> IR-cut filter removal improvement on Pentax K5

  • Posted on: 8 March 2019
  • By: tihomiry

I am so impressed with the K5 ability to quickly gather signal from nebulas (Quantum efficiency) and galaxies, so I decide to take one more K5 and to remove the IR-cut Filter of the old one. The same thing I have done in the past with Pentax KM and I got significant improvement of 2.5 stops. Here is a short article on that: http://planetarium-gb.eu/pentax_astrophotography.pdf
Since I have K5, I almost stop using KM as K5 has huge advantage in terms of QA and noise levels. There is no amplifier glow and no need of dark frames and cooling.
In fact K5 is one of the best DSLRs for astrophotography which is using Sony IMX071 Xmor CMOS sensor. Same as ASI071MC Pro (color) (https://astronomy-imaging-camera.com/product/asi071mc-pro)
Thus after the modification the Ha sensitivity improvement is far less then what I expected. But this camera is great unmodded, so it seems that Pentax IR-cut filter is letting most of the Ha spectrum to the sensor. Below is comparison of M42 Orion nebula with UHC-S filter of 1.Modded (without IR-cut) K5 and 2.Unmodded. There is very slight difference but well enough to show far great results, when push it to the limit with a fainter objects and stack of 100+ frames.

NGC 7000, South America nebula in Cygnus, taken by me from NAO Rozhen. 2 shots composed by 45 frames @ 30s, ISO 51200 with SW 200pds and Pentax k-5. Same processing with DeepSky Stacker and LightRoom.

To check the polar alignment of your telescope look trough the polar scope. When turning the Ra axis the polar star should move in the exact circle in the eyepiece without any deviation.

Removing the DSLR build in IR-cut filter will give you at least 50% more sensitivity for hydrogen alpha emissions of the nebulas. Also the camera will be more light sensitive at dark allowing you to shoot more faint objects.

We can check what is like to process day shot with similar to astrophotography techniques. It is cloudy in Bulgaria for the next week or so and I took shots of the nearby mountain trough the fog with 200mm lens.

Most of the modern LED backlight screens including Laptops, TV and smart phones use PAM technique for Pulse-amplitude modulation. This means that they switch on and off state very rapidly.

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