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Albion

Photographer with newbie Astro equipment question??

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Hi all, first post and probably a really silly question, but here we go;

I'm an avid wildlife photographer and have some Nikon equipment, including a D800 and various lenses. What I would like to know, is what astrophotography I can expect to do with the equipment I have connected to an Astrotrac on a Gitzo tripod for example, as opposed to having to purchase more dedicated scopes and mounts?

In my ignorance, I was hoping my 14-24mm F2.8 would be good for wide field photography (milky way etc). If so, would my 500mm F4 be useful for DSO, or would I need to purchase more dedicated equipment like a Newtonian or an RC on an EQ6 or something, along with guide scope, camera etc.

Apologies if I have not used the correct terminology. I would like to do both wide field and nebulae, so any advice greatly received.

regards

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Definitely you can do something with that. Your 500mm is going to be comparible to the wide-field AP scopes that always get mentioned on here. The wide angle lenses can capture some stunning wide Milkyway shots.

I'd say, give it a go. You can put the camera on an EQ mount if you wanted to get something upgradable to use with a telescope tube later...

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Sounds like you have a good starting point. The 500mm lens will be good, and is longer than many people's scopes!! If you look at some fov calculators (http://www.12dstring.me.uk/fovcalc.php) this will give you a good indication of what you can fit into your field of view.

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I was in the same position as yourself about 18 months ago. I bought an AstroTrac and have been hooked ever since.

For your 500mm you would benefit hugely from the AstroTrac wedge, I'd rather get one than spend any money on the Manfrotto 410 geared head...unless you already have something else suitable for aligning everything.

I used my Wimberly gimbal head on top of the AstroTrac though some targets at zenith are impossible to frame using it.

However if portability isn't necessary I'd investigate an HEQ5 equatorial mount.

All my images in my gallery have been taken with AstroTrac and various lenses...no telescopes here :)

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I also started with an Astrotrac, DSLR and a couple of lens'. It a great way to get into imaging!

But like Stuart said above, if portability is not an issue then go for a EQ mount, i ended up getting a NEQ6 about 7 months after the AT, still have the Astrotrac though!

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I started out using a 600mm f4 on an equatorial goto mount. I looked at the astrotrack but decided the eq mount was cheaper, could carry more weight & could find the targets for me.

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I was in the same position as yourself about 18 months ago. I bought an AstroTrac and have been hooked ever since.

For your 500mm you would benefit hugely from the AstroTrac wedge, I'd rather get one than spend any money on the Manfrotto 410 geared head...unless you already have something else suitable for aligning everything.

I used my Wimberly gimbal head on top of the AstroTrac though some targets at zenith are impossible to frame using it.

However if portability isn't necessary I'd investigate an HEQ5 equatorial mount.

All my images in my gallery have been taken with AstroTrac and various lenses...no telescopes here :)

Blimey Stuart...just looked at your website. Firstly, your birding shots are fabulous....well done. Your Astro images are incredible...I had no idea the 500mm could do this....even if it is a Canon  :p ...but obviously this is as much about your skill as a photographer and in PP...you have given me great hope and ambition...many thanks indeed. I may PM you if you don't mind to ask you some specific questions....

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I started out using a 600mm f4 on an equatorial goto mount. I looked at the astrotrack but decided the eq mount was cheaper, could carry more weight & could find the targets for me.

Many thanks Rob....yes...I can see great value in the goto EQ mount....especially for an astro newbie like me...

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Blimey Stuart...just looked at your website. Firstly, your birding shots are fabulous....well done. Your Astro images are incredible...I had no idea the 500mm could do this....even if it is a Canon  :p ...but obviously this is as much about your skill as a photographer and in PP...you have given me great hope and ambition...many thanks indeed. I may PM you if you don't mind to ask you some specific questions....

The 500mm makes a pretty good refracting telescope, it is pretty fast, provides a decent focal length with fairly well corrected optics...despite having 17 lens elements :Envy: Not recommended for astro work if you haven't already got one i.e. I wouldn't recommend getting a 500mm lens specifically for doing astrophotography, but it does a great job for daytime work and performs pretty well for astro and I really like the dual purpose.

I can't say I have seen any astro images taken with a Nikon 500mm, but I am sure that they will be similar to the Canon...with the Canon performing marginally better of course :p

Some of my targets have been taken with my modified Canon 1100D, which is much more sensitive to Ha than a stock camera, but there are still quite a number of targets that don't really require a modified camera.

Would I recommend an AstroTrac for 500mm focal length astrophotography? Not unless you are marginally mental, but as I said I already had the kit before taking an interest in astro work. Up to 400mm f/5.6 I'd say is the sweet spot however with a bit of tinkering and fiddling 500mm is possible, and the benefit of it being very portable (I have air travelled with my astro kit twice now with a 3rd on the way) makes it a choice for me. This is not to say that I am not looking for another more capable mount for the times I am not mobile, but I would certainly keep my AstroTrac even if I did upgrade my mount.

Regarding questions, feel free to ask.

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