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ZWO ASI585MC Review - The Best Planetary Camera for Lunar Astrophotography

Updated: May 19, 2023


ZWO ASI585MC planetary camera

The ZWO ASI585MC is a color planetary camera, that specifically excels at lunar photography. It has a 1/1.2″ sensor, a resolution of 8.29 Megapixels, and a max FPS of 46.9.

it is very small, light, and simple to attach to most telescopes.


In this review, we try out the camera with our small refractor telescope and point it at the moon. Discover why the ZWO ASI585MC is an excellent camera specifically for lunar astrophotography, and how to use it with the ASIAir.


ZWO ASI585MC full astrophotography review

 

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

  • What's in the Box?

  • Imaging the Craters of the Moon with the ASI585MC

  • ZWO ASI585MC Specs & Price

  • Final Thoughts

Note: This review only covers lunar photography as there were no planets in the sky at the time of testing out this camera. We hope to use it on planets soon!


 

ZWO ASI585MC - What's in the Box?


The ZWO ASI585MC camera comes in a small box that includes everything you need to start using the camera. There are two cables provided, an ST-4 cable and a USB 3.0 cable. ST-4 cables are a thing of the past and you can go ahead and ignore it. Only use the USB 3.0 cable.


ZWO ASI585MC what's in the box

Here is what is included with the ZWO ASI585MC:

  1. The ZWO ASI585MC camera

  2. A 1.25" nosepiece adapter

  3. A USB 3.0 cable

  4. An ST4 cable

  5. The Manual

  6. Covers for the camera and the nosepiece

Recommended accessories we used for our video:

A Barlow lens is useful for planetary astrophotography as it increases the magnification of the image. We use a Televue 2X Barlow which we bought used from a friend, and it works great. Why did we need it? It doubles our magnification and allows us to get a close-up view of some of the smaller lunar craters.

Most Barlows are compatible with telescopes that have a 1.25-inch or 2-inch eyepiece holder.


The ZWO ADC (Atmospheric Disturbance Corrector) is a small adapter that attaches between the camera and the telescope. It is made up of two prisms that split the light into separate colors and recombine them to cancel out the atmospheric distortion. It is useful when imaging planets or the moon as it helps correct for atmospheric distortion caused by the Earth's atmosphere.

This is an affordable and worthy addition to any planetary setup because it impacts how much distortion, blurring, and color fringing you'll get in your images due to atmospheric turbulence.


You can watch our unboxing and first-light video on our YouTube channel.


 


Imaging the Craters of the Moon with the ASI585MC


Our first light with the ASI585MC camera was on the moon, on a night when it rose late and was about 80% illuminated. We waited until 1:30 AM for the moon to rise and get above our neighbor's roof.


Taking pictures of planets and the moon is not ideal unless they are high in the sky. In our case, it would have been best to wait much longer until the moon was higher in the sky. When objects are just above houses, residual heat and other matter rise up from the street and the rooftops, which disturbs what we see through the telescope. We knew that we'd have a tough time getting a crisp picture of it, but weren't prepared to wait until 4 AM for the moon to be high enough in the sky.


Telescope in backyard pointing at the moon
The setup we used to capture the moon, and how low it was in the sky

We used our small refractor telescope, the Askar FRA500, and our ZWO AM5 mount. We attached our 2X Barlow and ADC between the telescope and the camera, and slewed to the moon! We actually ended up removing the 2X Barlow and only keeping the extender for it, as we did not need that much magnification.


For this capture, we used the ASIAir instead of a computer. The camera connects to the ASIAir easily, and you can then change the ROI, binning, video format, gain, and exposure time. The different ROIs you can choose from are:

  • 1080P

  • 960P

  • 720P

  • 480P

  • 360P

  • 240P

Of course, the higher resolution you pick, the lower your FPS count will be.


The image below was achieved by taking a 2-minute long video using the ASIAir at 1080P, and then stacking the best 70% frames in a planetary software (AutoStakkert) which resulted in one image. For a first attempt, and considering how terrible the Seeing was (just look at our video!), we're happy with the final pic!


Lunar astrophotography with the ASI585MC planetary camera

By changing the ROI (Region of Interest, in this case, resolution as well) from 1080p to 480p, we were also able to get close-up views of the craters, and a faster FPS at the cost of resolution.


The two images below were taken with each a 3-minute long video, and 65% of the best frames were then combined into one image.



GEAR USED:

Telescope: Askar FRA500

Mount: ZWO AM5

Accessories: ZWO ASIAir, ZWO ADC

Processing: AutoStakkert, Pixinsight


 

ZWO ASI585MC Specs & Price


The ASI585MC has a 1/1.2" sensor with a pixel size of 2.9µm, a resolution of 8.29MP, and can record videos up to 46.9FPS. ZWO describes the size of the sensor as perfect for lunar and solar imaging, as your field of view is wider than most other planetary cameras.


The ASI585 does not have any amp glow, and the Bayer pattern is the commonly used RGGB.



General Specs


The ASI585 in hand, showing the sensor
The ASI585 in hand, showing the sensor
  • Sensor: 1/1.2″ CMOS Sony-IMX585

  • QE Peak: 91%

  • Max FPS: 46.9fps

  • Full well: 40Ke

  • Resolution: 8.29 Mega Pixel | 3840*2160

  • Pixel Size: 2.9µm

  • Exposure Range: 32µs~2000s

  • ADC: 12bit


And below is a drawing showing the size of the ASI585MC from all angles! The camera has a weight of 126g, so it is very light like most other planetary cameras.


ZWO ASI585MC specifications and size

Attaching the ZWO ASI585MC to a telescope is very easy, at least for most setups. All you need to do is to screw in the 1.25" nosepiece to the camera, and then attach it to a compression ring adapter that should be included with your telescope. What you'll then likely need is one or more extenders so that you can reach the proper back-focus. If you slew to a planet or the moon and you cannot see anything, it is very likely because your sensor needs to be farther away, so be sure to have a long enough extender.


How to attach a planetary camera to a telescope

In our case, here is how we attached our ASI585MC to our refractor telescope:


Telescope > Compression Ring Adapter (which came with the telescope) > Small extender (taken from our TeleVue Barlow) > 2nd small extender > Atmospheric Disturbance Corrector (ADC) > Camera with nosepiece.

 

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Pricing


Planetary cameras are usually affordable, at least when compared to most deep space cameras and other astrophotography products. The ASI585MC is, at the time of this review, priced at $399 in the United States.


This is in our opinion a fair price and a good long-term investment considering that you likely will not feel the need to upgrade your planetary camera for many years.


If you'd like to get a similar camera that is cheaper and more dedicated to planets, the ZWO ASI462MC is a great option. It has a much faster max FPS (107.6fps) but a smaller resolution.


 

Pictures Taken with the ZWO ASI585MC


Below you will find a gallery of pictures taken with the ZWO ASI585MC camera. We will mostly be using this camera for lunar photography, as our main planetary camera for actual planets is the QHY462C.


Do you own this camera? If so, feel free to attach some of your images in the comments section! We'd love to see the beautiful pictures you were able to snap.




 

ZWO ASI585MC - Final Thoughts


The ZWO ASI858MC camera is a great planetary camera that seems to be the perfect fit for both lunar and solar astrophotography thanks to its large sensor format.


Some key points about the ASI585MC to summarize this review are:

  • It is a color camera dedicated to planetary, lunar, and solar photography

  • It has a resolution of 8.29MP, a 1/1.2" sensor, and a pixel size of 2.9µm

  • The max FPS for this camera is 46.9fps

  • The price is $399


Doing planetary astrophotography in backyard

If you would like to purchase this camera, you can do so at High Point Scientific.


Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!


Clear Skies,

Antoine & Dalia

Galactic Hunter


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