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QHY 533C: A detailed review


Over this summer, I was given a new camera which QHY did not reveal when ZWO released theirs. For those who are new to astrophotography, it is none other than the cameras based on Sony's IMX533C sensor. I'll spare you form reading the nitty gritty little details here as I will go over the things that I liked about this camera and the smaller stff which I did not like.

The details for this camera can be found in the table below:

First look

The new packing accesories that comes with the newer line of QHYCCD's cameras (I believe) now comes with a set of matching M48 adapters specifically meant to mate the camera with the telescope. This was something which I found lacking in QHY's previous products, but it is good that they are actively looking out for customers' feedback. Shout out to QHYCCD for that. Here are some pictures of the product fresh from the box. Also, did I mention that both 533M (mono) and 533C (colour) variant have a built-in tripod adapter.The 1/4" photo adaptor foot can be neatly attached to the side of the camera, nearer to the telescope side.

Side view showing the photo-tripod foot

Back view

First Light

To be fair, the first light i took was under ultra-bright conditions, becasue someone forgot to do his research on astronomical darkness high up north (it was in iceland) during Spring: which was almost close to none. The first two sets of images were shot under Bortle 2 skies. However, much to my surprise, the sensor was reallyt very sensitive as it could even pick up the faintest of details (see the Iris nebula in the second picture) under what seemed like Bortle 8 equivalent skies. In addition, these images had just barely over 60mins of total integration time. Speak about effiecient sensors these days!

NGC 7000 (North American Nebula)

35 x 120s subs

Astronomik UV/IR filter

Redcat 51

NGC 7023 (Iris Nebula)

30 x 120s subs

Astronomik UV/IR filter

Redcat 51

Subsequent pictures

As usual, the arrival of a spanking new astronomical equipment led to a month (or two) of clouds. I then decided to pack my camera up and bring it with me to the tropics on my annual holiday there. Why the sudden decision> it was to capture a target which I had been longing to shoot with an OSC. I have another set-up but it is hefty and builds upon a QHY 294M, which means that project will take some time to complete since I can't lug my heavy set-up to a darksite for imaging as easily. (It it time to look into harmonic mounts? Hmm...) Anyway, I digress. Please enjoy the next few images i took under Bortle 2 skies, from Mersing, Malaysia.

NGC 6729 (Corona Australis Molecular Cloud)

80 x 180s subs

Astronomik UV/IR filter

CF 90mm triplet

NGC 6559 (Chinese Dragon nebula)

5 x 180s subs

Astronomik UV/IR filter

CF 90mm triplet

IC 5146 (Cocoon Nebula)

8 x 180s subs

Astronomik UV/IR filter

CF 90mm triplet


There were many things that I immediately fell in love with:

  1. The weight of the camera: probably due to its small sensor size, it does not require a massive TEC cooling system as oppposed to the likes of QHY600M/C

  2. Matching adapter set: For the C variant, you can thread on 2inch filters within the adapter! PLus threaded connections eliminate tilt in the imagin train (well, it should in theory unless the sensor is not centred/levelled properly, which i have not seen so far in my other QHYCCD cameras)

  3. The inclusion for photo-tripod adpapter: Espcially for imagers who love portability, this reduces the hassle to bring extra mounting rings specifically made for the camers body. I can imagine pairing this with sta trackers for some widefield imaging

  4. QHYCCD's support: Drop them an email or message and they will respond pretty quickly

Now the things that I did not like about the camera is not actually an issue, it's just a preference: its sensor size. Being one of the rare few sensors to come in a square format, it was a little hard getting used to. I still love my 294M to death because of its bigger sensor and rectangular sensor frame! I do hope to get a 268M in the future, but till then, I will prefer a bigger sensor over the 533C.

Who is this for?

I'll be honest: had I gotten this as my first astro camera (stepping up from a DSLR), I would have stuck with this for a very long time. This camera is very sensitive and it does not have amp-glow (for subs less than 300s). This makes calibration a piece of cake: Just use darks and proper flats (no need for bias or whatsoever for this camera, I feel). Secondly, the price for this camera is just right: not too low to be regarded as 'cheap' but also not too high that will make your wallet cry.

This concludes my review of the QHY 533C. Till then, clear skies and please look forward to my next image!

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