When Retevis, a seller of SvBony products on Amazon, reached out to me and asked whether I would be interested in using their SV105 electronic eyepiece on the Moon. I thought that it would be a great idea, so I gladly agreed.
I reckon someone getting into Lunar photography will be interested in this affordable camera. So in this article I’ll be sharing my thoughts about this small camera and whether I think it’s a good starting point in your Moon journey.
SvBony SV105 Review
The un-boxing experience of the SV105 camera is basic to say the least. A plain brown box with the logo on and the camera model. Inside the box you’ll find a USB cable, an instruction book pointing you towards the program SharpCap, a cleaning cloth and of course the camera itself. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing – it is a budget camera and this box features the essentials. It’s all you really need.
The USB Cable
The SV105 is supplied with a USB cable as mentioned. On the camera end it has a USB2-B cable, and on the computer end you have not one – but two USB2-A ends. It isn’t clear why in the instructions. I read on the product description that the second USB port is for additional power if required. I plugged both in anyway – it was there, might as well plug it in!
So onto the SV105 camera itself. The camera body is this small, dense metal case that feels well made and sturdy. It’s actually a bit heavier than you may think it is. It only weighs 349 grams though as per the item description. So it doesn’t exactly add a lot of weight to your setup.
On the camera it has the USB2-B port of course, and that’s it. No other connections, they’re not needed. The camera is powered and transfers through the USB2 port. Logo on the back, naturally, and that lines up with the sensor.
The sensor is a small 5.76mm x 3.24mm CMOS sensor rocking in at 2 megapixels. 3 µm pixels and that gives you standard 1920 x 1080p full HD images. Obviously there is no cooling on this camera or anything fancy like that. You wouldn’t expect such things at this price point. It is a one-shot colour camera, so no need for additional filters to get a colour image. But more about filters in a bit.
I can’t find any charts at all in terms of the bit depth, the full well, dynamic range and things like that. Couldn’t find anything. Also I wasn’t able to use Sharpcap sensor analysis to get access to this information.
So the actual camera use was pretty straight forwards. True to the website, it does just plug and play. No additional drivers required. From there, you just open up Sharpcap, or a program you use that can detect it (Astrophotography Tool for example can’t detect this camera). It then begins looping as you would suspect.
One thing to notice is that it automatically selects MJPG as its file type. This will be a more compressed file version, and if you want the highest quality – swap this to YUY2 and most people also use the .SER output format.
I kept it at MJPG when I used this camera. Purely by my own mistake of forgetting to change it. But the pictures still were okay. Actually they were more than okay.
There are some additional image control settings you can tweak in SharpCap to try and get your exposure looking the best. I tried to adjust these when my Moon was looking over exposed, but I couldn’t really find a way to get this balanced out nicely. In the end, I used a Moon filter.
This is because the shortest exposure time wasn’t short enough!
- 15.6ms (1/60s)
- 31.3ms (1/30s)
- 62.5ms (1/15s)
- 125ms (1/8s)
- 250ms (1/4s)
- 500ms (1/2s)
As was pointed out to me afterwards, you can in fact use much shorter exposures. Much, much shorter. What I failed to do was to click in the exposure box. If I had clicked in there and typed my desire exposure in well, that would’ve been a different story.
Yes, you can use much shorter sub exposure lengths if you do that.
As I also just mentioned, this wasn’t short enough. My refractor telescope – the Sky-Watcher Evostar 80ED – was running at f7.5 as I had taken the reducer out. So it isn’t exactly a blazing fast instrument and with a very modest aperture. Even with a telescope of this modest size and on a first-quarter Moon, 15.6ms wasn’t short enough to get a well exposed image. The outer parts of the Moon, away from the terminator, were overexposed.
In the end, I had to use my cheap and nasty Moon filter (I really want to upgrade it to this one from Baader). This had the unfortunate effect of adding a colour cast onto my Moon – a green one – that I wasn’t able to correct for.
There are some additional image controls available to you in Sharpcap. I tried to adjust these settings during my session, but it wasn’t working or having the desired effects. So I just had to roll with it.
If you have a slower telescope, say f10 or so, then you might be able to expose nicely. When I swapped over to the Skymax 180, which is an f15 telescope, it was much easier to control the exposure and I had more control, despite it being much larger aperture. It’s all about that ratio!
This camera’s whole thing is video. Being able to record at “high speed”, up to “30 frames per second”.
In practice, I was getting 15 frames per second at idle loop even through my USB3 port, even though this is just a USB2 camera. With that said even at MJPG and full 1920 x 1080 resolution, I couldn’t get to 30fps.
Selecting the YUY2 file type restricts you to 5fps. Changing resolution down to even 320 x 240 I was only getting 4fps until I put my exposure to 15.6ms. Only then did I get 30fps. In MJPG mode you can get 30fps at full resolution, as long as you’re down at 15.6ms.
During recording I noticed a lot of frames were being dropped as well. I was recording 3000 frames at the
time and multiple hundreds of frames were dropped. So I suspect this camera has no frame buffer or onboard memory. Or if it does, then it isn’t a big memory. But again, at this price point it isn’t something I would be entirely expecting. Memory is expensive after all.
So all these images are in monochrome. I put the Evostar image of the half Moon into mono due to the colour cast from the Moo filter. The close up photos from the Skymax are in mono due to the scope being out of collimation and the colours being all over the place. This is on me and my own skills and not a poor reflection on the camera.
So really, I did make some mistakes when using this camera I think. I should’ve been using YUY2 format. I needed to collimate the Skymax Maksutov and amongst other things. However, for an extremely entry rate camera and price tag I think the SvBony SV105 is a very good place to get started.
If you’ve got your first telescope for example, or you’re dipping your toe into Lunar imaging and photographing the Moon, then using this camera in full HD to take your images, I feel, is a good way to begin. It’s cheaper than a DSLR, and can be used as an electronic eyepiece if you can’t see through the eyepiece.
It can be used on planets as well. I don’t think this will be suitable for deep sky imaging though. It really needs shorter exposure times though. That’s my biggest criticism and gripe with this camera.
For £45.99, it’s definitely affordable. Not cheap, affordable. It’ll get you started and does the job. It’s definitely no frills but at this price tag, it’s exactly what you’d expect.
I really am surprised by the SV105. I was expecting a product of… lesser quality lets say for £45. But I really am surprised. I’m thinking I may get one of these myself sometime in case I want to use my second mount for some simple Luna photography.
If you’re interested in purchasing this camera you can find it on Amazon.