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Ok, first DSLR camera


Mr_Si
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I bet you're all sick of this question, but I'm so stuck.

I initially was going to get a Canon 450d for prime reason of its good astro photo performance.

However, then I felt the pull of the 40d as it's a prosumer model and I thought I should get this with the view that I could grow in to it and then not want to buy a new camera once I'd got bored with the 450d, but also because I like to photo other stuff as well, probably more so than astro. Like Animals and Macro shots etc.

Recently, I have seen mention that the live-view on the 40d and its screen too is not very good, but I'm not sure how to confirm this? I am aware it's a 5 year old camera.

I read that the 50d is an improvement in this department, though not very advanced in terms of anything else in comparison to the 40d's photo taking capabilities. I like the fps of the prosumer models compared to the entry level ones in canon's range.

However, because I used to use Nikon compacts, I was thinking of maybe the D90 or the D3100 or 5100 or 7000 (if I could afford it).

I've heard so many people say good things and bad things about them all it's difficult to know what's where. And since I'd be buying second hand, I can't exactly go in to a store and check them out as they no longer will stock archive models.

I've used a 550d of my brothers and also my friend's D80. I know the D80 has lots of noise in the dark, but would imaging the 90, being the next generation has improved on that.

From an Astro point of view, I'm a linux user and don't care for the control software that Canon seems to rule the roost with, so we don't need to take that in to consideration, I'd just use Bulb mode with a remote (wired probably).

I know that when getting in to SLRism, one is buying in to a system, due to lens and other accessory compatibility etc.

I would welcome your views and opinions on the above mentioned cameras. I know I have mentioned a few.

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I use Nikon and Canon DSLR's and still have quite a range and had a few other models pass through my hands

There are a number of Significant advantages in buying into the Canon Cameras for Astro use (I was very anti Canon and bought into the Nikon system having been a Minolta man during the good old days of 35mm film) ... Firstly there is the available of relatively cheap comprehensive software for controlling the Camera for Astrophotography. The two main contenders are AstroPhotography Tools (APT) and BackyardEOS (ByEOS) I have purchased and used both.

Canon cameras also come with a comprehensive software suite that allows remote camera operation and basic intervalometer operation when connected to a computer...

There is also a wealth of information and the components necessary to modify the camera for improved response to the Astronomically significant Hydrogen Alpha Emission wavelengths.

Canon have also produced a number of different cameras "factory" modified for Astro use in the form of the Da models...

The consumer end 450D, 1000D , 1100D are all strong performers and if you want to go prosumer then you wont go far wrong with anything after a 30D...

Peter...

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There's far more astro-related software available for controlling Canon cameras than the Nikons which can make life easier. The 1100D is worth considering of the newer Canon models.

James

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I've owned and used the following Canon Models for astro work; 300D, 300D modded, 350D, 350D modded, 400D, 500D modded, and the 1100D. I think the 1100D and 500D have performed the best in terms of signal to noise and image quality and there is a lot of astro software support as mentioned for Canons.

I'm back to using my old Canon 350D after selling some cameras to buy other stuff but even this is a great cheap camera capable of good results and can be picked up for 70-80 quid on Ebay!

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Thank you for all your responses so far, but I do remember typing that I am not bothered by the software pulls for Astro.

I'm more interested in the performance of the camera itself.

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also to thumbs up for canon!

two words: magic lantern! :grin:

-> enhanced functionality as timelaps, higher fps during videos, etc etc etc etc etc etc for "normal" use...

great software! but beware it voids the waranty! :police:

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Thank you for all your responses so far, but I do remember typing that I am not bothered by the software pulls for Astro.

I'm more interested in the performance of the camera itself.

In that case get the latest model body that you can afford...

There have been significant improvements in sensor technology and in the noise reduction capabilities of the cameras processors...

Hands on the cameras is probably the best way to decide which range suits you best both in feel and control layout and operation.

I use the cameras both tethered to a PC (netbook) and using timer remotes... by ignoring the cheap and powerful software that's available you are loosing out on a range of features that can make a huge difference to the results you can achieve...

Peter...

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Thank you for all your responses so far, but I do remember typing that I am not bothered by the software pulls for Astro.

I'm more interested in the performance of the camera itself.

If you want to use the camera for astro use then I think you'll find attempting to use use bulb mode and a remote release will be exceptionally limiting. When you look at what's possible with, say, APT or BYE, they make life so much easier and give a huge amount of flexibility. Without them (or something similar to them) life is certainly far more awkward and laborious. I'd say that if you want to use a camera for astro imaging in any manner other than an occasional casual use it really makes sense to consider what software is available to control it. Unfortunately you also have to accept that the software just really isn't there on Linux to do everything you'll want or need to do, much as I would love that to be the case. Astro imaging is the only reason I use Windows at all.

If you're really not actually that bothered about astro use however, then I'd agree with Peter.

James

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Just something to add, and it was mentioned by Peter... I have a 450d and a 60d, both good cameras, although the 60d can be pushed far harder. The 450d will still get a lot of use, as it's still a very good camera. However, there's a noticeable difference in size and weight. I have to admit I do prefer the size of the 60d for the solid feel in the hand, it might not sound like much, but I find the grip to be slightly too small on the 450d, and ended up having to tuck my pinky under the grip, rather than around it. Over the course of a day, that can make quite a difference to the state of your hand. Ok, that has not bearing for astro use (you can't really hand hold), but as you indicate you also want to use it for daylight, that can make the difference. As for shot rate, not really an issue for normal stuff. If you're going to be shooting sports, then the higher frame rate would be useful. I very rarely use machine gun mode, so have never had the chance to compare 3 with 6 fps.

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Do you intend to take single exposures or will you be stacking them? If the latter, I recently read a post on SGL that stated that the Nikons mess with the raw images, which negatively affects how well they stack. Unfortunately i can't seem to find that post so 1. can't offer any more details and 2. can't credit whoever stated that.

If it was me, I would try to identify what I might use the extra features on the more expensive camera for, for example, the 8000 shutter speed might be useful if you like taking pictures of birds in flight.

Then weigh that up against whether the money would be better spent elsewhere, such as a lens for macro - Canon 100mm f2.8 is about £450 and doesnt depreciate much in the used market - but if you google it and look at the images, definately worth the money if you like macro (there is the mpe 65mm but thats a grand, needs a £600 flash and is manual focus only and apparently hard to use).

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I can thoroughly recommend the 1100D for astro use if you can't afford a CCD camera. I use an 1100D for general photography too (unmodified). It's nice and light for a DSLR. I no longer use a DSLR for astro use as I have moved up to mono CCD.

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Hi

I've got the 40d and a modded 1100d

The screen on the 40d is a bit small and live view is a bit cramped.

Before my 1100d purchase, I used the 40d without any connection to a computer.

Just got a wired interval timer. (the Canon branded one is extortionate in my opinion, so got a cheapy off ebay)

Worked fine for 30s un-guided subs.

You can set number of exposures, exposure time and gap between exposures.

As you can probably guess, with the 1100d I'm now taking astro imaging a little more seriously.

I'm now using Astro Photography Tool, PHD etc.

But have a look for an interval timer as it will be a good investment

Neil

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Hi,

I have a Nikon 40DX and it is a great camera, it is low noise and very sensitive. However, there is next to no software to control it so for astro use it isn't all that useful.

After reading round I narrowed my choice down to a 600D or a 5D-II. i was concerned that the sensor size of the 5D-II would just be too large for my big scope, turns out it isn't but at more than twice the price of the 600D it was difficult to justify the risk.

My main reason for buying the 600D was having read a review of several Canon cameras the 600D and 5D-II came out as some of the lowest noise models, a big plus for long exposure low light pictures. The 600D also has the tilt and foldable preview screen, handy when the scope is at an odd angle and even better you can fold it up with the screen inwards so it doesn't get scratched and doesn't cause light pollution. I use APT (software), just excellent.

I can therefore recommend the 600D for astro. BTW I still use my Nikon 40DX for everything else, but if I had bought the Canon first I would use that.

Robin

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someone earlier mentioned the phrase "Magic Lantern". If you have no intention of driving the camera from windows because you are a linux user then the reversible free firmware upgrade called Magic Lantern would be very useful to you for general and astro work. I would check out their website and aim to buy a Canon camera that is supported by their software.

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Thank you all for your useful replies. The Magic Lantern project sounds exciting! Shame the lower end camera don't seem to be supported as much.

I think I'm going to try to aim to get a 50D and stick with the Canon brand. If I was just doing astro, I might get the 1100D, but that's not the case here.

I think Astro is something I will want to do but will not do a LOT of at the beginning.

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As has been suggested already, the programmable remote is well worth having. They're available on Amazon for about £15. I used mine for wide field imaging before I moved to APT and still use it for star trail images where the camera is going to be running for several hours. My daughter has also used it for taking pictures of birds at our feeders as the camera can go outside a window and she can be inside where the birds won't pay her any attention.

James

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I can try it in WINE. I actually bought "Crossover Linux" which is the fully fledged and supported version of WINE, so I can always ask in their forums.

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Or ......you could just buck the trend, buy a Nikon and a progamable intervalometer http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Time-Lapse-Intervalometer-Remote-Timer-Shutter-for-Nikon-D5000-D5100-D5200-P3300-/400441206506?pt=UK_Photography_DigitalCamAccess_RL&hash=item5d3c27e6ea I do DSLR work and have never used a Canon camera or any camera control software. In fact the intervalometers are very useful if you don't want to be tethered to a PC (e.g. remote sites). Check my sig link for non Canon work!

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