Introducing the ZWO ASI2600MM Pro — a game-changing mono camera from ZWO for deep sky astrophotography.
The ZWO ASI2600MM Pro features a 26-megapixel sensor for capturing the full beauty of the night sky in stunning detail. The sensor is monochrome APS-C, which is the first of its kind for a modern cooled monochrome astronomy camera. APS-C is often noted as “the sweet spot” for most telescope optics, as it’s large enough to capture a wide field of view with high resolution but still smaller than full-frame which can exhibit optical imperfections in the corners with many telescopes. As one of the most light-sensitive camera sensors on the market, the Sony IMX 571 sensor is sure to bring your astrophotography to an entirely new level.
The ASI2600MM Pro has an incredible peak quantum efficiency (QE) value of 91%, which goes above and beyond existing astronomy cameras out there today. Other brow-raising specs include a 16-bit ADC, extremely low 1.0e - 3.3e read noise, and 14 stops of dynamic range. It also weighs a mere 0.7kg (1.5lb), saving you precious weight on your imaging train.
This is a 26MP camera features a small pixel size of 3.76um yet also has the incredible ability to accommodate a large well depth of 50ke.
The sensor length and width is 23.5mm x 15.7mm with a diagonal of 28.3mm. The full resolution is an impressive 6248 x 4176, which is large enough to crop in significantly and still have a usable image, or make large prints from full-resolution images.
Native 16bit ADC
As one of the few CMOS astronomy cameras with a 16-bit ADC on the market, ASI2600MM Pro was born with superiority for astrophotography. This 16-bit ADC is not a typical CCD 16-bit ADC. It can achieve a true dynamic range output of 14 stops, which will significantly improve the image sharpness and contrast and create smoother and more natural color transitions in areas with gradients.
IMX571 Backlit Sensor
Sony’s back-illuminated CMOS image sensor improves sensitivity and noise reduction — the key factors to enhancing image quality — while radically realigning their fundamental pixel structure from front-illumination to back-illumination. It has retained the advantages of CMOS image sensors such as low power consumption and high-speed operation.
With a conventional front-illumination structure, the metal wiring and transistors on the surface of the silicon substrate that form the sensor’s light-sensitive area (photo-diode) impede photon gathering carried out by the on-chip lens. A back-illuminated structure minimizes the degradation of sensitivity to optical angle response, while also increasing the amount of light that enters each pixel due to the lack of obstacles such as metal wiring and transistors that have been moved to the reverse of the silicon substrate. This translates to a higher quantum efficiency, and allows you to gather as many photons as possible.
The ASI2600MM Pro has excellent performance with a dynamic range of up to 14 stops. When the gain value is 100, the magical HCG high gain mode is turned on, the readout noise is greatly reduced, and the dynamic range is basically unchanged. For best image quality, it is recommended to set the gain to 0 or gain 100 during deep-sky imaging.
Zero Amp Glow
Traditional CMOS sensors produce a weak infrared light source during operation quite often seen in the corner of uncalibrated images as the tell-tale signs of amp glow. As the ASI2600MM Pro uses zero amp glow circuitry, you won’t have to worry about amp glow even when using high gain, long exposure imaging.
Dark flame with amp glow – 300s exposure time
Dark frame from ASI2600 without any amp glow – 300s exposure time
The ASI2600MM Pro has a polyamide heater completely surrounding the protective window over the camera sensor. This drastically helps keep annoying dew or frost away, which can show up in images on cameras without a dew heater.
The power of the heater is around 5W. You are free to turn it off anytime in your photography software if you want to save some power.
According to the test results of Sony, the QE peak value of the ASI2600MM Pro is a staggering 91%. This is higher than most cameras on the market, and means the camera is able to retain an extremely high number of incoming photons and convert them into a usable image.
Two-Stage TEC Cooling, Ultra-Low Dark Current
Thanks to the two-stage TEC cooling, ASI2600MM Pro can lower the CMOS sensor temperature to more than 35º C below ambient, which can greatly reduce dark current generation and sensor noise even with extended exposure times.
The unique dark current suppression technology in the camera can even further reduce dark current noise. At a cooling temperature of 0° C, the dark current noise is only 0.0022e/s/pix. This means a 300-second exposure can only cause 0.7e dark current noise, which is even less than the readout noise. While at a cooling temperature of -20° C, the dark current can even reduce down to a mere 0.00012e/s/pix, which is completely negligible.
USB 3.0 & 256MB DDR3 Memory
The ASI2600MM Pro is equipped with a USB 3.0 transmission interface and a built-in 256MB DDR3 cache to ensure stable and secure data transmission.
This is my first mono camera. A lot of folks advised me to start with the ASI1600MM, but I decided to take a leap of faith and went for the APS-C size. Moreover, I was very interested in seeing the increased QE effect with the 2600MM over the 1600MM.
I am attaching my very first mono image. Let is speak for the camera. This is a result of 17x300s subs each on Ha, SII, and Oiii. 45 darks (15 with each filter), and 90 bias (30 with each filter). Processed with PixInsight.
I don't have much to compare it with, and I do not know Photoshop to process the images further. Check out the image of M8 (Lagoon) and decide for yourself. This was shot on July 9th, 2021 under bortle-4 skies.
As for me - two thumbs up!! Love it. Little advise - go with 2" mounted filters, and not 36mm on this.
The ASI2600MM Pro is a game changer for mono imaging. I upgraded from a 1600 mono to this. The readout noise and amp glow is nearly non-existent resulting in super clean subs. My deep sky workhorse camera now no questions asked!
I was disappointed, the camera arrived after 4 months and I was excited to use it but I realized that all the stars are elongated, after lengthy troubleshooting that last all night I realized that the fan was causing the camera and mount to shake and resonate, once I switch the fan off all the stars are pinpoint, I mean for a camera this expensive they should do better, OPT asked me to contact ZWO and I am still waiting for a response, I hope they resolve this issue ASAP.
I have found that my laptop doesn't supply enough power via it's usb to sufficiently power the unit to properly download. Made this discovery upon making flats with out the cooler activated and the external power plugged in. Plugged it in and no issues, the download errors went away. I repeated this several time to confirm this was the issue.