Introduction | The New App Version (Version 1.3.0) | The New Image Format and the New Image Processing | Small Bug List | Suggestions for Improvement | First Conclusions on Version 1.3 | Links || Appendix: Report on App Version 1.3 for Unistellar
On this page, I describe further experiences (no observations) with my electronic 4,5" Newton telescope Unistellar eVscope (I took part in a Kickstarter campaign in mid-November 2017; it arrived on January 27, 2020). This fifth "experiences" page covers first experiences with the new app version 1.3 (from May 20, 2021 on).
Note: Since Unistellar replaced app version 1.x described here with app version 2.0 at the beginning of July 2022, this page has become obsolete!
Photos: My eVscope (End of January 2020)
My eVscope arrived at my home at the end of January 2020. During the first weeks, it had an app with a version number below 1.0. My experiences with this early app version are reported on page Unistellar eVscope - First Experiences. For links to further experiences, see page Overview of the eVscope Pages.
Note: Those who already start with a newer app version do not need to read the above-mentioned pages.
The following experiences are based on the app version 1.3 and refer initially only to changes compared with the previous state; there was no update for this version.
On the one hand, according to Unistellar, some bugs were fixed, on the other hand, some changes were made regarding the functionality and the user interface. The following additions are perhaps the most important ones:
The new app version (V 1.3.0) is available in Europe since May 21, 2021, and I downloaded it on the very same day. First of all, the app required me, as did the two previous versions, to update my eVscope, which succeeded right away. The new app version offers, according to the App Store, the following new functions (in my own words):
Unistellar published a short video about the new app version:
Status: No updates to version 1.3.
The comet hunters among us will be happy about this! I have not checked this, but trust there fully on Unistellar...
According to a video about the new app version, the photos are now scaled up to four times the original size (from 1.2 to 4.8 MB). I first thought that what already looked blurry in full size on my computer or iPad before, would now look even blurrier, because the camera does not get more pixels this way... I will explore this matter further down! and in more detail on page Old Versus New Image Processing (since V. 1.3).
Note: On July 17, 2021, I noticed that upscaling only occurs in Enhanced Vision mode. Lunar and planetary images in Live View mode remain unchanged at 1280 x 960 pixels (rectangular format without overlay).
Regarding this aspect, I was not able up to now to find out what this refers to...
As always, no information on this...
See also my Report on App Version 1.3 for Unistellar from the beginning of September 2021!
So what does the statement "Four times larger observing record for even more stunning memories of your stargazing" mean in practice? To be honest, this was not easy for me to clarify. As already written, just upscaling the sensor images does not add any new information, and the eVscope's photos, which appear blurry at full size anyway, become even blurrier this way.
So much for the theory! But before I pass judgment, I first wanted to look at the new results and compare them with the earlier ones. Besides, I am not interested in the new size, so I compare the old results with the new ones after scaling the new ones back down to 1280 x 960 pixels. Then the photos are the same size again and thus directly comparable.
Since the topic "new image processing" became too extensive for this page, I moved the topic to an extra page Old Versus New Image Processing (since V. 1.3), particularly because I also take a look at further aspects there. This is a short summary of my results from that page:
All in all, the new image processing actually brings advantages in the presentation of the sky objects, such as more details and sharpness as well as a darker background. Increased contrast and saturation, however, are a matter of taste and an ambivalent one as well. Now, I only wish that the graininess of the photos and the amplifier glow can be reduced...
Initially, the Unistellar app only ran on iPhones (which is why I had to buy one, unfortunately...) and not on the iPad; since app version 1.0.5, it can also run on the iPad. However, I have to admit that I always found the eVscope images on the iPad very blurry and therefore preferred my iPhone for its sharper (and smaller) image. When I used my iPad to control the eVscope for the first time after a long break in late October 2021, the image no longer seemed that blurry to me, which I expected to be an effect of upscaling the image size. Of course, I do not have a comparison between the app versions anymore, so I can only describe my impression here....
So I thought! But I still have eVscope photos in Apple's Photos app stored, taken with different app versions! For comparison purposes, I created an album to where I moved some new and old photos from DSO. And when comparing the photos, there is a clear difference between version 1.3 photos and older versions! The old photos are scaled up in the iPad, which can also be seen, and look "coarser" than the new ones, which are probably even scaled down slightly. With this comparison, it is then also immediately noticeable that the new photos are less "brushed". However, the effect seems to be less due to the scaling than to the image processing alone. I scaled down photos in the new format to the old size and transferred them to the iPad. There was virtually no difference between these and the large-format images on the iPad.
The lesson I take from this is that a comparison is not always easy, and the results often depend very much on the conditions and sizes under which the comparison is made. The new format may only realize its full potential when the photos are displayed larger than the original 1280 x 960 pixel format. On the other hand, the downscaling example shows that the differences between old and new photos are essentially due to differences in image processing.
I postpone my bug list to version 1.4, which also is said to have fixed a lot of bugs...
Wish for Unistellar: Error message as to why the Enhanced Vision mode was aborted.
Possible causes could be:
And as always, I wish that important image data would be saved with the image!
App version 1.3 has brought some useful improvements, particularly for the look of the photos. Once again, a "thank you" to Unistellar for that! But the company also did not implement a number of features that I had hoped for and had asked Unistellar for several times already.
See also my Report on App Version 1.3 for Unistellar from the beginning of September 2021!
Note: I draw generals conclusion about the eVscope after owning it a little more than a year of ownership, based on app version 1.2, on page Unistellar eVscope - Second Conclusions (Version 1.2).
Finally, I would like to give some feedback on app version 1.3. It was already released at the end of May, 2021, but somehow I never managed to put my feedback together. And it is still not "final", after all...
I would like to restrain myself to giving feedback on the new image size and processing. When I first read the statement "Four times larger observing record for even more stunning memories of your stargazing", I was not quite sure what this means. But I soon found out that it means upscaling the images from the sensor size of 1280 x 960 to a "whopping" 2560 x 1920 (2 x in linear size).
My first thought was that this is not a good idea, since upscaling does not deliver any new information and makes the image softer, overall. This is similar to the digital zooms of digital cameras (they come in various "spices"...), and typically you should not go beyond a factor of 1.4x there.
A second finding was that the new images are rather grainy, which is new. The graininess is reduced over the observing time, but does never really disappear. It is rather evident if you brighten up the photos for demonstration purposes, and may nearly become invisible if the sky on the photo is dark. I do not know the cause for the graininess. Upscaling be one reason, a changed image processing the other - probably a mixture of both...
But as always, things are not that easy! I found the following changes:
iPad: I rarely used my iPad for controlling the eVscope, because I found the images, similar to my laptop, fuzzy and somewhat disappointing, whereas they looked much nicer on my iPhones, because they were a lot smaller on these.
Recently, I used my iPad again (because it has more "stamina"...) and was pleasantly surprised by the sharpness of the photos shown on the screen!
I no longer have access to older app versions, but in the Photos app, I still had some photos taken with older app versions of objects that I also had recently photographed. Well, that really is a difference and a huge improvement, which I had not expected!
I considered that upscaling for the old versions and downscaling for the new versions might cause the difference. But that is not the case! I transferred some downscaled photos (1280x960) taken with the new app version to my iPad, and they looked nearly identical to the large versions. So, it is the new image processing that makes the images look sharper. So, this was an interesting experience!
More Detail: I always disliked the "painted" look of the eVscope images, that is, the processing "brushed away" the details. This was especially apparent on photos of large nebulae, such as M 42, M 16, or M 17. This is also apparent, when I compare eVscope photos with my photos taken with the ASI224, which uses the same sensor (albeit in a different mode...). On a first brief look, the images now seem to look more similar, but I still have to check that thoroughly...
I had always planned to send you an e-mail and ask for less painting. This has never happened, but you seem to have guessed my wish - the new image processing "paints" definitely less and reveals more detail. Not every eVscope user may recognize this, but for me, it is evident. I found this already for M 16 and M 17 (and some more nebulae...), but will have to wait until winter for M 42...
So, this is also a nice surprise for me, which comes somewhat unexpected because of my preconception regarding the upscaling of images. Anyway, I scale my images down and back to 1280 x 960 for archiving purposes (and presenting them on my Website)...
So all I would wish is that the graininess of the photos (and the amp glow) can be reduced...
Finally, I would like to return to my wish list, which is rather short this time.
First of all, I have to repeat my request for some sort of storage of the image data, be it EXIF data (preferred), an addition to the file name or some text file. The data may be stored in the data that go to SETI, but I do not have access to the SETI server (and would have to store the data there first, which would cause delays...).
Secondly, I would like to have an error message that explains why the Enhanced Vision mode has aborted. There may be many reasons for this (clouds, too many discarded frames, shocks, etc.). I had an e-mail exchange with another eVscope user who complained about lots of EV mode aborts and was unsure how he could improve on this...
So that's it for today! If you need images examples, please let me know! But I think that the Unistellar engineers know the photos that the eVscope produces well and do not need sample images...