Products

Tru-Balance E-Series

 

TRU-BALANCE FILTERS
SIMPLIFY YOUR IMAGING

Great Filters Just Got Better - Generation 2 Now Shipping!

Astrodon Tru-Balance RGB filters have revolutionized CCD imaging. Their popularity is due to ease-of-use, high optical throughput and great resulting color for galaxies, star clusters and nebulae.  There are two varieties of Tru-Balance filters - E-Series and I-Series.

E-Series filters are designed to approximately equalize the flux of Kodak's full-frame (E-Series) CCD detectors, including compensation for the solar photon flux. This means that your RGB color combine weights will be approximately 1:1:1 within perhaps 10%.  This can never be perfect, but it does allow you to take equal time exposures for your RGB data and also just one corresponding dark exposure time.

Generation 2 Tru-Balance filters (LRGB2) were introduced in April, 2008 in all sizes. This was the first change in Astrodon filter design and fabrication since their inception.  We listened to your requests. 

  • 1.25" mounted, 31, 36, 49.7 mm dia., 49.7 mm square
  • ~1:1:1 color combine weights for G2V white-point for Kodak Full-Frame (E) detectors
  • Best choice for backthinned and Sony detectors
  • Equal RGB exposures and one dark time
  • Better color separation (spectra)
  • Better color rendition for galaxies based upon color theory
  • Significant reflection and star halo reduction (see Alnitak image)
  • Enhanced contrast for HII regions in galaxies
  • Spectral "gap" to minimize effect of light pollution
  • Highest efficiency blue filter with less UV
  • Correct "teal" OIII color for planetary nebula (OIII signal >97% in blue and green)
  • More parfocal  - thickness 3+/-0.025 mm*
  • Parfocal with Astrodon's high-performance narrowband and near-IR filters  
  • Striae-free 1/4 wave fused silica substrates
  • 30 arcsec parallelism
  • Ultra-hard and durable sputtered coatings
  • Proudly made in the U.S.A. 

Do not force-fit filters designed for interline CCDs to these full-frame CCDs.  Here are some G2V color weights taken with Baader filters on full-frame CCDs:
        R:G:B   0.84:1.00:1.25  SBIG STX16803  Mr. P.
        R:G:B   0.7:1.0:1.4  SBIG ST10XME  Mr. A
and compare those to a recent measurement with Astrodon E-Series filters
        R:G:B   1.0:1.0:1.0   Apogee U16M  Mr. F.
This has siginficance for imaging planetary nebula, where, after applying the G2V color weights, the resulting signal near 500 nm in the blue and green color channels should be equal or nearly equal to produce the correct blue-green or teal color. This is the case for the Astrodon E-Series on the 16803. However, the %T at the OIII wavelength is equal for the Baader filters.  When a blue weight of 1.25 or 1.4 is applied, this will result in planetary nebular core being 25 to 40% too blue, unless this problem is corrected in localized post-processing. This is the reason why Astrodon offers E- and I-Series filters.  They simplify your imaging.
 

The E-Series filters were designed for cameras containing the full-frame KAF8300, KAF3200, KAF6303, KAF16803 sensors.  The E-Series red filter is a deep red filter about 60 nm wide, which excludes much of the light pollution from high pressure sodium street lamps. Other filter suppliers try to "force fit" their orange filter (designed for the interline KAI11000, KAI2000 sensors) for use with these full-frame sensors. Their orange filter is about twice as wide spectrally as our deep red filter.  As a result, their orange filter tends to "wash out" HII regions in galaxies and detail in nebula. Their blue and green color weights are no longer balanced and as a result, the OIII color in planetary nebula is skewed strongly toward blue, rather than the correct teal color. These are the reasons why Astrodon designed I- and E-Series filters for these very different classes of cameras for optimum results.

Optical Quality

Our filters are made from the highest quality, striae-free, <1/4-wave fused silica substrates with the specifications listed above.  They are coated and cut from larger plates. This has an important advantage over filters that are coated individually in that our filters are coated to the edge. Individually coated filters, as shown with the orange filter above, leaves an uncoated "rim" near the edge that needs to be blocked in the optical path.  This becomes critical for narrowband filters.  Since our coatings utilize hard-oxide material, edge sealing is not required.   There are some claims that cutting filters from larger coated plates somehow degrades the optical quality. They present no evidence, because this is simply not true.  Most optical coating companies have to size their filters to meet a variety of shapes and sizes.  It is common practice. 

Nevertheless, we would like to present data on one of our 50 x 50 mm square E-Series red filters.  First, after coating, we measured the transmitted wavefront, TWF (a measure of flatness using the number of fringes at 632 nm) to be at most 0.176 over the entire part.  That is less than our 1/4-wave  (0.25) specification.  So, coating and cutting from larger plates do not alter the flatness.  Second, power (a measure of curvature that would create a lens effect) is measured at only 0.09 fringes.  So, the coatings are very uniform.  Third, the spectral variations of the red bandpass are at most 0.02% or 1 nm over the 50 mm part, meaning that your red data will be the same over your entire image.  In summary, you can be assured of the highest optical quality available when you purchase Astrodon filters.

SBIG STX 65mm Square Filters

Astrodon introduces 65 mm square filters for the new SBIG STX CCD camera.  Click here for details.  See the benefits of the deeper red E-Series filter compared to other brands.   In stock!  H-a 5 nm also in stock.

 

SBIG ST-8300 36mm Dia. Filters

Astrodon also introduces its latest Generation 2 E-Series LRGB filters for the new SBIG ST-8300 CCD camera.  These filters are 36 mm diameter and will fit into the new ST-8300 filter wheel and others (e.g., Starlight Xpress).  Measurements at Astrodon show R:G:B color combine ratios of  0.9:1.0:1.0 for the KAF8300 sensor, meaning that you can take equal length exposures and darks. Astrodon will also offer 5 nm H-a, SII and OIII filters in 36 mm size, guaranteed to exceed 90% transmission at the respective emission line. The E-Series filters again take advantage of the deeper red filter to bring out contrast in emission nebula and HII regions in galaxies. In stock.  5 and 3 nm H-a, OIII, SII also in stock. 

QSI 31 mm LRGB Inserts

Astrodon is also providing its latest Generation 2 E-Series 1.25" filters mounted in 31 mm inserts specifically for the popular QSI CCD full-frame cameras, such as the QSI632 and QSI583.  The inserts are also 3 mm tall, matching the filter thickness.  Because these filters are so close to the detector without the tall walls of conventional 1.25" filter holders, there is almost no vignetting, even at f/3.  In fact, tests have shown that there is only about 10% vignetting at f/2, which can be compensated for with flat frames.  You can order the 31 mm LRGB E-Series at the lower right. In stock.

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE 31 mm CFW FROM QSI THAT COMES WITH SMALL CAP SCREWS AND WASHERS, AND THIN SPACERS THAT FIT UNDER THE FILTERS. THIS ENSURES THAT 31 mm FILTERS STICK UP SLIGHTLY ABOVE THE SURFACE OF THE CAROUSEL SO THAT THE WASHERS MAKE CONTACT WITH THE FILTER.  YOU WILL NEED TO CONTACT QSI IF YOU ONLY HAVE THEIR 1.25" CFW AND WILL NEED TO PURCHASE THE 31 mm KIT OF SCREWS AND SPACERS.

 

52 mm Threaded Filter Holder

We can now supply any 50 mm filter in a 52 mm threaded filter holder.  The filter holder is 5 mm tall with a screw-in retaining ring that is perfect for our LRGB, narrowband or photometric 50 mm diameter filters.

Astrodon filters are known for being parfocal on most systems.  The new thickness tolerance of +/-0.025mm (25 microns) for Generation 2 LRGB fitlers is a factor of 2 better than Gerneration 1 filters, and should be parfocal for systems down to f/3.5, IF your optical system is well color corrected. Please see the article on Parfocal and the Critical Focus Zone. We have reduced the UV contribution in the lumincance and blue filters for this reason to reduce star bloat  The Clear (no near-IR blocking) may produce bloated stars if your optical system has poor near-IR focus.   Use the near-IR-blocked Luminance filter in this case. The Clear filter is likely a better choice for reflectors, such as Ritchey-Cretiens, rather than refractors or camera lenses.

Halo elimination results from a pioneering design that places both the bandpass layer and the blocking layer on one side of the 1/4-wave substrate and a high performance anti-reflective coating on the other side.  As a result there is virtually no internal reflection between these surfaces that can cause halos around bright stars in other filter brands.  M45 is one of the most demanding of targets that often leads to halos around bright stars.  Tony Hallas' image of M45 had NO touch-up or processing out of halos on those super bright stars. Not necessary with Generation 2 filters. There were NO halos to start with!

 Generation 2 LRGB Testimonial from Tony Hallas:

M45 (no halos)
(Click on image to enlarge)

M33 (HII definition)
(Click on image to enlarge)

 

"I would like to take a minute to comment on the 50mm Gen II filters that I have installed in my Apogee 16803 camera.

These filters set a new bar for performance ... they have a huge color gamut and best of all, there isn't a trace of reflection even when shooting 15 minute subs at the Pleiades.
 
The total color response can be seen in the M33 sample ... note the abundant HII regions, the strong blue response, and the brilliant yellow of the star. The superior color response isn't subtle ... it's obvious ... and all this with LRGB ... no narrow band needed!
 
These filters are a joy to work with,     Major kudos,"
 
    Tony Hallas
 

 

  Generation 2 LRGB Testimonial from R. Jay GaBany:
 
M106 (click for hi-res)
  
"For several years I happily used a set of common filters under the assumption that there was nothing unique about other filters on the market.  I was wrong!  Since switching over to Astrodon filters, the color fidelity of my pictures has improved dramatically!  Not only do they reduce or eliminate the need for color balancing during post-processing, their precision bandwidth cut-offs result in more vivid colors and the H-alpha filter has helped me surface structures my previous filters simply did not allow my camera to capture. Astrodon filters are essential tools for serious astrophotography."
 
            R. Jay GaBany

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Spectra LRGB

G2V Tutorial for Measuring Color Combine Weights

G2V Database for TheSky6

Parfocal and the Critical Focus Zone

65 mm square filters for the SBIG STX

Taking Apart 1.25" Filter Cells, Cleaning Filters and Solution to Fitting into SBIG Filter Wheel

 

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1.25" Mounted LRGB (LRGB2-E27R)

$475

1.25" Mounted CRGB (CRGB2-E27R) 

$475

50mm dia. unmounted LRGB (LRGB2-E50R)  

$950

50mm dia. unmounted CRGB (CRGB2-E50R) 

$950

50mm square unmounted
LRGB
(LRGB2-E50S) 

$1225

50mm square unmounted CRGB
(CRGB2-E50S) 

$1225

1.25" mounted Clear (C2_27R) 
UV-blocked for less star bloat
No NIR blocking

$150

50mm dia. unmounted Clear (C2_50R) 
UV-blocked for less star bloat
No NIR blocking

$270

50mm square unmounted Clear (C2_50S) 
UV-blocked for less star bloat
No NIR blocking

$320

LRGB in 31 mm inserts for QSI
(LRGB2-E31R)

$525

LRGB 65 mm square for SBIG STX
(LRGB2-E65S)

$2050

LRGB 65 mm square and 5 nm H-a for SBIG STX (LRGB2HA5-E65S)

$3150

LRGB 36 mm dia. unmounted for SBIG ST-8300 (LRGB2-E36R)

$675

1.25" mounted Luminance (L2_27R) 
Same colorless filter in LRGB sets.  UV/NIR
cut filter for E- or I-Series

$175

50 mm dia. unmounted Luminance (L2_50R) 
Same colorless filter in LRGB sets.  UV/NIR
cut filter for E- or I-Series

$250

52 mm screw-in Filter Cell for Astrodon 50 mm diameter filters  (FilterCell_52R) 

$15 

Conversion 1.25 to 31 mm per filter  (Convert27_31R) 

$20