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Letchy

So; I am interested in astrophotography...

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As the title depicts, I am interested in starting or attempting astrophotography once I do get my first scope.

The main reason I have started this thread is to ask if my current point and shoot camera would be at least capable of capturing some images of the wonders of the universe - just so I can have the experience until I manage to get my hands on a Canon 1000D...

The camera in question is the Samsung PL211 digital camera. I did not primarily receive this for astrophotography, bare in mind. I have tried to capture an image of the moon through my binos, unsuccessfully as I think I may need an adaptor of some sort to be able to do that. :(

Thanks for any help and advice guys and gals!

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Visual observation, solar system imaging and DSO astrophotography are quite different from each other and can have quite different requirements. It's rare that what works for DSO imaging is useful for visual observing whilst solar system imaging might share a bit with either, but probably not both at the same time. Human eyes and brains don't work like cameras, basically, so different tools are needed for each. DSO imaging also has a reputation for emptying your wallet so fast you won't even see the blur :)

You therefore need to choose your kit carefully with a view as to how you're going to use it and with an understanding of what compromises you have to make. There is a book called "Making Every Photon Count" that is well worth a read before you even contemplate buying imaging gear. That is really the place to start.

Specifically regarding the PL211, you may be able to use it with a small mount to take photographs through the eyepiece (afocal imaging), but it's never as satisfactory as imaging at prime focus.

James

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I'd definitely second James' comment about Steve's book. If you're seriously contemplating Astro photography it's a must read. It'll give you a decent grounding, and also help prevent you from making expensive purchasing mistakes.

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Yes, a very good book indeed. I bought it and had a good read. Definitely worth posting detailed questions on here to avoid getting kit thats more suited to something else !

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Thank you James. I will be sure to check out what you have suggested!

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Steve's book in my opinion is a must, as it will provide you with the necessary detailed overview that will help you decide on how deep you want to go with imaging. Solar system objects (moon and planets) can be captured via webcam on virtually any scope from which the best 'frames' are selected and stacked on top of each other to construct a final composite image with plenty of detail. Deep sky imaging (galaxies and nebulae) is a whole different ball game and as a minimum requires a very accurate mount (I would argue a minimum of a HEQ5) to track those distant and very faint objects. It is natural for any help and advice to focus on the kit side of the equation but that's only half the story - data processing being the other! There are many great pieces of software out there that are free to download and use but there are inevitably one or two others that will need to be paid for and so this must be factored in to any proposed budget. You have certainly made the right decision in asking here about imaging before buying any kit and a quick glance in the imaging sections to take note of members' equipment list in their signatures will provide you with a strong indication of what has been found to work in the longer term. Imaging doesn't have to be really expensive but equally if you want consistency, if you want your images to be derived from fun rather than frustration, then buying wisely at the beginning (be it new kit OR used!) will make all the difference to your success with this activity.

Clear skies

James

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I will be buying 'Every Photon Counts' later on.

Thank you for the help again, and I will take a look through the imaging forum and signatures.

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Hi Letchy,

I've had a look at your Samsung PL210 camera manual; while a DSLR will give you complete freedom over aperture & shutter speed (ie full manual control) you should still be able to take some good wide star field shots - try putting the ISO to 1600 or it's maximum 3200, set it to night mode, set the timer delay, stick it on a tripod (cheap/eBay) point it at orion/jupiter/pleides for example - you may get star trails but it's a start. Also the moon is nearly full & you should get some decent lunar shots at good resolution with the high pixel count your camera has. Download GIMP (google it) for free to adjust image brightness etc in your image - it might be noisy (grainy) but you can play with the midtone & shadow darkness in GIMP to remove a lot. Just have fun, you don't need tons of expensive equipment to do that (even though it helps!).

David :smiley:

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I have only just started and im getting some results with my SW 130p on a EQ2 using my Canon 40D, using liveview i can use it as a web cam and keeping to less than 20s i can do some dso, im looking at getting a EQ5 next but it is possable without breaking the bank.

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I would +1 for the book too. This is something i am looking to get into and ordered the book last night. As Madatter says above me, i think it is possible for decent results with cheaper (is anything cheap in astronomy LOL) gear.

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Hi Letchy,

I've had a look at your Samsung PL210 camera manual; while a DSLR will give you complete freedom over aperture & shutter speed (ie full manual control) you should still be able to take some good wide star field shots - try putting the ISO to 1600 or it's maximum 3200, set it to night mode, set the timer delay, stick it on a tripod (cheap/eBay) point it at orion/jupiter/pleides for example - you may get star trails but it's a start. Also the moon is nearly full & you should get some decent lunar shots at good resolution with the high pixel count your camera has. Download GIMP (google it) for free to adjust image brightness etc in your image - it might be noisy (grainy) but you can play with the midtone & shadow darkness in GIMP to remove a lot. Just have fun, you don't need tons of expensive equipment to do that (even though it helps!).

David :smiley:

Thank you, David.

I have tried taking pictures of the moon with my camera before, but it seems there is simply too much contrast as the image is 'bloomed' so to speak, or has a lot of eposure. However, this is with freehand and I will have to try to get a cheap tripod to have another go, also with those setting that you have mentioned.

I do plan on buying a Canon 1000D in the future, thanks for the help everyone. :)

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I have a picture in my gallary that was taken with a sony alpha DSLR and a 300mm lens to give you ideas. I would love a canon though lol.

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