The ZWO ASI462MC is a color astronomy camera frequently used for planetary (solar system) astrophotography. It can also be used as a guide camera for autoguiding.
This model is in ZWO’s planetary camera line-up, which are cameras designed to have high sensitivity, low read noise, and a high FPS (frames per second).
You can also use this camera like an “all-sky” camera when the included fisheye lens is attached. This provides a live image loop of the night sky.
The ZWO ASI462MC planetary camera and the included all-sky lens.
To photograph planets up close, it is best to use a camera capable of high frame rates, with a highly-sensitive sensor.
The ZWO ASI462MC uses a 2.1-megapixel Sony IMX462 CMOS sensor with a resolution of 1936 x 1096 pixels and a pixel size of 2.9 μm.
The tiny sensor inside of the ZWO ASI462MC measures 1/2.8” in size, with dimensions of 5.6mm x 3.2mm with an AR (anti-reflective) window in front of it.
The fast USB 3.0 interface on the camera allows for transfer rates of up to 136 frames per second at full 1936×1096 resolution.
The lunar surface captured with the ASI462MC (6-panel mosaic).
This camera uses the exact same CMOS sensor found in the Seestar S50 smart telescope. With the included white light solar filter, the Seestar S50 makes a great standalone solar photography system to capture sunspots.
ZWO ASI462MC Specifications:
- Type: One-Shot-Color
- Sensor: SONY IMX462 CMOS
- Resolution: 21 Mega Pixels, 1936 x 1096
- Pixel size: 2.9µm
- Format: 1/2.8”
- Diagonal: 6.46mm
- Sensor Size: 5.6mm * 3.2mm
- Max FPS: 136
- Shutter: Rolling shutter
- Exposure range: 32µs – 2000s
- Readout noise: 0.47~2.65e
- Full Well: 11.2ke
- ADC: 12 bit
- USB interface: USB3.0
- Protect Window: AR
THE ZWO ASI462MC is a fantastic planetary astrophotography camera for detailed pictures of the moon and planets.
ZWO ASI462MC Review
I have taken my best images of the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter with the ZWO ASI462MC. I highly recommend this affordable planetary astrophotography camera to anyone who wants to photograph the planets and the moon.
I typically achieve frame rates of about 60 fps when running this camera using the FireCapture imaging software. You can also run this camera using the video mode on the ZWO ASIAIR Plus.
The specifications of this dedicated astronomy camera make it perfect for high-resolution photography of the Moon, Planets, and even the Sun (with a safe solar filter).
It can also be used for electronically assisted astronomy (lucky imaging) of small, bright, deep-sky objects as well, though it does not excel at this.
On the technical side of things, the ASI462MC has a 12-bit ADC, a full-well depth of 11,200e, and a read noise as low as 0.47e. It boasts a high QE (quantum efficiency) value at 800-1000nm wavelength, which is almost twice as much as the ZWO ASI290 MC.
If you can find one of these cameras in stock (which can be difficult), you’d be hard-pressed to find a better dedicated astronomy camera for solar system imaging for the price.
The ZWO ASI462MC camera connected to my Celestron 2x Barlow Lens and 1.25″ eyepiece adapter.
The ASI462MC is considered to be the successor to the ZWO ASI290MC, which was known in the planetary imaging community to be one of the best color cameras available. The ASI462MC improves on this camera by offering better QE (quantum efficiency) and lower read noise.
When the gain is set to 80, the camera uses something called “HCG-mode” to reduce readout noise at high gain and retain the same dynamic range as you would get using a low gain. The electronic shutter and USB 3.0 connection allow transfer rates of up to 136 frames per second at full 1936 x 1096 resolution and 10-bit ADC mode.
I have personally never been able to achieve anything higher than about 70 frames per second when using this camera’s ROI (region of interest) mode at about 400 x 400 pixels.
The laptop computer I use to run the ZWO ASI462MC planetary camera (Acer ENDURO N3).
If you’re serious about planetary imaging, you should consider downloading the FireCapture software on your computer. This is the primary image acquisition tool I use to photograph planets and the moon in detail.
As long as you have downloaded the ZWO ASI drivers on your computer, your ZWO ASI462MC camera will be selectable on the list of astronomy cameras in FireCapture.
This tool will allow you to take advantage of the high frame rate of the ZWO ASI462MC camera and capture detailed images of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and the Moon’s surface.
FireCapture Planetary Image Capture software.
While you can also run the ZWO ASI462MC using the ASIAIR mobile app on your phone using video mode, I find FireCapture to have a little more control over your camera settings on the fly.
The ZWO ASI462MC is a fantastic dedicated astronomy camera for planetary astrophotography. You may have trouble finding one in stock, as it looks like this camera has been recently discontinued.
If you are looking for a suitable replacement for the ZWO ASI462MC, the ZWO ASI585MC. The ASI585MC is a great alternative to the ASI462MC camera because it shares the same pixel size, at 4 times the resolution.
Unfortunately, the maximum frame rate for the ZWO ASI585MC is less than half of the ASI462, at 46.9 FPS. So, if you are more interested in solar or lunar imaging, the ZWO ASI585MC may be a better fit.
If you are most interested in photographing planets, try to find a ZWO ASI462MC in stock or in the astronomy classifieds. You’ll be happy you did.