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EA2007

Help with and notes on : NexStar 4SE and Olympus E-400

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New to this forum, so hello!

(By the way, I refer to the word 'quid in this post, a quid is a pound in English slang!)

Firstly though....I have started taking an interest in astrophotography, however after thinking that I had quite good equipment (on a budget here people, so don't frown at my choices lol) I have come across a few problems. Earlier on this year I purchased the following in order to begin some amateur astrophotography, a NexStar 4 SE and Olympus E-400- the main problem here is the E-400!

I chose the NexStar4SE due to its Wedge Facility, modest aperture for someone on a budget, the only downside is the rather high focal ratio of 12 ;). I must say though that there are hardly any reviews of this model on the internet and those that I have read say that the Maksutov-Cassegrain optics give slow light transmission hence the f/12. I find it bad astronomy that they cannot see past that as the NexStar 4 is a very good scope for tracking images and is even better when Wedge Aligned and Polar aligned, giving just the same ability as a Equatorial mount, combined with this is also the fact that the StarBright XLT optics show a huge difference in star colours when compared to my Starhopper which used BK7 glass optics.

I purchased an Olympus E-400 D-SLR a few months ago and have only recently started in astrophotography, having needed time to collect together a t-mount t-ring (note here that the Olympus D-SLR's use a 4/3rd's system so users will also need to purchase an adpater ring for the t-ring so that it can fit into the E-400 body, these are advertised as a pricey £100's but I found loads on E-Bay for about £6 lol I love E-bay now) and a 12V power tank to power the battery eating NexStar4 (another tip here- 8 pack of batteries from Ikea (couple of quid) lasts far far longer than Duracell or any other 'leading brand'!!) #

Now, in order for me to take worthwhile images with the NexStar I need a camera which can expose for longer times due to it's slow focal ratio. BIG PROBLEM with the E-400 is that an ISO of higher than 500 on 'BULB' mode will only provide a lame 60.2 seconds of exposure, further to this an ISO of 250 to 400 will provide a lame 120 seconds of exposure, an ISO of 125-200 will give 241 seconds and 100 ISO gives 8 minutes. As you can probably guess this is really bad as anyone would think that the 'BULB' setting on any SLR would expose to infinity, apparently not! I have e-mailed Olympus and they merely stated that I should 'Reset' the camera (I aren't daft, I already did that) and yep your right it did NOT help, still stuck with the lame exposure times.

Can anyone help, does anyone have the E-400?

Any images I have taken with the E-400 have been taken with an ISO of higher than 800, the stacking process has left me with loads of noise!

Thankyou

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Hi. EA, and welcome to SGL.

Do you have Noise Reduction switched on on your camera. I am not sure how much difference it would make to your image stacking, but it's worth a try.

Is your camera firmware up to date. I thought longer exposures were possible, somewhere in the region of 12 minutes. Not sure on the E-400. I made myself a power supply unit for mine, to alleviate possible battery failure using long exposures.

I would have to double check on the exposure times, as my camera is the E-500.

I have taken decent lunar pic. with the camera attached to my 6" refractor, but as yet I have not done any Deep Sky stuff with it.

I don't think the DSLR is best suited to long exposure deep sky imaging, although having said that, there have been some great stuff posted on here using mostly the Canon DSLR.

Good Luck

Ron.

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Thanks for the reply,

Just recieved another e-mail from Olympus, they say:

"According to the manual, that I hope you got, p. 47, the shutter has this limitation:

Bulb shooting

ISO100 - 400 : 8 min.

ISO500 - 800 : 4 min.

ISO1000 - 1600 : 2 min."

And if my model does differnetly then get intouch with my retailer, guess I shall have to now!

I usually have noise reduction on and although it does a good job with the images, Olympus cameras seem to take ages to process it, an exposure of 1 minute requires a further minute noise processing time and that drains the battery, but I can get away with doing it about 30 times so I don't think that battery capacity is much of a problem.

I assume the firmware is upto date, my camera says the Body is 1.1 and the latest update on the Olympus.co.uk website is Version 1.1 (which does the follwing - 1.The [PICTURE MODE] can be changed when the shooting mode is set to [AUTO].

2. [PICTURE MODE] default setting is changed to [@NATURAL].)

If you could measure the exposure times on your E-500 that would be great, it's annoying that I paid hundreds of pounds for a camera and it doesn't do what it should!

I have used Deep Sky Stacker, Rotn'Stack, Registax, Photoshop CS3 and AstroArt 4 to stack images however I cannot seem to get anywhere with Registax, Phtoshop or Astroart when it comes to stacking and or colour enhancement, Photoshop seems inept at stacking images!!

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I only have the basic manual, and that is in several languages, It does not give a lot of information. I downloaded a more in depth manual from the web in PDF, If you would like it I can attach it to an email for you, but I need your email address. You can dend it via PM.

Of course, it is for the E-500, and therefore probably not too useful to you. You can let me know whether you want it or not.

Ron. ;)

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Thankyou for the offer and your research, I went on the Olympus website and downloaded the .pdf file manual for the E-400, page 147 shows that the exposure times are as so:

ISO 1000-1600 = 2 minutes

ISO 500-800 = 4 minutes

ISO 100-400 = 8 minutes

This is cleary not the case with my model-argh!

Shall have to wait for the e-mail back from Olympus UK.

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I usually have noise reduction on and although it does a good job with the images, Olympus cameras seem to take ages to process it, an exposure of 1 minute requires a further minute noise processing time and that drains the battery

I think that's probably due to how the noise reduction works - the camera automatically takes a 2nd exposure of the same time as the first, but with the shutter closed (i.e. a picture of "blackness") and then subtracts anything captured in that (which will only be noise) from the original image.

Trev

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I know Olympus have a lot of trouble with noise on their sensors due to their small size compared to the APS-C sized sensors. Unfortunately the E400 was the last model to use that noisy CCD. Olympus have now switched to a new LiveMos sensor for the E410 and E510. It's apparently a lot better on the noise front. But that doesn't help with your E400.

My Panasonic is much the same. It says it has bulb and is capable of 1600iso but just not together. Can do bulb at ISO 100 or I can do 30secs at ISO 1600. But like your Olympus I can't combine them. Probably for good reason I suppose....the pic would be swamped with noise and be pretty useless. Their engineers have worked out the optimum for the camera, although i doubt they allowed for stacking and multiple dark frames.

Just a thought. I've seen the E400's on Ebay and they fetch a fair sum. And there's no shortage of people wanting one. They certainly fetch more than the competing Nikon model. Could you sell the E400 and swap to the Nikon D40?

Russ

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Thanks for the info guys,

I may trade it in for a different model, although I have a cable release and t-mount and t-ring and Four Thirds adpater for it so if I were to change then I would have to change those aswell. But yeah the prices on Ebay are quite good, any ideas on another Digital SLR which will definitly expose for a LONG amount of time and one which will take an XD picture card ??

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XD will be a problem as only Fuji and Olympus have adopted that format. But on the bright side, a 2Gb SD card is only £7.

You need to be looking at either one of the Canon's or a Nikon. Both are well supported software wise and both excel on long exposures. Historically Canon have the edge for image noise but that's all changing. Nikon are putting Canon under immense pressure now and there's very little to choose.

Without knowing your budget it's hard to say exact models. But certainly the Canon 300D and 350D go for a lot less than the E400 on ebay. But 400D would I think require some extra cash on your part.

With Nikon the obvious choice is the D40. They are so cheap, even from Currys.

A big bonus with both Canon and Nikon is that Ebay is flooded with cheap adapters, remotes and spare batteries. And SD card, as i've already said, are dirt cheap.

Regards

Russ

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