keep in mind this new WIFI camera from Svbony only costs around $99!  Seems like a steal of a deal to me with all you can get from it - unique WIFI connectivity, a free SD memory storage card to put into it, great quality images produced in a variety of light conditions, wonderful versatility etc...simply amazing!.  I do not think Svbony is doing justice to what this WIFI camera can really do and I think they need to change the product title and the description as it is capable of way more than just daytime spotting and nature viewing.  I think the Svbony SC001 would make a great entry level astrophotography camera for new astronomers just starting out.  This new camera from Svbony provides a great way to discover the universe and its wonders without spending a fortune or breaking the bank.  This camera would be great for group gatherings, star parties, etc due to it's unique hotspot capability.  You can imagine a group of people having fun with this camera looking at the wonders of the universe together through their own phones and tablets.  You just need to creative on how many ways this new camera can be used.  I hope you enjoyed this article on the new Svbony SC001 WIFI Camera.   Give it a try I think you will be really happy to get rid of the wires!

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