I was outside last night experimenting with the webcam and its settings for astrophotography, and I learned a few things I want to share with you. I was trying to find out what I did different to take the Jupiter photo this last time, so I was experimenting with camera settings. Before I go on, let me point out that the seeing wasn't as good as a couple of nights ago.
Because the camera was set for 640 X 480 resolution for the decent Jupiter shot I took, I thought I'd try a little higher resolution, so I kicked it up to 800X600. The image was a blurry blob. When I set it back to 640X480, it improved dramatically. I did not try low resolution 320X240. I think that might be my next attempt. This actually defies logic, as you would think the higher resolution would create sharper images. The only thing I can think of is that it doesn't matter what resolution the camera is set at, it still uses the same number of pixels in the source image to create the final image, so the smaller the resolution might actually provide the sharpest images because more CMOS pixels are used per square inch of finished image. The result would be more planet per percent of frame size therefore it will have a higher resolution of the object.
This is just a theory I'm developing as I continue to experiment with the settings.
Another mistake I think I made was that I had the image of the planet a bit too bright. The last photo of Jupiter was on the dark side when I was shooting. Apparently these low cost cameras overload very easily, and it is something you need to be aware of. It seems you have to find a good balance between brightness - you dont want to compress the bright areas and you dont want it so dark that it limits contrast. I've also found that the color intensity will have the same effect, it can overload certain colors causing a blur if the intensity is set too high. This might explain why some monochrome photos come out with so much better detail.
OK, I'm still learning, but so far, this is what I'm finding out so far. It is worth sharing, as past photos of Jupiter were downright horrible, and I was scratching my head as to why they were so bad. It wasnt until I had time to experiment with camera settings that I learned that the largest resolution isn't necessarily the best resolution for this type of work.