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Nikon D3100 and a Skywatcher 130p


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Good evening all!

I've recently taken ownership of a skywatcher 130p and I am happy with it now I know how to handle it and find targets :) My next quest is to try and do a bit of basic astrophotography. My wife has a nikon d3100 and I've seen a lot of questions/comments/opinions regarding its failure to reach focus with this combination. After a few abortive attempts at photography through the scope I thought I'd try something I should have done days ago and tried it during the daytime with distant targets just to make sure it does work.

And the camera will focus on distant objects during the day using prime focus via a T adaptor without the x2 barlow on it. It will also focus with it and I can also use eyepeice projection with a different T adapter I bought with the telescope.

I've tried to image vega but the camera always says the subject is too dark and I cant see vega on liveview when the finder is right on it. Tried iso upto 800 bulb on 1-10 seconds and nothing just a black image.

I'm going to try this on the moon over the next couple of nights and until then I've plenty of observing to do in and around cass/perseus as long as the sky is clear.

Does anyone else have the same combination as I've got and could advise?

Thank you all

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Hi

Is it the dobsonian mount or an EQ mount?

The thing is that its almost impossible to take good pictures of deep space objects if your mount isnt equatorial, motorized and can track the sky. They are so faint that the camera needs to be open for long periods of time, and during that period, the sky will move, so the camera has to move with it.

However, your D3100 should be able to take stunning pictures of the moon with the current setup.

You might also be able to image jupiter because of its relative brightness, but then a webcam is probably better since the best planetary images are made from taking a short movie clip and stacking it to bring out details. Also the magnification needed for jupiter can make it hard to keep the planet in view.

If you were to mount the scope and camera on say, an HEQ-5 mount, you should be able to take very long exposures of the objects, probably over a minute without a guide-setup.

My advice is to experiment with photographing the moon with your current equipment and get the book "Making Every Photon Count". It's a very very good guide to all the aspects of deep space photography. http://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

So dont get discouraged, the 130p is a nice little scope, and the D3100 is a nice camera. Deep space photography is very gear dependant, but be afraid to experient. You can still take great widefields of the night sky with the camera right out of the box, and like I mentioned, the moon is bright enough to image through the scope with short exposure times.

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Even focussing on a bright star like Vega I usually bump the ISO to something like Hi 2, which is something like ISO 25600 on my D7000.

I just need to remember to turn it back down when I come out of Live View.

Live View is certainly a godsend when it comes to getting the focus right. I also use the zoom button to magnify the star as much as possible on the LCD before find tuning the focus.

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OK, if you are prime focusing and if it does indeed work correctly, then you effectively have a 650mm (I think) lens attached to your camera. Whether you go this way, or with the barlow either way you should pick up Vega. Bear in mind you may take the photograph but the star is going to be very small. If you use iso 800 at say, three or four seconds it will pick the star up well enough, but it will seem tiny in the photograph.

I have imaged the exact same star before with my Pentax Kx, albeit not prime focused, and it will capture fine. If I were you, as suggested already, I would start off with the moon and get your eye in that way first.

Apologies if I'm going over old stuff, or things you've tried already.

Good luck :)

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And the camera will focus on distant objects during the day using prime focus via a T adaptor without the x2 barlow on it. It will also focus with it and I can also use eyepeice projection with a different T adapter I bought with the telescope.

I've tried to image vega but the camera always says the subject is too dark and I cant see vega on liveview when the finder is right on it. Tried iso upto 800 bulb on 1-10 seconds and nothing just a black image.

I'm going to try this on the moon over the next couple of nights ...

Does anyone else have the same combination as I've got and could advise?

I started with a Skywatcher 127/1500 and my trusty Nikon D3100 a couple of months ago, and experienced similar problems.

Attach the T-adaptor to your camera, and slide it into where the eye-piece goes. Tighten it.

Set the Camera on "M" (manual).

Now, what you need to play with is ISO and exposure time.

The camera might say "too dark", but dont worry about that. Nothing is too dark given long enough shutter speed. ;)

Although for deep sky photography with a long focal length scope; you will most certainly get star-trails unless you are using a good mount with kickass alignment and preferably an autoguider....

For moon pictures, I suggest you get a moon-filter which you can screw on at the end of the T-adaptor, OR, simply just control the amount of light your camera takes in by turning down either the ISO, or turning UP the shutter speed. (exposure time...)

The moon is very bright, and if you go for like ISO 1600, you could take a picture at 1/1000 sec. shutter speed, and the picture would come out not too bright or too dark. I would suggest turning down the ISO to like.. 250 or something like that though in order to decrease noise, and turn down shutter speed as well. Experiment with ISO 200 and shutterspeed at like... 1/250, 1/160 sec. etc... You will find a good balance between ISO and shutter speed after a few tries.

If you were to point your scope towards Jupiter, which is also bright, you could keep the moon filter on... Or simply play around with ISO and shutter speed settings. Best thing with planetary imaging though is to get focus, and film it. Either with a web-cam connected to a PC, or with your D3100. There is software that will automatically let you pick the best frames from the video, and stack them - giving much more detail than you would get with one single shot.

I had absolutely n oexperience with manual settings on my D3100 before I started snapping pictures through my scope. I learned the most my two first tries, and consequent failures... ;)

Sincerely yours, Alveprinsen.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi

I have a Skywatcher Heritage 130p on a Synscan AZ GoTo mount. I've used the Philips SPC880 webcam for planetary and lunar imaging, with some 'ok' results (I'm still on that learning curve!).

I recently bought a Nikon D3100 DSLR for daytime and widefield astrophotography. I understand I can't really use it for deep sky AP with my current AZ setup, but I'm wondering whether I could do any decent planetary imaging using the HD movie record function on the D3100, and how these might compare to the images I'd capture using the SP880 webcam. I guess it all depends on whether I can adjust the video capture settings etc.

I'll have a look at the D3100 when I get home but just wondered if anyone has experience of this?

Thanks!

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The DSLR has a much larger chip, so the image of the planet will be very small compared the a webcam.

I have also found that I cannot process the HD AVI's in Registax either.

But I haven't yet had time to look at how to get round this, or if I can use different software to achieve this.

Too many things to play with, not enough time.

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Hi

I have a Skywatcher Heritage 130p on a Synscan AZ GoTo mount. I've used the Philips SPC880 webcam for planetary and lunar imaging, with some 'ok' results (I'm still on that learning curve!).

I recently bought a Nikon D3100 DSLR for daytime and widefield astrophotography. I understand I can't really use it for deep sky AP with my current AZ setup, but I'm wondering whether I could do any decent planetary imaging using the HD movie record function on the D3100, and how these might compare to the images I'd capture using the SP880 webcam. I guess it all depends on whether I can adjust the video capture settings etc.

I'll have a look at the D3100 when I get home but just wondered if anyone has experience of this?

Thanks!

I would say give it a try, especially if you have an eyepiece projection adapter or barlow/powermate or similar to increase magnification.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I have exactly this setup and will use this opportunity to unashamedly point you too my Flickr account! I generally leave full details of how I process them.

This is Saturn with a x3 Barlow which I purchased separetley.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewsingleton/8664264383/

This is the Moon using the out of box x2 barlow and a purchased Nikon T2 clip.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewsingleton/8664275445/in/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewsingleton/8664275445/in/photostream/

General Tips:-

I must admit I now want more, my next step I think is an eq mount. I need more exposure and I have found with my AZ Synscan mount I can only get eposures less than 10 seconds.

Hope this helps people with a simliar setup.

Andy

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks, Andrew, I've only just seen this response. Still not had a go with Heritage and Nikon 3100 yet but I'll update this thread if and when I get the chance.

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Hi Greg,

i would mess around with manual mode 1/500 sec is normally ok for moon, try a 60 sec exp for stars.

you could invest in a timer remote from eBay,great fun for stacking star trails and time lapse work in daylight. Your d3100 is a formidable machine. Tip ,you can trick the d3100 and make the exp comp +- work in manual mode by sticking camera in shutter mode first,set exp comp,then switch to manual mode again.camera remembers the +-value . This is handy for prime focus where I set +0.7.

3100 has super quiet shutter,much less noise than my d90s,d80 ,d40,50 and d300 cams.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi,

The hint n tips for the d3100 are very much appreciated - thanks go to the above posters. :)

I actually started a thread about this camera yesterday but lack of replies and my impatience gave me the incentive to do a search.

However, as a newcomer to dslr's generally and Nikon specifically i'm hoping to get a bit of info regarding how this model compares with the old canons (ive been using a 300D) and also how it might perform for astro use.

Any users around that can give their opinions or experience with the D3100?

Thank you.

Regards

Aenima

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  • 8 months later...

Good evening all!

I've recently taken ownership of a skywatcher 130p and I am happy with it now I know how to handle it and find targets :) My next quest is to try and do a bit of basic astrophotography. My wife has a nikon d3100 and I've seen a lot of questions/comments/opinions regarding its failure to reach focus with this combination. After a few abortive attempts at photography through the scope I thought I'd try something I should have done days ago and tried it during the daytime with distant targets just to make sure it does work.

And the camera will focus on distant objects during the day using prime focus via a T adaptor without the x2 barlow on it. It will also focus with it and I can also use eyepeice projection with a different T adapter I bought with the telescope.

I've tried to image vega but the camera always says the subject is too dark and I cant see vega on liveview when the finder is right on it. Tried iso upto 800 bulb on 1-10 seconds and nothing just a black image.

I'm going to try this on the moon over the next couple of nights and until then I've plenty of observing to do in and around cass/perseus as long as the sky is clear.

Does anyone else have the same combination as I've got and could advise?

Thank you all

Hi,

I don't know if you are still following this, but I have the same telescope you have and the Nikon D5100 and have been wondering if attaching the Nikon to the scope would be too much for the focuser and the structure of the scope (I thought the focuser could break), but apparently you didn't have any problems? If this is the case, it is good news for me. :) Cheers

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Make sure that you set the shutter to bulb so that it isn't depending on metering through the telescope, which it can't.

If you leave the camera set on P or Auto, it will try and meter and as it hasn't got a Nikon lens attached it will fail.

Check out my images on my Web site. Most were taken with a Nikon.

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I have a 130 PDS and an Olympus Pen EPL1, not the best pairing but I still take "recognisable" images.  Knowing that a webcam, EQ5 mount (and upwards), computer, guider scope and syncscan software would be infinately preferable puts your own images into perspective!

Feel free to look at mine on mine and a friends, with a similar set up, on my own blog.

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