Point Grey Chameleon - lunar and solar camera

A quick review of PGR Chameleon USB camera for lunar, solar and planetary imaging

Point Grey Chameleon is a very small USB camera. Even so it has great capabilities. It's quite cheap and it's equipped in one of the latest Sony CCDs - ICX445. You get 1296 x 964 frame with small 3.75μm x 3.75μm pixels (colour or mono). It's a very good lunar and solar imager, much better than DMK31 and 41.
Point Grey Chameleon
Point Grey Chameleon with a C/CS nosepiece

It's a typical machine vision camera with a C/CS thread. To use it with a scope you need a nosepiece for that thread (which are common, and used for example by the TIS DMK/DBK/DFK cameras). On the back there is a Mini B USB 2.0 connection (used often in mobile devices).

Mini B USB 2.0 cable

From the software side you get FlyCapture from Point Grey. FireCapture supports also this camera and it's dedicated for astrophotography. To use Chameleon with FC you need to download matching primary version number of FlyCap (given on FireCapture website) like any 2.5.XXX would fit 2.5 FlyCap version requirement.

Chameleon allows full frame recordings at 18 FPS. When you use smaller part of the sensor (ROI) then the speed will be slightly faster - in my case it was bit more than 20 FPS. When bin2 was used the speed was around 30 FPS (but it's not a typical bin2 and rather useless in astrophotography). Small pixel of this camera causes also that the camera will reach max scope resolution at a slightly brighter f-ratio than common cams with bigger pixels (DMK21/31/41) - keep it around f/15 or even less if the seeing isn't good. ICX445 offers also increased sensitivity, especially in IR - which is an advantage for H-alpha solar imaging or Moon imaging with infrared filters.

For planetary imaging the camera isn't as fast as it could be. 40 - 50 FPS would be much better. If you are focused on planets - get DMK21AU618 or similar camera, if you want to do more Solar/Lunar imaging then get Chameleon.

You can also use this camera for guiding. It doesn't have an ST4 port so you need to connect the mount via RS-232 cable (hand controller) or use a ST4 relay box. To get the camera running in PHD or other guiding software you need to install also FlyCapture v1.8 (in another folder). When you install it launch flycap.exe (v 1.8) and configure it to use for example 640x480 and 15 FPS (just set the config). After that close the app and launch PHD or other app. Chameleon should be under WDM cameras. Small size can be quite handy in narrow setups.

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