Orion’s new StarShoot G3 imaging camera at around $500 is a reasonably decent entry level CCD imaging system for beginners. The camera features a ½ inch format CCD as well as thermoelectric cooling (TEC) to help keep that sensor cool and noise free during those warmer months. While there are several imaging systems priced well above this that exceed it in specs, this handy little unit also has an ST-4 port on it that allows it to double as an autoguider as you grow your imaging system. The unit features a 752 x 582 pixel array as well as 16 bit A/D conversion. The pixel array is 8.6 x 8.3 microns so it is capable of reproducing fine details.
This unit comes with a removable 1.25” nosepiece and works as well with 2” focusers. It comes supplied with USB and 12 volt power cords. It is available in both monochrome and color models.
One weakness that I have read about on the reviews of this product are the software, but Orion has been working on this and has improved it. And while you can get a DSLR for around the same price, you will not get the cooling features of this unit
Amateurs are building some really amazing observatories these days to house their gear in. I recently ran across this one on a favorite website and am simply amazed at how far they have come. This particular one features a seperate heated control room where imaging can be performed with relative comfort while the telescope sits exposed to the elements. Inside the dome sits a myriad of equipment and wiring to control the mount and camera gear remotely. This is a fantastic setup.