Celestron NexImage 10 Review – Solar System Camera

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Celestron NexImage 10 Solar System Camera is affordable and ideal for beginners to start capturing images and videos of planets and the moon. If you don’t want to mess around and modify a webcam, this is a great solution for you.

Celestron NexImage 10 is basically a 10-megapixel webcam designed to use with the telescope. This camera is built only for solar system imaging, not deep sky objects astrophotography. That means that you can use it only for the moon and planets. 

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Celestron NexImage 10 Specs

  • USB 3.0 connection
  • aluminum body
  • ADC 12bit
  • ON Semi MT9J003 color CMOS 10-megapixel sensor
  • maximum resolution 3856 x 2764 pixels
  • pixel size 1.67-micron square
  • 6.4mm x 4.6mm (0.25″ x 0.18″) sensor size
  • 0.0001 to 10 seconds of exposure range
  • Electronic Rolling Shutter
  • -40°F to 104°F (-40°C to 40°C) operating temperature
  • 10′ cable length
  • IR Cutoff Filter
  • 1.25″ barrel and C-thread mounting

Magnification And Field Of View Of NexImage 10 Camera

The first thing I do when I’m planning to buy a new camera is to check the field of view I get from it using a particular telescope. The size of the sensor determines the magnification and the field of view.

The smaller sensor you have in a camera, the more magnification you get. And of course, this means a smaller field of view. That’s why all solar system cameras feature small sensor because you need high magnification for planets and the moon. 

To find out the field of view of the Celestron NexImage 10 and your telescope, you need to do some calculations. I use the free software Stellarium. It will do it for you after putting all the parameters of the camera and the telescope. So let me show you some examples. I will be using a telescope with a focal length of 1000mm here.

After you launch Stellarium, go to the upper right corner where you have four icons. First, click on the Settings icon(first from the right). The setting window will open and then go to the telescope tab first and put your telescope’s parameters.

Then go to the Sensor tab and do the same for the sensor(check the specs of the camera). 

You can add as many sensors and telescopes as you want here. After closing the window, click on the Image Sensor Frame icon(third from the right). There you can switch between the sensors and telescopes. Find an object you want to observe with the camera—for example, the planet Jupiter.

You can now see the field of view you get on the screen using the Celestron NexImage 10 camera and telescope with a focal length of 1000mm.

You can also add a Barlow lens in the Lens tab of the settings window to get more magnification. Here is the example with a 2x Barlow lens.

It is the perfect method you can use for any camera and telescope to determine the field of view at full resolution. Now you know what to expect from the setup before you buy anything. 

How To Use Celestron NexImage 10 Camera

NexImage 10 camera is easy to use plug and play device. You have to screw the 1.25″ barrel on the camera and mount it in your focuser. Then connect the USB cable to the laptop or computer. You will need some kind of laptop with USB 3.0 next to a telescope when using this camera.

NexImage 10 Camera Software

The camera needs special software that is provided in the box. It is iCap imaging software, but I recommend downloading the latest version from the Celestron website

The good idea is to download the software first and try to use it during a day to learn everything you need to capture objects at night. Here is a video tutorial on how to use the iCap software, so watch it first. 

“Lucky Imaging” With Celestron NexImage 10 Camera

Don’t expect to snap one photo in iCap and immediately get a perfect image of the planet. You need to record a high FPS video and then use software like Registax or Autostakkert to combine and stack the best frames to get a clear image. This method is called “lucky imaging”.

The reason behind it is that the live image you will see while looking with the camera and the telescope is distorted by the atmosphere because of the atmospheric turbulence. It is like looking through the water. And by using only the best frames, you can get a good image of the object.

Here are the 20 tips for planetary imaging from Dylan O’Donnell you have to watch to understand the process:

Because the FPS is important, here you can see on what resolution and FPS can the Celestron NexImage 10 camera record a video:

VIDEO RESOLUTIONFPS 12bit ADC
3872×27646.85
2560×192014.34
2048×153621.74
1920×108031.70
1600×120034.17
1280×96050.96
1280×72065.11
1024×76864.59
640×48094.4

Is The Celestron NexImage 10 Worth To Buy?

If you are a beginner starting with the solar system imaging and want to learn with an affordable camera, the Celestron NexImage 10 is for you. It is better than a basic webcam, and you don’t have to modify it; it works out of the box.

But if you already have some experiences with webcams or different cheaper cameras, then I would avoid Celestron NexImage 10 because it will give you only slightly better results than a basic webcam. It is not a professional solar system camera for really high detail images. 

If you are serious about planetary imaging or you are a beginner with a higher budget, I recommend buying some of the ZWO cameras.

Celestron NexImage 10 Camera Alternative

If your budget allows it, I recommend ZWO ASI 178MC as an entry point to a professional imaging camera. It is available on Amazon, and in my opinion, it is still an affordable camera.

Check the current price.

ZWO ASI 178MC will also allow you to do some deep-sky astrophotography of the brightest objects because it is capable of 1000s exposures. It has almost the same sensor size and bigger pixels for more light gathering.

But as for solar system imaging, it is capable of more FPS in ADC 14bit which is so important for planetary imaging:

VIDEO RESOLUTIONFPS 14bit ADC
3096×208030
2560×204831
2048×108058
1280×96065
800×600102.3
640×480126.5
320×240239.8

Conclusion

To sum it up, if you are on a low budget and you are a beginner, then the Celestron NexImage 10 camera is a no brainer. It is an excellent camera for the price, and you can capture great images of the solar system with it.

But if you already have some experiences in planetary imaging or a bigger budget, then look for a professional camera that will give you much better results.

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