Hello Ken and Jared,
First off, I wanted to thank you guys for SGP. It has generally transformed my imaging from a process that required a lot of manual intervention and me staying up most if not all of the night, to one that is mostly automated and allows me to sleep through my imaging sessions.
There is one thing about SGP that keeps me babysitting the process throughout the early part of each night, however. I wanted to make an official request for improved Autofocus in SGP. I think there have been various topics on the issues people are often encountering with the feature, however I do not know that any have officially made an explicit request for the autofocus feature to be revamped and enhanced to support the features and capabilities we really need.
SGP’s AF feature has a lot going for it, and feature wise I like what it offers…the focus offsets, backlash compensation, the configurability for how often and when AF is run, temp compensation, etc. Those are all great. The key issue that I am hoping can be resolved lies in the AF algorithm itself. I think there can be improvement there, both in terms of reliability and robustness, as well as in terms of speed.
I won’t reiterate what other threads cover. I am just here to ask if we could get some improved reliability, robustness and speed in the AF process. Starting with speed, the ability to use hardware ROI if the camera supports it, so we can download just the necessary small areas of the frame for focus, should help greatly speed up the process. Ideally you could run the whole process in under a minute, even with 10-15 samples. Once the process is faster, I am hoping the algorithm could be revamped with more robust validation of each run. Take multiple samples per focus point, use some kind of basic outlier rejection to eliminate bad samples, and verify that the slopes of the regressions for each V curve are within an acceptable threshold, stuff like that.
There are also some other things I’d like, but they would be secondary to speed, robustness and reliability. In particular, I have had a tough time getting temp compensation working with certain scopes. It would be interesting to see a feature that would allow me to pre-configure AF frequency on a curve throughout the night, and perhaps even by the height of the object above the horizon. I usually have to focus every 10 minutes early in the evening until things settle, at which point I can shift to every 20 minutes then every 30 minutes. Once my target starts to slip lower in the atmosphere, I sometimes find I need to focus more often again. Being able to define a curve of AF frequency would be quite handy…but certainly a “nice to have”.
I would like to see the internal SGP algorithm improved, as SGP has a lot of other things going for it on the AF front, including it’s integrated focus offset and temp compensation capabilities. I have noted calls for support for external options, however that entails additional cost, another API to integrate with, and possibly a loss of features and functionality (depends entirely on the third parity options integrated with.) I think SGP just needs improved robustness in its algorithm so that the process is more reliable…and it needs a speed boost so it doesn’t take several minutes each time it runs.