The Best Planetary and Lunar Astrophotography Cameras
Stop your search on astrophotography cameras and bookmark this page! OPT experts have put together this guide on planetary and lunar cameras based on experience and results. Below you’ll see some of the OPT team’s favorites!
While shopping for your camera, you will notice some highlighted features that include frame rate, sensor type, pixel size, and more. We've created mini cheat sheets with specs for each camera to make your shopping easier.
Alright, let’s get on to the good stuff. Welcome to the hobby!
THE BEST PLANETARY ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY CAMERAS
Planets are a great beginner object to image because they are bright and in our solar system. Like the Orion nebula and other beginner deep space objects, planetary imaging is a great way for beginners to get started in the hobby.
The ZWO ASI290MC has been listed as the ultimate planetary imaging camera for its highly sensitive chip paired with fast video frame rates, the most searched spec in planetary imaging. You can use it for lunar imaging too!
Just because it is a powerful camera does not mean you have to be advanced in astrophotography. This camera works great with smaller beginner telescopes like it does with advanced, large-aperture telescopes.
The ASI462MC features the ability to capture infrared lights, super-high sensitivity, and ultra-low readout noise, offering excellent frame rate performance for planetary imaging, solar and lunar alike. In summary, it is very comparable to the ASI290 except that it has infrared capability.
Celestron NexImage 10 Color Solar System Imager
The Celestron NexImage 10 Color Solar System Imager makes taking photos of the planets easy for beginners! Point your telescope at the Moon or a planet and record a quick video. The software analyzes each frame and aligns the remaining images for you. Capture breathtaking photos of celestial objects with this astrophotography camera designed ideally for planetary imaging.
THE BEST SOLAR ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY CAMERA
The ASI174MM is recognized as the best camera for solar imaging because it features a 1/1.2″ large sensor, a high frame rate of 164fps, and uses a global shutter.
You can also use the ASI174MM to capture the planets, Moon, and high-speed moving objects like the ISS!
THE BEST LUNAR ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY CAMERAS
Discover your favorite Moon phase by imaging the celestial rock in our night sky with one of these astrophotography cameras. Taking photos of the Moon is where most people get started in astrophotography.
The ASI120 is the best budget-friendly, entry-level camera for lunar and planetary imaging. Due to its high sensitivity, high frame rate, and ease of use, the ASI120 is the perfect choice for planetary photography.
The ASI120-S series has two models. The ASI120MM is black and white, more sensitive, and requires different filters to make a color image. The ASI120MC is a color camera that is easier to use, however, slightly less sensitive. Whichever your preference may be, both will produce amazing images of the Moon and planets!
The ASI385MC is an upgrade from the ASI224MC, and it is a powerful color camera option for lunar and planetary imaging. It has an ultra-low readout noise of 0.7e and an increased resolution of 1936×1096 pixels, which means better contrast for stunning captures of the Moon and planets!
We hope this list has been useful in your search for an astrophotography camera. The main takeaway from our list is that most of the featured cameras can be used for lunar, solar, and planetary. These top-performing versatile cameras are perfect choices to be used as a guide camera as well!
Looking for where to get started? Check out our guide on how to take pictures of Jupiter to get started or download free astronomy calendars from our monthly What’s in the Sky series.
If you still would like extra help to get started, you can always contact us for some extra help or chat with us by clicking on the chat bubble on this page.
What have your experiences been with these cameras? Let us know in the comments below.